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#80: Bryan Williams – Unlocking The Power of Partnerships: Grow Your Revenue by Building Curated Partnership Ecosystems

Episode 80

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A special guest this week.

Bryan Williams joins us to discuss all things partnership!

We’re lucky to have him on the show. He is the founder of Hockey Stick Advisory, through which he helps tech businesses grow and scale by building curated partnership ecosystems and previously led Xero’s partnership ecosystem across AU and NZ. So he definitely knows what he’s talking about!

Beyond that, he’s just a nice guy to chat to!

We get his insights on what a model partnership looks like and whether you should go after one. And if you do, how to best approach it.

It’s a fantastic conversation for any business looking for growth!

Links to Relevant Resources:

Bryan Williams

Partnership Leaders

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Bryan Williams: [00:00:00] for any marketing team or an individual marketing person, start off with, do you want to do all the work? do you want to go and spend all your own budget to try and reach the same customers, the same businesses, or do you want to try and partner with relevant contextual needs to solve problems for businesses to help them win? And so how can you power up and do that together?


Welcome to the B2B Playbook. We built this channel for small B2B marketing teams who wanna drive more revenue for their business. Every week, we’re showing you how to create more demand for your brand, step by step using our five feeds framework. So if you are time poor resource strapped, but you still wanna make a big impact on your business, make sure you hit that like and subscribe button down belows to you.

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George Coudounaris: Welcome back to the B2B Playbook. Listeners, as you know, we rarely have guests on our show. Instead, we select a few true experts who align with our view that B2B marketing is more about people, not platforms.

Now, [00:01:00] today our special guest is Bryan Williams. Bryan is the founder of Hockey Stick Advisory and he’s here as our resident expert in partnerships. Specifically, Bryan helps tech businesses grow and scale by building curated partnership ecosystems so they can reach their full potential faster. Bryan brings a ton of wealth and knowledge and expertise to partnerships after leading Xero’s partnership ecosystem across the Australian and New Zealand regions for five years, and the partnerships he helped them build are a major contributor to Xero’s meteoric rise.

Bryan, thank you so much for making the time to come on the show.

Bryan Williams: Thanks George, and good to be here and have a chat, uh, this afternoon also for, I’m proud to make the cut as a, as a rare speaker and guest upon your, uh, As well, so, uh, good to be here, mate.

George Coudounaris: Yeah, no, we, we connected a while ago and I sort of said to you, Bryan, I, I had your earmarked as someone that I wanted to bring on at this time in the podcast, and that time has come. And so we’re ex very, very excited to have you here as our true expert. We don’t let anyone come on [00:02:00] here.

Bryan Williams: Hi, caliber. I like it.

George Coudounaris: All right. Now, Bryan, we’ve spoken about this, uh, a little bit before our chat, but just to give our listeners a bit more context. Now, our, our listeners, we know you guys are mostly B2B marketers, and some of you might feel that partnerships are outside of your job description. But I think by the end of this conversation, it’s gonna be pretty obvious to you marketers why partnerships should really form a key part of your growth strategy and how it actually makes your life easier.

So, Bryan today I wanna explore some of the basics of partnerships and then really try and dive into the practicalities of how to actually do it.

What Are Partnerships?

George Coudounaris: So, having said all that, Bryan, what are partnerships and what purpose do they serve in a business?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, sure. So partnerships are all around us and everything we do today, uh, right in terms of, um, you know, recommendations, referrals of where we go to purchase, anything from coffee to cafes or you know, where you go for dinner or drinks or travel. You know, you, you go where you are [00:03:00] recommended, um, around it.

There’s a, there’s a very, um, there’s a social currency in that around, um, with it to go as well and, and what we’re facing in today’s environment as, as marketers. Um, for this audience, you know, that overwhelmed by choice and, and everything of information we digest, um, newsletters, edms, we receive contact contactable by every method.

um, tell me that you’ve walked into a capital city and remember any of the ads that you’ve seen on billboards or what’s sort of core top of mind, right? And so, um, what partnerships actually enable are typically one to one, right? So you’re working with another company or another business, uh, which is aligned to your target customer and how can you power up together to be able to reach that customer and increase your value proposition.

So picture the companies which you are targeting or, or customers you’re trying to reach. Like they’re already, um, being engaged and, and, uh, people are following up from other companies who are aligned very closely to the core of what you’re doing. So I like the marketing term of how can you [00:04:00] use other people’s money potentially, how can you use other people’s money to sort of power up to be able to access new customers, to be able to expand reach, to increase your value proposition, to be able to go faster.

And so, so that’s, that’s one part on the marketing lens more broadly. Um, you know, we know that, um, all of you listening wherever you are, you’ve got a phone within, probably within reach, if not in your pocket or on your table or whatever in front of you, right? You’ve all got a, a swag of apps that you use on a daily basis.

Um, businesses also use a swag of solutions themselves, and they’re also looking for solutions and things to help them as well. And so how can you combine forces with those around you with a common. cause Um, to, to have a stronger value proposition. Like no one’s using a phone just for text messages or phone calls anymore.

Let’s, let’s face it. Right. So, um, would Uber exist? Um, or like without mobile phones? Um, so, you know, I think the possibility the partnership is to amplify either on a sales or marketing lens, a [00:05:00] product lens. You don’t have to build by a partner. And, uh, you know, the use cases is quite vast.

The Benefits Of B2B Partnerships

George Coudounaris: Well, if that isn’t a hook for our listeners to make sure they tune in to the rest of this episode, I don’t know. It will be. Um, that’s an awesome entry point, Bryan, and you’ve already kind of touched on some there, but. I just wanna lay out for our listeners, you know, what are the real benefits of partnerships?

Let’s go on the business side, you know, what are the benefits of partnerships? Why is this something that they should focus on?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, so for any marketing team or an individual marketing person, start off with, do you want to do all the work? do you want to go and spend all your own budget to try and reach the same customers, the same businesses, or do you want to try and partner with relevant contextual needs to solve problems for businesses to help them win?

And so how can you power up and do that together? And so in my previous role, I would, you know, looking after, um, app partners, um, and, and a big [00:06:00] ecosystem of those as well. I would see that as an extension of the sales team of our business to be able to talk a bit more about Xero in a previous role. And, and so what I’m focusing on now in my consultancy business is how can I help empower other scale up businesses to be able to harness the benefits of partnerships of what I’ve sort of seen and observed in.

George Coudounaris: I love how you can view them as an extension of, of your own sales team, as your own team. Identify those complimentary businesses and look at how you can partner and work together to be something more. To a, to a customer than just the individual. In that vein, Bryan, I guess, how can partnerships help your business, bring more to the table for your customers?

How Partnerships Bring More Revenue To Your Business

Bryan Williams: Yeah, so there, there’s a common saying now that’s, you know, build deep, not broad. You don’t have to do it all, and. If you feel that you can, and you’ve got a really broad subset of features or offerings around it, reality, some of them will be weak because you, you’ve got limited resources yourself to be able to expand your offerings of what you can offer.[00:07:00]

So by partnering up, you don’t have to go and build as broad for whatever it is, product or service offerings for what it is, and you can, you can partner with others who provide that service already and, and win together. And so that’s a win for your mutual customers or, or the businesses you’re targeting It’s a win for your business and it’s also a win, uh, for your partners, which you look to establish.

George Coudounaris: I really like that idea of, of winning together and I think it’s something that businesses perhaps need to look at a little earlier on. In the journey, then perhaps some do. Um, I think we’re probably guilty of that in our own business. For our listeners, Bryan, when is the right time for, for them to start looking at partnerships as part, as something being part of their core strategy?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, I, I was actually, funnily enough, talking to a company about this exact problem this morning. Um, . So you’ve got your options, right? You can put it into digital, you can have a direct sales team, you can spend your own marketing dollars or as an option and a [00:08:00] strategic asset. You can look towards partnerships around to sort of be able to grow and prosper.

And so that is a very strategic decision. And, and I’ll start, I might start off with George, if it’s okay. Well, what it shouldn’t be. What it, what it shouldn’t be. And it shouldn’t be an, an exec or a good idea that you sort of arm someone to go, oh, why don’t you go explore some partnerships and see what happened around it.

It should be extremely intentional. And partnerships is a strategy, not a department. I, I really like that saying. And, and, and what it really means is, is that, you know, do you want to grow alone? Is there others that you could partner with who might have a large customer base, um, they might have already reaching, your audience might already have.

That you can sort of partner up with in order to make that decision to go with. And then the second component with that is if someone who is a, uh, a target partner for you guys and say they’ve got 10 times more customers than you guys, then the approach which will, we’ll probably get to this question, they might be jumping head George.[00:09:00]

That you can’t just aim to go, go approach these bigger, um, partners and say, Hey, I wanna do some campaigns with you. Um, around it. They’ll just tell you to get stuffed, right? Because the reality is you’re a small fish against their conflicting assets. And in the same way that you are trying to make a decision around whether you should use partnerships to harness your growth, they’ve equally got limited bandwidth opportunities, budget component.

And so the, the partnership value proposition, as you start to explore what that looks like, you have to give, give, give in, um, early on to be able to establish some trust, uh, to establish some credibility, um, some alignment, um, before sort of really unlocking those partnerships.

What Does A Model Partnership Look Like

George Coudounaris: Before we sort of dive more into, um, how our listeners can go about strategically choosing their partners, I wanna look more at the practicalities of what building partnerships [00:10:00] like so. Just to kick us off there, Bryan, I mean, what does a model partnership even look like

Bryan Williams: Yeah, sure. So a model partnership should have a bunch of key, um, components. I suppose the, the first one is it needs to be give, get relationship. It needs to be mutually beneficial for both parties, otherwise they just actually won’t gain traction. So what that means, ,

you know, do you have customers which you can share with them?

Can, do they have a customer base or, or component which offer, um, you know, to you in return, do they have features which you don’t have, which is able to power up your offering to increase the proposition for you and in return, can you help them achieve their goals? So it really clearly needs to go both ways.

So that’s a really important parameter to go with. There needs to be a willing. From the execs down that there’s, there’s worthwhile investment here to, um, out of time, energy, and resources to make [00:11:00] this work that they, like I said before, George, like they’re kind of like an extension of your sales team or of your business unit where you power up together to sort of help each other grow and succeed.

And so if you don’t have that exec support, if you don’t have the alignment, if you don’t have a give, get relationship, then the whole exercise is likely, you know, potentially a waste of.

How To Choose Who To Partner With

Bryan Williams: time

George Coudounaris: So I guess we can take all that information then, and that probably helps with my next question, Bryan. And listeners, just for context, you know, I wanna look more into partnerships myself for the B2B incubator next year. So I’m selfishly asking questions that I wanna know the answer to, how. Bryan, should we go about prioritizing who we should partner with?

If you ever give, get relationship, you’ve gotta have something to give as a business. So how do you go about, I guess, assessing that and then using that to choose, uh, who you can go ahead and partner with.

Bryan Williams: Yeah. So a common process to do an ideal, uh, customer, you know, icp, um, [00:12:00] persona. You’ve got, you can do the same method with partner, right? IPP ideal partner profile. Um, and so what you do is you’d look at a mapping, um, right around, um, the solutions or partners who you potentially want to go after and consider what’s closest to the core of what you want to go.

after And what’s your objectives? Are you trying to find new customers? Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Are you trying to, uh, create action of some sort? Are you trying to do some sort of campaigns? What does it look like? So that’s the first component. So you do, you do a bit of homework, like I said before, it’s a, it’s a strategy, not a department.

And then from there, build a prioritization roadmap is like, these are the top three to five that are gonna be, um, beneficial. So let’s use George, you know, for all listeners, let’s help George with his incubator play next year. So who is that? Is it venture capitalists? Is it co-working offices to go with it? Is it others who are complimentary to your marketing incubator program of what you want to do?

Is it other business units which are around partnerships? I’d love to collaborate with you, George [00:13:00] Community. You know, who else is it? Who’s the other players, which can help influence around it? Who else has an audience to go with it and then start to uncover those components. So to start off with, go through the exercise to do a prioritization of what’s closest to the core makes most sense to your objectives.

Go through a prioritization exercise around which partners makes sense, and then the most important part. And before sort of approaching, consider what you can. , offer them and that’s really important. I’ll give you an example. My business, I’m growing it. I’m six months out the other side as I’ve moved from, you know, employee to entrepreneur, and I’m very intentionally doing a lot of podcasts just like this one to, to get my audience out there.

I wanna spread my brand and awareness, um, across, across, beyond my own current network. I’m trying to, um, increase the surface area of myself on the internet. And so beyond my Armstrong Network, I’m chatting to people just like George here as. We’ve the aim to sort of improve your podcast and benefits [00:14:00] through learnings from my side, and that’s the give, get I can get.

But in return there might be some, um, of offer, um, of benefit for some of your listeners as well. And so there’s a value proposition on both sides to go with it. And so having that component, making sure you’re, you are offering value in return is essential in the early stages. You know, before sort of establishing trust and asking for stuff in.

George Coudounaris: I love this free advice. I’m getting a ton of from this, Bryan, I hope our listeners are too. Um, one question that I do have is, okay, so we, we’ve identified again, you know, our ideal customer profile. From there, we’ve made a list of what we would call, uh, I guess our Dream 100, um, you know, identifying the top complimentary businesses where our dream customers are.

Hanging out, we’re going through, we’re trying to prioritize them, and maybe we, we narrow it down to just a couple, perhaps, you know, within the same category. Maybe it’s venture capitalists. Once we start [00:15:00] working on that partnership. How can you ensure that both parties get the most out of that? I mean, I’ve had quite a few conversations, Bryan, with uh, people even like yourself, where we do see there’s some overlap in what we do.

We perhaps can work across very similar customers and we say, Hey, you know what, if um, someone needs your services, I’ll send ’em your way and if someone needs mine, you’ll send it my way. But look, it just doesn’t always happen. How, how can we make it so both parties are getting a lot out of that relationship.

Bryan Williams: Yeah, I think there’s an opportunity to go one deeper. So to start off with, , you know, upon that first initial engagement, which is really different. Discovery work, once you’ve got some prioritized com, um, partners, you’ve, you’ve identified the next chapter is to start to really and deeply understand what they’re trying to achieve, right?

On a company level, if they’re interested or kind of curious, they might take a meeting, they might be like, oh yeah, let’s have a look and see what this is. Or [00:16:00] maybe they’ve noticed you and they wanna see what you’re up to. And sometimes if you’re a big Halo brand, they’ll get excited, oh yeah, I’d love to chat to these people.

Right? But the reality is what? What is their current KPIs and focus as a business? So if you understand that just, just because they take a meeting, they might be like, oh, we’re actually busy for 18 months. We can’t do anything, but like, it sounds good. Thanks for chatting. It was really interesting, a component, right?

Waste of your time. Wasted their time. So early on, establish what both parties are trying to achieve. And I think it, George, it’s about expectation settings. It’s like, what do you want out of it? What do they want? . And if you are approaching them, then you actually want to make sure that whatever they’re trying to achieve, you are right there alongside ’em as number one fan to help ’em do that.

That’s how you’re gonna move the needle. But to go one deeper, as I mentioned, what is the person that you’re actually chatting to on the other side trying to achieve? Is this person new in their role and they’re trying to work it out? Can you help them with resources, introduce ’em to other people, you know, deepen their [00:17:00] network?

To be able to add value to the person below it. What if, what if you worked with them, did a really amazing campaign, you did some shared co-marketing efforts, and that person got promoted, or they got poached, or they, um, enabled an amazing narrative and story to go with it. Do you think they’d be motivated to work with you, um, at a much deeper level than beyond some current campaigns together?

And so, so how do you, how do you bring that to.

George Coudounaris: what I really love about this, Bryan, is it, it just, it doesn’t seem to matter which aspect of business. Uh, we dive down like, you know what rabbit hole it is. It always seems to come back to that fundamental thing of understanding, truly understanding your dream customer and what. Them, um, you know, in a professional and even a personal capacity.

You said it right there, you know, how can you help that person achieve what they want, to.

make sure that what you are doing is aligned that could help them get that, that promotion, you know, that’s what that person really, really cares about. So I love that it’s, it’s brought [00:18:00] back to that fundamental understanding of people, and that’s why we say, you know, it’s all about people, not platforms when it comes to marketing, to business partnerships, whatever it might be.

Bryan Williams: a hundred percent. Like, you know, technology’s just the enabler that I see across the board and it’s the people behind the scenes who are doing the work and bringing stuff to life. And if you don’t, if you don’t, you know, if you don’t work with them. I’ve had some big enterprise, um, projects in the past.

We’re dealing with a big strategic partner on the other side. They weren’t really interested and don’t really realize why. And then two months later, that person resigned. So in retrospective, like a year later, you’re like, they were never gonna care. They were only, they knew they were already on the, out around it.

And so it’s like, how can you, you need to navigate, play, play a person in the field and, and understand what they’re trying to achieve. Um, before you’ve got, you know, a hope of progressing and moving stuff forward, you need to be on the same.

George Coudounaris: Bryan when selecting which partnerships, um, that you should go after, say you have your list of ones where you can definitely provide value to them, [00:19:00] um, there’s definitely value with you working with them. So there’s that two-way relationship there. Should you try and partner with companies that are of a similar size to you?

I mean, you know, for example, of course, if, if I partnered with HubSpot, you know, that would be. There’s so many B2B marketers in HubSpot. They’re very heavily in the education business. That would be sensational, but that’s just not realistic.

Bryan Williams: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a really good question, and it’s a, it’s the aspirations of many to work with these big halo companies. Hey, I wanna work with the fang, Google, Facebook Meta, you know, um, HubSpot, the Xero you know, then that list goes on of these aspirational companies, and, and there’s a dream of like, if they can just, you know, sell out and push our stuff, then we, we’ve got a ticket to the moon.

Like, this is what it’s all hinged on, right. . Um, but in reality, they’re all gonna have partner programs. They’re gonna be very busy. They’re gonna be overwhelmed by too many partners of choice, and they’ll have partner programs to sort of put you in a box to go with it. And so the recommendation [00:20:00] would be would be to work with similar brands at a similar stage of growth with you who are also talking to those platforms.

So who else is also trying to unlock the big whale customers? Is it who else has recently sold to? , same sort of style customers that you are going after together. So where is it that you are aligned around it and you know, the collaboration component of a better together story of being at a similar stage of growth with similar personnel?

The motivations are gonna be very similar and quite similarly aligned. And so that those would be a recommended approach where you’re gonna get their attention, appetite, you’re all in it together. You can share learnings, um, pitfalls, approaches, combined resource. and, and, and, and everyone wins.

What Is A Partnership Ecosystem

George Coudounaris: that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. You have to have that alignment. Um, you have to have that alignment to have both parties interested to make the most of it. Bryan, I, I’ve seen you speak, uh, another podcast and write about partnership ecosystems. Could you tell us [00:21:00] what is a partnership ecosystem?

Bryan Williams: Yeah. So over time, you’ll establish many partnerships across, across the board as your business evolves or as you continue to invest in this play, right? And so, Partnership ecosystem is, is a one to many of partnerships to go with it, right? And, and as it grows and gets more mature, it gets more complex.

You, you might have re referral agreements, uh, referral partners. You might have agency partnerships, you might have affiliate partnerships. You might have integration partnerships, solution partnerships, which you might be white labeling solutions yourselves to be able to go with it. And what that sort of collectively all works together is evolves into an ecosystem of connected solutions, which work with.

Uh, company in various integrated ways and where the, where the secret source and the magic starts to happen is where these partners themselves of, rather than you working with all of them in various capacities or various touchpoints, they start to interact together as well. And so they start to grow alongside.

And so this is triangular [00:22:00] accelerated, uh, benefits, um, of a building, an eta, an ecosystem over time. And what it means is, is there’s a big army of these other companies that, that are all talking around your solution. They’ve got a narrative in some capacity, whether it’s brand association, technology solutions, co-marketing efforts that are working in conjunction for the same common cause.

And it, and it, it means that if every time you add more of these partners and they’re working and they’re choosing. Their efforts, energy and resources to work with you or others in and around you. They’re not doing it with other competitors or, or are on their own components. They’re, they’re investing in the ecosystem in and around you and, and you continue to benefit.

George Coudounaris: That’s A beautiful thing, building that ecosystem, uh, and being able to provide value just by plugging someone into that ecosystem and then being able to interact with, with all the others in there so everyone can grow together. Uh, you know, even just with what we are trying to do in B2B marketing, you know, we’re trying to evangelize the [00:23:00] category of demand generation.

The whole idea that marketing should be contributing more and more to revenue. So we talk to other marketers, do joint collaborations with other marketers who believe. The same thing. Now, we don’t provide exactly the same solution, which is completely fine. I mean, the important thing to us is that we are leveraging each other’s audiences.

We are growing together to create a more powerful force, a more powerful message, and generate that demand. So in the end, there’s a bigger pool of people who are ready for all of our services. So like we stop looking at those people as competitors, uh, especially if they’re not direct competitors. Look at them as complimentary.

Bryan Williams: A hundred percent. Yeah. Partner up where possible. Make sure that they know about you, can talk about you in the right vein and that your top of mind alongside them as your way are in reverse. Right? And so everyone can win that way. And so, yeah, I really agree with your.

George Coudounaris: So is the approach then that you would try to start by building some one-to-one partnerships and [00:24:00] over time as you start to see some return from this partnership strategy, then you may be. Yeah, up it to ecosystem, like is that, is there a progression there? Is that typically how it


Bryan Williams: Yeah. Let’s look at a typical, let’s take a typical business, right? Usually you’ll put someone in a growth position that seems to be a common buzzword, and that person will do sales, marketing, and partnerships. And they’ll basically spend their efforts wherever, um, you know, is a priority right now. Over time, that’ll split out into sales partnerships, um, digital.

Um, and that’ll start to sort of get bigger as the business establishes. And there might be a sales teams, partnerships, teams, marketing teams accordingly to go with it, right? And so, Partnerships. Start with, with watering you just like it’s a small seedling that you start to water and you grow. You’re looking to build an established trust that you’re aligned with a few key components.

You do a few little things together that went well. How do we do more? How do you invest more? How do you have planning sessions? How do you build your monthly or quarterly reviews around what’s working, what’s not? You attend each [00:25:00] other’s events. You get involved with various campaigns and that. and then you look at the next layer of partners around who else can add value to go with it.

And, and over time you build an and in your water and nurture it, right? And so the seedling with enough, um, care starts to become the bush to becomes the treated of forest, right? And it really is, that’s a simple enough an analogy of, of what it can be. It’s um, it does need to be invested in on time because you are building on relationships, maintaining trust, and making sure that you continue to give so you do get in return.

It’s not. You know, in this current economic environment, I’m seeing some sales leaders of, they’ll spin up a partnership person and go bring in a bunch of orgs or new business or new leads overnight, and it doesn’t work that way. You, you, you don’t go to another company and say, Hey, I want to do a partner and gimme all, all your leads or all your business or, or do an EDM to your customers.

That’s just ridiculous. It’s short. It’s short term thinking, and so, Um, that’s a sort of logical approach it’ll take, um, which does take time. But the, the rewards, if in, if in [00:26:00] time you’ve got a distributed workforce, uh, that’s talking about you through you and to your ideal customers or current customers, um, you know, you know, businesses that are, that are, have these traits, uh, increasingly appealing Also on the, on the, um, capital raising ahead.

George Coudounaris: So what I’m hearing then is for these partnerships to, to really get the most out of them, it’s not enough just for one department to be talking to the other department in the partnership category, right? So if the sales team is talking to the other sales team in the, in the other partner, uh, the company that you’ve chosen to partner with, you know, that’s not really enough.

The, the real. Um, benefit comes when your marketing team is also targeting to their marketing team. When your executives are strategically aligning and talking about where do we best compliment each other, how can we go to market together?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, treat them like employees, not like suppliers. Right? Like how do you embed them in every component if you actually really want ’em to do something alongside you? [00:27:00] Like how do you embed them cross-functionally quite deeply. In order. So you create mutual wins, um, together, ongoing. It’s, it’s about a relationship which is gonna set up your future success ongoing.

It’s not a short term, you know, extension, just to try and get some benefits, which, which won’t materialize. It’s a waste of everyone’s effort.

How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Your Partnerships

George Coudounaris: So how do you do that then? Do you have to have, I guess from a measurement point of view, do you have to have, um, Ways of measuring what you are both bringing to the table? Do you have to organize regular catch ups to make sure that everyone stays friends? Cuz you know, people just wanna work with people that they like as well and are benefiting from.

How do you, how do you organize all that? How did you do that with zero?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, so you don’t have to set it all up, you know, overnight, right? It establishes and matures. It’s like in the same way you build out your product or your offering over time, right? So start small, like open some doors, um, how, you know, establish some common metrics which are agreed on both sides. Like [00:28:00] say you’ve got clear expectations.

Hey, we’re gonna do this next month. You, you know, we’re all in. Okay, this is what’s required. Should we catch up next week around, you know, there’s a systematic way, and then it might evolve into a quarterly business review or an annual review. Or we’ve got these events coming up, can we, let’s talk around how we can help each other and support or these campaigns together.

And then do a review, an honest review. Six months in, is this working? Are you spending much time and. Is it, is it a beneficial, we’re at the start we said we’re gonna do this component. We’re not. Are we doing it? Are we realizing it? Should we do more or less? Like where does the value proposition, you know, kind of go?

So you grow it over time, but you definitely don’t have to turn on a massive component. And then behind the scenes, that’s, so you wanna look at like, you know, tech to help you. Like where are your tracking components within CRMs? Um, partner relationship management tools or account mapping tools, and that can evolve and come in as, as you, as you continue sort of to move forward.

But the important thing is like to get started in this space, be strategic about it. Um, [00:29:00] reflect often, you know, give a lot more than you get, especially early on. And then, and then the rewards will come.

George Coudounaris: So you say the rewards will come, and I’m guessing that your answer to this is probably gonna be, it depends. But what is a reasonable timeline to expect some business outcomes from a partnership?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, so I, I, I’ll probably answer it a different way. Like what, what do you actually want the partnership to deliver in return? Right? Do you want ’em to co-fund, you know, access the similar customers? Do you want them to introduce your offering or product to their customer base to go with it? Is that what success looks?

You know, are they a partner which are gonna add features which you don’t do nor plan to do? Or maybe they offer services, which you don’t do to go with it, right? Like HubSpot, you can, you can do it yourself, or you can work with a HubSpot agency who’s gonna install it and, and get it humming and continue to add to it.

And so, um, you know, the timelines, depending on the depths of what you want to go out, it will. Right. [00:30:00] Um, but there’s no reason why If you’re able to align and agree on what the give gets are early, that you can start to deliver on that in the short term and get some wins on the board, like anyone into a new role or a new, uh, focus the 90 day plan or 30 day plan.

Like, okay, let’s get some referrals, both sides. How do we help each other win? Let’s agree on some commitments for events. Let’s get some campaigns going. Having those honest, transparent, authentic conversations of like what it. But what it isn’t, you know, in my previous Zero role, we’d sometimes have really big companies who’d want to build to zero, hoping that it’ll be like a fire hose of customers coming and other upcoming ones who just want to build for the brand logo to say they’re a zero partner.

And those ones are a waste of time because I say, oh yeah, we’re close partners, but they didn’t really understand what it is and what it isn’t and the expectations to go with it. And so if you lead with that, start off with then, in terms of the. . Um, also the expectations that you pass back into the business are realistic as well.

George Coudounaris: So it sounds like then the, the [00:31:00] timeline and the metrics that you should be looking o at really depends on what you both define as, as success. And that is a conversation that should be had before this relationship, uh, officially kicks off and perhaps should be reviewed,

Bryan Williams: Yeah, reviewed.

George Coudounaris: develops.

Bryan Williams: Yeah, reviewed, ongoing and, and, um, work closely on that. So, um, you know, like I said before, it needs to be watered, uh, you know, and, and make sure treat, treat ’em like employees, not suppliers.

George Coudounaris: Um, I’m gonna ask you something, Bryan, that maybe might tug at your heartstrings a little more. It’s, it’s not about your kids or your family or anything, it’s about was there a moment where you really sort of fell in love with. Partnership. Do you speak so passionately about it, but there must have been a moment for you where you were like, wow, this, this stuff really, really works.

Bryan Williams: Yeah. Yeah. Um, good question and, um, and segue. I’m gonna, I’m gonna do a blast from the past and sort of talk about, um, back, I reckon circa [00:32:00] 2008 or so, I had some outbound sales. Where I worked in Europe in the Middle East for quite a few years, and my role was to go and find expats who were living in these countries who earn a lot more money and work with the financial advisors where, where, um, that I worked with and helped them sort of grow their part of the business.

So I was like, top of the funnel and if you’re in Dubai or in Germany or in Luxembourg and these places are worked and you need to go find British expats and I don’t wanna bang the phone and do outbound it, it sucks. Right? No one like. Um, and so what I did was I was like, there’s a better way to do this.

And so I, I, I read and researched a lot around referral strategies to be able to sort of how to deploy this. And so what I do was make sure we’d over-deliver, working with some clients to start off with on the expectations to start off with. It’s like if we do a great job for you, um, and really add some value, would you be okay with introducing us to five of your expat friends to go with it, to go about it?

And I saw it in the proof in the pudding way back. to go about it. And [00:33:00] so I’ve seen partnerships always been as a lever for growth around it. And, and at the heart of it, what it is actually, like you said before, George, it’s actually just dealing with people. It’s dealing with people in a respectful way and helping them win.

And if, if you’re able to do that in a systematic and a programmatic way, as you build out your business, then you, you’re set up for success ahead. And so obviously in my Zero role, you know, being there for five years and speaking to hundreds of tech companies, those common themes, uh, come through and, and that’s, that’s actually why I’ve sort of stepped out to sort of go help others do it and, um, to realize the benefits which, which I’ve seen, uh, materialize myself and also in, in, in lots of conversations.

George Coudounaris: I love that when you said that you were, um, looking for the expats in those places, I thought you were gonna say, so the first place they went to was the bar, cuz that’s where they all seemed to gather and,


Bryan Williams: golf, in the golf clubs and the sailing clubs and like where the ideal customer profile, right? Where do they hang out? Where do they look? Hang out. Right? Yep.

George Coudounaris: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that, that’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. And, and I loved your answer there. [00:34:00] Um, I was on a podcast recently and, um, the question was, what would you do if you had to create demand for your product in, in three days? And I said, look, that’s impossible. But what I would do is I would go and speak to our raving fans, our absolute best customers, and I’d say, do you know anyone just like you in another business who could use this product or service?

And if you introduce us and they sign up, I’ll give you 30% of whatever it is that we make. So incentivize them, play off that relationship. And it sounds like that’s, that’s the approach.

Bryan Williams: Yeah, imagine like helping your partners. Helping your partners grow. And then being able to say, Hey, is there some of your, we’ve helped you grow. Is there some of them that I can help grow? It’s, it’s like a, an old business methodology of just building referrals, of delivering good service, right?

George Coudounaris: It’s great. It all comes back to that mentality that we talk about on the podcast. So much of just being helpful. If you just have a helpful mindset, then so much of this stuff should come as common sense. But common sense isn’t always that obvious and [00:35:00] that’s why we need, um, people like us, I guess Bryan ,

putting, putting it in a framework.

Bryan Williams: people often get operationally, um, busy and they’re trying to focus on their key components, and they don’t have time often to sort of step back and see the bigger picture to go with it. Right. And so like I sort of led with at start of the, the core, like, do you wanna do it all yourself in isolation or do you want to sort of power up working with others to sort of achieve objectives where you both win?

It’s a, it’s a no-brainer when you think about it that simply,

George Coudounaris: Definitely, uh, let’s, let’s talk about the chicken and egg problem. Um, do you need to scale to start partnerships or do you need partnerships to achieve scale?

The Chicken And Egg Problem

Bryan Williams: Yeah. Yeah, good question. And it’s often, it’s very much harder in, uh, marketplaces, right? Where you’re trying to have demand on one side and supply in the oven. So that’s a much bigger conversation for, for another day maybe. Um, I think, um, you know, in terms of, I think you can start on the egg side on this.

You know, you can start and [00:36:00] get going. And get going and get growing, um, before you need to have this incredible whale partnerships to really unlock the growth to go with it. I’d go back to my point earlier around it’s expectation setting back to the business around what it is and what it isn’t, and having that clear, overly communicated around the direction of going down as a strategic asset in order to grow and foster it together, right?

Rather than sort of saying, well, we gotta, we just, we’re gonna crack all these big partnerships. Then we are just, you know, days away from bringing it to life, um, to go with it and. You know, if you’re, if you’re able to nurture them and grow and replicate and share learnings and, and build some programs and operational efficiencies with it, it’s like any part of your business.

It’ll also, uh, blossom in time.

How B2B Markters Can Leverage Partnerships

George Coudounaris: You spoke a little bit earlier about, um, how partnerships can really help with co-marketing opportunities. Uh, can you tell us a little bit more about how marketing can help you leverage those partnerships?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, the, the good old classic saying [00:37:00] of other people’s money, right? Um, anyone who’s a marketer here has got a budget. They probably want a lot more than they’ve got. And they’ve probably, the business probably wants ’em to deliver a, a lot more than they’ve got as well. And so if you’re doing it yourself, you’re probably limited to your own audience or audience that you’re going after or spending to go after that audience.

But what if you’re able to share audiences or grow audiences or, you know, have bigger amplification through co-marketing efforts with others who are similarly aligned? We, we, we spoke about, um, finding those partners who are at a, you know, similar stage of growth going after the same customers or have the same customers and sort of working together to go with it.

And yeah, like my point, you, you got the opportunity to power up, um, together, right? And you don’t have to go it alone and just, and just rely on your own budget.

George Coudounaris: That’s it. You’ll go much further if you go together with, with, uh, with other people. Uh, Bryan, look, we love trying to share some, uh, practical. Tips and information here on the [00:38:00] podcast as well, so our listeners can get started. Do you have any, uh, templates or other practical tips that you’d be keen to share with our listeners?

Bryan Williams: Yeah, I’m happy to share like a partnership design canvas where you’re able to sort of navigate, um, what it should look like before you go on approaching them and then sort of walking through with them around what it could and what it, what it shouldn’t be, um, to go with it. Um, also, it might be beyond the recording time, but I, I’m leading Partnership Leaders apac, uh, chapter, which is an extension of a US.

Tech company community, um, for those in partnerships. So if you’re in a marketing role and you wanna unlock partnerships, there’s a group here in apac, which we are growing pro, um, proactively to all help each other win, which is kind of living the principles of what I’ve spoken about today. So you can find that more about information about that through partnership leaders.

Um, look that up. We do have some marketers in there already who, you know, they’ve got a partnership focused role of what they’re trying to unlock around to go about it. And so that’s a. Um, collaborative community where you, you’ve got options to be [00:39:00] able to lean on a really, a broad range of senior international people to help you achieve your.

George Coudounaris: Fantastic. I’ll definitely be checking that out and we’ll link to it in the show notes. Bryan, you’ve been so generous with your.

time. Uh, as I said, partnerships is certainly something I’m gonna focus on for our own business next year. So thank you for indulging me with all my questions. Now, before we round out the conversation, is there anything else that you’d like to direct our audience’s attention to or anything else that you’d like to add to the conversation that we haven’t quite covered?

Bryan Williams: Um, now you can check out, check me or my LinkedIn. I’m quite active on LinkedIn, sort of posting my views and observations of, of partnerships I see, um, in the wild. And, um, feel free to connect with me on. Um, as a resources together. Uh, I hope there’s been some value here to the audience today, and I look forward to, uh, to George’s incubator coming to life next year.

George Coudounaris: Thank you Bryan. Fantastic listeners. Bryan is a lovely, lovely [00:40:00] guy. He drops a ton of content on his, uh, LinkedIn as well. There’s plenty of value there, so make sure you go follow him, connect with him and I’m sure we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have. Bryan, thank you so much for your time.

Bryan Williams: Cheers, George. Um, once again, great to make the cuts as a, as a guest on, uh, on your podcast

George Coudounaris: Loved having you. Thank.

Bryan Williams: cheers.

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