You’re browsing your list of partners, and one in particular catches your eye. You had high hopes for the partnership — but the conversation stalled, and your so-called “go-to-market” never went further than the logo placement on your partner page.
At this point, you haven’t spoken to your partner in months. How can you get your partner back on the phone? And how can you ensure the words “GTM strategy” evoke the same hopefulness in your partner as they do in you?
Justin Zimmerman, Director of Partnerships at Salesmsg, shared a simple, three-step tactic for re-engaging existing partners (or getting the attention of new ones). By sharing his customers’ feedback verbatim with partners, Zimmerman has achieved a near 100% response rate from his partners. As a result of these conversations, Zimmerman and his partners have led co-hosted webinars, developed new integrations, and more. (The “Jobs–to–be–Done” framework is at the heart of Zimmerman’s process.)
“Find every rock to overturn [where] it makes sense to put some content experience or conversation that helps [your] partners help their customers,” says Zimmerman.
If you’re eyeing a partnership you’d like to revive, follow the three steps below to get the ball rolling (again).
Step #1: Ask Your Customers Simple Questions About Their Tech Stack
Depending on the type of growth strategy your company uses, there will be varying opportunities to survey or ask your customers about how they’re using your product and your partners’ products.
Salesmsg uses a product-led growth strategy. Anyone can sign up for a free 14-day trial to use its SMS software. Once a prospect signs up, an automated onboarding email written in a casual tone from the CEO asks, “Why did you sign up?”.
From there, Zimmerman will occasionally reply to the customer to ask about their use cases and the products they use most frequently as part of their tech stacks.
An example of Zimmerman’s response as the CEO:
An example of a customer response expressing a pain point:
By personally replying to new customers with the right questions, Zimmerman’s team is able to understand:
- How their customers plan to use Salesmsg
- Which products the customer uses most and how Salesmsg’s integration/joint solution with a partner could improve the customer’s workflows or help them reach their business goals faster
- Pain points relating to specific products within the customer’s tech stack and how Salesmsg could help alleviate those pain points by collaborating with existing or potential partners
If you’re using a sales-led growth strategy, there is no “free tier” to generate new users for your product. The discovery process takes place during pre-sales or post-sales. Consider identifying opportunities to engage your partner in the following ways:
During sales discovery, your sales rep can determine which products your potential customer is shopping around for and which integrations/joint solutions could help your potential customer maximize value from your product. Then, pitch the idea to your existing or potential partner to develop the integration or to build out additional functionalities for your existing integration. You may be helping your partner close a new deal or supporting them in upselling an existing account.
During customer onboarding, your onboarding customer success manager can determine which integrations the customer should prioritize adopting to help shorten their time to first value (TTFV). Then, share the percentage of customers using your integration early on in the customer journey with your partner and relevant success stories to engage them in future GTM campaigns.
For the remainder of the customer lifecycle, your customer success reps can learn which integrations are most popular among your customers and which are driving the most value for particular use cases and types of customers. Share these trends and success stories with your partner to engage them in further co-marketing and co-selling motions.
You can also see which products your customers are using with yours by tracking API calls or by account mapping. By using a partner ecosystem platform (PEP) like Crossbeam, you can map your customer accounts to your partner’s customer accounts to learn your customers’ tech stacks.
Step #2: Learn How Customers are Winning (or Not) With Your Partners’ Products
Your sales, support, and customer success reps should pass along insights from their customer conversations and surveys to their partnerships (that’s you!) and product teams. Your product team can keep track of popular use cases for potential product and/or integration development.
If you believe there’s an opportunity to enhance an existing integration or develop a new one with your partner, ask the sales rep for an intro into the customer account.
If the customer agrees to an intro, ask the customer to hop on a Zoom call with you to discuss how they’re using your partner’s product, the joint solution, or the existing integration. During the call, ask the customer:
- About the customer’s use cases for using your existing integration or joint solution
- How the customer wishes they could use your joint solution or integration (for example: their wishlist of use cases and functionalities)
- About the customer’s pain points with your partner’s product and how they could see your product alleviating those pain points
- If they’re comfortable with you sharing a snippet of the conversation with your partner (or potential partner)
An example of a simple email Salesmsg sent that surfaced a customer success story:
With the above insight, Zimmerman was able to reach out to Dubb, a video messaging platform, to share feedback from their mutual customer, Sundance Lending, as well as a customer story that mentioned Dubb as part of the customer’s tech stack.
If your customer shares a specific pain point relevant to your partner, you can use this as an opportunity to reach out to the partner and discuss how your product can help them fill the existing gap.
Zimmerman recaps how he approaches conversations around existing pain points with potential partners: “‘Did you know your customers are coming to us to help solve a part of your solution?’ And then all of a sudden that becomes a partner conversation and we’re looking at how we can then fit together [as partners].”
Step #3: Follow Your Partners on LinkedIn (And Reach Out When the Time is Right)
Zimmerman says it’s not just about having the right customer story to share with your partner, it’s also about timing.
“Follow a company you want to work with, when you have good use cases between [your product and theirs],” says Zimmerman. “At some point, there’s going to be news [you can use as an] opportunity to introduce yourself and say, ‘Hi,’ and be a good guy.”
For example: Salesmsg already had an integration with Pipedrive, but Zimmerman was interested in developing a GTM campaign to target their mutual prospects and customers. He followed Pipedrive on LinkedIn and kept an eye out for news around their tech ecosystem and partnerships team.
When Pipedrive hired a new Head of Ecosystem Partnerships, Zimmerman reached out to share:
- A case study sharing how a customer using Salesmsg and Pipedrive decreased their no show rate by 20%, which resulted in a $90K uptick in monthly sales
- A 90-second video of Zimmerman introducing himself and sharing success stories of customers using Salesmsg with Pipedrive
- A series of snippets from customer conversations where they’re sharing their favorite use cases and features of the joint solution
Now, Salesmsg is planning a webinar with Pipedrive, and they have a recurring call set up to discuss the partnership.
When the time is right, reach out to your partner. An example of a LinkedIn message Zimmerman sent to a potential partner:
If you’d like to email your partner and don’t have their contact information, you can use one of the below Chrome Extensions for free to get your partner’s e-mail address:
Curious to learn about more partner activation tactics? Get the second edition of our Partner Playbook below. 👇