Agency Partner

Part 2: How to Successfully Launch your Agency-to-SaaS Partnership, w/ Albert Daily from Cella

Carina Shahin
July 30, 2021
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Agency Partner
July 30, 2021

Part 2: How to Successfully Launch your Agency-to-SaaS Partnership, w/ Albert Daily from Cella

“If it's not a give and take then what is the value in our partnership?”

Albert Daily is Director, Strategic Solutions & Partnerships at Cella agency.

​​Albert talks in great detail about how important it is to set those expectations up front with potential partners to ensure they are a good fit. There is no need to put pressure on something that might not be a successful partnership so it's important to understand each other’s businesses, goals, and overall mutual fit between your two offerings.

“If it's not a give and take then what is the value in our partnership?”


[00:03:03] Intro to Albert / Cella

[00:06:48] Why partner with Stensul

[00:10:23] Enablement assets provided by Stensul

[00:15:05] Co-marketing

[00:18:16] Bringing Cella / Stensul  into deals

[00:20:53] Generating revenue from partner channels

[00:23:53] Their stack


Sendoso - The leading sending platform.

Partnerstack - Partner tracking and payouts.

Reveal - A free account mapping solution.

Episode Transcript


[00:03:03] Albert: [00:03:03] absolutely. So my role here at cello's aware of multiple hats it's kind of combined in three different buckets, first being working with our partners and our technology partners. The second being, trying to find that new logos. SOA and I don't know, enterprise. And then the third part is supporting our sales team through any sort of consultant sales opportunities or our managed service opportunities.

[00:03:25]So what brought me to sella was just the uniqueness of who we are. We started at it as a staffing company for creative and marketing professionals. Our owner saw an opportunity to. A or a void set should say in the market for a consultancy focus within creative operations. And that started about 10 years ago.

[00:03:43]And then four years ago I joined and helped grow the company and be part of the growth, you know since then. So it really kind of a fun trajectory we've been on since. 

[00:03:52] Carina: [00:03:52] Yeah, definitely. So in the four years that you've been with CELA how has your. Partner ecosystem and partner programs 

[00:03:59] Albert: [00:03:59] grown.

[00:04:00] It's grown quite a bit. So it, it was very much a transactional type of relationship to begin with where we were most, like most of the time bringing in leads to various they weren't partners at the time. Vendors, you know, people like, like a Workfront or like a stent sole for example. And there was a realization of, we probably should look into a partner program to maybe, maybe be a little more strategic about approaching this, this relationship and, and being able to also capitalize off of it as well.

[00:04:28]You know, selfishly and, and, and grow that, that ecosystem to really be able to provide like an end to end to end solution. So last year we kicked off our initial partnership program and started off with, with Workfront as our first partner and have since kind of grown out then to partner with other different tools and platforms that are aligned to sellers.

[00:04:50] You know core values of all of the creative and marketing 

[00:04:52] Carina: [00:04:52] operations. Oh, that's really awesome. I think and I feel like this is like a very common consensus to have, you know, a lot of these agencies start out, you guys have your clients that you work with. You're obviously trying to make sure that your clients are successful with the tools that they're using.

[00:05:09] So it does seem to be more of a transactional. We're going to give leads to our vendors at first. But then as you dig a little bit deeper, you realize there's a whole lot of opportunity for you to then also help your partners, clients, and where you can get in there and make intros, but also really add value to their customers and help with, you know, renewal rates, upsells and whatever that might be.

[00:05:33] So it's very, very interesting 

[00:05:35] Albert: [00:05:35] as operational technology consultants, we usually get in with, with companies and and team leaders and teams. Much kind of further upstream point than a lot of our technology partners know. So we're helping them think through their ecosystem and their strategy around their process and technology and the asset workflow and, and everything kind of involved at how the team is involved and plugged into those various pieces.

[00:05:59]So we have a really good view of the landscape. So when we are making the recommendation of a particular tool, They know it's coming from a very much a trusted advisor standpoint. Not so much a sales standpoint because they've, they've been with us through the journey and they see why we're making the recommendations that we are.

[00:06:17]So it's, it's made for like a really like organic kind of way for us to grow. These leads and opportunities for technology partners. 

[00:06:24] Carina: [00:06:24] I love that. And I want to take what you just said and kind of come back to it a little bit later on and ask you some more questions about that and how you guys are trusted advisors to a lot of your clients.

[00:06:36] But I would love to first learn a little bit more about. You know, what kind of brought you to want to partner with stensul how you heard of them and when you started working with them. Yeah. So 

[00:06:48] Albert: [00:06:48] that's a great question, right? It's kind of right through what I was explaining before about us working with a client finding a need a team that was, you know designed it and, and Producing so many emails and there's so much time that was being used towards that, that we realized that there should be a 12th or a platform out there that could do do this for them in a much more efficient pace.

[00:07:10]And, and, you know, kind of interstate left, there is sensible who can it came about. We were able to make the recommendation and introduction for them to this client, which was fantastic. And through those conversations realized, you know, we, we really play in the same space, so it, you know, I think we should not, I, we should explore this, this relationship and find ways for us to, to work together.

[00:07:31]So that's been about six months now, so it's, it's still pretty new for us, which you know, as as always doing it as a learning through this whole process. But we've, I think Fabian, I have thought I really nice. Cadence and identified how to work together, where our values for each other are our best fit.

[00:07:50] And hopefully as we continue to go farther here, we'll be able to produce some, some great revenue opportunities for 

[00:07:56] Carina: [00:07:56] each other. I definitely believe that you guys will. So you mentioned it's been six months now. I think it would be nice to, for a lot of these maybe tech companies that are.

[00:08:05] Starting to work with agencies a little bit more in consulting services, how impactful and important, you know, those first few exchanges or learnings in the six months can really impact your partnership. So I'd love to learn. And have you expand on what really happened between you and stencil in those first six months that made this partnership have a really great 

[00:08:31] Albert: [00:08:31] foundation.

[00:08:33] Getting to know one another. Right. And doing that through like account mapping and understanding where, what your sales process looks like, how each wants to work how the, the sales process in terms of like, what, what are the AEs doing and how they're going about their sales process and prospect and et cetera to really understand where each of us can kind of get into.

[00:08:53] Each other's sales process and, and where the jumping point should be. Which has been really nice that we've been able to do that from the very beginning with Sensel. So they see that they understand, you know, when we're engaged with a client there's you know, for the first little bit, there may not be opportunity for us to make the instruction right away, because it just doesn't make sense.

[00:09:11] But as we kind of go through our engagement, Develops recommendations. They they've realized that this is a great opportunity then afterwards to say, okay, we see this, this need, and we have a great tool for you. Let's make the introduction. Then it's much more warmer and welcomed lead than it is prior.

[00:09:27]So the focus really has been more on just trying for me to find. To provide value to Fabian and the team through just knowledge that we have from you, unfortunately, haven't had a chance to work with hundreds of, of in-house agencies in our time that we've been here at 

[00:09:41] Carina: [00:09:41] sell-off really, really interesting.

[00:09:43] And I love that you mentioned really trying to understand each other's businesses and get to know one another. I think that's really important as you start to partner with someone instead of right away. Hey. These leads. Can you intro us here vice versa? It is so important to make sure that you understand their ICP, the personas that they're selling to who works there, how everyone kind of likes to go about their days and get to know them on a more personal level.

[00:10:12]Did you at all have any type of. Education materials that you and your team had to go through to better understand stencil and then even vice versa that maybe you shared with the stencil team? 

[00:10:23]Albert: [00:10:23] Yes and no. So yes, it's that we've, we've received some demos and educational material from the dental side for our, and it's it's we're still trying to figure out what would be the most effective for the sales team.

[00:10:35] Right. And it kind of goes back to what you were mentioned for about. The ICP and the persona isn't et cetera. And how we work. Yeah. As a sales person or as a, as a sales professional, I've tried to be the most non sales salesperson. So I really tried to provide a lot of value to whoever I'm partnering with because I, to your point, I'm not going to ask them for leads.

[00:10:53] I don't want, you know, it's not gonna be like, how good can you make me an introduction right away? I really want to. Build the trust and support from their end to say, oh yeah, yeah. The seller really knows what they're talking about. You need to talk to them because of XYZ. Right. And we, the only way we're going to do that is by, is by providing the value that we have.

[00:11:09] So we're, we're going through. Some different things where we provide them with information that we have in terms of like any sort of sell sheets or case studies that, you know, that, that we've done in the past. They know us from prior client engagements. So they kind of know what the way we work there as well.

[00:11:23] So it's kind of where they need us. We will probably information, but I don't, that's actually an area that I need to focus and work on is providing more of a, kind of a one-pager for, for people that I'm going to engage. And for new partnerships. Hey 

[00:11:35] Carina: [00:11:35] yeah, no worries. We're all, we're always, you know, evolving and trying to create better material to help our partners.

[00:11:41] I think everyone is so different too. So, you know, making certain content for one partner might be great, but then another partner might want another thing. So yeah. Ever evolving. I'd love to learn too about maybe, you know, just working with so many partners in your past, and this is not, you know, talking about stencil in particular, but what are some things that you've noticed from, you know, your four years, so far at CELA of a successful partnership that launched right away and is a model partner to kind of look after, and then maybe some of them.

[00:12:14] Partners that didn't launch in the same way that you would have liked them to what were the differences? 

[00:12:20] Albert: [00:12:20] Yeah, that's a great question. And I, I think it's. It comes down to a really simple piece. It's kind of give to that, give and take aspect, right? Like you can't always expect to be take, take, take from, from your partner.

[00:12:32]And we've unfortunately been with some partners, so that's all they want is just leads and it's just that's not how we're going to work. Because if, if there's nothing coming back to us and that can be an in terms of way of revenue or referrals you know, opportunity to, to maybe learn more about the tool to become like a, an implementation partner, you know, just if there's any, if there isn't a give and take, then what is the value in our partnership?

[00:12:57] And that's why I'm always so big on providing them as much information as I can almost immediately, because I just want to make sure that they're aware of that. Do cherish the relationship with them and, and really do appreciate any introductions that they can make for us or bring us into any sort of conversation.

[00:13:11] So it's, I guess I, I, I seem to give and take it as being really, really big. The understanding of the sales processes is always is a big one for, for successful partnerships. It's been a number of times with partners that we've. Just the way in which we sell is just, it just doesn't, it doesn't jive really well.

[00:13:28]And, and unfortunately it's one of those things where it ended up being more of a referral partner than just a true partnership because yes, the platform is fantastic, but really the way in which they go about selling maybe is much different than the way we approach our client interactions.

[00:13:43] And, and not that one is better than the other. They're just different. So we just, at the end of the day, it just makes more sense for us to bring them in at the absolute end or kind of hand off and, and from there, you know, what our hands of it and let them run with it. So there's definitely just that learning curve of trying to figure out what makes the most sense.

[00:14:02] Oh, 

[00:14:02] Carina: [00:14:02] yeah, no, I think that makes a lot of sense. And for all of the technology companies that are listening and you are wanting to launch a consulting and agency program, it is super important to pick those partners carefully. You don't. To just see these partners as well. I can just get leads from them.

[00:14:21] They probably have a lot of really great clients that they're going to refer our way. It is definitely a give and take type of partnership that you mentioned, and it's so important to understand how they work with their clients, how they help their clients to be more successful in all areas of. You know what they're working on within their companies and to be able to also apply those specific partners and to their customers.

[00:14:47] Whether it is maybe becoming an implementation partner getting involved in more deals, maybe. It is also just doing more co-marketing activities. So that's, I love that you talked about that a little bit more, cause I think that's definitely I wouldn't say an issue, but something that a lot of these partners are going.

[00:15:05] Albert: [00:15:05] Yeah, absolutely. And, and the, you know, the, that the piece around the sales process and the client interact. From some of the consultancies and, and also, I wouldn't even say on the, on the, on the tool and platform side as well, you know, you've worked so hard to build the trust and rapport with these partners, client partners, that, that obviously they're, you know, your reputation and.

[00:15:27] You know could, could be, could be jaded or were tarnished, right? If, if not, if as a part of that you're recommended, doesn't really provide the, the white, maybe the white glove service that you feel that you've provided. Right? So it is a little nerve wracking sometimes to be able to just kind of quickly hand over things.

[00:15:41] Doesn't always make the most sense. Fortunately with the partners that we have now, they are, they realize just the importance behind that and cherish that and respect that because they know that when we do bring them something, it is, it is as I mentioned, a very warm kind of like fully baked lead, right.

[00:15:56] It's, it's, it's much further along for them than say just like cold. 

[00:16:00] Carina: [00:16:00] Very true. I'd love to know what your relationship is like to, with working with. Sales reps at a partner company or a technology company too. Have you ever come across a case where maybe a sales rep might feel threatened by your involvement in the 

[00:16:18] Albert: [00:16:18] we've seen that in the past where some, a phase of.

[00:16:22] They get, they get threatened, actually. I'm not sure starting to the right word. It's more so concerned that we're going to derail their process out of the progress, as it say, excuse me, you know, sometimes when we come in and want to have a conversation, we want to dig deeper into the overall process and workflow of the team.

[00:16:39] We want to dig into more of the strategy of the team, right. And understand kind of what the ultimate end goal is. To then figure out and align the right technology to the whole workflow and that connotation can, can do rail and maybe back off the process, not always, but you know, in our eyes that allows us.

[00:16:59] If we go about it that way, we know that we will then proceed that platform and that tool for success. Because we're going to go through the due to due diligence, right. Of, of finding the requirements and doing, you know, creating the right design and doing the build the right way. So that adoption is, is full and change management is is not always easy, but it's, it moves forward and progresses instead of trying to fit in a square peg into a round hole type of thing.

[00:17:25] So. It takes a little bit of time to build that rapport. And I think that's, that's that trust I was talking about before with the AEs. As, you know, once you start building the trust with them and they realize that we have their best interest in mind they're much more open to. Having us be a part of the conversation, but then also, maybe you can bring us into the conversation at an earlier stage so that we can help them even maybe get a bigger sell at the end of the day, because we're helping them position their platform in a much better 

[00:17:51] Carina: [00:17:51] light.

[00:17:52] So that's super interesting. And something I want to talk with you about too, but you did mention earlier, you know, you, your clients really see you as trusted advisors, so that is great. And you are talking to different people that may be, we would then be targeting But you also mentioned, you know, maybe being brought into the beginning of a deal.

[00:18:11] Rather than later on. Can you explain why that is a, a difference for you? 

[00:18:16] Albert: [00:18:16] Yeah, absolutely. So typically for us there's a, a need for us to review and analyze their, their workflow, their process potentially maybe the Oregon, their strategy, just sort of overall, you know, it's kind of like a holistic review of, of who they are and what they're trying to accomplish.

[00:18:31]And that's really important for us. We're consulting with, with a lot of these clients and really big initiatives of taking their team from point a to point B and maybe making a very drastic change. Part of that is technology, right? It's like a pillar of, of everything, you know, along with process and Oregon strategy and project management, et cetera.

[00:18:50]When we're brought in at a certain point of the, of the sales process sometimes it's so far down the line, that the way in which we approach implementation doesn't fully align. W with, with where they are in the process, because we kind of were there 2 62 steps ahead of where we need to be.

[00:19:05]It's not a bad thing. Right. And that just means that we're not the right partner for them and, or, or the right implementation partner for them. And that's fine. And we're very, very vocal and open about that. Fortunately, as I mentioned that you have through kind of the learnings of this with some of our, some of our partners, they realize when they have these kind of initial conversations with prospects and they hear these, like these kind of key words and buzz, buzz, buzz, word phrases of like, we're going through some big change.

[00:19:34] We're trying to you know, move from a waterfall to an agile process or trying to automate our asset workload, et cetera. They were as they should be. Right. So you know, our SMEs because now, because that's the competition that needs to happen in order to develop this full strategy, to then figure out the best way to plug into our platform, to be, you know, the most successful possibly it can be.

[00:19:56] So it's, you know, that just takes a little bit of time, but it's once you find that that rhythm it's it's for us has been the best in terms of ROI and just being able to grow. Generate the revenue that we want through our revenue channels, or we should be on our 

[00:20:09] Carina: [00:20:09] partner channels. Yeah, definitely.

[00:20:10] And I think that really speaks to like some of the expectations you have to set ahead of time when I'm working with partners. And that can really be, you know, if there, if something does come up, we prefer to be brought in at the beginning of the deal. And this is just how we like to you know, work with some of these clients.

[00:20:28]What are some other expectations that you like to set with partners early on? 

[00:20:33] Albert: [00:20:33] Good question. 

[00:20:34] Carina: [00:20:34] Maybe more so like even all around the education, like you mentioned you know, if the sales teams here XYZ, then that's when they know to bring you in, are those part of some of those like education, materials and expectations, you kind of set in the very beginning of how they know that they should work with you.

[00:20:53] Albert: [00:20:53] I think from education to the content that we have really having them understand. As I mentioned, it's we kind of figure out what works best for each partner in terms of who we are. There's some partners that we work with that are work on a much grander scale of teams, you know not just marketing and creative, they're working across the enterprise.

[00:21:13]We just happened to fill their marketing and creative channel. So, you know, we know that they, they, they're going to involve a little bit more education. Then say someone like , who really is in our space and really understands our space. So the education I feel doesn't need to be as significant because they, they, they know that they know who our creative team is.

[00:21:33] They know what they do and you know, how they work. Right. So it's a little bit more around like our process of, of, of of, of engaging with clients. So yeah, I think it's, it's to, to your original question, Definitely want them to understand who we are definitely want to understand our, our our process and how we go about gaining client engagements.

[00:21:52] And then the other thing is just as quickly identifying accounts in which we share share contacts or having information on just to kind of get the ball rolling and kind of set the stage and the foundation for every, for opening up a very successful partnership. The value that, that we can bring, which I know I've said like a hundred times, but I really, 

[00:22:12] Carina: [00:22:12] yeah, no, that's important.

[00:22:13] That's an important topic. What, what technologies do you use right now? You mentioned looking at, you know, overlaps in data. Is there any specific technologies you're using right now when you work with your 

[00:22:23] partners?

[00:22:27] Albert: [00:22:27] I, you know what's the say, I know the cobbler's kids have no shoes, right. I think is what it is. It's a consultancy that worked with really cool teams. Don't really cool technology. And our technology is, is still we're still getting there. So we just recently got into HubSpot within the last year, which has been very fantastic.

[00:22:44]So with that, we're now able to get into crossbeam. For partnerships. I'm not fully there yet with crossbreed crossbeam, but I know Fabian's gonna pull me kicking and screaming into that platform, which I'm actually very excited about. You know, before though it was very old school, right? It's Google docs and kind of sharing information and going in very manually and, and and going about that way, which.

[00:23:05] Unfortunately, we're not massive. So it works really well. It won't scale obviously, but for right now it's working we're as we slowly move into the 21st century. 

[00:23:15] Carina: [00:23:15] Yeah. And there's so many great tools to use out there for partnerships like share work partner, stack a lot of different tools that you can use just to leverage all of your data.

[00:23:25] And then also just ongoing relations and conversations with your partner. Albert. I, I absolutely love this conversation and I think it's so important to really talk about the relationship between tech companies and the agencies that they work with. If you had you know, any words of wisdom or pieces of advice for some technology companies that are looking to grow and launch their first ever, you know, agency partner program what would you say to them?

[00:23:52] Oh man, 

[00:23:53] Albert: [00:23:53] that's a, that's a tough one. I would question, I would strongly encourage doing your research, finding a consultancy or a firm that really lives within your space. Really understands your, your tool set your platform set, right when you're in kind of your, your S your pillar within the eco security ecosystem, so that they can really understand and, and provide a really oh, goodness gracious.

[00:24:18] I lose my words here. I apologize. A really solid recommendation around, around your tool and, and be able to provide the why behind it. I think if you can deliver that with confidence, that's where you're going to be able to see a lot of value with, with, with your, with your agency or consultancy partner.

[00:24:33]And vice versa. I looked for the consultant consultancy partner or agency partner. Or chronology of your space and the users of your tool, so that they're able again, to really visualize how it fits in within, within the greater ecosystem. 

[00:24:47] Carina: [00:24:47] Yeah. I think this goes back to an ongoing ever conversation that I have with so many people in partnerships of, you know, really looking and identifying partners that are fit they're fit for your team.

[00:24:58]It's a fit for your product and it just makes sense. You don't need to force any partnership. That might not be a fit. You can always revisit those ones later 

[00:25:06] Albert: [00:25:06] on. Yeah, totally. I didn't know. It's one of the things where even if it looks perfect on paper, it may not be perfect. And that's okay. We've gone through a lot of trial and error.

[00:25:15] We're still doing a lot of trial and error. Everyday learning. Oh, this does not work. We need to, we need to pivot and move and edit, cut losses. And like, don't be afraid of that. Right. Don't don't try to keep making things, trying to make things work when clearly there's, there's just nothing there.

[00:25:30]I think if you're more candid and open about that, Joel actually ended up having a better relationship with that partner in some way, shape or form in the long run than you would, if you keep trying to press and for something that is just 

[00:25:41] Carina: [00:25:41] not is not there. Yeah, exactly. I cannot agree with you enough there, but this was an exciting conversation.

[00:25:49] I loved hearing all about your insights and you know, how technology partners can work better with their consulting and agency partners today. Been exciting to learn about your relationship with stencil. I know you guys are very new and six months into this partnership, but I wish you guys nothing but luck and great future endeavors and lots of revenue.

[00:26:10] Thank 

[00:26:10] Albert: [00:26:10] you so much. Yeah. I'm excited to continue to work with baby and he's on. He's been awesome to work with. So. I see good things in our future, for sure. Right. 

[00:26:19] Carina: [00:26:19] I love it. Well, thank you so much, Albert. I really appreciate your time today. And for all of you that are listening, stay tuned for another great episode of this podcast. .

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