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How to Build Your Agency Partner’s Reputation While Protecting Your Own

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When your agency partners are getting ready to recommend a solution to their clients, you want your product to be top of mind. So how do you make sure you’re standing out when the big moment arrives? 

Like all partnerships, reciprocity is at the heart of an agency program. The more value you can bring to your agency partners, the more likely they are to recommend your product. 

Megan Blissick is the Head of Global Agency Partnerships at Signifyd, a fraud protection software company. They have a customer list of over 10,000 and have built their co-selling and co-marketing workflows to strengthen their agency partner’s reputations. As a result, partner deals close at a higher volume and in a shorter amount of time than other sales deals at Signifyd.  

Blissick has identified and plans around one particularly important part of agency partnerships: reputation. “Your reputation precedes your work,” she told us. “You never know who is talking to who.”

The more you can bolster the reputation of your agency partner to their clients, the more likely they are to recommend your products. Blissick’s team does this by protecting the agency partner’s reputation through partner education while bolstering the agency partner’s reputation as a thought leader.

Then, they ensure that their impact on that agency partner’s reputation is known throughout the organization by building “latticed” relationships

Protect the agency partner’s reputation through partner education

“If our partners can’t stand up to a line of questioning from their client, they will not sell our product,” Blissick told us. 

When a partner is unable to answer a client’s questions regarding your product, they look unprepared and uneducated in front of their client. This can tarnish their reputation as a reputable agency in the eyes of that particular client (and whoever that client might mention it to).

This, in turn, can put your partnership in jeopardy. After all, the partner might be wary of pitching your product to other clients if they feel under-prepared. This can impact the volume of deals being generated from that partnership. 

To avoid this, Blissick prioritizes partner education. She and her team arm their partners with the materials they need to best represent Signifyd. Not only is Signifyd correctly represented, but the partner comes off as being informed and prepared with a creative solution to their client’s problem. And the prep work is done for them, saving them time. Both parties’ reputations are improved when this happens. Some common partner education materials are…

  • Answers to FAQs about your company’s product 
  • Talking points that highlight your value proposition
  • A short, clear description of how your product works
  • Templated out introduction emails that introduce your product to a partner’s client

Here are some partner education materials used by Signifyd: 

Courtesy of Signifyd

Courtesy of Signifyd

Blissick also recommends inviting partners to “lunch and learns”. Specifically, try hosting lunch and learns that feature unique co-selling or co-marketing motions, success stories from your partnerships team, or other insight that might help strengthen your partner’s ability to pitch your product. 

Bolster the agency partner’s reputation as a thought leader

“Agency partners get very subjective when it comes to who’s the best,” she shared. “Their goals and motivations are largely around thought leadership and being well known in the industry.”

Thought leadership refers to the demonstration of expertise in a particular field. As Blissick shared, this is the bread and butter of agency work. All agencies want the reputation of having the expertise to find savvy and strong solutions to their client’s problems. After all, people go to agencies specifically for this reason. Therefore, stories that highlight an agency’s ability to find and apply solutions add to its reputation as a good, legitimate agency. When you are the one generating these stories on behalf of your agency partners, you

  1. Save your agency partner valuable time.
  2. Integrate your partner program into a vital part of the agency partner’s reputation management process. 
  3. Increase the likelihood that they will recommend your product because the “better together” messaging is already built and potentially bringing them new business.

To start, Blissick uses Crossbeam to map accounts with her agency partners. “Account mapping is the most effective way to highlight partners,” she shared with us. She explained that the surfacing overlap between Signifyd’s clients and their partner’s prospects allows them to target that specific audience.

Then, Blissick finds ways to push “better together” messaging that features that agency partner to the targeted audience segment. Blissick highlights agency partners in publications such as 

Blog posts

Like many partnerships teams, Blissick’s team uses the company’s blog to highlight “better together” stories that feature their agency partners. For example, in this post, the Signifyd team shares the success story of figurine collectibles company Precious Moments has successfully used Sigifyd to protect its brand and online transactions against fraud. In the article, Signifyd’s agency partner Classy Lama is specifically featured for having recommended Signifyd as a solution to Precious Moments.

Courtesy of Signifyd

Courtesy of Signifyd

Webinars can be a great place to highlight a joint solution that addresses the needs of a specific customer segment. In this webinar, Signifyd teamed up with agency partner Groove Commerce to discuss the need for fraud-prevention software in eCommerce. Groove gets recognition for being an agency thought leader in fraud prevention for their clients. Signifyd gets to be highlighted as a solution for fraud prevention. 

Courtesy of Signifyd

Case studies 

Case studies are another compelling way to share “better together” stories with potential clients or partners. This case study features Signifyd’s work with the Classy Lama agency and Precious Moments. The case study medium is more formal than a blog post and can be used as a more in-depth version of the “better together” story, normally shared internally or as evidence when referring a partner to a client. 

Courtesy of Signifyd

Courtesy of Signifyd

Courtesy of Signifyd

Building “latticed” relationships

Imagine that you’ve worked closely with an agency partner manager, provided them with excellent partner education, featured them on your blog, and have built a strong relationship with them. Then one day, you find out that they’ve left the company. If you’ve been only focusing on that one particular relationship, then the knowledge of your work helping to improve that agency’s reputation has most likely exited along with the partner manager. 

“If the only relationship is with the partnership manager and they leave, then the whole relationship is gone,” Blissick told us. “If there are three other people in our organization connected with three from theirs, then the relationship stays.” According to Blissick, planning for this scenario should be happening from the beginning of the partnership. “This wasn’t always a priority, but it should have been,” she shared, specifically citing the high 2021 job turnover rate in the partnership world as a wake-up call. 

Therefore, Blissick recommends building latticed relationships throughout the organization. Identify key stakeholders in the organization and find ways to connect them with their counterparts in your organization. 

Approaching a partner manager and saying, “Hey just in case you’re fired, let’s connect our teams,” clearly isn’t a viable option. However, there are much more tactful ways to do this. Try:

  • “I really want to make sure you look good in front of your boss. I’ll bring mine onto the next call, you bring yours, we can connect them and make you look good.” 
  • “I know you’re looking for more leads for your sales team. Let’s connect some of my sales team with yours and they can give each other tips.” 
  • “We are having a meeting about a client that could be a great fit for your agency. Would some members of your sales team want to hop on the call with some of ours?”

When these connections are formed, your reputation as an asset to the agency partnership becomes less contingent on one partnership manager and more institutionalized knowledge. In turn, this can keep you top of mind when that agency is recommending solutions to their client. 

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