Nearbound Daily #472: Buyers Aren't Customers: How to Tap Into Both

Nearbound Daily #472: Buyers Aren't Customers: How to Tap Into Both

Ella Richmond 4 min





Buyers versus customers


Buyer research: research that seeks to understand potential purchasers.


Customer research: research that seeks to understand those who have already purchased.


Customer research is great, but it teaches you how to get more of the same results.


Buyer research, on the other hand, shows you how to tap into ecosystem valueyou might be overlooking.


Maybe you’re losing buyers with your language, maybe you haven’t discovered the right watering holes, or maybe you haven’t tapped into the right spheres of influence.


As you seek to establish new partnerships keep the difference between customers and buyers in mind.


Provide value for paying customers first, but now and then run an experiment focused on buyers. Maybe a partner can help you tap into a new buyer group!




When should partner ops become a priority?


Partner Ops is not well understood and is often undervalued.


But, as Laura Padilla (Partner and Head of BD at Sapphire Ventures) puts it,

If you want to scale, acquire, build, or integrate, you need a Partner Ops team.


Laura, RJ, and Iris at the Nearbound Summit

Since there might be confusion, let’s start by defining the function: Partner Ops builds and maintains the infrastructure that allows Partner Managers to maximize relationship value.


Partner ops:

  • handles the technical aspects of a partnership

  • tracks metrics and performance

  • resolves operational issues

  • streamlines processes and solves bottlenecks

  • oversees compliance and documentation

Partner managers:

  • nurture and maintain relationships

  • develops partner strategies

  • identifies growth opportunities

  • aligns partner goals with company objectives

  • negotiates partner agreements

  • advocates for partner needs cross-functionally

Not every company is ready to build out a partner ops team, but every company needs to be ready to do so when they’ve reached the proper maturity.


Karen Ng (SVP Product at HubSpot) and Kelly Sarabyn (Platform Ecosystem Advocate at HubSpot) explained how HubSpot approaches their ecosystem maturity in phases.


Phase one: Make integration and customization possible

→ Requires custom, one-to-one, hands-on partnerships. Don’t think about repeatable processes yet.


Phase two: Unlock the flywheel to drive more demand and make partnering easier

→ Begin laying the groundwork for tracking, attribution, and processes. Partners will want to see their ROI.


Phase three: Be the destination

→ You need an established Partner Ops team that can support an array of partner successes so they continue wanting to invest in your company.


HubSpot’s Ecosystem Opportunity

So, if you’re early in partnerships, don’t think you need to build out a defined Partner Ops motion. Just be ready for when the time comes.


Partner Ops is a key ingredient to scale.


Check out the full session with Karen and Kelly to dive deeper into HubSpot’s ecosystem and partner maturity and while you’re there, check out Laura’s session on Build, Buy, Partner.


Make your partner famous


Incredible example of co-marketing from Logan Lyles (Evangelism) and Cory Snyder (Head of Partnerships) at


With traditional marketing, you market to and through your community and channels. 


With nearbound marketing, you market with your community and ecosystem of evangelists.


Logan and Cory created this *sizzle* reel to surprise their partners, make them famous, and create a valuable piece of content for Teamwork’s audience.


Some of the best win-win-wins in co-marketing are a light lift!

(17) Post LinkedIn 2023-12-12 at 8.10.47 AM


  • Nearbound Summit 2023 Recordings—The future of GTM is Nearbound. Watch the recordings to hear how B2B leaders across departments unite with Nearbound strategies and tactics. Listen here.

  • Dec 13th, 2 PM EST —Navigating Change: Dealing with Uncertainty, Restructurings, and Its Aftermath— Join Faisal Mirza (Director in Strategic Partnerships at Adobe) and Scott Pollack (CEO at Firneo) and they discuss how to manage through changes in the organization and deal with its aftermath. Register here.

  • Dec 15th, 2-2:30 PM EST — The 3 Key Partner Principles — Join Franz-Josef Schrepf (Head of Partnerships at StreamYard) and Nelson Wang (Head of Worldwide Partnerships at Airtable) to learn what decades in the industry has taught Nelson about building the best partnerships. Register here.

  • Feb 5-7th in Miami — Impartnercon 2024 —  Partnerships are the future of growth. Join partner leaders to learn what it means to build the future of business, together.  Register here. 

  • March 19-20th — Affiverse’s Amplify Summit — Join them for a 2-day virtual event to help affiliate businesses amplify their performance. Learn about digital, partnership, and affiliate marketing. Register here.

Ella Richmond 4 min

Nearbound Daily #472: Buyers Aren't Customers: How to Tap Into Both

Buyers versus customers

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