Go to Market Activities for SI & Agency Partnerships
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, Itay Vladomirsky joins us to discuss his experience initiating and expanding agency partnerships at Yotpo.
This spotlight series is brought to you in partnership with PartnerStack.
Itay Vladomirsky is the Director of Partnerships at Yotpo. Yotpo is an e-commerce SaaS company. They tackle the interesting field of mar-tech within e-commerce. Their e-commerce marketing platform provides four main solutions, including user-generated content, social curation, loyalty programs, and SMS marketing.
Yopto’s only focus is on e-commerce and direct-to-consumer is where they thrive. At about 600 employees, their main markets are in North America, the EU, and ANZ. They also have R&D and product teams in Tel Aviv.
Itay shared that in the SMB and MM space they operate in, most projects are handled by agencies. “The reason we work with an agency is that the majority of our business comes from Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and Salesforce users. Agencies supporting those platforms will design, develop, and recommend technology solutions. The agency holds a significant level of influence in the decision-making process.”
Acquiring New Partners
Itay highlighted how Yotpo has adapted their partner acquisition strategies over the past few years. “Going back five years ago, the majority of what we did was outbound. In our first days, it was all about outbound outreach, making sure we have lists of the right agencies to target and a compelling reason to talk to them.”
Itay’s partnership team is built very similarly to the sales team. “There’s a Partner Manager and an Account Executive. Typically, the BDM qualifies the agency, then the partner manager takes it to the next level.”
Over time, they’ve been able to switch gears. “Once we got more recognition, we started getting more inbound requests from agencies. We’re always working to get new partners in the system. In 2020, we added about 100 partners in Europe, and about 20% are active today.”
Different Types of Partners
Outside of agencies, Itay identified two types of partners he works with at Yotpo. “First, and most important from a market-fit perspective, are our e-commerce alliances. We work with Shopify, Magento, Salesforce, and other e-commerce partners. If you don’t build a proper integration with those platforms, it will be significantly harder. Having a plug-in with those guys makes their lives much easier.”
In addition to alliances, Itay shared that Yotpo also works with tech integrations. “If a client has a lot of integrations, they need a provider to take those elements and send them to the end-user. The more integrations a client uses, the less likely they are to turnover. Some of these are go-to-marketing initiatives, but at the bottom line, it makes those accounts stickier.”
Initiating & Advancing Partnerships
Itay recommended organizations start by focusing on delivery. “If your product is not plug-and-play, there’s usually a third-party on the delivery side. If you see there are more and more conversations on the delivery side or even the ongoing maintenance side, you know there’s something about your product or the industry that requires a partnership.”
If you work in an industry where there are large players, such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Salesforce, typically there are a lot of strong agencies around those ecosystems. “There are many different industries, verticals ecosystems, that go through the channel agency side of things. It doesn’t matter if you sell medical, SaaS, or service, there are usually agencies around that help them penetrate the market.”
Once you’ve identified agencies to target, Itay, like others interviewed, suggested a multi-pronged approach. “Make sure you reach out to the right person. Don’t only try one contact; always try multiple. Understand what motivates them, and their KPIs. Why should they speak to you? How is it helping their day job?”
Itay shared that the best way to develop a valuable partner program is by developing a service model or offering for agencies. “What comes up a lot is agencies say, ‘I brought business to you, when are you going to bring business to me?’ Ultimately, because the client is going to an agency for advice, it’s harder for us to provide leads back. If you are able to build a service model around your platform or offering that will enable agencies to build their business, you will succeed. Think MailChimp, HubSpot, services that agencies can sell. Once you do that, the agency will not push back and will be much happier.”
Activating Agency Partnerships
A portion of Yotpo’s agency portfolio is made up of agencies that aren’t presently active. “Many of them have signed everything, but haven’t sent any deals our way. Out of about 1,000 agencies in our portfolio, only about 30-40% actively send business.”
So how does Itay go about activating partnerships? “First, you have to qualify the agency. They need the right client, in the right ecosystem, and an interest in building a relationship with a partner like you. Agreements and account mapping are very important milestones. Once you have your first referral, that’s a significant milestone as you’ve moved from business to delivery. You can prove to the agency that the value you’ve promised is actually deliverable.”
What about the other 60% of partners who are inactive? “For us, a minimum of one opportunity per year indicates an active partnership. For inactive partnerships, we move to a monthly recurring touchpoint. We continue to entice the agency, keeping them on a low flame. For the important partners that are engaged, my team will prioritize and develop personalized campaigns.”
Keeping Track of KPIs
In Itay’s role, he manages partner managers, helping them to make time-allocation decisions, prioritize partnership opportunities, and more. When prioritizing partnerships, Itay shares that it’s important to consider not just deal quantity, but deal size. “Internally, we measure agencies post-qualification. We’ll look at the number of opportunities brought to the table and the amount of revenue generated. For example, one partner could drive 5 deals that amount to $100k, but another partner could bring in a single deal worth half a million. Obviously, the first agency is reliable and more consistent, but we can’t ignore either.”
Itay shared there are lots of KPIs his team tracks. “Number of touchpoints is another metric. Calls, email, meetings, how many contacts, at the organization? Can you identify stakeholders? As partners reach certain milestones, we increase rev share, access to collateral, offer certifications, give out awards, and more.”
The coronavirus pandemic and global lockdowns forced many organizations to re-think their partner go-to-market activities. “Agencies will only want to work with you on digital events if you’re successful at bringing attendees to them. One event we recently launched is called Amazing Women in eCommerce, which has become a really successful recurring panel. We’ve been able to continue bringing in women and merchants and agencies always want to participate or sponsor.”
Itay shared that he has found pleasant success from recent initiatives. “E-commerce is booming right now. We’re in the right industry that’s growing and growing. It’s hard to know if we’re getting more leads because the market is growing or because we’re implementing the right marketing initiatives. We’re trying not to dilute our brand in the market by doing crappy events!”
Partnership Leaders enables personal and professional development for professionals in partnerships. This article is part of our Q1 series highlighting partnerships with SIs and agencies. Each week, we’ll highlight a different leader and their experience in the space. Follow us on LinkedIn to ensure you don’t miss an update!