Nearbound Weekend 03/23: Our Response to Chris Walker's Provocative LinkedIn Post

Nearbound Weekend 03/23: Our Response to Chris Walker's Provocative LinkedIn Post

Ella Richmond 9 min

Recap of the nearbound daily this week

Recently published

Chris Walker on nearbound 

Did you see Chris Walker’s post on partnerships and nearbound? 


If you didn’t, read this email first, then check it out.


The post provoked a lot of spicy opinions and some great discussion. 


So in today’s weekend edition, we’re going to explore:

  1. The post

  2. The comments

  3. Our nearbound POV


The post

Chris began the post,


Partnerships and “Nearbound” are all the rage right now.


But let’s talk about the dark side of partnerships that nobody talks about.


There’s a lot of hype around partnerships (and for good reason 😉) but legitimate concerns can and do get drowned in all of that hype.  


So, Chris wanted to learn out loud and open the comments for discussion.


He told four "dark side of partnership" stories.



Then he shared four places he’s seen partnerships work including SIs and VARs, big ecosystems, pro-serve outsourcing, and co-marketing.


The comment section

At the end of the post, Chris asked his audience to share their experiences, saying,


I’m not that familiar yet with this space. I’d love to understand what you’re experiencing with partnerships and how it compares to my experience thus far. 


Drop a comment on your experience with partnerships so every can learn 👇


The comment section is notoriously the wild west of social media so to make sense of everyone’s responses, I’m going to share a few comments, then I’ll give the nearbound perspective on the comments (comments on comments, that’s meta 😏).


Let’s start with the most challenging comment.



Myles’ point: "Nearbound" is overhyped but he hasn’t actually seen anyone doing it. 


Nearbound perspective: This is one of those "both-and" situations. Unless you’re telling me outbound and inbound are getting easier and more effective, nearbound is necessary to reach buyers. It’s also true that, like with any new strategy, few companies are effectively executing nearbound.


The fact that companies aren’t yet executing on it doesn’t disprove its value. It just shows that people need to be educated on it. Just like martech changed the way companies went to market in the early 2010s, nearbound is doing the same. Nearbound, or connecting to buyers with and through the network of partnerships and relationships that surround them, is a response to how buyer preferences have changed. Read NEARBOUND and the Rise of the Who Economy for the most thorough explanation of nearbound. 



Jonathan’s point: Most partnerships fail.


Nearbound perspective: Partnerships fail in the same way marketing campaigns fail and sales sequences fail. There are bad ways to partner just like there are bad ways to market and sell. The difference between partnerships and marketing and sales is that non-transactional partnerships are still new. There aren’t tried-and-true playbooks people can fall back on. Everyone’s still trying to figure it out. That being said, it’s incredibly important for partner pros to figure out how to produce efficient, predictable, and scalable results (shoutout Allan Adler!). 


Read Jason Lawson’s response to read a few key reasons partnerships fail. 


Chris’ point: Most partnerships talk goes nowhere. 


Nearbound perspective: Sadly, it’s true. That’s why we believe in being more targeted with your partnering efforts. Your customers will tell you who your best partners are. And then you can also lean on account mapping solutions like Reveal to find partnering opportunities with the strongest better-together stories. 



Tamir’s first point: You shouldn’t start partnering until you’re at 1M ARR.


Nearbound perspective: Each company’s leadership team needs to determine when they’re ready to invest in partnerships. Partnerships isn’t something you can be half-in, half-out. Whether you want to build partnerships from the get-go or wait until you’re bigger, the most important factor in building successful partnerships at any stage is your strategy—why are you partnering?


Tamir’s second point: Building a reseller business is the playbook of 2010s.


Nearbound perspective: Point #2 makes me think Tamir is primarily thinking about transactional or channel partnerships. The opportunity isn’t just reselling, it’s also co-marketing, co-selling, and co-servicing through your non-transactional partnerships. This idea of tapping into the complete potential of partnerships—transacting and non-transacting partners—is very relevant right now as companies strive for efficient growth.




Kevin’s point: There are risks in partnerships.


Nearbound perspective: Similar to what I said in the response to Jonathan, risk isn’t new in the business world. Everyone’s making a bet on something—your business, strategy, campaigns. No one knows exactly how it’s going to work out, but that’s why it’s important to get as much information as possible.


I’ll level with you, in the past partner pros haven’t been the best at calling their shots and that needs to change. But it’s going to change through education, conversation, and a little market pressure. 




And then there were some positive comments from people who had achieved success and shared their learnings. 


John’s point: Partnerships are great when there’s mutual investment and the focus is the buyer.


Dee’s point: Working with a big ecosystem is complicated, but a few good rules of thumb are to develop a unique value proposition, make sure everyone’s aligned on that value proposition, and hold each other accountable.


Jacob’s point: From experience, transparency, mutual commitment, and strategically partnering lead to success.


Chris’ point: What’s been most helpful is spending a lot of time upfront understanding the value of a potential partnership before jumping into it. You waste less time when you’ve vetted your partners early-on.



Though this post was provocative to some, it was a great conversation starter.


It gave Chris the space to learn out loud, share what he’s thinking, and ask the market for input.



It gave a lot of people in the industry the space to share their concerns, opinions, challenges, and experiences.


It gave us the ability to respond.


So, here’s what we want to say 

1.Nearbound isn’t “hype.” It’s a strategic response to a shift in buying behavior.


Businesses have always leveraged the power of partnerships. But today’s digital world demands a reimagined model.


”Channel” traditionally referred to networks of third parties like resellers, integrators, and the customer. Companies relied on these channel partners to take products to market at scale.


But, as Jay McBain (Chief Analyst, Channels, Partnerships, and Ecosystems at Canalys) puts it, there’s been a trifurcation of the channel.


The channel world owns the point of transaction, while the emerging partner world seems to own the points of influence and retention.


Companies can no longer take the narrow transactional view of partnerships. That’s why nearbound is important.


Nearbound is where the company’s partnerships and network of relationships are not simply a “channel,” nor a partnerships department, but instead a strategy for every department.


The world hates friction, and the solution is trust.


2. Partnerships aren’t a silver bullet.


Partnerships aren’t a silver bullet. They take time and are hard to create. But, we believe they’re worth it, and so do others. 


→ 80% of sales leaders say agencies, consultants, vendors, and individuals in their network have the biggest impact on a customer’s purchase decision.


→ 82% of B2B sales leaders say referrals are the best leads.


→ Deals that involve one or more partners have a 41% higher win rate, close 35% faster, and have 43% higher LTV.


3. The burden is still on partner people to prove partnerships.


Tyler Calder (CMO at PartnerStack) says it best,


Leadership gets partnerships. They understand the power of it. They just don’t believe that the current crop of partner leadership can deliver on it.


A generalization? Sure. Unfair? Maybe. 


But that’s the sentiment he’s heard from investors and startup founders. And interestingly, it’s a repeat of what he witnessed in 2007-2009 with marketing.


Partnerships is having its moment, but we need to show up. Anything that challenges partnerships is just another reminder that we still have work to do.



The #1 goal of is to help partner people succeed in this era of ecosystems. That means we want to be your biggest fan, your source of information, and sometimes we’ll tell you things you might not want to hear.


This post by Chris Walker was awesome because it initiated a challenging conversation around some of the aspects of partnerships that aren’t yet proven.


Let’s continue those conversations. That’s the only way we succeed.


If you want to dive in further, there were a lot more comments we couldn’t fit into one email. Check them out on your own. 


And HUGE thank you again to Chris Walker for initiating this conversation.


Chris Walker on the Nearbound Podcast

If you liked this email, add the Nearbound podcast episode with Chris Walker, Jared Fuller, and Isaac Morehouse to your queue! 


Listen to the episode here or anywhere you get your podcasts.



Share this with a partner friend

Let’s build the nearbound movement.




Ella Richmond 9 min

Nearbound Weekend 03/23: Our Response to Chris Walker's Provocative LinkedIn Post

Did you see Chris Walker’s post on partnerships last week? He made some pretty strong points about where partnerships go wrong.

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