SaaS Partnerships Team Lead

How to spot and nurture valuable agency partners w/ HubSpot and Six & Flow

Alex Glenn
February 16, 2021
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SaaS Partnerships Team Lead
February 16, 2021

How to spot and nurture valuable agency partners w/ HubSpot and Six & Flow

“The number one thing to do is to find out the personal goals of the partner owner.”

From a 1-man shop to Elite HubSpot partner… How to find and nurture valuable agency partnerships.

In this episode, we get to understand the inner-workings of one of the most successful and closest relationships I’ve come across between channel manager and agency owner. This is a 6-year partnership that began with Richard Wood was a 1-man shop. Now, Steve Vaughan has nurtured Richard Wood and Six & Flow into a HubSpot Elite partner (the highest tier in their partner program). These two guys share how they do it in this episode of The Partner Enablement Podcast.

Main sections: 

[00:04:33] Overview of Hubspot’s partner program 

[00:06:11] Six and Flow’s partnership with Hubspot 

[00:09:10] The path to becoming an elite partner 

[00:11:44] The role of the channel account manager

[00:16:37] Checklist for brand new accounts 

[00:21:41] The value of trust in a partnership relationship

[00:25:27] What makes a great channel account manager 

[00:32:22] How to determine a partner fit 

Resources: - The leading sending platform. - Partner tracking and payouts. - A free account mapping solution.

Episode Transcript

Steve: [00:00:00] Oh, yeah. The number one thing to do is to find out the personal goals of the partner owner. I genuinely feel like he gives a shit about our business.

[00:00:19] welcome to make them famous. The podcast 

[00:00:22] Alex: [00:00:22] about partner enablement, you only podcast uncover both how partner teams enabled them. Workers and how other department leaders enable their partner teams to 

[00:00:30] Richard: [00:00:30] achieve success.

[00:00:40] Alex: [00:00:40] welcome back to another episode of make them famous and another version of our. Dating show where we bring a partner manager and their top agency to a call to make sure that we understand what is happening in their relationship. What makes it work? What makes it a true partnership? And this is a special one because we have Steve Vaughn channel manager at HubSpot.

[00:01:04] One of the most successful partner programs in history, SAS partner programs and Richard Wood. CEO of six and flow a top tier B2B digital growth agency and HubSpot elite partner in this discussion, we will find out why Richard isn't a lead partner. What was that journey? Why did he go down that road with HubSpot?

[00:01:27] What pushes him week to week, day to day, month to keep that journey alive? How Steve. Shows empathy and understanding for Richard's agency. What exactly he talks to Richard about from the very first couple of calls to today, we talk about what about Steve makes him a top cam channel account manager at HubSpot.

[00:01:50] We talk about how Steve recognizes potential in small agencies. Richard was on his own when he came into HubSpot's program. Now he's one of the top producers. Why did Steve take a chance on Richard as a one man shop and really work closely? Steve spent a lot of time with Richard early on. What about that relationship?

[00:02:12] Did Steve see? And then why and how. Did he progress to what it is today. And finally, we hear Richard's answers to why HubSpot's program is the best partner program in his opinion. But before we get into all of that, we have to hear from the amazing sponsors that make this show possible. Of course, we couldn't make this podcast famous without our amazing sponsors.

[00:02:39] For sponsorship we aimed for not only great products, but tech use to power. Some of the top partner programs around we've invited partner stack share work and send DOSO to be those sponsors partner stack. For those of you, unfamiliar is the leading partner management platform or PRM for SAS companies like Monday Unbounced in our comm.

[00:02:59] And Webflow, and it is a company we've worked closely with. We advise many of our post-program market fit clients to demo partner stack when they are ready to scale revenue through partnerships. We've talked a lot about co-selling in this podcast, so please check out our sponsor. For co-selling share a free app that allows partnership managers at top companies like Qualtrics FullStory smart recruiters and San DOSO to easily generate partner sourced and partner influenced deals.

[00:03:31] Thanks to real-time and unlimited account mapping share work is offering all, make them famous listeners a three month free account to map unlimited accounts generate leads. And attribute revenue to partnership managers efforts. You use the link below to sign up for that offer. Finally, the top sales and partnership teams around no of our third partner, CIN DOSO.

[00:03:53] The leading sending platform send DOSO is the most effective way for revenue generating teams to stand out with new ways to engage at strategic points throughout their customer journey by connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies can engage, acquire and retain customers easier than ever before.

[00:04:13] Founded in 2016, some DOSO is trusted by over 500 companies and has a vast global footprint with presence in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Learn more. That's the So thanks again to our amazing sponsors. Now let's get back into the episode. So today we've got a pretty awesome episode teed up.

[00:04:33]I've been chatting with Steve and Richard about what they do day to day, week to week, month to make sure that Richard and six and flow. And obviously Steve and HubSpot are both winning in this relationship. Steve, why don't you. Start the introduction. Who are you? What's your title? And give me three words to describe the current state of HubSpot's massive partner program.

[00:04:54] Steve: [00:04:54] Correct. It's nice to be here. Thanks for having me. So yeah, my name's Steve Vaughn. I'm a channel account manager at HubSpot. I have been for over seven years now, so I was one of the. First hires in the Dublin office in Ireland, when HubSpot started to expand outside of Boston and set up their Amir headquarters in Dublin, I was one of the earlier hires there.

[00:05:16] So I've been there a long time and I brought six and Flo on as a partner a year later. When rich was just a one man band. So I've been managing six and flow for six years. So that's who I am. That's how long we've been connected. And the partner program right now in three sort of phrases or words I'd say is on fire in a good sense.

[00:05:39]Delivering the happiest customers. HubSpot has. That's the second one. And the third one I would say is that it is evolving and maturing and I'm sure we can talk a bit more about that, but they're the three sort of top level things I'd say. About the partner program. 

[00:05:55] Alex: [00:05:55] Awesome. And Richard, you guys just reached the elite status, the highest status, I believe in HubSpot's tiered system, please introduce yourself and then give us a timeline of where HubSpot came in and what the tiers were before elite.

[00:06:10] And some of the things that you can talk about 

[00:06:11] Richard: [00:06:11] in there. Yeah, cheers. Cheers, Alex. Thanks for having me on. So my name is Richard Woods. I'm the managing director at six and flow. The pleasure of leading, like what is now become one of the front running agencies in Amir for the HubSpot partner program.

[00:06:24] I like Steve said, we've been with HubSpot for six years now. We typically work with high growth, B2B tech, SAS, and professional services businesses. And we've grown from one. As T Steve said to there's enough 30 of us. We're now working in a Mia and North America and Europe. So it's been a wild ride over the last six years.

[00:06:45] Alex: [00:06:45] Richard, thank you for that back to you, Steve, we're going to focus this first part of the discussion a little bit more on what you're doing week to week. Month to month for Richard and your partners and what the program looks like on the enablement 

[00:06:57] Steve: [00:06:57] side. Yeah. Yeah, I think, the first thing, the packs, the program is HubSpot.

[00:07:01] It sounds obvious, but a, six and Flores are in HubSpot. We have ours and we use of course. And  that's really key because when you come to making sure there's a good relationship between the partner manager and the partner. Having clearly defined goals that align. I said, that's, one of the top tips, you have to have a clear way of measuring how they're aligning.

[00:07:22]So for example in, in six and flows, HubSpot, we have a whole dashboard where the certifications are that they've passed. Where the Tia status. So as I said, rich and the team are what I think is only 15 elite partners globally. They've hit that. And that's good. That's got certain measurements according to MRR and sales and customer happiness that will have to be met to get there.

[00:07:44]So we can see that and that, so rich has targets of what he's trying to do to. To stay in, to be a lead and then to grow as an agency are then aligned to my targets. And so that is critical that there's that alignment of the of what he's trying to do and what I'm trying to do. And that's probably one of the big reasons why it's worked so well because.

[00:08:06] When rich came on board as a HubSpot partner, he said, I'm all in. Just tell me what to do, how to do it. I'll build my whole agency of course, with a six and Flo Richwood feel and where he can talk about that. But he's all in and he's rapping and what his services around the software and learning everything.

[00:08:21] So there's a real alignment of goals. But yeah, there's dashboards is pipelines as renewal documents as a shared Google doc, the rich and I use, we do some co-selling together. We have joint goals. There's a tier system, the certifications commissions, a rich gets commission on everything yourself, which is obviously a significant as well, particularly over six years.

[00:08:39] It's very significant. So Elon must describe the, and this is what our CEO keeps talking about. You've got to have all the vectors aligning. And so that's why it's a good partner program, because what rich is trying to do, what I'm trying to do, or HubSpot's trying to do is basically all aligning and we're one team.

[00:08:55] And  There may be some stuff rich wants to jump in on, but that'd be an overview to, to how the program works at a high 

[00:08:59] Alex: [00:08:59] level. Yeah, I think rich, the biggest question there is what made you want to go down the road and what kept pushing you down the road? I'm sure. Early on in this relationship, it was more of a give.

[00:09:10] Then to get, but now obviously it's been super successful. Your agency is growing very fast, but what made you set out to become an elite partner? And what keeps you progressing in the program 

[00:09:20] Richard: [00:09:20] week to week? Been totally honest to begin with. It started out, like we always were on the Gibbs side from HubSpot.

[00:09:27] So like we. We were given stuff from day dot, like they empowered us into the process. So funny story is Steve. When I was at a previous agency Steve was pitching us for about six months and we basically kept blanking him. And and he managed to reach out to me on the day that I left to become a S a consultant and.

[00:09:45] I was only ever going to deliver services as a, like on a consultant basis, tell people what to do. And then it slowly bled into, or very quickly actually bled into delivering those services. And Steve managed to catch me on the day that he just phoned me on my mobile on the day that I'd switched roles into this new role and said, Hey what are you up to now?

[00:10:05] And I explained to him and said, I'm going to do my own thing. And he was like yeah, Do you want to come out to inbound the conference? They run out in Boston every year and said, do you want to come out to inbound? See what the partner program is about? See what it's like, speak to other partners, come out and we'll show you what it's all about.

[00:10:19] And I went out and he introduced me to a bunch of partners. They showed me how they built their agency around the program. I I. I very quickly fell into the orange bubble and saw the energy and enthusiasm that agency owners had for the program, which agency and enthusiasm from agency owners around I'm sorry, energy and enthusiasm from agency owners around partner tours and things is as rare.

[00:10:43] So I decided to take a chance and I felt guilty because Steve had taken me all that way and bought me a nice dinner. So I thought I should probably sign up for this. But. Categorically the agency wouldn't be where it is now without our HubSpot partnership. They've helped us from everything from aligning.

[00:10:59] Aligning ourselves structures. Co-marketing co-selling we've been past opportunities. We've been a big part of their, kind of their growth map as well because we sit on advisory councils. So it feels like a partnership there's a two way street in the, and Steve has been a huge part of that.

[00:11:18] Although he can be a bit of a knob. He is. A good mate now. And we work incredibly well together. I love that. So 

[00:11:23] Alex: [00:11:23] true partnership. And this is where we like to dig out what that actually means. You mentioned a lot of keywords there. So I want to figure out from Steve's perspective. First Richard told me this, I think a long time ago, when we first started talking that his partner managers really understand his business, they understand his agency as a business.

[00:11:44] What it. It takes to run an agency they've they give that perception of true empathy and they talk to him about his business. I believe he was talking about you. So let's talk about that real quick. Steve, what does it take as a channel account manager to really understand and show that you have that understanding in that agency business?

[00:12:02] Does it take a lot of experience? Does it take a lot of questions? What do you do with a new agency to show that empathy and show that you really do understand. 

[00:12:10] Steve: [00:12:10] It's before coming into HubSpot. So I didn't come from the marketing world or the agency world. It wasn't something I knew at all. I just want to say off the record, I'm like completely agreeing with rich that he's a knob too, but we're friends and we worked well just said that's equal, cause I feel like this conversation would be completely unfair and he got to say that and I did it.  And I did buy him a dinner at Boston, which meant he signed up as well. So the empathy thing is key. When w and it's nice cause which was a one man band. So there's a blank sheet of paper.

[00:12:36] He was like, what am I going to build? My, you didn't even have an agency in mind. And then he caught the vision and then he could, do the whole thing. So I was able to help him. And we had so much fun as he said, just do it together and figure it, figuring it out. But one of two things, one is yet you just have to ask loads of questions.

[00:12:52] Loads of questions. For example, the classic one of the classic frictions and challenges of growing an agency in a small business, the hiring challenging, the service challenges, the technology challenges, the sales challenges and the key thing is that you're not just asking.

[00:13:05] Yeah. The questions that dominate my mind, according to myself targets. And that's the mistake comes know, channel account managers always make is it's just about their targets and whether the agency's going to deliver in the next kind of 30 or 60 days for them more, you have to have a holistic approach and say, if this agency is to grow over the next two or three years, Because we solve as many business challenges they have then of course, I'm going to benefit hugely as a channel account manager on a personal and in my role, but I just have to care enough about that agency's growth for its own sake.

[00:13:36]And so I think that's been part of the questioning and learning all about the teams they have and how they're structured and what works and the. The failed hires and all that kind of stuff. It's a much more broader understanding of not, what deals are you closing for HubSpot this month, but Hey, how's the agency going?

[00:13:51] What are your personal goals as a business owner? How much do you want to grow this year? Where are your biggest challenges? Who are you going to hire, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The second thing, I'll say, Oh, so the second thing I'll say, cause rich mentioned it is I kept introducing him so old, particularly American at that stage because the American partner program was more mature American partners who are one or two years further down the road than him.

[00:14:14] So when I didn't have a clue, what an agency growth curve looked like with HubSpot, he was speaking to agency owners who did and stuff. Then he could ask loads of questions. And so could I, and it was a kind of fun learning process for all of us, to be honest. So that was invaluable early on is to connect him to agencies that were partners that were further down the road.

[00:14:32] Now rich is leading the way doing that with others. But back then, that was how it worked. Alex, 

[00:14:35] Richard: [00:14:35] can I just jump in there as well? So two years ago, a partner day in Dublin, Brian Halligan actually asked me what is it about Steve that makes him like one of the business's top performing reps? And like I said to him, it's because.

[00:14:48] I genuinely feel like he gives a shit about our business. Like he, we have a relationship where he understands things that are going on in my business outside of what is being sold in terms of hotspot licenses. And he understands how hotspots fit into that. Like the wider picture, not just about how I can grow as MRR for his target.

[00:15:08] And that makes a huge difference because like Steve, over the years, Become a almost like a confidant in terms of like, when I'm making wider business decisions, I'll ask him. I generally don't listen to him, but I do ask him, but I'll find out what's going, like what he thinks is the right move. And that's the kind of partnership that I think any SAS business should be aiming for is having that.

[00:15:31] Intrinsic understanding because you get better performance out of it. Yeah. 

[00:15:35] Alex: [00:15:35] And that's one of the hardest things I think for any cam or any account manager for a major SAS product is the empathy side, the fully understanding an agency. And you mentioned Steve, you're not an agency. You didn't admittedly understand what it is like.

[00:15:50] For Richard running his business. So what you did is a ask a lot of questions and be introduced Richard to the agencies that are further or deeper in the program than he was when you started. That gave Richard a sense of, Hey, Steve's not going to try to pretend like he understands that this stage we'll get there, but what Steve is showing me.

[00:16:09] Is that he wants me to be successful and he's going to do anything he can to make sure I'm successful. So ask the questions for success and then introduce Richard to some of the agencies that have that success so that they can talk. Now, I want to process that out if we can. Steve. So if you put on your head of channel pants and pretend like you're about to instruct a partner manager to do and put an SOP together for what you've done.

[00:16:37] For Richard and your other accounts, what are some of the bullet points that you would make sure are in that se for a 20 five-year-old partner manager to go after a list of their brand new accounts that they've never spoken to that are agencies in your program, what would you put in that bullet point list for, to do's or?

[00:16:56] Steve: [00:16:56] Oh yeah. The number one thing to do is to find out the personal goals of the partner owner. The agency owner number one thing. Otherwise you're just going to have friction. Because particularly in the agency world where, they're typically has reached that he's now 30 plus agency, but you know that you're not talking enormous businesses, so it's still their baby,  and obviously you can grow to a hundred percent businesses still your baby.

[00:17:20] So if you haven't fully aligned to the agency partners, personal growth and personal, meaningful goals in the way you're approaching that partnership, then this is going to be friction at some point. So that's the number one thing. And so rich and I, and that's why it's been fun because in one sense, it's just that, he was very kind in the words he said to me that, but it has just been a lot of fun having chatting through what we're trying to do and how are we going to get there and what do you want to do?

[00:17:45] And do you know, it's been that kind of a relationship. So that's the number one thing. So I see so many young cams going into their roles, just going what are your targets? And do you want to hit what tier and all those questions are significant, but they're secondary. What are you trying to do as a business owner?

[00:17:58] And what is your agency challenges? That's the number one thing. Don't rush the step of the motivation that drives the agency owner. The number two thing I would want to do is you just want to have some really clear processes in place. I'm really basic stuff, but you want to have them in place.

[00:18:16] How are we going to communicate Slack, email, phone calls, zoom, how often how are we going to minute are our conversations and how are we going to break down our goals into smaller chunks and. And have that organized. We have some Google docs and we're taking sheets and I explained some of the dashboards we use.

[00:18:32] So it's all really clear. It's this is what we're trying to achieve together. And then this is how we're going to communicate and work together to achieve those things. So again, just slow down, making sure both people are fully aligned. All the vectors are going in the right direction. Everyone's understanding the expectations.

[00:18:47] Third thing. You have to, so you said at the start, yeah. She made an assumption that at the beginning it was more give than get for rich. And he, again, he was right. That it can never be there if you really want to succeed as a company, it can never, you've always got to, we'll be on giving value before I extract value.

[00:19:03] I'm a trusted advisor here. I'm the one suggesting the way forward. I'm the one bringing the questions. I'm the one adding the. Passing some leads. So of course it does end up as a partnership, as rich said, but th there's never this sort of lazy cam approach to, I'm just going to sit back and hope they work for me.

[00:19:16] You've got to stay ahead of them or at least be thinking for them so that you're always adding value. And if like enriches case, you're a small business owner, it's pretty intense in there, particularly when you're like one to five, five to 10, 10 to 50, it's intense and you're all hands on. So to have someone outside of the business, You can just ask some questions, have a bit of fun, go for a meal, think big picture, set some goals.

[00:19:41] They often don't have those kinds of structures, which has now got more people feeding into the business, but early on he didn't.  So that's it. Then the fourth piece I'd say is this. If you can create a scenario of what I did was called small group coaching, where you can get a load of your partners together to learn together.

[00:20:01] Three or four things happen. One, you save a ton of time as a account because instead of teaching, step one of our sales process or the latest feature of our whatever tool or whatever, or you know how to build an agency around it. A retainer model and all the stuff we taught six, like if you can do that with 10 other agencies on the core, you just save hours of time.

[00:20:22] So you as a camp too, they learn from one another. And to your point earlier, Alec I don't have agency knowledge. They are sharing that between them and going, Oh, that would help here. And have you encountered this? And there's just that mutual learning three, there's some beautiful, friendly competition that kicks off and people I reached don't want to lose.

[00:20:40] So he's suddenly going. I want to be the best in that group. Perfect good for him. Cause he's got a clear, something to go and achieve good for me because he's going to work hard. So the small group coaching where you can, instead of doing loads and loads of one-to-one. Do one to many, but make it valuable for the many, not just for you for time.

[00:20:58] That's one of the benefits, but they're benefiting together. I love it. 

[00:21:01] Alex: [00:21:01] That was a great list. And I'd like to quickly remind all the listeners, we have communities to support you in the growth of your partner programs or finding vetting and going to market with partners. If you're an agency for the tech partner teams, if you head to collective.

[00:21:17] Dot partner You can find the partner programs, collective, where there are agency led, round tables, trainings, events, everything that you would need in order to learn how to grow with agency partners. If you're an agency, head to community dot partner, that's where you'll find. More agency led round tables, the partner tracks that you need to succeed.

[00:21:41] And of course the support from everyone here at partner programs. Anyways, I'll let you get back to the episode. We talk about this analogy of give, take jab, right hook from Gary V if you ever follow that crazy guide. But it's important that partner managers do understand this. And I think to the detriment of some of the bigger programs out there, they have that ego, they have that ego of, we have agencies making.

[00:22:04] All of this money and getting all of these referrals and all of this traffic, and we have thousands of partners. They are structured to put an agency down a path to make them learn and develop on their own. They're invited into some of these group things in Slack. Yes. But what you did with Richard, I don't see, as often as I wish I did, where you come in as a one-to-one relationship, I'm here to help you grow.

[00:22:26]Not necessarily your channel account manager yet. I'm almost just your liaison in this whole world of partnerships. And I'm here to make sure that you navigate it correctly. Talk to me a little bit about trusting in the relationship, being something that will bear fruit, but what did you see? How did you make sure that you are going to get ROI from the relationship and trust that your free time not asking him for business was going to net out something in the end.

[00:22:52] Richard: [00:22:52] Yeah, 

[00:22:52] Steve: [00:22:52] that's great because there are time-wasters out there, right? You one sense. I'm not saying every one man, everyone should commit to, with the same Gusto and energy you do, of course it's in a sense sales, at some point when you go, listen, this isn't working, but you said, I can't remember how you phrased it, but you can see the potential and you have good reasons for that for seeing that potential.

[00:23:09]You're going to stick it out. A few things on that one is have they done it before? So Richard actually being an MD of, I can't remember 10, 15 person agency before. So like he, he knows this game and has grown a team and manage the team. So he's not like a, he's not wet behind the ears for the agency world.

[00:23:24] So that was one thing that was key too, is so aggressive goal minded, even though he's a kind of gentle, lovely kind of guy you say really keen to, to be successful. So you can tell that can't you, it does mean if you're playing sport. If you're in business, you can tell the people that are just going to go and get it.

[00:23:41]And again, it comes down to when you ask them about their personal goals they're big enough and serious enough and driven enough and all the rest.  So the first one is, how have they done it before? And the second one is what is their sort of personal sort of goals and ambitions.

[00:23:54] And are they serious enough? But here's the third one I'd say is, can they sell. Not are they going to sell tomorrow, but can they sell, do they have the ability to, and if they do the deals typically do start coming in sooner rather than later. If you've got someone say in the agency world that is purely been on the services side or building websites, you can quickly tell this person has no commercial sense and could not sell for anything.

[00:24:18] And no matter how much time and effort I put into them, they're just not going to get it because there's fine. They're just build websites and they're good at delivering services and whatever. But come, they drive a business forward through revenue. No. And so when you, when I met rich, got the experience, grow huge personal goals and ambitions and drive, and in might need a little bit of coaching, but this guy's going to know how to sell.

[00:24:39] She know you got those three stick with it. Cool. So cool. So I'll come good for you. So that, that requires a bit of the sermon. It's a bit like an interview, probably when you're hiring someone for a job, you go, they're not going to do the job tomorrow, but could they do it in three to six months?

[00:24:52] And you have to learn to spot the traits 

[00:24:54] Alex: [00:24:54] early. What a great answer to Rich's credit. The guy's phenomenal itself, I think he sells without selling. He's got that personality. So I want to go back to Richard for the last 10 minutes. I know you have to jump off, Steve. 

[00:25:04] Richard: [00:25:04] Yeah. Thanks for having me.

[00:25:06] Alex: [00:25:06] Very good. I'll see you on LinkedIn and Richard. I want to hear your thoughts on all this? I think the biggest thing, if we're talking now towards partner managers, is to give them your recommendations, your advice, from what Steve mentioned about looking at the relationship when you were a small agency, seeing the potential there and then cultivating the relationship.

[00:25:27]Talk me through just that story. If you can, one more time and then hit on some of the things that Steve does. That you absolutely love some of the specific things like how he orchestrates a partner webinar, if that makes sense or how he approaches end of month stuff. How you guys talk about referrals.

[00:25:44] All of that is super compelling. If you can talk to me about that 

[00:25:46] Richard: [00:25:46] first wrapper like partnership. So we took on HubSpot, like only a month or two into being having decided to start the agency journey. And with that. Like it was, we got lucky because HubSpot is an incredible partner program.

[00:26:02] I'd like hard pressed to think of anybody who's doing it better. And how they're doing it better is because they are that it's the enablement side that wraps around the partnerships. So everything from how you market your services, how you how you price them. So along alongside Steve, who is our channel account manager, he helps with the selling side.

[00:26:21] We also have a channel consultant and RCC is a Bertrand Sophia, and he will help us with the actual doing side of HubSpot. So if there are like a much more of an intrinsic account or CSM type role, rather than like a sales role and between the two of them where we're empowered.

[00:26:41] Through content training like introductions to other agencies I've been introduced to countless other agencies both at the beginning and still now where if they are working in another region that we want to break into, they're doing a service like somewhere else where we want to do that service better, or we're thinking about partnerships or all those kinds of things.

[00:27:02] They will start to enable that on the inside. So they'll make introductions. They'll give you access to those people and that's great. But the other thing that HubSpot does incredibly well now is as partners, we have more foresight in the roadmap, so we understand what's coming when it's coming, how it's going to affect the market.

[00:27:20]Not from a from like the hospital investment point of view, but from like how it's going to affect our clients. So how does this tool rollout to like somebody who's in the service space or somebody who's selling, what will this mean to their business? So all of those kinds of things and being involved in things like betas and even sometimes alpha testing is a huge asset to us as an agency because it helps position ourselves as.

[00:27:45] Those knowledge and thought leaders. What's the has always done really well, is that communication piece. But he's at the same time. So Steve, if I ever put out my hand, say, Steve, I need help. Steve will come running. He'll jump on a call. We can talk it through. But the other thing Steve is very good at is marshaling his time.

[00:28:02] So when Steve is on holiday, Steve's got family time. That's it like. Don't contact him and he's very clear with her and everybody understands that. And I think that's it's good that he's managed to maintain that balance, but also give me a feel of like when he's present. So we have great communication channels.

[00:28:18] Like he's in our Slack. We have a. By a bi-weekly meeting. He has with our head of sales, a bi-weekly meeting, he has with me to talk about agency growth. So not really to talk about sales at all, but talk about positioning how the sales team is built, where we're heading and helping me make decisions around those.

[00:28:37] We normally run a webinar every other month with them as well. And that webinar is often driven by content from him. So I will suggest a topic. I'll do all the marketing, I'll host it and I'll compare and marshal the Q and a, but the actual delivery of content is from Steve. And I will. Chime in with the partner's perspective on it.

[00:28:59] So he'll talk about that. Say he's talking about the evolution of CRM is the last one. We did two, we're talking about HubSpot starting to take on the, like the enterprise space and how it is a much better tool than the kind of the Frankenstein's monster. You often get up. If you've got, if you've focused on Salesforce to begin with. And as part of that, he was going through the, like the ins and outs of HubSpot and the development. And then I was talking about how that reflects within the agency. So we had this kind of joint angle content where people had the understanding of what it can do, but also the real context of what happens when it has been implemented.

[00:29:33] And that's powerful. The other thing you'll do is help with co-selling co-selling when you end up with. Two parties in a sales process, both selling to the same end is the idea. Outcome is one or both parties becomes that kind of trusted advisor. And that trusted advisor is quite often so if we approach a client or a prospect, And we start introducing them into HubSpot and we'll be talking about other services and then we introduced them to HubSpot, but because we're introduced into the hospital, it will come via Steve.

[00:30:06]Who's our channel account manager. Cause the leads obviously registered through to him virus. We can then position ourselves as the trusted advisor, bringing in the tech or vice versa. Steve is bringing us an opportunity. He can then recommend it in a great. Partner that he works. So having that ability to back up each other's stories within the process is incredibly powerful and that's a lot.

[00:30:28] Alex: [00:30:28] So this is good. I think what I learned is really what the mindset should be. And how you qualify those new partners to the program when you were early on. So back when you were, I think, were you a one man shop back then 

[00:30:43]Richard: [00:30:43] Just made it that point. And what were you 

[00:30:45] Alex: [00:30:45] doing? What was the career stage at that point?

[00:30:47] Were you pivoting? Were you an agency? 

[00:30:50] Richard: [00:30:50] What, no. So I was the head of an agency for another agency here in Manchester. And I decided that. That agency wasn't really for me anymore. So I stepped out of that. It was the same time that my daughter, my first child was due. So I decided to quit my job in the same week and become a consultant.

[00:31:07] And that, at that point I was just going to consult people on demand gen. So like we did, at that point, I was doing a lot of  funnels. So landing page, PPC, landing, page funnel, that kind of stuff. And. Then when the opportunity came on to bring on HubSpot, I had a client that I was working with at the time and I was like, look, I'm going to take this on.

[00:31:29] I think this would be a great thing for you to take on as well, because here's what we could do with it. I remember sending the email cause I was sat in a session at HubSpot say, I'm going to take this on if you take this on at the same time and I'll learn in your platform and we'll get it all up and running.

[00:31:44] And they were like, yeah. Okay. Let's take a gamble on it. And the. The results we got from, it were like phenomenal, like almost overnight. Like we could see the impact by bringing in these pieces, automation, like simple stuff now, but at the time it was massively changing the way that they worked and.

[00:32:01] From there. I could, I then had a working model or working case study for me to be able to then sell that into other clients. And that was the basis of our growth actually, because we then started to use that case study internally at HubSpot because people could see what we were able to do in a very short space of time.

[00:32:18] And that became some of the leverage that we started using internally at HubSpot as well. Yeah, and I 

[00:32:22] Alex: [00:32:22] think we can end on this. Outside of HubSpot, you've got a lot of other partnerships. Talk to me real quickly about how building services on top of your tech solutions, how much that means for choosing a partner and B.

[00:32:37] Becoming that HubSpot six and flow type of relationship, having that be a business. Talk to me about what you look at when a new tool approaches you, how you determine whether it's a partner fit and how important it is to have that service on top of blank scenario. 

[00:32:54] Richard: [00:32:54] Yeah. So we won't take on any tool unless we use it.

[00:32:58]Or have used it ourselves. We like to take on something, test it to the point that we break it so that we understand it. And then look at how we can stitch it into the overall marketing strategies. So like when we are assessing new tools, That's our first port of call. Like I know it drives SAS companies not to, when we ask them for demos or like trial accounts, things like that.

[00:33:18] And that's not because we're trying to get freebies it's because we want to push it to the point. The salespeople are there to sell us their products. Whereas we want to understand I don't really want to talk to the sales person. I want to talk to the tech people and other agencies that are using the product.

[00:33:32] So our first port of call will be to play with it. Yeah. Then I'll seek out a couple of agencies that I know who are already using it and then have those discussions. And then internally we'll have a a discussion is quite often between me and our strategy director. We will like actually look at how the slots into our wider tech stack mix, how it could change our campaigns.

[00:33:54] Do we think there's going to be an ROI? Does it add any extra value? And like we've got, I think our own use of tech stack tools, you probably look at the list of things that we paid for in the last year. And it reads like a sass graveyard because we do have a like a number of tools that we've trialed, expecting them to have a bigger impact.

[00:34:12] And they've not been able to have the impact that we thought they were going to have. And that sometimes that's down to like how we've tried to implement them. But often we've tried to implement them because we had an immediate need to fix something. And if that's not. Showing that the tests and trials we're doing off the back of it, then it doesn't really work for us to then sell it into a client because I don't believe in selling stuff that I don't believe can have an impact because it diminishes the value of us as an agency and what we're selling in.

[00:34:40] So like my advice to partner like people selling wanting to use partner as a channel is give agencies as much access to your tools as you can, like it. Maybe it's free. Maybe it's not like that's not for me to decide, but the more you can get agencies in and playing with the tech, the more you're going to sell it.

[00:34:57] Cause you're gonna have more agencies who understand better how to use it. Great advice. 

[00:35:01] Alex: [00:35:01] That's something we follow in suit. Let your agencies play with the tool. Show them how to build a business off of it. Off of integrating or implementing your solution. That's awesome, Richard, thank you so much for the time.

[00:35:14] I learned a lot today and always a pleasure chatting. I know you have to jump so six and flow spelled 

[00:35:21] Richard: [00:35:21] Perfect. Cheers, Alex. Enjoyed it and I'll see you soon.

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