Implementing A Partner Marketing Strategy in 2023

April 26, 2023

If you ask marketing, sales, and customer success leaders what metrics they’re tracking…

Everyone will tell you something different.

But 2023 is a whole different ballgame.In this video, Alex Poulus, CMO of Crossbeam, shares his take on why partner marketing is going to play a huge role in 2023.

And how marketers should prepare.

He and Alina, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Chili Piper, talk about:

  • The one metric that all departments should measure
  • The surprising role empathy plays in marketing
  • The #1 thing marketers should focus on in a bear economy
  • Turning customers into advocates
  • And so much more...

Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Alina: Hi everyone, this is Alina. I'm co-founder and Co Chili Piper. And I'm Alex here with me from Crossbeam. He's a cmo and we're gonna talk tonight. We're at the Salesforce event in New York City. We're gonna talk about how marketers can be efficient in this economy, what metrics to use, and how to leverage partner marketing to have an edge.

[00:00:21] Let's get into it. Thank you

[00:00:23] Alex: for having me.

[00:00:24] Alina: What's the secret to being the cmo? that drives the results the board needs to see

[00:00:36] Alex: with sales. Mm-hmm. So the question I ask every CMO when, when we talk about marketing, sales relationship is how often do you have a drink with your CRO or the chief sales officer?

[00:00:50] How often do you treat him as peer and understand what they're going through and what their pain points are so you can better serve him and vice. . So unless there is a connection, personal connection between the CMO and the C chief sales officer, I don't think it's gonna work. They have to understand their peers.

[00:01:08] They're on the same team. So everything starts from there. Now, past that, you can talk about metrics, you can talk about processes, you can talk about tech stack and tools. But unless it is that connection to understand each other and what the pain points you're facing, it's, it's not gonna work in my experience.

[00:01:25] What do

[00:01:26] Alina: you think besides building trust, What do you think some of these metrics should be that you should all be striving for?

[00:01:34] Alex: I think if you, if you look at its team differently mm-hmm. , if you look at marketing, sales, and customer success in isolation, they will give you their metrics. Marketing will say it's about generating demand.

[00:01:44] Sales will tell you it's about converting that demand in, in revenue. Customer success will tell you it's about retention and expansion, but at the end of the day, it's about the customer. Like, do you find the right customer? , do you transparently sell to them and do you engage with them on an ongoing basis and have a true impact on their business?

[00:02:06] So at the end of the day, I think the, the metric that connects all those different good market functions is the customer has to be the customer, right? It can't be anything else.

[00:02:15] Alina: So, uh, to summarize, um, there's increased importance that is given to the customer within this era, and the customer is a brand.

[00:02:27] The, the customer is a beacon of advocacy. As long as they're being taken care of, they're going to be an even better customer. If the right experience for them through throughout the journey to becoming a customer is the right one. And, uh, if there's alignment on that journey throughout this, the revenue teams, then the outcomes are the right.

[00:02:54] Correct. What are some of the key initiatives as a new CMO that you think are super important to pay attention

[00:03:03] Alex: to? I, I think as a CMO today, like in the current environment, you have to be very aware of the, the microeconomic conditions. It's a, it's a tough environment out there for every company. It's a tough environment for your.

[00:03:19] And you need to, to factor that in as, as you start any, any, any role as a cmo. So going back to customers, right? Um, customers can help you understand what your value is, can help you understand what the return is. You know, customers can be advocates for you and get you more customers, right? Your champions may move from one company to the other, and you can leverage that to actually go into your company.

[00:03:46] Starting as a cmo, again, I'll focus on customers, but I think the, the most important thing for CMOs today is to have a very clear understanding of what is the microeconomic condition that we're all facing. Right? And then based on that, you do your planning. Based on that, you become the force of chains.

[00:04:04] Based on that, you set expectations internally and externally. Right. Um, based on that you can, you know, intelligently add value in, in your board interactions. What are

[00:04:14] Alina: the, some of the. Things that you're gonna be focusing on in 2023?

[00:04:21] Alex: I think 2023 is going to be a, a difficult year for tech, and this is the, the bad news.

[00:04:27] I think things are gonna get worse before they start getting better. I think we're gonna see a lot of companies that raised in 2020 for 2021, running out of runway in 2023 and and really striking to survive. And I think that that's gonna affect the whole market. As, as a cmo, as marketing leaders, as go-to-market leaders, I think there, there are a few things that we need to be to be doing and I think for, for me, first and foremost, double down on your, on your icp.

[00:04:56] Just make sure you understand what your ICP is. And every go-to-market leader should know that this is the type of company that is a good fit for me. This is the type of persona that's a good fit for me. This is the use case. That's a good. And double down on those use cases, double down on those target accounts, whether for new business or, or, or retain them.

[00:05:17] Like if you already have those use cases, just defend them. And, and alongside doubling down on your ICPs, show some empathy. Try to understand what your ICPs, what your, you know, customers are facing right now. You may be struggling as a business, but so, so are your prospects, so are your customers, right? So if, if your CRO.

[00:05:41] just came out of an old hands and, and she had to lay off 15% of her staff. It's not the time to send a DocuSign Right. To, for, for a purchase order. Right. You know, someone is asking, you know, for a, for better payment terms and, and you have the cash flow allowance to give better paying, you know, payment terms.

[00:06:00] Do it. It's like, be a partner. Don't play hardball right now. Just understand what they're facing and, and be a partner. . So I, I will start with that. And I think moving, moving from that, right? We, we are entering the era that is, is sustainable growth or, or efficient growth. And in my career for, for whatever reason, I was never in a position where I was given a crazy budget

[00:06:29] And my, my KPI is how quickly can I spend it? Right? . So I've been thinking and talking and, and, and experiencing the, the concept of efficient. throughout my, my career, right? And, and what's happening right now. And, and, and I just came from an event today talking to, to a few PLG leaders, demand is gonna be flat or it's gonna decline.

[00:06:50] So the focus of companies should be downstream. How do I improve conversion rates? How do I make the, the handoff between marketing and sales, not only good or smooth, but the best it can be, right? If you. You know, finding and, and focusing and solving for those efficiencies, then, then I think companies will have the opportunity to do, to do well.

[00:07:14] At the end of the day, ARI is a product, right? So some factors are outside your control, but some other factors like conversion rates or, or ACV potentially you can influence. And I think, you know, go to market team should focus there. And, and the last thing I will say, you know, as, as go to market leaders, we have to be creative.

[00:07:33] Let's forget that the traditional final. Forget paid million and how we're doing business, right? Let's be creative there. There are things that I'm seeing out there from successful companies that, that truly, I impress me, right? I see companies who are or, or go to market leaders who are getting their board to work for them.

[00:07:53] If you know your icp, you have target accounts, go to your board and ask for warm introductions. Go to your customers and ask for warm introductions. You know, there's a lot of mobility in the market right now. , your champions may be leaving one company and going to, to, to another follow them. It's a win-win situation.

[00:08:12] It's a warm introduction for you to a new company and for them that know your product or your service. It's a, it's a risk. They're de-risking their decision to bring in a new vendor. And, and also I, I do like, you know, partner led growth, like work with your partners. That's a great way to, to, to get into new business.

[00:08:32] It's a great way to expand your. It's a great way to bring bigger value to your, to your prospects and customers. So I think we have to be creative. We have to think differently, starting from the fact that it is a different environment out there.

[00:08:46] Alina: I, um, I resonated with a lot of that. Um, are there any, uh, metrics that you'd be, uh, you'll be focusing in Q1 that are different maybe than other times?

[00:08:59] Alex: We're definitely gonna focus on different metrics. I think, uh, efficien. In finals is gonna be important. I think payback is going to be very important and payback is one of my favorite metrics. But I think we're going to see additional metrics that have to do more with the health of the business. So revenue to burn ratio, for example.

[00:09:23] Um, ARR per employee, right? Mm-hmm. . in some cases. Even even thinking about cash flow, right? What cash flow you're starting the year, what cashflow ending the year. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. . I think those metrics that in the past only the CFO will care about. I think go to market leaders will have to, to, to adapt and, and pay attention to.

[00:09:43] Alina: I am, uh, very excited about our Q1 goals. Um, we gonna pay a lot of attention to cross cells. Um, and uh, also partnerships plays a lot into our Q1 metrics as well. I'm a big believer in, uh, partner marketing. Mm-hmm. , um, how do you suggest marketing teams, um, measure the revenue that comes from partner marketing?

[00:10:13] Is it an overlay? Do they potential to, like the new business coming out of it? How would you think

[00:10:19] Alex: of it? I, I think we're getting into attribution right now. , which is everyone's favorite and, and, and, and most hateful topic. . Um, I, I wanna say that first and foremost, partner marketing for a long time has been an afterthought.

[00:10:35] Partner marketing for a long time has been, let's do a co-marketing event. Let's co-write an e-book. Let's create a joint landing page and put both our logos there. I think now for the first time, I think partner marketing and channel marketing is, is becoming crucial to the business. and with that, I think, we need to involve them in, revenue generation and, how we measure revenue, right?

[00:11:06] Whether it's influence, revenue, or whether it's new opportunities, or whether it's expansion revenue, because I'm working with a partner or, or even, you know, shorter sales cycles, right? You know, you go with a partner, you can shorten your sales cycle like sales. Uh, conversion rates, right? So there's so many metrics that, that I think partner marketing can, can play, but also for the first time I'm seeing partner marketing, having tools for them to be able to create those overlays, to be able to understand, you know, what partners are performing, what partners are not performing, to be able to guide sales teams, like how to go after an account, what partners to use when in the sales cycles and so forth.

[00:11:44] I do believe that the concept of partner led growth or ecosystem led. Is is happening right now. And in addition to that, like we we're living in the API economy, right? There's so many, so, so, so much easier to build integrations like with your partners and, and, and, and generate bigger value than you and your partner like in individual.

[00:12:04] We're

[00:12:05] Alina: only as stronger as our community and our partner, uh, network is right? And,

[00:12:11] Alex: and now it matters, right? It matters because otherwise it's, it's, it's gonna be hard to to to get business and, and, and. It's gonna be hard

[00:12:19] Alina: until it gets better. End of 2023, my projection, but we'll see.

[00:12:24] Alex: I would agree with that.

[00:12:26] Let's both be proven wrong by that time next year. Like famous last words.

[00:12:30] Alina: Thank you, Alex, for joining me tonight. Of course. It was a pleasure to have

[00:12:33] Alex: you. Of course. Likewise. Thank you.

Alina Vandenberghe
Alex Poulos
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Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Tara Robertson. Join us as we sit down with B2B marketing leaders to hear about the latest tactics and campaigns that are driving pipeline and revenue.
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MasterSaaS Live is the interview series that seeks to answer the question: What does it take to be a badass CMO? For our host Alina Vandenberghe, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Chili Piper, this question is personal. A CPO-turned-CMO, Alina is on a journey to become a badass CMO — and is building in public as she goes. If you're a current or aspiring marketing leader, this is your only chance to learn from top marketing leaders, innovators, and big thinkers about marketing in 2023 — from CRO to brand to music and so much more.
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