SaaS Partnerships Team Lead

Why Alignment with your Marketing Team is Key for a Successful partnership w/ 6sense

Carina Shahin
November 17, 2021
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SaaS Partnerships Team Lead
November 17, 2021

Why Alignment with your Marketing Team is Key for a Successful partnership w/ 6sense

You can't focus on all of them a hundred percent of the time. Instead, each quarter take one spotlight partner per quarter.

The partner program at 6sense has evolved through the years and one of their main focuses as they have grown their partner program was to ensure their Partner and marketing alignment. With this alignment they have been able to bring first in class marketing activities to their partners and create incredible resources that help with partner sourced revenue and compelling stories. Take a listen at how Jeff Wagner, Technology Partner Program Leader, and Courtney Smith Head of ABX at 6sense accomplish this alignment.

What they cover: 

  • [00:04:53] Intros
  • [00:06:32] The progression of their program over the past year
  • [00:08:41] Team growth and marketing alignment
  • [00:15:13] How they measure net new revenue
  • [00:17:05] CEO buyin and reporting structures
  • [00:20:43] Marketing alignment
  • [00:22:15] Adding team members to the strategy mix


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Episode Transcript

[00:04:53] Courtney: Thanks, Jeff. Um, and totally echo what you mentioned green, appreciate you having us. Um, you know, obviously this is talking about how, how partner, um, managers and marketing can work together, but, um, for. Like a joint partner perspective. You are one of my favorites to work with. So it's riding with you. Um, I'm I'm Courtney and I lead our account-based experience team, um, at 6 cents.

[00:05:20] So I have a pretty broad remit. Um, my team covers everything from partner campaigns, um, to our large event programs, um, as well as sort of. Field and industry, um, campaign perspective. Um, and then I also have someone on my team that focuses on communities as well. Um, and I have been with 6 cents for three years, which in six sense world is, um, almost an O G.

[00:05:47] So I have seen a lot happen and, uh, it's been super fun to, to get to work with Jeff over the last year. Um, and then prior to 6 cents, um, I worked for a company that was a Salesforce and Workday services. Um, Uh, consulting group. And so we had a really strong channel and partner play there 

[00:06:08] Carina: as well. That is awesome.

[00:06:09] I love to hear it. Um, Jeff, so I know you just joined in February, however, I'd love to just learn a little bit more about, um, what the partner program looked like a year ago. Maybe even a little bit more than a year ago, compared to where. Today, just a really brief overview. Um, Courtney, you might be able to answer that question a little bit more, but Jeff, you can always add in some of your flare to that.

Jeff: [00:06:32] Absolutely. I'll take a first stab and then pastor to court to pile on, because she'll definitely have a few more insights than me having been here longer, but, um, I think the key. A word I'd use or a couple words across our business and particularly our partner program and team would be kind of growth in scale, um, both in tandem.

[00:06:55] So taking a look back about a year ago at 6 cents or even longer, um, the partner team was really a team of one, um, which, um, you know, had it had its challenges of course, from, from a bandwidth perspective. And I think, you know, at that time too, we have partnerships in place. Um, some of our key integration partners who are still partners today, um, but it was less formal around go to market motions and co-selling selling, it was more, um, you know, really reactive rather than proactive, um, managing, uh, partners there.

[00:07:30] Um, and I think that that really changed when, um, and again, this was before I joined, but, uh, my current boss, uh, Elliot Smith who heads up partnerships that sixth sense, um, joined around August when. Um, and that's really where, uh, I guess the game changed as far as the partner program at 6 cents as a whole.

[00:07:50] Um, so he's really led the strategy, um, as far as putting different partner pillars and we have about five of them now in place today. Um, but more importantly, you know, growing that team of one, uh, you know, for the. Responsibility and that he took over to now, today, we're standing at a team of 10 and continuing to, to grow in all different facets.

[00:08:13] Uh, you know, that number including. The marketing team members we work with and, and everything else. So, um, I think it's, it's become a very, um, quickly matured program over the last year, year and a half. So, you know, really comparing where we were at and kind of where we're at now. And obviously the hope is as six sets continues to grow, which we are like crazy that the apartments.

[00:08:37] Um, we'll as well, but I'll, I'll stop there at court. Anything like that? 

[00:08:41] Courtney: I'll just add from, you know, obviously Jeff, you mentioned, um, our. Team of one being very focused on integrations, which is, um, essential to the development of our product. So from like a co-marketing and co-selling perspective, we were really just doing it in the cracks and honestly, looking at, Hey, who in the industry, can we hit our wagons to.

[00:09:04] Speak or who do I know at other companies, um, that we can work with on, on particular projects. And so there was no real strategy around it, but just trying to get out there in the market and make our names known. And then today, um, Jeff obviously mentioned we've built out a team, but I actually created a role on my AVX team.

[00:09:24] Um, for someone who's just focused on not only the. Traditional co-marketing perspective, but, um, executing on, on, um, partners where we know they have the same ICP and industry focus, um, to really use that data and put together some joint, um, campaigns. Um, so we're also of course building our partner tech stack as well, in terms of implementing tools like PRM.

[00:09:49] So, yeah, we've come a long way. And in just the three years that I've been here, 

[00:09:52] Carina: that's awesome. And I love how you said partnerships really does help the development of your product. You know, as six sense continues to grow as your company's product continues to evolve and grow, the partners should really help that momentum.

[00:10:07] Um, and B you know, just a, another opportunity for you to really grow that side of the business and, you know, with one person on the team that can be a little bit difficult to do. To do is especially if your company is growing so fast, just like 6 cents. Um, I think a lot of our listeners on this podcast are sometimes just a team of one, and they're really trying to get feedback into, you know, how should I be growing my team?

[00:10:33] What are other people doing and what are they focusing on? So I really love this conversation. Um, so as you guys mentioned, it was just a team of one, you know, Uh, maybe a year ago, a little bit over a year ago, but what are some of those specific roles you think are really needed in order to help the partner program evolve?

[00:10:52] Yeah, I 

[00:10:53] Jeff: can, I can jump in on that one. Korea, I think, um, what we're seeing right now and we, um, obviously, you know, having, having partner managers and leaders of different pillars, you know, I would say table stakes, being, having faces to. Not only, you know, own relationships, uh, but more importantly, drive those, go to market motions that we're doing with partners.

[00:11:15] Obviously that's, that's stable table stakes and key to have. And like you said, if it's, if it's one person they're wearing multiple hats, they're in a, in a partner role, but what we're starting to to see, um, as well in the industry and potentially something that we might be looking at that we don't have today.

[00:11:32] Almost like a partner SC type role. We're finding more and more in conversations with mutual customers, prospective partners, current partner relationships that having, you know, someone with deep technical knowledge, um, API APIs and integrations, um, is key. But at the same time, being able to speak, you know, the same partner language and, and go to market motion and get the whole partnering concepts, um, you know, Having that type of role, we're definitely seeing in the industry, you know, maybe a role kind of, of the future.

[00:12:07] Um, and again, something we're, we're kind of looking at. 

[00:12:11] Carina: I love that. Yeah. And then I w Courtney, I love how you, you know, you created a role within your team that is really dedicated to partnerships. Can you give us a quick overview of the type of co-marketing activities you do with partners today? Um, you know, do these activities happen with all partners?

[00:12:28] Are they teared out? Who gets what a quick overview would be great. Yeah, for 

[00:12:33] Courtney: sure. So, um, you know, something I would add from like a co-marketing perspective, obviously, if you're a team of one, you, you can't have all of these roles, maybe just something to think about as you start growing your program and are interviewing candidates on the marketing side.

[00:12:47] Um, and I don't know if we're unique. Aspect, but we also have, um, so I have someone on my team who executes the campaigns. And then, um, we also have someone that sits under product marketing that sort of jointly owns the relationship with like, uh, Jeff. Um, but she's really focused on developing what our joint, um, go to market and value proposition.

[00:13:10] Um, and working on like the messaging and content side of things. So, um, she and Stephanie on my team are super tightly aligned. Of course the messaging is key to the, those campaigns, but we do everything from of course, like joint events, um, joint webinars to. I think, you know, really unique for us is using six sense data and shared partner data to drive joint campaigns with a common goal in mind.

[00:13:38] So something we started doing is picking one spotlight partner per quarter to focus on for, uh, an array of demand gen activities. And the goal is that both partners drive revenue from that. And so that's everything from, you know, running. Email drips to having a BDR cadence in place to doing some sort of key activity, whether it's a webinar or an in-person event, or of course, virtual field event, that's sort of like the final touch in the campaign.

[00:14:08] Um, and that's. Really really well with us. Um, obviously you can't do that with every single partner, so we try to tear it out. And we work with, with Jeff and team, and I mentioned like the data piece, um, one of the criteria we have in places like, Hey, if our partners are sharing the data with us, um, then we're going to start with them.

[00:14:29] Cause it's, it's easier to know, you know, where is your joint, Tam and your overlap in terms of customers? Otherwise we're sorting. Flying blind. 

[00:14:37] Carina: That is really great. And I, especially how you pick a partner per quarter. Um, I think when you are working with different partners as well, you know, they always want to be involved and, you know, any webinar, any event that you can do, but being able to make it very specific to, Hey, we're going to pick you this quarter.

[00:14:53] We're going to do X amount of activities. That is a very clear process. Um, and I feel like approaching it that way, leaves a lot of room for success and less for failures. Um, Do you measure net new revenue from some of these activities you're doing with partners? Yeah, we do. 

[00:15:13] Courtney: Um, we, we look at meetings created, but we also just look at like traffic to our website.

[00:15:20] So traffic on the joint partner page as well. The tricky thing is obviously being able to share that back. With the partner. So some degree of it is, is of course just driving, like reach and awareness as well. But we typically set some sort of net new. Uh, business goal around it each quarter 

[00:15:40] Carina: as well.

[00:15:41] That's great. Um, and Jeff, I guess like is, um, this a large part of the number that you're looking at? You know, I know a lot of partner teams, they have a partner sourced leads, which is a metric they're looking at partner influence. I think that's something you guys do as well, but really looking at these marketing webinars as a huge source for these, uh, net new leads and revenue.

[00:16:07] Jeff: Contributor to that number and then, you know, piling on all the other activities that we do outside of the webinars. To hopefully come up with our number there as well, and go to mark and motions, lead exchange, referral exchange, you know, all of the above, but for sure, it's, it's definitely, um, going back to the alignment piece, it's, it's critical for me as a partner person to be very well aligned and to make sure am I'm properly supporting Courtney and hurts.

[00:16:35] Um, in these efforts, even though we may not be driving the efforts from our co-marketing perspective, we're definitely providing support and making sure projects are going as planned. And if there's issues that come up, you know, on timing or whatever else, just work, making sure we're working together with the partner to kind of sort through those as we go 

[00:16:54] Carina: along.

[00:16:54] That's really great feedback. And so a lot of different partner departments report into sales. Are you. Reporting into marketing right now, which makes this alignment a lot 

[00:17:05] Jeff: as of today. Uh, our head of partnerships reports directly into, um, our CEO here at 6 cents. Um, so even though we may have different reporting structures, At the end of the day, I think, um, our alignment between our two teams has, has definitely gotten tighter as time has gone along.

[00:17:27] I think we put some really simple processes in place that really keep us well aligned, you know, outside of the one-off conversations that, that Courtney and I have all the time. Um, we do have structured weekly meetings between our two teams. So basically, you know, uh, make sure we're covering off on all the items that, and all the different events and campaigns that are in play.

[00:17:50] Uh, making sure we're, we're clear cut on which team is doing what, and which teams supporting each other on, on each items. And then in addition, um, as a company, we, we live pretty religiously on slack. So. We have a joint slack group, um, between our two teams to, to keep that line of communication constantly, uh, open outside of those, those one-off situations.

[00:18:13] That's great. 

[00:18:14] Carina: Cause that communication definitely has to be there, especially if you're in, you know, reporting in different departments, cornea, I'd love to hear from you just for probably people that are listening that want to start aligning and working together more with their marketing team, which some advice, um, on how to approach the marketing team and really showcase.

[00:18:33] Y the partner team wants to start doing more on a marketing perspective. I would 

[00:18:38] Courtney: say this is something that's been incredibly helpful with like Jeff and his team. And Elliott is. Like, of course, there's, there's so many ways that we can leverage the partner ecosystem, but particularly if you don't have someone dedicated to that function in marketing, yet it can feel a little overwhelming because of course every, every, every partner wants to work with you.

[00:18:59] Right. Um, and so something that's been really helpful with Jeff is again, like setting up those sinks so that we can connect and he understands. What our bandwidth is and what we already have in play, you know, he'll get recommendations from partners and he always brings us the opportunity. Um, but he doesn't just throw it over the wall to us.

[00:19:20] We have a discussion about whether we can add it into the calendar this quarter. And if not, what's another solution we can propose. Um, and then also just like getting input from your partner team on how we, we tier our partners and we love all of our partners equally, of course, but it's, it's no secret that.

[00:19:38] Focus on them all a hundred percent, every single quarter. So you have to figure out how to fairly do that, you know, based on the business needs. Um, and so having the partner team that's able to help set those expectations goes a long way, um, for marketing and helping them sort of prioritize as well. I love 

[00:19:56] Carina: that.

[00:19:57] Very very, um, on point, I think you're always going to have partners that want to do a webinar or a press release and all of these different things, but yes, as a business, you have to make sure is this in line with what we are trying to showcase right now, you know, or what is our calendar look like?

[00:20:13] We're already booked up for this quarter. Maybe we can fit them in next quarter. But yeah, definitely coming to the table, really connecting and aligning and showing what you want as a partner manager. Uh, and then how your marketing team can help you get there. Um, I guess, are there any failures you two can share with us of, you know, where maybe aligning with marketing has kind of taken a, uh, a little bad turn, um, and then some advice as well.

[00:20:43] Courtney: Oh, I can start, um, Jeff feel free to add on, but you know, something that we talked about, maybe not necessarily failures per se, but certainly learnings. Um, And just getting six senses up to speed. So, um, we started the, the partner spotlights and I think we had good intentions going into it, but the first ones we ran were really, um, I think more focused on six sense goals versus making sure that we include the partner in that planning, like, Hey, we're going to spotlight you and drive your brand about.

[00:21:18] But like, we want you to have goals coming out of this as well. So how can we run this campaign? So it it's, it makes sense for both of us. Um, but then also just understanding like for 6 cents week, Different types of partners and each partners have different offerings. Um, and so not all campaigns work the same.

[00:21:39] Um, for example, like we tend to, um, use our agency partners to focus on, on joint thought leadership. Whereas like our tech partners, it's a little bit. Easier to do some of that joint demand gen um, ribbon stuff. Cause you're able to share, share just like the data in a very clear like joint offering. If you have tech one plus tech two, um, you know, here's how you can have a, a broader investment.

[00:22:06] So just sort of learning that like one size does not fit all. Um, and then tailoring your programs that way is super important. 

[00:22:15] Jeff: Sure. Courtney, I think the only thing I'd add to that is. Um, and we maybe mentioned it earlier on in the sink, but, uh, we're growing pretty aggressively and fast as a company. So that, that presents, you know, a few, uh, learnings there as well.

[00:22:32] You know, not only when, uh, Courtney adds new team members, when we, as a partner team are adding team members obviously important too, to make sure the new team members are incorporated in the sinks and the processes and the slack groups. Put in place to kind of make our communications successful. But, um, although Courtney's team is probably the, definitely the closest marketing team we work with at 6 cents.

[00:22:57] Um, there's also other marketing teams that we interact with, like our customer marketing team. Um, for example, when there might be overlap with a sixth sense customer and. Um, so making sure we're, we're well connected and aligned with, with all the new, um, groups and the marketing team members that are, that are joining and just making sure they're, there's no growing pains there that we keep the success that we've had.

[00:23:23] And we kind of implement that to new new members as the. 

[00:23:26] Carina: Yes, and I am a huge fan of over-communicating. I don't think that you can never communicate enough. Maybe you can, but I think in the situation like this, where you're maybe working in different departments at, especially with work from home, now you really do have to over-communicate.

[00:23:42] And I know a lot of our listeners right now are either. Wanting to grow out a partner program. Maybe they're just one person. Maybe it's just two people on the partner program really focused on that sales aspect. But I am a firm believer in the partner and marketing alignment because so many great things can come from it from, you know, net new revenue to really getting out your joint value prop out there.

[00:24:06] And these better together stories or webinar type of activities. But I really appreciate both of your time today. Thank you guys touched on some really great topics and it's really exciting to see, um, the evolution of the program and how you guys are so aligned here. This was amazing. And I know our listeners probably loved it.

[00:24:27] Um, if you guys have any last words you want to share, go ahead and say them to our viewers right now. But other than that, this was awesome guys. And thank you so much for your time. Last 

[00:24:37] Courtney: words are just, I mean, it seems like a simple thing, but no matter where you are in an organization, Two teams working together, obviously communicate and just over-communicate, you're never going to get into a situation where like, oh, Corina, you told me that too many times.

[00:24:51] Right. So definitely over. 

[00:24:55] Jeff: Exactly. And yeah, Korean, uh, from my end, I, the only advice I'd share is, you know, definitely enjoy the ride. Um, I think no matter what state you're at, whether you're just a one person partner team today, um, you know, closely aligning yourself with marketing or a team of five or a team of three.

[00:25:12] Um, you know, just, just to enjoy the ride and make sure you're well aligned between the two teams, because at the end of the day, it's only going to lead to mutual success of mutual goals and up to company goals as well. 

[00:25:23] Carina: Incredible. I love it. Well, thank you guys so much for coming in and chatting with me.

[00:25:30] All of the amazing stuff you're doing over at 6 cents. For any of our listeners, if you are interested in learning more about 6 cents, their partner program, feel free to ping myself or add Jeff or Courtney on LinkedIn and reached out to them yourself. Thank you guys so much. And I look forward to another episode, to be honest.

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