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A Strategy for Winning Top-Tier Implementation Agency Partnerships

A strategy for winning top-tier agency partnerships.

Featured speaker: Christopher Antonopoulos, CEO of Measured Results Marketing agency, a top Eloqua / Marketo / Hubspot / Salesforce partner. 

Presenter Contact Information:
Partnership inquiries: kcandela@measuredresultsmarketing.com 
https://www.linkedin.com/company/measured-results-marketing/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/cantonopoulos/

Chris receives a new partnership inquiry daily. What Chris looks for in this outreach, and he reads them all, are keywords that align with his needs from partnerships in their early stage: 

  • Joint pipeline relationships - co-selling.

  • Events - co-marketing with your partners.

  • Caring - showing you care about that agency, not how they can help you hit your numbers that day/month by only talking about their lead.

Agencies need to be selective about the partners they choose

As an implementation partner, Chris sells to enterprise clients, and the time/effort/marketing required for his agency to become a full 'partner' with new tools costs him between $15-$20K (includes: Onboarding time, Training the team, Content to promote, Sales processes...). Further, Chris is the first line of support for his clients on over 40 tools.

What an Agency considers when vetting a prospective partner:

  • Does this solution solve a pain point for our clients?

  • Is it better than most of the other options?

  • Can we be a part of the implementation of that solution given our team/branding?

  • If so, can we actually share a sales pipeline and co-sell by way of referrals, shared data, shared calls, etc.?

In pursuing an Agency Partnership, approach as a savvy salesperson would:

  • Do your research

  • Be multi-touch

  • Personalize your message to the perceived needs of the agency 

Anecdotes

  • Data vendors - Zoominfo reached out when they were getting started. 

  • Insightly - driven by demand for clients.

  • Rybbon - friend of the owner, but loves the product. 

  • Best partner - Marketo/Salesforce.

Uptake of your partners to other agencies - if/when that happens?

  • In software evaluation

  • In strategy

It’s not worth your time as a partner manager to push your software to an agency that does not sell a service related to your software.

A strategy for converting top agencies

*This is great for anyone who is handed a cold list of partners to reach out to, or anyone looking to clean out their list. It simply requires: 

  • That you have a list of agencies you have emailed but did not respond. 

  • Have a pipeline stage that is for stale leads (prospects who are non-responsive), or simply a small list of leads in nurturing stages that sales will allow you to refer to agencies. 

Here's what to do:

  1. Export the prospective agencies into a sheet

  2. Open each of their websites and see if you can find what vertical/industry they are targeting for services, add a new column with "Target Clients" then fill that out per agency.

  3. Then, try to deduce (based on case studies and testimonials) what the size of their average client is - smb, mid-market, enterprise. Add a new column for "Target size"

  4. Finally, and this is the important part, add the main tools the agency uses or is partnered with - check builtwith.com and their footer. Add final columns for "uses these tools:" and "partners with:"

  5. Then, go to sales and ask them to give you a list of leads that seem to be non-responsive with permission to try and warm them back up. 

  6. Look at each of the verticals of the companies on the list, plus their size, and try to play matchmaker - which companies should which agencies want to work with. Add the company URL to a new column "Vertical-based Prospect 1".

  7. Then, check out that prospects tools using their domain and builtwith (or Wappalyzer), and add a new column for "Tools used prospect 1:"

  8. Do this until each company is matched with at least a few of your partner prospects - the goal is to have at least 3 user prospects matched with each agency prospect. 

Now that you have your list, we need to reach back out to the agencies who were non-responsive: 

  1. Compose an email to each agency one at a time with the subject "Pipeline Referrals" 

  2. The body will be something like:

    “Hello first_name,

    As you are probably aware, we are big fans of your agency and have been for some time. Our previous offers have fallen flat, but I may have something we both can benefit from today:

    Based on you using ___ tools, targeting ___ vertical with ____ services, I believe the list below of prospects in our pipeline would be a great fit for your services given their recent need for a tool like ours.

    We have not closed them so please let us introduce you and hopefully, after you win the deal they will look closer into the relationship.

    If you are open to it, please find a time in my calendar so we can form a proper intro and reason/offer (other than your agency being one we admire) for the intro right now.

    Sincerely,

    Partner manager Joe”


    (paste the list of company names/URLs below along with your calendar link)

  3. Send that out and I assure you agencies will reply with gratitude for thinking of them.

This tactic not-only works on Chris, but it forces your team to really look at your agencies and align with their sales goals - not just blasting nonsense to everyone on your list. 

Listen to the full strategy on the podcast:

Other Qs: 

Have you ever had a vendor reach out to your client first to get that interest first? Would that be too aggressive?

No, it’s not too aggressive. DemandBase did this to them. 

How large would the incremental service revenue need to be for you to consider taking on a new ISV?

We are a tier 1 support for our partners, so we have to be the expert - which means a lot of costs upfront. $5K-$7K annual service revenue 

You’re not an Unbounce partner. What convinces you to become a partner? What is not worth becoming a partner?

It’s not in our discussions with partners (CRO isn't), but after we get done with a build, we do have the ability to go back and help our clients in additional ways. So long as we see the minimum of $7K in annual revenue from that relationship, we’d consider it.

That’s our biggest challenge (Unbounce). How can we show agencies they can layer a substantial incremental service on top of us as opposed to being a strong point solution?

If it’s a long term relationship
“We can help your company become more efficient with campaigns and it will make you look like a rockstar. By using our solution, it makes you more valuable to your clients in these ways…” 

Let’s talk to three types of tools who approach you:

  • Bucket #1 = frontend - like Unbounce - they do not consult on the CRO, so it’s not a fit.

  • Bucket #2 = middle - plugs into the processes you are building out and optimizes them in some way (Chris is not doing web dev, so this relates to CRM builds). Chargebee for example, it’s hard to fit it into the discussion with the client. It may be needed, but the time it takes to learn/vet and be a solid referral is not worth it typically.

  • Bucket #3 = Data and analytics for clients’ needs. 

For the tech stack under your management, who pays for it? Do you pay for and expense/resell tech subscriptions + media/ads or do you refer the clients to buy it themselves?

90% of the time, we have the company pay for the solution directly because we do not want to try and force incremental revenue on that). 

Please share an instance when a new provider broke in?

When they provided a unique solution for a specific pain point. Salesintel.io - presented a very unique solution to a pain point we had. Important to note - their CEO reached out personally. Ask what challenges we have and where the opportunity is to close those gaps.

We are an easy-to-implement and low-lift solution (natively-integrated to your stack). How should we frame the partnership offer to your agency?

Again, we are not going to be interested in commissions or referral fees in the beginning, so do not reach out to us with a message about how much referral commission we can earn with you. If your solution is easy to implement, then there has to be an opportunity for the agency to be a part of the optimization and ongoing success of your products' implementation - where/how does my agency fit in over the long term? Why would a user of your tool NEED us for support? How much time/billable hours revenue is involved?