Partnering with SIs & Agencies: Daniel Lancioni
This article is part of our 2021 Q1 spotlight series on working with strategic integrators and agencies. Read more about this series in our intro article.
This week, Daniel Lancioni joins us to discuss his experiences setting up partnership programs and advice for others in the industry.
This spotlight series is brought to you in partnership by PartnerStack.
Daniel Lancioni is the Partnerships Director (EMEA/APAC) at Quantum Metric. Quantum Metric is a Continuous Product Design platform, helping hundreds of global Enterprise brands identify, quantify, prioritize, and align on opportunities for growth across web, app, and even in-store kiosks.
For example, a single user having an issue completing their purchase - due to an error - is a frustration for any brand, but being able to quickly identify the 1,000s of customers who are facing that exact same issue and quantify that problem as a $1million per annum gap in your business - that’s the power of Quantum Metric.
Quantum Metric works with solutions partners of all shapes and sizes, but has a few areas of focus:
UX and CRO agencies, who are focused on optimizing the brand’s website to ensure customers are going through a seamless experience from end-to-end
Ecommerce agencies who specialize in big e-commerce re-platforming, whether that’s an upgrade or a complete switch from one platform to another
Analytics agencies who are helping brands create the dashboards they need and quickly identify the pain points that users are facing as they navigate the brand’s digital properties
Consultancies who are owning large digital transformation projects, in which Quantum Metric acts as a guiding light from definition, all the way through to deployment
How Quantum Meric Discovers Partners
Daniel shared that partners come in through a mix of outbound and inbound requests. “We have a great resource we use called the R3 Agency Family Tree that breaks down the main agencies across WPP, Omnicom, Dentsu Aegis, and more. It’s a nice set of agency partnerships to look at as a SaaS business across companies. We get a lot of inbound as well — anything from a 1-person shop through the larger 1,000+ employee organizations.”
When deciding whether to work with partners, Daniel shared that if they happen to fall into one of the above four buckets, they’re a fit. In addition, “We ask ‘Do they have mutual clients? Do they target the same buyer as us? Do they align with our industries of focus?’ Agencies who reach out directly are often already working with a client of ours, and require upskilling on our solution.”
The third and final consideration is culture-fit. “We want to partner with organizations that are fast-paced like us. We don’t want to partner with businesses who are still relying on legacy tools.”
Measuring the Success of Partnerships
When evaluating the success of a partnership, Daniel shared a few areas they qualify partners on. “From a sales perspective, we ask, ‘Are we getting the right opportunities from that partner? Are they closing at a good win rate? Does this partner close more business than others in a similar field?’ From a delivery perspective, we consider ‘Are we driving service revenue to that partner? Are the services being delivered well? Are they implementing our solution well and providing great quality support?’”
Timeline for Partnership Activation
Like others we interviewed, Daniel shared that the timeline for activation varies significantly. “It’s very dependent on the size of the partner. Smaller partners are able to get up and running faster. They can put resources toward training and enablement, learn how to use the product, talk about it confidently to their customers and prospects, and are often sending opportunities through within a few months. Small partners can be enabled in one month, and selling in three.”
Larger SIs and big consultancy partners have an extended timeframe. “Typically, they already have mature practices on our competitors, which we need to disrupt carefully and we need to push a differentiated positioning if we want to win their hearts and minds. At my previous company, Braze, we launched a massive global partnership last year which was about two years in the making.”
Two years is quite a long time to invest in getting a partner stood up. Daniel explained some of the warning signs that you may be spending too much time on the wrong partner. “There are a couple of factors. With some partners, there will be some disinterest around trying to partner with you. If you’re a channel leader at a SaaS organization and you’re trying really hard to break down doors, that’s a problem. You can’t build a partnership on a one-way foundation, the interest needs to be bi-directional.”
“Once you’ve got interest and commitment, you run through enablement, training, and get the partner listed on your site. However, all of this work doesn’t mean anything until revenue is flowing. If you have regular status calls and there’s no real business on the horizon after a half dozen meetings, you need to evaluate if the partnership isn’t right for both organizations right now.”
In a partnership, revenue speaks far louder than words. “You can talk a big game, but unless both companies are driving revenue from the partnership then it isn’t successful. We’re always asking ‘Is this working for both of us right now?’ If not, let’s evaluate. If it is working, how can we accelerate?”
Partner Go-to-market Strategies
Aligning partners to marketing efforts is crucial. At Daniel’s previous company, Braze, they had a strategic global marketing calendar to which they would try to attach partners to wherever possible. “We had a few big tentpole events where we would give our partners speaking opportunities alongside our own team, to provide a unique point of view on the message we were trying to broadcast to our customers and potential prospects. Going much deeper than that, we would also host intimate roundtable discussions and workshops, where each partner would bring a select set of customers, to have an active discussion about the strategies and tactics for growth.”
While go-to-market strategies have adjusted slightly due to the pandemic, Daniel shared the main focus should be aligning partners with events and workshops. “We want to have lots of executive buy-in across both organizations, so I ran a number of Partner Days, which are essentially top-to-top sessions between our executives and our partners’ executives. Typically, those funnel down into more tangible outcomes both businesses are trying to drive together.”
Outside of executive teams, mid- and junior-level employees across the organization also need to be well-connected to partners. “Your team essentially needs to act as an extension of their team. It’s important to have lots of general visibility of the partnership across both organizations. Anytime there’s a win or success story, it’s important to share that across the organization, whether it’s a new logo, new product, or a new marketing initiative.”
Overall, Daniel shared that once partners are onboarded, they focus on marketing, stakeholder alignment, and ensuring continuous communication.
The Importance of Partner Alignment
In partnerships, there can be a bit of push-pull tension. “If you’re a SaaS business, you have a certain way of delivering projects. A third-party will typically have a completely different way of delivering projects that don’t quite align.”
Daniel shared an example, “A partner had implemented our solution slightly incorrectly and had oversold to the client, saying our platform could do things that it couldn’t. We had to back up and have a conversation with the partner to understand how they got to that point, and how we could resolve it. Then, we went back to the customer with a joint approach to discuss what happened and drew out a plan to resolve the issue effectively and efficiently. Neither of us tried to throw the other under the bus.”
Advice for First-time Partners
Daniel’s biggest piece of advice for someone looking to build a relationship with an SI for the first time is to be curious. “As a partner and channel lead, you have lots of technologies at your disposal. Whilst you may have built out an Ideal Partner Profile, as a partner or channel lead it’s your job to be curious and have a conversation with a new partner to see if there’s an opportunity there. I’ve found revenue in places I never thought it would come from. The beauty of partnerships is they’re built on relationships and conversations. If you never entertain that conversation, you’ll miss out.”
This article is part of our Q1 series highlighting partnerships with SIs and agencies. For the past eight weeks, our members have been sharing their experiences, advice, and best practices for partnering with SIs and agencies. Explore all of this quarter’s interviews.
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