SaaS CEO or Co-Founder

The Partner Program Development Journey with a Chief Partnerships Officer

Carina Shahin
February 2, 2021
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SaaS CEO or Co-Founder
February 2, 2021

The Partner Program Development Journey with a Chief Partnerships Officer

They need to know who you're partnering with and how and why that's an important partnership rather than grow with 7,000 partners. Why don't we take the 27 we have and go to them and figure out a story on each one of those are sharing our dilution.

The Partner Program Development Journey with a Chief Partnerships Officer

Braydan is Chief Partnerships Officer of Sendoso. He’s been growing Sendoso for 5 years and formed numerous partnership types to grow as fast as they have. In this episode, we find out what the journey has been like from his vantage point.

Main sections:

[00:04:04] The priorities - forming the partnerships agenda

[00:06:15] The first partnerships and how/why

[00:07:34] KPIs and why

[00:09:43] Getting aligned from C-Suite down

[00:12:09] Enabling partners

[00:15:49] The process of building the program

[00:19:30] The future of their partner program

[00:20:48] Words of advice


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

Episode Transcript

[00:03:20] Carina: [00:03:20] So. You have stepped into a new, um, partnerships role here at Sandoz. So just very recently, chief Alliance officer, and I think that's what really excited me to have this conversation with you about partnerships, because you truly have touched every role here at San DOSO and can look at things from a co-founder lens.

[00:03:39] And you obviously haven't had like necessarily a main focus in partnership partnerships, obviously until just recently. But you understand the value of partnerships and you can really share a different perspective. So I think it would be great to first understand how as a co-founder you were drawn to partnerships and why it was a priority for you and Chris to build out a partner team here at San DOSO.

[00:04:04] Yeah, 

[00:04:04] Braydan: [00:04:04] I think if we start from the beginning, I mean, this is even before you drank Corrina, like we. Chris. And I really knew that partnerships was going to be insanely important to when we started the company I've been with past startups who were building kind of a software on an Island and not partnering.

[00:04:21] And it makes it so hard to sell on your own, to potential. Big enterprise companies have been Margaret companies, even SMB companies, because you're always plugging your software into something or plugging your solution into something. So when you partner, when you sell other folks, when you're working to get deals done on behalf of other companies, it really helps to have integrations.

[00:04:44] It really helps to live in the systems everyone's already in all day long. So we knew that. Right off the bat. So when we originally launched partnerships, it was essentially just me and our goal was to really put as much paper between us and every company that was out there and build the integrations that worked to help the AEs, the CX people, the SDRs who were using our system.

[00:05:05] Right. And able to use and dose on no matter where they were. And as we have really grown the company, hardships has become even more important because as we've gone up funnel to more enterprise level companies, you're plugging into something. And it really helps when you have relationships to those companies.

[00:05:21] You're plugging into one for selling two for implementation and two for just success. So if you have those across the board, it makes it really easy to, uh, essentially sell and to continue to grow the company from being a co-founder it's. Awesome because I get to see like how partnerships impact not only the sales team, but also the product team, what integrations you're working on.

[00:05:41] Also the engineering team as to what things they're building. So it really, uh, is, is strategic to grow with the right partners. And if this is a philosophy that. Your company is choosing to invest in partnerships. That's awesome. Like my goal is to figure out which ones do you want to start with and to kind of start with a couple and kind of grow from there.

[00:06:00] Carina: [00:06:00] I love that. Yeah. And I mean, we have so many different types of partners here at San DOSO and just in general, there are so many different types of partners and partner programs that you can work with, I guess, like what were the first few partners? Um, Sentosa decided to work with. I 

[00:06:15] Braydan: [00:06:15] think the very first one was Salesforce.

[00:06:16] I don't think Salesforce knew they were partnering with us is probably the best way the big event. It, we, we built a Chrome widget that we essentially can plug into Salesforce. And like, that was it's official now, but that was awesome. In the beginning to essentially launch this, it helped us live directly in that product.

[00:06:32] Everyone was already living in already like sales and CX and SCRs are users and they're in Salesforce all day. So that was our. The first integration and our very first partner from there, we really looked at it from two different directions. One was agencies. We launched a product that really helped you be more personal.

[00:06:48] So account based marketing agencies were awesome, early partners and still. To today, great partners because they helped us get into more and more deals. As companies were wanting to incorporate direct mail and to their, uh, their playbook. The other side was like those integrations like Salesforce. We started working with outreach and sales loft and Eloqua and Marquetto and some of those great B2B marketing and sales companies who helped us pull into new deals and helped us essentially sell, uh, some large deals and still to this day, they're all great partners that we work with every day.

[00:07:22] A you work with every day. 

[00:07:23] Carina: [00:07:23] So obviously like very different types of partners, agencies, the integrations, and even merchants here with each of those different types of partners. What are the main goals or KPIs you want to see from those 

[00:07:34] Braydan: [00:07:34] relationships? Yeah, I think that is a really good point because early on we didn't do a great job of setting goals with these partners.

[00:07:42] It was like, Hey, we have a relationship here. We can co sell, like give us referrals. We'll give you referrals from there. And then we'll kind of see how this goes today. I would say we've changed a lot of that, where we actually have shared paths and shared goals with a lot of our partners where we look and see like how many shared customers do we have?

[00:07:58] So w we'll use a tool. Uh, to like, see like what the overlap is, and we'll spend time doing account mapping. We'll spend time seeing like how many of our existing customers are already using the integration. How can we increase that from, let's say we have a hundred share customers from five to 10 to 15 to 20, uh, we'll look at how many sends are taking place, those integrations and looking at those more granular, essentially data points help you start to figure out where you're starting from and where you're going.

[00:08:24] So we'll spend a lot of time doing that. It was when a lot of time on the road.  saying, Hey, we're trying to close X or, Hey, we just closed X. Like maybe you guys want to get involved. It's really a two way street. So what's important. There is to establish goals up front each year, or we're probably right now, probably every quarter, I would say we're probably changing our goals.

[00:08:43] Would you agree that Corrina? I would say right now we have good goals as quarter before you change your next quarter. Uh, the goal is to start to get more granular in what we're focusing on and. To start to like share our target accounts, share where we're growing. So like they can hopefully join us along that ride.

[00:09:00] Carina: [00:09:00] Yeah, definitely. And I, I agree. I think that there's, there's so many different goals and metrics that you want to hit with each different partner at the stage of where they're at, um, in your partner program. So especially if it's a new integration partner, obviously you got to, you know, go after building out a really great integration and enhance it on the product side of things and then get to using those tools.

[00:09:21] Like Shareworks, crossbeam Cosell, all those ones to really look at those overlaps and start identifying where you can help each other out in deals. Um, obviously prior to you being involved as, as the chief Alliance officer, how would you normally work with, um, you know, the partner team and where did you find your role being really effective in our partner conversations?

[00:09:43] Braydan: [00:09:43] I think that in order to have a good partnership with anybody, there needs to be executive alignment. And the CEO, the co-founder, the CEO, the CFO, the VP of sales, whatever it might be, needs to be aligned with the company that you're partnering with. Uh, we do a good job with this here, where we'll do calls, where we'll jump on with their founders and have a conversation and around our vision where we're going, what we're trying to accomplish.

[00:10:07] And I want to hear the same from them. So that's really important at the start of a relationship. And as you continue to grow it, I think that like, if you don't have that alignment, Uh, across the board, it makes it really hard to partner with anybody. So early on, we did a lot of that. I would say that like, typically when we're partnering with a brand new company, I might, they might reach out to me first or Chris furs and he may introduce me, or they might come through a VC channel, which is.

[00:10:33] Great. And the goal there is so aligned with those, uh, executives and those co-founders to see like, Hey, here's a word growing, you guys seeing the same. Awesome. Like let's have a part of our teams work together and then to do periodic check-ins I think just as you would on the CX side, uh, QPRs are amazing for accounts.

[00:10:50] I think you need to treat it exactly the same on the partnership side as well. 

[00:10:54] Carina: [00:10:54] I completely agree. I mean, you see so many, um, so much executive alignment when it comes to really making sure that your customers are happy. I think that is absolutely crucial in partnerships as well. I am always aligned with, you know, um, my respective partner manager, but I do really love bringing you in to call us as well to get to know the executives there.

[00:11:13] And I think what's really awesome about, um, You know, just the partner team at sun. DOSO obviously like not to toot our own horn too much, but you and Chris are so involved in the product side from best practices and really all along the entire conversation. And I, I think that's, um, something that's very, very crucial for having just a successful relationship and partnership with 

[00:11:34] Braydan: [00:11:34] someone.

[00:11:35] Absolutely. I think that like, even all the way over to the engineering and product side of the house, Bringing those folks onto calls and introduce them to your partner and what they're trying to accomplish is really important. So I, I don't lose sight of that. That it's good on the sales side, but also on the engineering and product side 

[00:11:50] Carina: [00:11:50] as well, 100%.

[00:11:52] And this kind of goes into my next question. Um, cause it's obviously very clear that partnerships touch different departments. I mean, you're involving, like you said, engineering, product, marketing sales, how do you, or some of the other teams that's in DOSO help to enable sows partners. 

[00:12:09] Braydan: [00:12:09] Yeah, this is the hardest thing ever because it's, you're, you're not just enabling on one side, you're enabling essentially on three.

[00:12:18] So your first side is you need to educate your internal stakeholders, employees, and CX people in sales and sales folks, and you name it, your SDRs. They need to know who you're partnering with and how. And why that's an important partnership and they need to learn how it was an integration, how it works, how it functions, why, why it's great.

[00:12:39] How's it going to change the game? That alone is a ton of a ton of process and a big job. Then on the other side, you need to enable your agencies, your integrations, all the teams over there, your partnership teams. The exactly the same thing. So you have two sides you need to enable, and that's a new muscle for usually both departments.

[00:12:56] And then you need to come together and figure out a really good navel and story as to how your system is playing nicely together and then pitch that to a potential prospect. So you basically, you have three sides to a really accomplished, to have success and enablement. Something that we're doing is we're building out.

[00:13:12] We built the university for our customers, which is great. So our goal is how can we take that university now? And apply it internally and have like a product cert externally, same thing I can product cert where folks can be essentially taught how to talk about some decile, how to talk about integrations can build courses with our partners that they can host on their universities, or we can host an ours.

[00:13:31] And so that's a really big step. I would say for parts of teams of the future is how you come up with enabling your partners and enabling folks who are going to buy your systems together. That's a constant moving target. And I would say probably one of the most difficult things of 2021 will be to do that virtually.

[00:13:50] So as we keep going, I'll make sure to give you updates, but that's a big, it's a big focus of you. And I created it as like, how are we going to do the one? 

[00:13:57] Carina: [00:13:57] Yeah. I thought it's always ongoing. So for someone listening that is either building out, um, you know, their enablement process and program of their partner team or someone that's struggling with it right now.

[00:14:09] What is one piece of advice you can tell them where to focus on, um, of training those different departments, whether it's using specific tools, um, or just something to start with and focus 

[00:14:18] Braydan: [00:14:18] on first, I would say patience is most important. Like usually you're going to have to repeat it many times internally and externally, and also have a place for people to go and learn on their own.

[00:14:31] People learn different ways in different ways. Some might. Way to talk to them and do like a quick webinar or some might want to learn on their own and do like a university course, some might want to read about it. So my biggest piece of advice is have multiple ways for folks to learn about how your partnership works and functions.

[00:14:48] How if there's integration component, how that works and functions have multiple ways to teach those folks and then have patients because it's not going to be a one-time thing. Cool. I got it. There needs to be places to go for them to look and see. How this thing functions, we have a partner, like a partner portal you can go to and you can essentially like see and rewrite integrations.

[00:15:07] We have Zendesk pages, we have a university. We also do all hands about this and bring partners to those all hands as well. So there's a ton of things that we do to try to essentially really immerse them in all of these different partnerships components. So patients would be my biggest thing, which I know is easier said than done for sure.

[00:15:24] And it 

[00:15:24] Carina: [00:15:24] seems to be a common theme as well. Not only just partnerships at Sentosa, but partnerships in general, really patients, it takes time, um, constantly educating and, and switching the way that, um, you're enabling your team and your partners as well. Like you said, it's building out a new muscle, especially for those have never done anything like this before.

[00:15:43] So since the start of building out, you know, this. Partner program, let's say in the past three years, how have you 

[00:15:49] Braydan: [00:15:49] seen it? Like from the beginning of like trying to get as many partners as possible to figuring out like, Hey, how are we going to work with partners? How are we going to go to market with them?

[00:15:59] That's really, that all changed a lot over the last three months. Since I rejoined this team has been a ton of functions on like, how can we help enable these folks? How can we take. The right partners and grow with them and go to market with them. I think that's the biggest change. Like essentially to make it simpler in, to not take a partner, put them on every single possible thing, but like work with a partner in the right space to know when to go and bring that partner into a deal and become more focused on the right partners is probably the biggest change that I have seen.

[00:16:33] And one that I think is going to be absolutely. Massive over the next five years is like, rather than grow with 7,000 partners. Why don't we take the 27 we have and go and figure out a story around each one of those is gonna be important. I think secondly is people have looked at partnership teams as it's a nice thing to go.

[00:16:51] Yeah. We partner with those guys, but I would say that with the creation of a lot of the amazing new tools that are coming up in the partnership world, people are seeing that this channel is huge and. They're getting better at attribution. And I think that it's going to be proven that partnerships is actually doing more work than we're giving credit for sometimes within Salesforce.

[00:17:09] And that's going to be a huge, I would say eye-opening moment when we realized like how many deals are sent from partners that come through different channels. So attribution is going to be a big goal. I would say over the next a year, a lot of teams actually show the true value of the 

[00:17:23] project 

[00:17:23] Carina: [00:17:23] teams.

[00:17:23] Yeah, there's a lot being done behind the scenes that many people don't see. And it's not always, you know, here is a referral into this company. It's, um, you know, there's, there's a lot going on and it's just all about how you work with them and continue to build these relationships. Um, and that kind of goes to my next point of what has made you really change your perspective of partnerships, obviously, you know, from the very beginning to now joining.

[00:17:49] Um, and focusing a little bit more on partnerships. How has your 

[00:17:51] Braydan: [00:17:51] perspective changed? It makes sense to be when you bring on too many partners all at once, you can't enable them properly and you can't work with everybody. So I think that's changed from like now. I think it's easier to keep it simple and choose the right partners and just to grow with those folks.

[00:18:08] So I think it's changed from. It's better to be a great partner to a few folks rather than have a million partners all at one time. So I think that that's probably the biggest change I would say also that people, especially in the world of a pandemic, people like to buy from people they've already done business with before, and partnerships can really help with closing deals there or seeing deals that maybe you're not seeing your partner brings you into those deals.

[00:18:34] And so they close faster. They're typically larger. So I think that that's a really good thing to keep in mind that if you kind of are working with a partner to bring into a deal, keep track of the data. Cause typically what we see as in DOSO is like our partnership team. When they bring a deal to AEs, it's closing like almost 28 days quicker, it's being it's larger by 15%.

[00:18:54] So hopefully you noticed the exact same thing on your end, how important these deals are. And 

[00:18:59] Carina: [00:18:59] I think the alignment with sales too, is, is huge part in that sales, sales ops, making sure that you're catching all of that. And, um, them knowing when to loop in a partner or a, and really trusting the fact that a partner can help them either win this deal, accelerate it, whatever it might be.

[00:19:13] That's a huge, huge part too, of just enabling your partners and your internal teams for a successful partner program. So how do you hope. To grow. And I guess just work closer with our partners. And let's say, where do you see Sentosa as partner program in a year, five 

[00:19:30] Braydan: [00:19:30] years from now? I think in a year, in five years from now is hopefully we have an entire product certification built out for our agencies and our agencies are able to access and DOSO on their own able to demo the platform, able to maybe white label the solution, I think is a big sell on the agency side.

[00:19:47] On the integration side. My hope is our integrations have. Been souped up even more than they already are, where the, if you buy a certain software, like Sandoz was already plugged in there. I think the channel's going to be massive on the integration side, on all of our merchants, all of our cupcake vendors.

[00:20:03] I think all those guys are going to so fully have a really easy way to work with us more on bringing some of their enterprise clients over and we'll help them potentially track that information. But then Salesforce. So. There's really three kinds of partners that we have. And I think that each of them, if we enable them properly are going to see a lot of success over the next couple of years, for sure.

[00:20:25] Carina: [00:20:25] Completely agree. And I'm so excited, lots of growth on the horizon, um, and patients in the process of doing so. So I think it'll really work out amazing. Um, Brayden. You're always so amazing to work with and talk to, and I really appreciate your time. And I think let's just leave it on this one last. Now, if you have one tip or trick, either partner related startup related, what would that 

[00:20:48] Braydan: [00:20:48] be?

[00:20:49] Stay very close to your marketing team. On the partnership side, they are your best friend. And if you ever invite them to a call and things like that, make sure you prep them properly and make sure that like, You don't burn any bridges there because those are the folks who can make you look really good to your partner.

[00:21:06] And then on the other side, make sure you spend a lot of time with your sales team and teaching them what it is you're trying to accomplish on the partnership side that can only help you as you continue to grow. I love 

[00:21:15] Carina: [00:21:15] it. Alignment growth, all key to building out a great partner program. Well, thank you so much, Braden.

[00:21:21] I really appreciate your time. I think this was all such helpful and insightful information and it's always a pleasure learning.

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