How Improvado Builds Impactful Relationships with Partners
This article is a part of a compelling series that will give you practical tips on how to grow a successful partner program. By leveraging the advice of the greatest minds in partnerships, you will learn how to effectively create, structure, and build a partner program that scales revenue. If you are a startup or SMB in the B2B tech industry, this series is for you.
Improvado is the modern data stack for revenue operations, helping marketers be data-driven decision-makers. They are powered by 300+ integration partners and growing every day. Marketers are no longer at the mercy of non-scalable manual processes. Costly and valuable developer time is now freed up, no longer having to create interfaces, host and maintain databases, normalize data, and visualize reports. Improvado provides a flexible and scalable solution that allows marketers to aggregate all their data and make sense of it in minutes!
Improvado has raised over $30 million of funding to date from notable investors including Bullpen Capital (Braze) and Updata Partners.
Adam Pasch is the Head of Partnerships and is building alliances with marketing agencies, consultancies, and advertising/marketing technology integration partners for Improvado's Program. He is most passionate about opportunities to bring multiple partners together to build highly collaborative joint go-to-market growth strategies.
Read the following interview to discover how Improvado is building impactful relationships in their partner programs and learn game-changing strategies from Adam Pasch himself.
What is an Impactful Relationship?
Any company's success ultimately comes down to its relationships. In order to establish and maintain successful partnerships, one must be able to work well with others and have a thorough understanding of what makes people tick.
Understanding human emotions and the behaviors that follow them is the key to success. When you reveal this hidden information, you have the ability to foresee the requirements of those you work with.
As Adam points out, it all boils down to connecting with people, understanding their goals and how they're trying to grow, and their challenges. Relationships shouldn’t be transactional and focused on how to beat the buyer at the sales game.
“Talking about relationships in partnerships, I see this as we have to, in each of our engagements between people—whether it's a cold email, a follow-up, a meeting, a co-marketing piece, or a co-selling call—we have to know exactly what value that we are going bring to this relationship.”
How to Build Impactful Relationships in Partnerships?
Adam believes that building impactful relationships requires you to not only focus on the value that you’ll get going into the partnership, but also on the amount of value you can add to your partners. Fortunately, the sales realm has evolved and is more focused on solving the customer’s pain points and helping and building relationships.
“It’s about focusing on how can I help partners grow their business. What the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are, and how can my business help overcome them.”
If value is continually added, then the partnership will be a long-term relationship, which is the ultimate goal.
Get to Know the People, Not Just the Partner
Adam also explains that you have to get to know the person behind the partnership. People want to know that there was research involved in getting to know them and that they are not just a part of a generic sequence. Being intentional is like gold in business. Taking a human-to-human approach leads to partner engagement which in turn leads to actions.
Make Time, Make Connections
Partner managers must set themselves up so they have the space and resources to establish genuine human connections. This can include substituting things like email sequences and mass messaging for a quick meeting.
Now, we know that this might seem counterintuitive; after all, things like email sequencing exist so that they can happen without you thinking about them. But just like any tool, there are downsides—mainly that the partner manager is sure to lose out on building an impactful relationship.
“We need to be spending less and less time on clerical tasks. Now, I know there are areas where this fluctuates; spending time on Zoom might make things better and then worse. It modulates. But, if we thread that line the right way by automating the repetitive stuff, then we open up more time. And, what am I going to fill that time with? I'm gonna spend it actually talking with partners, talking with the team, coming up with and solving the problems…things only the creative human mind can do.”
The key is to automate and streamline everything you can, but not at the cost of losing contact with the relationship itself.
Set Authentic Intentions to Build Trust
People are goals-driven, both in their personal lives as well as in their professional ones. But when there isn’t the intention to meet the partner’s goals first, it can lead to selfishness.
The great thing about partnerships is that they create an atmosphere where goals can align around a common objective: satisfying the customer. When both the vendor and partner understand how both can work together to meet the needs of the customer, everyone wins in the process.
As Adam explains, service, not selfishness, is the foundation of successful partnerships. No one member handles all the work, and no one demands more credit than the others. Each partner's contribution to the collective effort results directly from their individual efforts. Maintaining a spirit of service and helping others keeps the partnership impactful.
Adam believes that you have to approach partnerships not just with the intention of getting something out of them, but by being intentional about what you can put in. Nobody wants to deal with someone who only has their own interests in mind. Improvado has impactful relationships because they have prioritized mutual success and trust.
“It’s the intention signal that builds the trust. When everyone is interested in building a relationship to support each other, it leads to working together on projects that have results. Trust takes some time to build but it gets easier as you go along.”
How to Understand the Value You’re Bringing to an Impactful Partnership?
While it's crucial, establishing a win-win situation isn't the only factor to consider when assessing a partner. Understanding the values that each partner brings is necessary for impactful relationships.
To understand the value you’re bringing, Adam suggests doing the following:
Look for Shared Customers (& Talk to Them!)
It is easier to understand your value when you have a common customer. So, it's important to talk to the customer to understand your partner's business. Find out if the solution is an integrated SaaS technology or if you just have two separate tools. You will need to find a common solution for the customer's problems and then document common use cases.
Do a Demo Trade
Demo trades are incredibly useful because doing so gives you the opportunity to learn about someone else's technology. This, in turn, allows you to assess the gaps in the puzzle and figure out where you might fit in. This leads to the discovery of mutual solutions and how they can solve the customers' pain points.
"Basically show me how your technology solves customer pain points. Then, I can put myself in the customer's shoes, see how my technology fits, and how we can work together."
Find the Quick Wins
Partnerships are a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to understand and communicate the partner’s long-term value with everyone involved. That being said, however, don't be scared to commit to quick wins, or low-hanging fruit, to keep the flywheel spinning.
Some partnerships can take over a year to come to fruition, if at all. In order to keep the partner engaged during this period, as well as show success to your higher-ups, you have to find ways that prove value today. Quick wins help keep the momentum going and allow you and the partner to work towards bigger wins.
How to Find & Keep Impactful Partners?
Partners join forces to benefit from complementary sales and marketing strengths, or functional compatibility in other areas. But it's critical to know what each partner does best.
You will know that a partner is intentional if they are motivated by more than just getting paid at the end of the month. This is crucial because the partner is just as invested as you in mutual success.
To this end, Adam states that both you and the partner need to have a “give-first mentality.” If both the partner and the vendor come into the relationship with a give-first mentality, the partnership will be impactful. Once this precedent is set, you can share a menu of items that you can provide to the partners and see what fits.
“It has to be a give-first mentality. It's funny but sometimes with our partners, we have this give-off, where I'm trying to give and they're trying to give, and eventually we're like, wait a second! Someone's gotta take something here. That’s the moment when you know exactly how to help the partner.”
Adam also states that the more you get out of just the partner teams, the more connections you make between the vendor’s team and the partner’s team. This will make it more difficult to churn because there will be multiple points of connection (aka relationships) between the two companies, not just between two people. This also avoids bottlenecks of work.
Lastly, it’s important to take action, especially at the beginning of a partnership. Turn the fly-wheel until it’s stable and sustainable, and then scale back the energy and place it on other efforts.
How to Create Impactful and Aligned Internal Relationships?
The secret to any successful business is internal alignment. Your partner's experience is likely to have unforeseen gaps if you work in a compartmentalized organization. Alignment promotes cooperation, which results in happier, more productive collaborations.
To achieve alignment, Adam states the easiest thing to do for OKR-driven teams is to center them in your own day-to-day operations—which is just another form of partnership. When businesses liaise with external partners, they look at their mutual goals and strategies to achieve them. This brings out the joint value proposition. It's important to do the same thing for internal teams and find out how to align the various internal projects to reach a common goal.
“Because, at the end of the day, I don't really have any partnership goals that are just for the partner team. My role naturally exists to help marketing, to help sales, to help customer success, and to help the support team. I have no individual goal for myself. I have to make sure I’m aligning all of my goals to their goals. So, every time I come asking for something, I'm gonna get the buy-in because all of the things that I'm doing are directly tied back to the things that they want, too.”
Not only does Adam ensure alignment by prioritizing sales and marketing KPIs, but also by unpacking how one win can be multiplied.
“Think of it this way: if departments in an organization are disparate islands, but ones that are all close together and can trade sometimes, then the partnership team becomes the bridge builders. And we're just out here in the middle of the ocean, trying to build as many bridges as we can, getting everything connected. So, now we can all work together and get more done—we are truly trying to get more done with fewer resources.”
Key Takeaways: Adam’s Advice for Building an Effective and Impactful Partner Program
“It’s all about the people and how you can help them.”
At the end of the day, you have to take a people-centric approach and understand how you can help others reach their goals. This goes for both your colleagues and your partnerships.
“When you have really good internal relationships, you can then build really good external relationships.”
Understanding what the internal team needs, what their struggles are, and what their strengths allow you to do the same externally for your partners.
Greatness is not achieved by a single person; instead, teams of people must work together. Success is achieved by maximizing collaboration with internal teams, external teams, and customers.
Ultimately, partnership teams are the connectors. It does not matter how strong a person's network is. What matters is how deep the connection between the company and the partner company has become. And that includes a deep understanding and desire to help the internal team and the external partner, while also prioritizing the customer.
“Always be thinking, in any one thing that I'm doing, how am I helping my internal company team, my partner team, and our customer.”
Improvado believes that aligning all team members in the triangle (vendor, partner, and customer), as well as their goals, can help everyone get more done with fewer resources. If you're always doing everything for the tripartite relationship, then no amount of effort goes to waste. Instead, you're actually helping all three parties in the triangle at any given moment.
Make it Happen for You: How to Grow a Partner Program Like Improvado
If you want to grow a partner program like Improvado, it is essential that you have the proper tools to structure, automate, and scale your program.
A Partner Relation Management (PRM) platform allows you to:
- Organize your program with tiers
- Coordinate training, onboarding, and certification processes
- Trace leads
- Build a knowledge base to provide instant answers
- Collaborate with partners on a shared pipeline
- Get full visibility over partner activity
- Measure partner performance
- Track commission and payouts