Nearbound.com Principles: The First Giver Wins

Nearbound.com Principles: The First Giver Wins

Multiple Contributors 11 min

The nearbound.com Principles are the principles we live by. Rather than having a fluffy mission statement, we prefer to outline the principles we practice day-to-day. They form the foundation on which we navigate the partnership ecosystem.


I met up with Stewart Wesley of PartnerPage to talk about the nearbound.com principle: the first giver wins.


Stewart understands that we don’t have time to wait for the quid pro quo. It’s better to make the first move. He believes in starting a partnership by creating value.


Below are the highlights from my interview with Stewart Wesley.


This is the 9th article in our series exploring the nearbound.com Principles. You can read more about the other principles here:



The best ways to give to your partners

If you think about love languages (I like to use this analogy), what are the ways that you’re really good at showing partner love? What are your tools internally to give to partners?


"Start with what you can do for partners, and then narrow down the list to who might actually benefit you as well."– Stewart Wesley



If you want to stand out, consider what you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd. First impressions matter – a lot.


When you act generously from the beginning, you set the tone for the relationship. Don’t pass on the opportunity to give first.


Start thinking differently: Ask, what can I give?

"The first thing about the first-giver advantage is, it’s just how relationships work! So if you want to attract people to you, and you want people to be excited about your partner program, you have to start by thinking about what you can give to them." – Stewart Wesley



People don’t care about your product until they know how much you care about them. Imagine partnering with a company that proactively went out of its way to think of your needs first!


Before you get on the call with your partner, take some time to understand their needs and how you can best serve them.


Watch the full interview about how the first giver wins with Stewart Wesley




Full transcript:

Aaron Olson 0:00

Today I’m talking with Stuart Wesley, Chief Operating Officer of partner page. I wanted to get Stewart on the call today to talk about one of the core partner hacker principles. The first giver wins. So Stuart, thanks for joining me on the call today.


Stewart Wesley 0:14

Yeah, for sure. I love coming on these. I always feel like I’m one step closer to influence her or streaming persona. So I’m looking forward to adopting that career at some point, but now I’ll just do it.


Aaron Olson 0:27

Yeah, well, I hope I hope that we get to you to that level. But what I wanted to discuss today is this idea of the first giver wins. You know, there’s a lot of talk about this principle going around in the partner ecosystem. What specifically and you’ve written about this a bit? What what does this principle mean to you specifically?


Stewart Wesley 0:46

Yeah, it’s a big can of worms, honestly. The most important part, I think, to think about first is that it just works better than the alternative. So if you go to market and partnerships, selfishly, you will be, you will be very surprised at first to find that normal outbound sales tactics don’t work. People don’t care that your solutions 10 or 20%, better than your competitor, the agency doesn’t have time for a demo, they’re not interested in talking to you. This is because of a selfish orientation, where they didn’t really see how they benefit from this relationship. And since they’re not part of your organization, they don’t actually have to talk to you. So it’s this harsh kind of awakening when you first try it, because you’re so excited to start your program. And you go out with this, this model, and at the end of the day, it wasn’t based on an empathetic understanding of your partner. And so the first thing about the first giver event advantage is it’s just how relationships work. So if you want to attract people to you, and you want people to be excited about your partner program, you have to start by thinking about what you can give to them. And then, and then turn it back towards you. So there’s some ideas there. And then I would say the other side of it is, people know, when you really are going to be a generous partner. And they know when you’re pretending. We’re all very good at sensing authenticity, especially in relationships. This is like an evolutionary trait that’s required for humans to survive. And when people can tell that you are honest, and going to provide them value, they will jump to be a part of that partnership. And if they they’re skeptical of either your ability to provide value or your honesty, they’re never going to get on the phone with you. And they certainly won’t want to be a part of your program. Yeah, yeah.


Aaron Olson 2:37

Yeah, our co founder, Isaac, Morehouse, a lot of times talks about how, you know, if you’re out on a date, would you have like a one pager of all the benefits that are like 20%, better than someone else know you, you’d give something first, you know, something special about yourself. And I think what you said there is that it applies to all relationships, not just business to business relationships. I think that’s


Stewart Wesley 2:59

very true. The dating analogy goes deep. And it’s it’s a, it made me go too far. Sometimes it will, I would say it goes too far, it will not make it go too far is when I talk about the CEOs of SaaS companies that hire partnerships person, and they say, Hey, go run a one sided sales playbook with these partners. And the joke I always use that’s related to relationships is I worry about those CEOs and their marriages, because I don’t think they understand how to be happy in a truly reciprocal relationship. And that’s critical to this partnership motion and not everybody does it. Yeah, yeah.


Aaron Olson 3:35

So let’s talk about more tactics. How does someone actually put this into play at a company?


Stewart Wesley 3:42

Yeah, the first thing is, if you think about like, love languages, I use this analogy, like, start thinking about, what what are your ways that you’re really good at, like showing partner love? Like, like, what are your tools internally to give to partners? So what am I good at giving, maybe I have a lot of referrals for a very specific type of work, that always comes up when when my CSM, talk to customers, and we don’t want to do it. And this, this work is actually bad for my team, but it’s good for someone else. Or maybe you have a really strong relationship with your marketing team. I’ve never had that marketing never really supported partnerships when I was working on it. Maybe you’re luckier than I was. And your marketing team loves partners, and they want to do partner co marketing. That might be what you can give. Maybe it’s co selling and your sales team is amazing at it. Or maybe your CS team actually understands the value of integrations. So it’s gonna be different for everybody. But you got to find something that you can give at scale, and it has to be repeatable. Otherwise, you’re going to spend all your time trying to like, manage these things manually. And we all know, a lot of partnerships is manual, so it gets very tedious after a while. So find things that you can give and find things that you can give at scale. And then ask yourself what partner would be in You’re sitting working on this with me and would be interested in this type of work or referral, work collaboration. And then you can use that pool to identify the partners you think will be most appropriate for your program, and what you need. So start with what you can do for partners, and then narrow down the list to who might actually benefit you as well.


Aaron Olson 5:20

Yeah, that’s fantastic. Are you able to give me any examples of ways that you’ve done this at partner page?


Stewart Wesley 5:27

So the irony of partnership software is that the partnerships ecosystem is a bit. One is like, it’s nascent. And so we do this actually, in a few ways. So I will say we ever on partner page, where we’re featuring partnerships, like consultants and experts, and what we’re doing is we’re basically saying to our customers, if you want to talk to one of these partnerships, experts, you’re building your program, you have questions for us about how to build a program will help you with it. But these people spend their whole lives trying to solve this problem. And they’re willing to talk to you for free for an hour to kind of give you a partnership’s health, like health checkup. So this is a way that like our partners can help our customers and start meaningful conversations. And the partners are happy, the customers are happy. And we’re kind of facilitating those introductions. And then the other thing is people ask us about PRs frequently, so we are very happy to send PRM referrals as well, since we are not a PRM. So it’s about basically, for us, it’s about giving access to our customers in meaningful ways, right? If you if you’re introducing your customer, they’re going to be fatigued. If you introduce them to boring vendors that don’t actually solve their problems, you have to find meaningful points of connection based on customer value. And if you find those, you can do those all day and your CS team will actually love you because you’re making them look even better in front of the customer.


Aaron Olson 6:52

Fantastic. Well, Stuart, I really appreciate you jumping on the call with me today to go a little bit deeper on that principle. Is there anything that I didn’t ask that I should have asked regarding this principle of the first giver wins?


Stewart Wesley 7:05

I think the only thing I would add is that there is a deep a depth to this question that I think goes into the core of the human experience. And it’s a whole trip to go down that. But I think what happens is if we start having really meaningful, empathetic relationships with each other, we can create a lot of value. And as we approach the holiday season, if you are a cold hearted partnerships person or a cold hearted exec, who manages a partnerships team, it doesn’t understand reciprocity. If you read A Christmas Carol, you’ll start to get the gist of what we’re looking for. That’s the only thing I’ll add. There’s a deep conversation here about what it means to be in relationship. And I think it’s at the core of business and at the core partnerships.


Aaron Olson 7:49

Yeah, fantastic. I’ll reread that story. Thanks so much for coming on the call.


Stewart Wesley 7:53

Cool. All right. Thanks, Aaron.

Multiple Contributors 11 min

Nearbound.com Principles: The First Giver Wins


You don't have time to wait for the quid pro quo. It's better to make the first move.


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