Building Relationships Creatively with Radical Transparency
This is Part 2 in my interview with Marcus Jung, Partner Manager at Vidyard. You can read Part 1 here if you missed it.
Partnerships is still selling, but it’s about communicating the value of winning together. Partnerships are critical for any startup.
Marcus’ role with Vidyard is a new one for him. He has always focused on building partnerships with his clients, but now it’s the focus of his job. “Partnerships is still selling, but it’s about communicating the value of winning together. Partnerships are critical for any startup. If we are going to hit our growth targets we can’t only do it as a direct sales team. It means we have to build programs that enable technology, agency, and distribution partners to be on our side when we’re speaking with customers. That’s what I manage.”
Having worked on the partner ecosystem team at Hootsuite, I’m familiar with the impact a strong and values-based partner program can have on brands and product. In today’s SaaS software world partnerships enable stand-alone products to compete with full-stack solutions, offering the customer a range of additional functionality to simplify workflows and improve efficiency.
Marcus is focused on building strong partnerships that leverage Vidyard’s brand recognition. “When we speaking with potential partners we have to come to the table with something that will help the other party,” he says. “We want to give them tools to sell more of what they do. We have to make them sticky.”
I discovered that a competitor was working the same deal, so I cold-called [them]…
If your responsible for technology, reseller or channel partnerships you should know that you can sometimes run into challenges that are somewhat unavoidable. Marcus agrees, “internal conflict is the biggest challenge we run into. There’s a natural tension and reps don’t always trust that partnerships are going to benefit them.”
He continues, “there’s an extra layer of complexity when partners are involved. You need to find a way to work together, a mutually beneficial way to work together, and sometimes it can be a major hurdle to figure out what that thing is. What’s interesting about Vidyard is that we can coexist with our competitors. Someone on the outside might see one of our partners as a direct competitor, but everyone has an edge somewhere, and we strive to find a way to work together.”
To illustrate, Marcus tells me a story of how he took a different approach when he was trying to close a deal with a customer. “I discovered that a competitor was working the same deal, so I cold-called the competitor, and said ‘hey, we’re both in this account, and here are my notes.’ I shared all the other people I had connected with in the account. Then I said, “I think we can with this together,’ and in short we became partners and we won the deal together.”
Partnering can shorten the deal cycle dramatically.
That’s a pretty confident thing to do, and I can just imagine sales manager reading this and panicking about any of their reps using this approach, but it does show the power in partnering. Marcus continues, “partnering can shorten the deal cycle dramatically. In this case, we shared budget numbers, figured out how we could both get what we wanted out of the deal and presented our solution to the customer. It worked and more importantly we shortened the deal cycle to a week.”
Sharing info is something a lot of old-school managers don’t want you doing, but in the world of SaaS, it’s almost necessary. Marcus is a big fan of his current boss. “She’s the greatest. She’s remote, and sometimes remote bosses can be challenging, but she’s fantastic. She’s a magician because she’s always there when you need her and she’s always supportive. She listens to me and really hears my ideas, and she knows how to motivate me and the rest of her team. The best thing is that she trusts you, and lets you do your thing.”
So how would she respond to Marcus’s radical transparency approach? “Sometimes you have to take the chance. It’s a high-risk game though. It can blow up on you. With partnerships, its a trust exercise. You learn quickly who can you trust. If it’s not a huge corporate risk, I think it’s a risk worth taking. I’ve had it succeed more times than its failed.”
Every vendor in our space was already wining and dining him, and there wasn’t anything we could do that was going to impress him.
Speaking of high-risk activities, we should probably get to the story of the car race challenge. Marcus had re-located to Hootsuite’s Asia HQ in Singapore, and had set himself a personal goal of owning the logos dotting Singapore’s incredible skyline.
He explains, “I was trying to find my way into one of the largest bank accounts in Asia, who’s HQ is in Singapore. I was very persistent, and one day I did manage to connect with the right VP at the bank. He was really transparent with me, saying that every vendor in our space was already wining and dining him, and there wasn’t anything we could do that was going to impress him.”
He continues, “so I thought about this for a moment, and then I went to work. I did some research on the prospect. I discovered that he is a big car junkie. He loves cars, he collects them. He races them. He writes about them on blogs and social media. So I got back in touch and said, ‘I bet you’ve never been challenged to a race before.’ He responded immediately, saying ‘when and where?’”
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my sales career is to find a way to immediately differentiate yourself. Be different, but in a smart way.
This story is awesome in so many ways, and it demonstrates the power of making yourself relevant and unforgettable. Marcus explains that he was “looking for something to humanize me with the prospect. I had to find something that he is passionate about, and find a way to connect. People remember how you make them feel. In the case of the bank, my customer had never been challenged to a race—and race we did. Of course he destroyed me, but more importantly, I broke through. I built a human relationship, and he is still someone I speak with to this day.”
From affiliate marketing to social media to personalized video communications, Marcus Jung is someone you can always count on for a great story, and a killer close rate. I’ll leave the final word to Marcus: “the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my sales career is to find a way to immediately differentiate yourself. Be different, but in a smart way.”