Agency Partner

Building Successful Implementation Partnerships w/ InsightSquared and Aptitude 8

Alex Glenn
August 11, 2021
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Agency Partner
August 11, 2021

Building Successful Implementation Partnerships w/ InsightSquared and Aptitude 8

"If the sales team doesn't trust the Implementation Partner, nothing will get done."

This is the episode to listen to if you are either a robust tech product interested in building an implementation partner program, or an agency interested in becoming a trusted implementation partner of a top technology company. With us is Ben Turner who runs partnerships for InsightSquared and Connor Jeffers, CEO of Aptitude 8, one of his top Implementation Partners.

  • What it is an “implementation partner”?
  • Qualifying your product to support ‘implementation’ partners?
  • What the agency partner needs to have / be to be a successful implementation partner?
  • What’s needed to ensure success in this unique partnership?
  • What both sides should know about when things break?
  • Operations: Communication… Alignment… contracts...Enablement: documentation, assets, case studies, co-marketing around those ideal case studies…

This is the episode to listen to when you want to get a better implementation or expert partner program setup.

Suggested partnerships tech:

Sendoso - The leading sending platform.

Partnerstack - Partner tracking and payouts.

Reveal - A free account mapping solution.

Episode Transcript

Aptitude 8 Podcast

[00:00:00] Alex: Yeah. All right, Ben and Connor. So today we're going to talk about implementation partners, who they are, what the product needs to do to support it needs to be, to support these types of partners, what the persona is, but then we're going to go into operations. We're going to go into enable a mint. We're going to go into some of the things.

[00:00:21] You as a product, if you're a product team or you as an agent. So you need to know to be able to make implementation partnerships successful. I've reached out to my friend Connor at aptitude eight to be on this. And I asked him, Hey, who is a partner that you've worked closely with for a while and can qualify yourselves as an implementation partner of, and we can have this great conversation.

[00:00:44] He reached out to Ben at insight squared, and here we are we're doing video this time, which is noon. So I hope everyone appreciates it. Won't be as well edited as the audio versions. But let's do this Connor go ahead and do a little bit better of an introduction to yourself. And then I'll go over to Ben to do an 

[00:01:00] Connor: introduction of yourself.

[00:01:01] Sure. We'll do it. We'll just do it live. Let's do it. Hello? Hello. I'm Connor. I run an organization called aptitude eight. We are a rev ops consulting firm. A technical consulting firm. We work with a CRM providers and marketing automation providers. So Salesforce, HubSpot sort of all the things in the CRM and the marketing automation ecosystems and then the tools that connect to those.

[00:01:20] And so for for Ben on the InsightSquared side, I'll let him do the introduct. For that, but we're an implementation partner with InsightSquared. It fits really well into our thesis. A product that sort of sits on top of other CRM providers and provides value to sales teams, marketing teams, folks that are trying to sort of get a better handle on their data, how to use it.

[00:01:38] And it sort of enforce some process for all of their sales teams. But we're really excited about it. And so we brought Ben who is on the partnership side with insights.

[00:01:51] Alex: Yeah, please go ahead and do the intro introduction to yourself and I'll show your LinkedIn profile and some things about insight square. Don't look at the 

[00:01:58] Connor: screen. It's super distracting. 

[00:02:02] Ben: I have the port partnerships team at insight squared like Connor and Alex mentioned, we work closely with the team at aptitude eight from an implementation perspective.

[00:02:08] But InsightSquared, we're a revenue intelligence platform. So we. I mainly work with folks that are using Salesforce, HubSpot, and then Bullhorn as a CRMs really helping them better understand their activity and engagement as leading indicators of forecast accuracy, better managing pipeline understanding like what's happening within, within the entire revenue funnel.

[00:02:30] So that's a little bit about us and looking forward to the discussion here. 

[00:02:34] Alex: Yeah, this is good. I was just showing the website and I want to talk about this first, you know, what is an implementation partner, but some of the litmus tests for qualifying. When I look at products, if you guys have multi-faceted products, You know, Zendesk, HubSpot, these bigger platforms, you guys as well.

[00:02:53] I, I start to think implementation partner, but what let's start with you, Connor, how would you define yourselves as an implementation partner and what are the main things you do that separates you from just a referral partner to an implementation part? Yeah, for 

[00:03:06] Connor: sure. So I think that the biggest piece is sort of managing that post-sale experience, right?

[00:03:10] So if you come through you by insight squared and so for certain segments, they're going to be able to introduce you to an implementation partner, hand you over to us. So we have folks that are trained on the product, certified on the product help customers both implement it from a technical perspective, but also sort of drive some best practices, provide some coaching and be a resource to them.

[00:03:27] And it also lets us start to take that last mile. Customer experience. So there's both product expertise, strategy, expertise and then being able to sort of have that service provider relationship with some of those post-sale customers. 

[00:03:39] Alex: That's a great definition. So managing the post sale experience and of course, Ben, you are sales and partnerships.

[00:03:48] We talked about this before, but you probably have a different experience from the sales operation side, but how do you define just implementation partners versus your other partners? 

[00:03:59] Ben: Yeah. So on the implementation side really the way that we. Define and kind of look for folks on the implementation partner side is having a bit of that technical ability and resource to be able to go in and make recommendations.

[00:04:13] And only when it comes to the CRM side of things, but also best practices as it relates to those management and sales process. So being able to speak to you know, CRS heads of rev, ops, frontline sales managers, about the way that they're running their business, and then how that relates back to how they're going to be able to use insight squared.

[00:04:31] There's always some aspect of not only just the technical side of doing the implementation, but also being able to work with those folks that are in the seat today, to be able to understand and take the challenges that they have, and then correlate them back to the solution that we have with an InsightSquared to help themselves for some of those things.

[00:04:52] And then being able to do that obviously alongside the customer success manager at insight scored as well to have that level of communication there. So I think there's both a technical aspect to it, like Connor mentioned, but also that aspect of services and understanding like what's happening in the business today and where's the best fit.

[00:05:12] Connor: I think the thing for your audience, Alex, I did. I actually think that Ben really touched on is that persona alignment, which is obviously something that, that we look for as well, but is, and I think that that was what got us really interested about InsightSquared originally was like the people that we sell to the people that we serve, the audience that we understand and sort of do strategic consulting work with is the same audience that's buying the InsightSquared product.

[00:05:32] And so for us that made it a natural fit. But hearing Ben touched on that's really interesting because I guess that, that obviously cuts the other way as well, but. 

[00:05:39] Alex: And I, I was just pulling up your, your case studies here because on our side, some of some of Ben side too, probably, but us being in the middle and having to qualify people without even talking to people at some, some of the stuff that we have to do is look at apps to date and say, From face value, you know, is this an agency that I would assume can do technical implementations?

[00:06:03] So when I say implementation partner, I'm not managing post-sale, I'm kind of in between. So I'm just thinking about this and this can help some people that are prospects. When we look at Connor's case studies, where if they don't have a case studies page, you know, sometimes you can look at services, they have to mention some things that are a little bit deeper than just setting up with HubSpot.

[00:06:21] And HubSpot's a perfect example because historically 10 years ago, I'd say someone that can implement HubSpot. You know, that doesn't mean they can do technical implementations with integrations, all sorts of stuff. That just means they really know HubSpot, but then HubSpot launched. Operations hub. They launch all this different support suite.

[00:06:41] They have all these integrations now, but then they have tools being built on top of it. And when you look at Connor's case studies, he is talking about third-party tools that they've done deep integrations with that they've done that level of setup. So I just wanted to show that because I think part of the definition of an implementation partner is that savviness that, that wanting and wanting to publish that they go deeper into the text.

[00:07:07] Then some of the other agencies out there. Right. Connor. I mean, you guys are trying to brand yourselves as this right now. You guys are doing very 

[00:07:15] Connor: sure. Yeah. I think that the difference there, right, is it's like are you just running a playbook? Or you're sort of saying, Hey, here's our strategy. We run this or we're outsourced services or something to that effect versus sort of coming in with a perspective driving value through that strategic perspective, and then having the technical skills to execute.

[00:07:31] Alex: Exactly. And most of the front end the digital marketing agencies they don't go deeper into the tech stack. They stay kind of on the front end and traffic driving inbound type strategies. Then there's this new breed of agencies, rev, ops agencies, or one of these other than their specialist agencies that just do click up or just do Zen desk or just to Salesforce.

[00:07:51] So these are your implementation partners. So we've qualified. Connor we've qualified the name or we've defined the name implementation partner for those that are brand new to it. But now I want to talk about, you know, what do you have to have, right. So both sides. First go back to Ben. Since we haven't talked in a minute about what you guys have to have as a product to say, you know what we need.

[00:08:15] Connor and we need implementation partners. 

[00:08:18] Connor: And then 

[00:08:19] Alex: some of the things operationally that you want to have in place to make sure that you can support an implementation partner program. I know that's a loaded question, but let's start with what made you guys know that you need Connor. 

[00:08:35] Ben: Yeah, I think for us there, there's a couple of things.

[00:08:37] Cause obviously we, we do have an in-house implementation team. So we work with our in-house implementation team. We work with a couple of folks on the, on the partner side as well, but really I think I'll start from, from the product perspective because we've went through this transition as a business over the last 12 to 18 months.

[00:08:57] We've migrated our customers off of an older solution onto a newer, newer solution and architecture, and really that was for a lot of reasons, but one of the things that. We found with our legacy solution was that like, we really couldn't open up a lot of the things that we needed to, from a product perspective to, or to give a level of access to partners, to be able to do implementations.

[00:09:20] And so I think from a product perspective, you have to make sure that the product is set up in a way that you can give. Third-party partners and folks like that, the ability to go in and do the things that they need to do from an implementation perspective. And then I think the other aspect of Alex is, is really like, how do we make sure that the.

[00:09:40] That there's alignment between the resources at the, the partner organization. And then how those kind of aligned with how you think about implementation internally. And so for us, a lot of the collaboration that we did with, with Connor and the team over probably the first, I don't know what got her three to six months of the partnership was really like, how do we make sure that we're aligned?

[00:10:01] That we have the right people both from your side and from our side to make sure that we're set up to be successful and that we're not, you know, using resources inefficiently on either side there, but making sure that we have the right, the right people to do the implementing. 

[00:10:15] Alex: How do you do Connor?

[00:10:17] Anything on that? Yeah, 

[00:10:18] Connor: I think, I think the piece of it that was really powerful with these guys specifically. Right. So you guys launched this implementation program. I know we were one of the first folks you guys were working with through that process. And I think one of the things that. Ben and the broader InsightSquared team specifically to give, to give Rachel a call-out who she got a shout out before the recording started.

[00:10:35] So I had to make sure I got this one in there, but on the InsightSquared side for tons of documentation, tons of resources, and then also being willing to sort of have the open conversation with us. I mean, I think that in the beginning we staff some of these implementation projects with more senior technical sales for consultants.

[00:10:51] And what we found through that process is like, they weren't the right people. To be managing that implementation project. They were sort of accustomed to thinking, okay, how do I build this? How do I custom create it? How do I do that work around versus when we sort of pivoted our staffing approach to bringing in folks that were more from a sales enablement, sort of the coaching and the strategy angle, they were able to say, Hey, I know you want to go down this really custom path.

[00:11:14] And instead of my mind, thinking from a perspective of. How do I customize everything to work the way that you're thinking you want it to versus how can I show you how this product can empower you to achieve what your end goal is in a better way? And I think that the, we would have never come to that conclusion without really open dialogue from Ben and his team to find out we had some of the wrong people in place.

[00:11:35] And I think instead of us chalking it up as maybe this isn't working or maybe these take too long, or we have the wrong people in place, we were able to sort of digest. Okay. What is the actual project need to look like? What are the staffing requirements? And we sort of learned that on both sides along the way.

[00:11:48] And I don't think that we would have gotten there without the, the level of sort of communication and openness from, from Ben and the rest of the stew team. For sure. 

[00:11:57] Alex: Awesome. Yeah. And one of the things that I wanted to get out there as well, 

[00:12:00] Connor: while 

[00:12:00] Alex: we're talking about what needs to be in place is culture is one of the things.

[00:12:04] So the culture internally over at insight squared and also just the entire system itself has to be. Able to support implementation partners has to be welcoming, but also everybody's gotta be on the same page. So culture and alignment, I think are these two keywords that come up. So Ben, I wanted you to talk about any internal conversations that you have, and this is more for those teams that are deciding how much of the service revenue they want to take in house.

[00:12:32] You know, so essentially. Should we charge a 10 K setup fee and build it out with our, our clients, our users, sorry, as a product team, or should we try to find implementation partners, not charge that 10 K set-up fee. And instead allow Connor to learn the product enough to sell his own billable hours. And then we just enable a lot of aptitude, eight type agencies to do that.

[00:12:57] Do you guys have any internal conversations or have you consulted with any other teams? That are in that, that phase of deciding. Yeah. 

[00:13:04] Ben: So I think for us, one of the forcing factors on the implementation side was just like bandwidth as we continued to grow and making sure that we didn't overwhelm our own internal team.

[00:13:17] And so we said, Hey, we know we need partners to be able to help just kinda like offset the continued demand. And so making sure. We were set up to be successful, not only initially, but also in the longterm with partners that we knew we could continue to grow with. And I think from the collaboration side of things this is like Connor.

[00:13:35] And I don't know if you remember this, but you guys were pretty flexible in terms of like how we communicate. So we use slack very heavily. Internally. Connor was like, we don't use slack at all. We use, I don't know what tool you guys use. And now we talk like every day on slack. So like very willing to kind of change some of that.

[00:13:52] Organizational work as well to kind of fit within how we collaborate, which I think has helped a lot because it's enabled their team to have a lot more direct access to a lot of different folks in our side for questions, and really get answers much quicker than sending an email and waiting for someone to respond.

[00:14:10] Alex: Got it. Yeah. Okay. So one of the things there that I want to go a little bit deeper into, so things are gonna break in the communication process. This could start at contracts. This could, this could be during the first implementation and probably guessing things break a lot during the first implementation.

[00:14:27] So let's say Connor. We'll do two, maybe two different scenarios. I'll I'll do the first one, but then there's maybe a, a more prevalent scenario that you guys have. But the one I hear about is the agency will bring a large client to the table with the client asking about the product. So the, the client either asks about the buzzword and the team went to Google and G2 crowd and found the category leader.

[00:14:49] And then they go to that product and they say, We have a client that wants to implement your solution or one like yours. And we'd like to be involved. And we want to kind of do this simultaneous thing of like, we want to learn how to implement while we sort of Cosell this client on it. So we want to be involved in the process to get our team up to speed, and then it sort of converts into an implementation partner at the end, but you're going through that first one together.

[00:15:18] So I want to talk about where things can break in that scenario or a similar scenario in some of the things that you and insight squared, just make sure to do first. If I brought you that as a new agency partner, what are some of the things you tell me first? And you force me to do before you go down that route, or do you, are you open to scenarios like that, but what are some of those?

[00:15:39] Just the thoughts that come into your head when you're thinking about that scenario? 

[00:15:43] Connor: I think the big thing stress to we, we start a lot of A lot of implementation partner relationships that way. We really like to come in and say, Hey, listen, we, we brought a customer to the table. I think the value, at least the way that I think about it.

[00:15:54] And I don't know. I'm hoping that Ben's like, yeah, that sounds right. Cause otherwise we're doing it, we're doing it wrong. Which is that I think the value for us, right. It's like we have to de-risk it for the software provider because otherwise they're sort of taking on a new partner. They're introducing someone into their customer journey and they hold all the risk, right?

[00:16:10] Cause if, if, if instead they're handing it over to somebody and that person hasn't been pre-vetted in some capacity, then they're taking a ton of risk in there. The person that sort of gets blamed, if anything goes wrong. Whereas if we're bringing a customer to the table and we sort of fumble that initial implementation site.

[00:16:25] The customer is looking more to us than the software provider is you're the person that brought us into the, this or the person that set it up. And I think for us, our goal is always, how can we de-risk it for those partners as, as easily and quickly as possible. So we typically come in, we bring one of those projects and then it's more of a conversation of how can we get a ton of access.

[00:16:42] And so we sort of describe it. Super tech support. But for us it's, if our team is working against something and they need access to folks on your side, on the product side, how do they get that? And I think to Ben's point around slack, and some of these other pieces is here's some direct access to our product team.

[00:16:58] Here's weeklies with sort of our product leadership on how things are working and what you can unstuck. And I think that goes. A really, really long way to empower any of those folks to work with you even before you have all of the amazing documentation that, that Ben and Rachel and the rest ISD team put together, even without that and having access to the people it goes a really long way in front of us.

[00:17:20] Alex: Okay. And Ben, same question to you is, so Connor's bringing you that big deal. You've never met Connor before. You don't know much about his agency. You definitely want the deal. Of course. And you don't want to interrupt that sales process. But what are some of the first things you do and you make sure the team does and then operationally, how does that work?

[00:17:37] Yeah. 

[00:17:37] Ben: So I think from our perspective, I mean, that's very similar. Yeah. The relationship kind of started with the team would have to do date. They had brought us a couple of deals and they were like, Hey, we brought you a couple of deals. Like how can we continue to kind of evolve this relationship?

[00:17:49] For us. It's a couple of things. I mean, obviously on the vendor side, in any software company, you want to make sure that you're, you're doing everything you can to retain your customers. So anytime you're introducing another party to your customer base there, to your counters point, there is always some risk there.

[00:18:04] So I think the de-risking aspect of it is really big. And then being able to go back and look at it and say, Hey, you know, they've they brought us a couple of customers like here. The typical challenges that they see, like here's the other folks that they work with in this space. And it's kind of like, what is to go back to Connor's point earlier on the persona side, like who do they typically work with?

[00:18:24] Are we aligned on the way we think about, I'd say business challenges as a whole and making sure that there is that alignment between teams on only. Yeah. Hey, they think we have a great product and the product solves for a need that they have. But like, if we have to go back to them and say, Hey, you brought us these three customers.

[00:18:42] Here's current tiers, common challenges that we've seen within them. Like, how can you go back to them? Because you still have the relationship on the services side and say, Hey, you know, here's other things that we would recommend they change in their process or things like that. So I think a big aspect of it is, is that collaboration side.

[00:18:59] I know I've touched on it a couple of times, but also. Making sure that there is that alignment. Not only in, I think we have a good product, but in DLI, I'm in like who we work with and why we work with them. And what are the business challenges that we're typically trying to solve for? 

[00:19:13] Connor: I ended up the buyer persona alignment.

[00:19:16] So key, because I think that a lot of, I don't know, I noticed this a lot for sort of traditional marketing agencies of like their, their target audience. Their audience is vast or like anyone and everyone all the time. And I think w we certainly fall somewhat victim to that when we, you know, we isolate a little bit, we'll be like, oh, you know, we target B2B and we target go to market organizations and some of these other pieces, but I think.

[00:19:36] Differentiator. I think the important part, especially on the implementation partner side is being able to like, we understand the persona that you sell to. We understand their problems, we can speak their language. And that means that we can come in and we can be a voice that someone can take seriously, but also a voice.

[00:19:51] Can influence some of what they're doing as opposed to, Hey, we showed up and we understand the product, but we don't necessarily understand you or who you are. And I think that that's where things start to fall apart for some organizations is they bring in an implementation partner, they train up on the product, but their understanding and knowledge of that buyer just isn't there.

[00:20:13] Ben: Yeah, I think, I mean, I think that's a great point, Connor. I mean, no No CRO wants to get on a call with a piece of technology that you just bought and be like, wait at the ass. Like, why do I want to Ford? Like, why do you want to forecast? That's obviously an important part of the, of the business and making sure that you could speak to those things is definitely important.

[00:20:31] Alex: Oh, I love it. This is good. And we're, we've got a nice back and forth going, so I don't want to break this, this awesome, awesome chain of information that we've got going. So we've got a progression here. Okay, well, this new partner has come to the table. They are qualified as an implementation partner.

[00:20:48] They already do this with a couple other tools, and you've got them in this process. Now that you're hoping to operational operationalize as a, let's just say you're brand new to implementation partners. So Connor is one of the first few you've seen it a couple of times. Now the team is like, you know what?

[00:21:07] Let's, let's put this into practice. Let's. Open up for business, essentially, where you're going to put an implementation partner tag on your new partner page. And you're going to start marketing yourselves to agencies like Connor and start to put this in an operation. So if you're talking to the teams that are in that phase where they're trying to operationalize.

[00:21:27] Put together a system that will support Connor and make the Connors of the world super attracted to the program. What are some of the things that you think bare minimum that you need to have in place? And then I want to go into roadblocks right after that. So if you just had a laundry list of, I need an implementation partner program, what are the first five to 10 things that you need to make sure are in place?

[00:21:49] You can say anything contracts, processes, 

[00:21:55] Ben: and we we've talked about it a little bit earlier, but is that the product needs to be able to support having an implementation team implementation partner team? Because the last thing that you ever want is for people doing the implementation to have to go back and submit support tickets constantly about things that they should be able to do on their own, that they can.

[00:22:14] And then it becomes a friction point between you and the partner and the partner and the customer and your customer success team and the customer. And so making sure that like the partner is enabled to do all of the things that they need to do within the product. And it doesn't mean that they're initially going to know everything about the product.

[00:22:31] They're going to have questions. There's going to be things that they don't know the answer do that they need to go ask and that's expected and fine, but the product needs to be able to support that. And so, I mean, our entire product team is. I think done a really good job of, of making all of those things accessible to our partners.

[00:22:48] Do you mean like a box, 

[00:22:50] Alex: a doc center, like a hope center? Do you mean like what, what about the product needs to be. 

[00:22:56] Ben: I think it's a couple of things I think docs are great. But they just have to be able to go and do the things that they need to be able to do. And that sounds really simple and really straightforward.

[00:23:06] But for example, if a partner can't get to a specific page in the settings section and has to go to support to say, Hey, support, like I need to get into settings. And I can't do that in the support teams. Like. Only an internal facing page that you don't have access to. Like that becomes a roadblock then for every time that customer or that partner has to do an implementation and they need to get to that page to do it there then has to be a delay for the customer and for the implementation partner to be able to do it.

[00:23:35] So I've just before we even started thinking about like documentation and things, just accessibility of all the things that they need to be able to get to in the product. Oh 

[00:23:43] Connor: my gotcha. I think the piece of that is like any, and we run into that. Plenty of other products all the time. It's both like a setting component, but it's also like, oh, you have to opt into that, working that way or functioning that way.

[00:23:55] Or you need to be able to, to you can only import that type of a dataset if you have access to the actual admin panel which we don't sort of have as, as customer facing. And I think one of the things. And since we're doing an amazing job of, but I think we, we see inhibiting relationships in other capacities as well, is that we, we can't do that.

[00:24:14] And what ends up happening for that customer experience, right? It's like, we're supposed to be the people that are implementing this product and they come to us and they're like, Hey, can we get this turned on? And we're like yeah, we need to go submit a support ticket. And then that has to go back to the primary product.

[00:24:26] And then their engineering team has to do something. So it's going to be like three or four days before we can get this resolved. And then they're sitting there like, man, Why, why are we working with you guys? If you guys can't get this thing activated for us, and then they're having a rough experience.

[00:24:38] And I think that the main thing is just like minimizing the customer experience and the friction that they're having wherever possible. 

[00:24:45] Alex: I love it. No, that's, that's what I want to get out of this. I think this is the best thing that we could possibly do for the people listening is like, yeah, everybody wants a bunch of implementation partners.

[00:24:54] It sounds great, but there's, there's things that have to be in place on the product side. There's things that have to be in place on the partnership side. So we just talked about products. I want to talk about what needs to be in place on the partnership side. So communication. Enablement some of the assets stuff that needs to be in place.

[00:25:12] So I do like the idea of. Onboarding these partners as implementation partners. So if you have a CS person that may be the, the person that's gonna own the partner onboarding for the first, you know, the test of this new program, you're going to have a partner enablement manager or partner success manager later, but you don't right now you have a CS person that's going to peel off some of their time or open up their accounts.

[00:25:36] And that person needs to onboard Connor to make sure that he doesn't run into these issues that you just mentioned and treat them a little bit differently. So I think that type of scenario has to be in place where you have to have an onboarding system that's built for implementation partners. That's a little bit different than you users and a little bit different than referral partners.

[00:25:55] And then under that you have contracts exchange. And you have communication. Communication has to be real tight. So I think at minimum slack, right, you have to be in a slack channel with your partners. I think at minimum. Let's talk about the handoff and the tracking of what needs to be operationalized are in place to say Connor's got another deal, a new client.

[00:26:19] What does Connor know he has to do with that deal to make sure that. They're getting set up in the right way. Does he ping you first? How does that work? And what does Connor do completely on his own and what happens on your side when Connor brings a new deal? 

[00:26:35] Ben: Yeah, so great questions. I think I am very fortunate in my role that I work with some really awesome people.

[00:26:43] Who've done a lot in really worked really well and just like, and I think to go back maybe. A step back. I think a big aspect of this is really like collaboration across the, I'll say the vendor company as a whole. And so for us, there's a ton of cross-functional work that goes on to make sure that in this case, the implementation partner program is set up to be successful.

[00:27:05] And that's everyone from our head of product to our head of implementation to the people that report to them, to our sales team. To our customer success team. And so making sure that everyone across those different levels is aligned that here's, here's why as a business, this is happening. And this is the things that it means to the business, because there's going to be breakdown there.

[00:27:26] If the sales team doesn't trust the implementation partner, if the customer success team doesn't trust the implementation partner, if the implementation team. Doesn't isn't doesn't feel comfortable giving the enablement and the resources or the product team doesn't feel like the product is set up to do those things successfully.

[00:27:42] So there has to be a high level of cross functional alignment across the team to be able to do that. And I mean, kind of, you mentioned Rachel earlier, but she heads up our implementation team. And she has done an amazing job of like putting together documentation for implementation part. Around, like, what are the things that need to happen?

[00:28:01] When does it need to happen? Who needs to be involved and why? And then I think the other aspect of it is so at more of a granular level, when a new deal does come in. And so the way that it works on our side is a new deal comes in. We assign that deal to an implementation partner. There's an email that goes out to the implementation partner who, you know, says, Hey, this is this is the people, this is the thing that's happening.

[00:28:20] And then from there They can, they can really run with it. Initially. It's very much just aligned with like, here's the process and here are the steps that need to happen. And they work pretty closely with the customer success manager for that for that customer to be able to get the calls scheduled to needed to happen, but really it's just a, we send an email, they run with it based on the documentation and the things that, that we've done.

[00:28:44] There's a lot of steps that go into that process before you get to that point. 

[00:28:49] Alex: Okay. Okay. And then Connor, I want to hear your process there because I think the main thing is partner teams need to know what they should expect from the agency. And then they need to prepare for their teams to say, Hey, like, this is what it's going to be.

[00:29:04] Like when we have these types of implementation, they're not referral partners that are just going to send you a lead and then you're may never hear from them. They are going to be involved in every bit of the implementation. They're going to be handling a lot of the supports and they're going to be very, I hate to say needy Connor, but I don't think 

[00:29:23] Connor: that that's like an inaccurate term to be totally.

[00:29:25] I think that's probably true and you're, and you're managing reputational as well. Right. And I think that that's, that's the, that's the piece that I think we. We think about the most in working with any vendor implementation partner is that and I, we tell our sorta frontline implementation folks all the time.

[00:29:43] Like if you have a partner manager, who's worried about the S-curve, you have a CSM who's worried about this. Or if you have an AE who is worried about this, like the reality is. Their customer, it's their product and our actions reflect on them and they, we don't work there. And I think that there, there's a big element of that where you see, I think a lot of the rev ops function, right.

[00:29:59] As we see it also as like, how do we align our CSMs and our marketing and our ease and make sure all these people are on the same page about this customer and their needs. The difficulty of doing that only expands when you start talking about people who aren't even in the organization at all. And they have none of that shared value.

[00:30:13] And I think when the, the, one of the most important pieces, and I think this is one that the InsightSquared team really excels at is paths of escalation, paths of communication, and who to involve. And when and I think one of the things. We have, and I even remember we were handling a different, a different partner with different issues.

[00:30:33] And there was an issue where we were saying Hey, what, what's the, what's the deal with this customer? We're like, ah, they're kind of frustrated. Here's the reasons why we're like, okay, who do we tell about that? And they're like, ah, we don't know. And I think the thing was. The InsightSquared team is we do know, we know about is that the CSM for this problem, as they aim for this problem, does this escalate up to Rachel?

[00:30:49] Like who do we involve in this conversation? I think that's critically important as to tell your partners when these things happen, here's who you go to because the worst. That can happen is you have multiple people in your org and in the partner org, having a conversation with the customer, none of them are on the same page.

[00:31:06] And this customer is sitting here saying I'm really frustrated. And I keep getting ping ponged around to people, or I have a question and maybe someone doesn't even know the answer. They don't even have to be in a negative head space. They could just be like, I don't know why someone can't just tell me what the deal is with this.

[00:31:20] And I think giving your partners knowledge on who to ask who to escalate to and when is, is critical. For them to be able to have solid service delivery. 

[00:31:30] Alex: I love that. Yeah. And I know we only have nine minutes here, so I want to wrap with a what not to do. But just to summarize a quick summary of the things that we've mentioned when you're thinking about implementation partners, You have to make sure the team is aligned on what's going to happen.

[00:31:45] So this episode, I think, gave you a very clear view of like what it's like between the two and what sort of operationally and communication process and some of the things that will happen. The main thing that I learned or that I got confirmation of is like, you need the team to be very well set up and prepared for the inbound of an implementation part.

[00:32:06] Orchestration. Right? I think the team also needs to fully understand the persona, which is why we invite Connor and agencies to these calls because many tech teams Ben, you may have had this experience before you were in your position. Maybe not, but many tech teams have never been an agency had never worked with an agency before, so they don't fully realize like when Connor brings a deal to insight square, It's not just a person at a company wanting insight squared and wanting to look into it.

[00:32:34] So they kind of undermine it a little bit. When Connor brings insight, square, a company of his, a client of his to insight squared, nine times out of 10, that client is also doing a six-figure HubSpot build or Salesforce build. And they've got all these other things. So if your point of contact at InsightSquared, that Connor thinks he's supposed to go to isn't the right person.

[00:32:56] And they send Connor's client an email. Saying I'm not who you should talk to. And then that gets back to Connor or if it just unravels during the implementation, he doesn't just. An InsightSquared referral commission. He loses a potential six figure plus deal, right. A client. Right. So I don't think a lot of teams really realize that.

[00:33:16] So I I'd say that is one of the bigger things with just implementation partners. You got to know what you're getting into and you gotta be willing. And the whole team has to be prepared and excited about that and want that. But I want to go through a couple of, not today. So Ben, I know you've probably run into walls during the setup of this and maybe you've talked to other companies and even other agencies.

[00:33:36] Well, what are some of the things that you would say definitely don't do these things if you're trying to be partnered with agencies at this level. 

[00:33:44] Ben: Yeah, I think what not to do is, is always interesting. Cause everyone wants to avoid like the potential pitfalls. I think. For us. And maybe this isn't a, this is a direct answer to the question, I think, as opposed to thinking about like what not to do, I think people need to make sure that they're very clear on what they want to get out of the partnership and then set those expectations extremely early with, with every partner that they talk to.

[00:34:08] And so you don't end up. You know, spending time and resources and energy chasing partnerships for two, three months that don't have the opportunity to be successful in the first place. And so really making sure that you're aligned both with the partnership team and internally, and cross-functionally on like, why do we want to do this?

[00:34:26] And what is the end goal of this for us as a business, because that can then help shape, how do you have those first initial conversations? Just say, Hey, here's what we're looking for in a partner. Here are the things that we need to get from this. Like, if you can do those things, we should continue this conversation.

[00:34:41] If you can't do those things. And like, that's totally fine, no hard feelings, but like it's probably isn't a good fit. And being able to set those very clear expectations as early as possible is really helpful. And just making sure that that things are set up to be successful. 

[00:34:57] Alex: I love it. And we call it a partner memorandum.

[00:34:58] I just shared it with you guys. Spend, definitely check that out. We go through this with our agencies where we have them. Everything that they need out of partnerships with. They're willing to do who they are selling to their personas, but also what they give partners immediately. And also what they try to get out of the partnerships.

[00:35:15] So goals have that on file. That's something all teams should do with all of their agency partners is go through that practice of. Let's put this on paper, let's get some source of what is this partnership, you know, and then your future partner managers can look at that. And then Connor, when he hires a partner manager, he can, he can make sure they know that they prepare that with all their new tech partners.

[00:35:36] I like that practice. That's working well for our agencies. Connor, some of the things that you've ran into, definitely don't do. I think there was a communication loop. That's annoying when you refer a partner and they say, no, I'm not the person. They just kind of leave them high and dry. Right. Passing them along.

[00:35:51] I think we talked about that, but anything else? What not 

[00:35:54] Connor: to do when I think there are. Lots. But I think one of the ones that I think is really tangible, and I will say this I'll say this from both sides is I think the, one of the most important pieces is to have on the, on the implementation partner side, which is like, don't throw the product under the bus which is always really easy.

[00:36:11] Right? Cause you're like, oh, I'm the implementation partner or this thing doesn't work very well. And like, that's that's it because the product doesn't work because now you're sort of setting up the. A vendor that you're working with for a bad situation, instead of sort of like a, how can I reset your expectations?

[00:36:26] How can I make you successful? How can then, like that that's really the job versus speaking to where there's gaps. And there, there always will be with, with any software solution. It's just like the truth. And so you don't want to highlight on those or speak to those as sort of like, explain. That's the reason that we can't do this for you is because the product just doesn't support it.

[00:36:41] And instead sort of seeking to how can I, how can I deliver success? I think on the flip side that we see with different partners is don't, don't throw those partner folks under the bus either and try to like come back and say, Hey, how can we make you successful as a customer? That can make it a really, just a difficult conversation to come back from is if and, and we see.

[00:36:57] We, we have seen this with some of the partners that we work with and I think Ben and team do a really good job. And I think we talked a little bit about that communication piece, but how can we approach as a, Hey, this customer is frustrated that customer has unreasonable expectations. Like this customer was sold on something that maybe we do or can't do, or maybe the person that we sold to was no longer involved or whatever sort of the symptom is of how can you come to that conversation?

[00:37:19] As a team and be aligned on how you can solve the problem versus what we've seen with some partners, which is a shutdown, the project reassigned, an implementation partner, and just sort of like try to not necessarily sweep it under the law, under the rug, but pivot out immediately. And I think one of the things that Ben in the InsightSquared team have we've done an amazing job with is being able to have that open communication and build a long, it.

[00:37:42] Alex: I love it, man. That's why it's great to have you Connor. You're just one of the best to do it. So Ben and I were just chatting back and forth real quick. And I do want to mention one thing that we've seen come up recently. It's exclusivity and partner partner contracts. So exclusivity would be if Ben and insight squared said, Connor, if you want to be our partner and you want us to support you and train you and develop you you cannot also partner with our direct company.

[00:38:09] Some do it some don't there are pros and cons. Maybe I honestly, I haven't heard a good pro but Ben, what's your experience with exclusivity? I don't think you guys have it, but have you dealt with 

[00:38:21] Ben: it at all requests? We don't. I mean, I think from the implementation side, I mean, I think there's like for, from our perspective, like, I mean, absolute Aiden to the team, They're an agency they need to do what's best for them as a, as a business.

[00:38:34] And I think from our perspective you know, if they think that we're the right solution for people that are looking for, you know, a forecasting at revenue, intelligence space or tool, and like, they probably want to partner with us for that reason. And it, for me, from their perspective, like buy doesn't make sense for them to go out and try to find seven different.

[00:38:55] That do the same thing that they want to partner with all on the same side. So like, I think from that aspect, it's more of like, Hey, how can we make sure that we're setting our partners up to be as successful as possible so that they feel like they're partnering with people who are the best in class in the space.

[00:39:09] Rather than trying to like limit their ability to do the things that they should. Connor 

[00:39:16] Alex: back to you. Being 

[00:39:18] Connor: easy to partner with is a huge competitive advantage as it's my answer. I think that like you will, your, your product matters. All these other things are there, but I think the more difficult that you make it either through exclusivity clauses or lots of barriers to entry, or just sort of like being difficult to communicate or manage with like, Makes it so that those solutions partners are going to turn elsewhere.

[00:39:39] Cause they're like, man, this is just way too hard. You want us to like demonstrate that we don't have a competitive nature. And like, I totally understand for larger, or as you grow in your CFO has more influence and you have a legal team. And like all of this gets really messy and everyone's trying to mitigate risk.

[00:39:55] But I think that, especially on the partner managers side, you sorta have to be the voice for those partners and sort of communicate that you can't go into a relationship immediately saying you need to make absolutely sure. You have no ties to anything that's competitive with us or else this isn't going to go anywhere because I think that that starts it off on the wrong foot is I'm, I'm a, I'm a resource to you as opposed to an organization that you're interested in sort of like growing and building a future with 

[00:40:20] Alex: grade and you got to go you guys have been awesome.

[00:40:22] So I learned a ton and this is a unique episode that we didn't have much on, but how do you form and enable implementation? Partners like Connor and aptitude date, Ben insight squared. Thank you guys so much. I'll post links and everything. Get you guys as partner page links and all that stuff in this episode notes.

[00:40:42] And I'll share it with you guys when it's done. Thanks again. Thanks so much guys. 

[00:40:47] Ben: Thanks Alex. Thanks.

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