How Growth Teams and Partner Programs Can (And Should) Work Together (Matt Nicosia and Chris Samila of Crossbeam)

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This is a podcast episode titled, How Growth Teams and Partner Programs Can (And Should) Work Together (Matt Nicosia and Chris Samila of Crossbeam). The summary for this episode is: <p>We’ve talked a lot about the different areas of growth on this podcast, but there’s one topic we still haven’t hit: partnerships. Partnerships go hand in hand with growth - creating a channel for companies to expand. In this episode, Chris Samila, VP of Partnerships at Crossbeam, and Matt Nicosia, Director of Growth at Crossbeam discuss different examples of partnerships and how they play a role in growth.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Matt on Twitter @MattBilotti, @DriftPodcasts, and Chris Samila and Matt Nicosia on LinkedIn. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
How Matt and Chris think about the relationship between partnership channels and growth
04:01 MIN
How partner and growth teams can align and work together to reach their individual goals.
02:02 MIN
Final recommendations from Chris and Matt
02:36 MIN

Matt Bilotti: Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Growth podcast. I'm your host, Matt Bilotti. Today, we are going to dig into a topic that we have not yet covered, but is a massive channel and lever for growth. We're going talk all about partnerships, and I am joined by two people that know this really well because they do growth and partnerships at a company that builds partnership products. We have Chris Samila, VP of partnerships at Crossbeam and Matt Nicosia, director of growth at Crossbeam. Chris, Matt, thank you guys so much for being here.

Chris Samila: Thanks for having us.

Matt Nicosia: Appreciate it.

Matt Bilotti: Absolutely. So usually in this podcast, those of you that listen often, we usually have one guest. Today, we're going to have two. We're going to have the two of them build off of each other, so we got the person that does growth. We got the person who does partnerships, and we're going to dig into how they think about partnerships as a channel. What types of examples are they seeing? What are they setting up in their own company? How are they thinking about it? This one's going to be like a real- time, figure- it- out- as- we- go conversation, which should be a lot of fun. So why don't we go ahead and just kick it off at a high level? Maybe one of you can talk us through the different types of approaches that companies can take to a partner program. Maybe there's one standard format or a couple of standard formats that you've seen and maybe use an example or two.

Chris Samila: Yeah. Happy to pick up on that, so Chris Samila here. There are lots of different flavors of partnerships, obviously, especially with the growth of the SaaS industry we've seen, especially technology partnerships become something more front and center for a lot of companies as they look for ways to take their technology and blend it with another technology to create more value for everybody. We've seen a huge growth in that in the last few years, but partnerships has been around forever. It's, in essence, the combination of how you might work with another business and find ways to add value to your mutual customers. But there are some distinct programs you typically see. So you could see channel programs where you, in essence, enable other people to represent your product for you or your service. There are referral programs where somebody's tossing things over the fence and sourcing deals for you. There's affiliate marketing programs. There's a whole different variety of different kinds of partner programs. A lot of times it comes down to what are you trying to accomplish for your business? That can scale from everything where you think of large Fortune 100 companies doing strategic partnerships with other huge Fortune 100 companies down to very small startups that are just looking to figure out," How can I maybe connect my product to another product through integration and start to create some mutual value for our customers?" So there's lots of different sizes and types of partner programs.

Matt Bilotti: Awesome. When you think about what type of partnership approach could or should a company take, is it generally directly aligned with the strategic imperative that they have? Is it more of a market alignment thing? Is it an industry alignment thing? How does a company land on," What is our approach to partnerships?"

Chris Samila: Yeah. Hopefully, it is something that the CEO and the board understand is a strategic imperative for the business. I think historically, a lot times, especially in earlier stage companies, you may have a situation where somebody goes," Oh, we can just go get a bunch of partners and they're just going to become a lead channel for us." We think that at Crossbeam, and just in this growing ethos of what partnerships should entail for modern technology companies, it should really be something that services, sales, marketing, customer success, product, it really touches every function of the business, ideally, so it is something where you hopefully, have executive- level support across the organizations so that partnerships has the ability to come in and help all those teams.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah, and the growth team; don't forget about the growth team.

Chris Samila: Growth team, critical.

Matt Nicosia: Yep.

Matt Bilotti: Yeah. So on that note, Matt, I'd love to get a sense of how you think about partnership channels as growth. In most places, should they be a complimentary thing? Maybe you could talk about how you have them set up at Crossbeam your team, and Chris's team, how you work together and maybe what you've seen of other places as well.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah, for sure. We have a lot of different ways that we grow. One of our biggest is through an invite mechanism, but that's not what we're here to talk about. I think it's actually interesting that prior to joining Crossbeam, I knew almost nothing about partnerships, and even for a while in the early days of Crossbeam, we didn't really drink our own champagne, if you will. We told everybody else how to effectively run a partnership program and how we thought the data was super valuable and saw other people doing it. But it wasn't until we brought Chris on about a year- and- a- half ago, I think at this point, that we really started to do that. Even then, it took a while to get everything fully set up, but it's been fun watching it happen the right way, because now we're able to actually really pull this stuff off and we're starting to see the benefits of it really, in the last quarter and beyond. So some of the things that I think are super cool about it from a growth perspective is if you're thinking about it in terms of a tech partnership, which is one of the ways that Chris described, when you got an integration with another company, there's just an enormous amount of data that those partnerships generate that the growth team can use in a way that they historically haven't had access to that information. So a good example is we call it" second- party data." We all know third- party data is going away and people are scared of that, but this idea of second- party data is your partners are sharing this information when they say," These are our customers who are already using our products, or they're our free users who are already using our product and you just built an integration with us." So now, we have all this data to say," Here are 500 potential users. We can flag something to. We can create a automated popup in Drift if we want and say,'Anytime these 500 users or 500 companies show up, we want to talk about this integration.'" It just allows you to get really hyper targeted about what people are interested in because you have this information that you never had access to before. So that's how we use the data. As far as how we're structured, to be honest, the team is still pretty small here. Chris is a team of two and I am a team of three, but I'd love to say we have a really ingenious way to allow the partnership team and the growth teams to work together, but it's really just we talk a lot. Chris and I are pretty in touch with what each other is working on, and so we haven't yet hit that level of scale where we have to have a really good organized system, but I'll let Chris hop in.

Chris Samila: Yeah. I think the cool thing is, is because of the nature of what the growth team is focused on, especially as a PLG- led product where we have lots and lots and lots of free users that we're trying to, hopefully, over time convert into paid customers. The partnerships can come in at different parts of that journey, and so Matt and I think a lot about how do we use different integrations at different parts of the customer life cycle based on maybe even product utilization characteristics, and start thinking about which integrations do we want to leverage with that partner data to try to tell a story to that customer that would get them to move for other along in that journey? That's something that I think a lot of teams, like partnerships teams historically, have been focused on that sourcing of deals. Then it was like," Cool, we've tossed it to the sales team." If now it's like they do their thing, and that model somewhat changes in this quickly growing world of PLG products where you could have a relationship with a customer for a really long time before they start paying you money. How does that change the motion of how partnerships is engaged with the growth team because of that? That's something we're spending a lot of cycles on thinking about.

Matt Bilotti: Yeah. I work pretty closely with the partnership team here at drift, and it does feel like the old way of approaching growth tied to partnership stuff ha has been more of you launched the shared technical integration, marketing makes a big deal about it, and then, sales has it as a slide in their slide deck. But now in this partnership that you guys are on the journey of building and that I'm seeing it drift as well, is it goes beyond that. It's like, how do you drive the adoption between the shared customer base? How do you get more revenue out of that base as a result of it?

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. I think one of the things that I've seen just secondhand that this has all happened is the area in which partnership sits. You were talking about it just now, Matt, but it's like partnerships is historically aligned with the sales team and the marketing team, but really it's very close line with sales. I think it's so interesting to see partnerships be so much closer aligned with the product team and other parts of the go- to- market engine rather than just sales now.

Chris Samila: Yeah. That's something that I've seen that through my career and, and with peers is it's almost detrimental if partnerships is just sitting under the sales organization because you don't have the flexibility to focus on how supporting equally all the different business units. so if all you're focused on is generating leads for the sales organization, you're leaving a ton on the table, especially on the product side of things, which is a huge opportunity, is like," How does my product roadmap change if I can partner with other technology companies that make sense, instead of investing a ton of engineering energy to do that ourselves?" That is something where partnerships and product, in particular, should be spending a lot of time working together. I think we're just talking to peers, we're starting to see more earlier stage companies being told by their VCs," Go build a partner team," and the key is go build a partner team and have a report up to the CEO or have them in his position where they are not just under one department because it really belittles the impact they could have on the business.

Matt Nicosia: I would almost say you remember that blog post that Bob wrote, Chris, it was all about the integration economy. I think that's so telling that CEOs and founders are thinking about how to do one thing really well and then, integrate with everything else, rather than do everything sort of well, because that doesn't really work anymore. So I would imagine that's why we're seeing partnership teams just be a part of companies almost from day one, because it's so integral to how your product is going to get built.

Chris Samila: A hundred percent, yeah.

Matt Bilotti: We'd love to hear how you guys think about measurement and goals in terms of how do you measure a partner channel? Maybe we could touch on that real quick for people listening that maybe don't have one today, or just want to reconsider how they're measuring it. Then, how do you think about, so one, how do you measure the partner channel and two, how think about maybe you do have something today or more of a vision for the future, how do you think about shared goals between growth teams and, and partner teams?

Chris Samila: Yeah. I'm happy to jump on the first part, Matt, I'll pass it to also to you for the second component. I think partner teams, they do go on somewhat of a journey of how you think about measuring the teams. A lot of times in the early stages partner teams need to give themselves time to AB test what is the right partner program, and who are the right partners and learn a lot? Potentially, even the first six months to a year is like, you have a hypothesis of," I'm going to go build, say, an agency channel of folks that can just do services on top of my technology." There's a ton of conversations that go into finding the right customers, aka partners, and then seeing whether or not the pieces fit together well. So one word of advice that gets to lot of partner teams is like," Don't get trapped into looking at the end of funnel closed one business too early." In the life cycle of partner team, you almost need to look at lead flow from the partners or places where even just collaborating aka influenced revenue, not just sourced revenue, because you just want to get the wheel turning on working with another organization. The partner team, a lot of times historically, was siloed in the business and they would build enabling collateral and marketing collateral and they'd be off in the corner doing their own thing. Now, we see more and more partner teams that are leveraging other business units, the standard product marketing teams helping with the partner marketing activities, which is what we're doing at Crossbeam you're leveraged enablement resources, et cetera. So by leveraging those other resources around the business, you can more quickly service these partners and start to see what's working and what's not. Then, you over time, in essence, migrate into with, as you get more confidence, you get statistics on," Great. I know this should channel can generate this amount of source business or this amount of influence business," and then you can start to put metrics and goals behind that. But I implore anybody who's looking to build a program, give the partner team some time to figure out what's the right model, because if you measure them too early, they're going to go on the path and potentially, build a program that's not have the right fit for your business needs long term.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. I'm interested to dig a little bit further into that Chris, like what specifically makes something right before, because typically, where I jump in and where you and I are currently working together a lot is on the analytics side, it's" Okay, we know what's what our strategy is," and so measuring it is a little bit different because now we're really digging into the data and the holy grail is attribution. Every growth team knows this, trying to attribute everything to everything and multi- touch and all that stuff and partnerships should get thrown into that mix. But it's really difficult to attribute partnerships and that's a problem that we're trying to solve, actually, but crosstalk

Chris Samila: Yeah. That's something, so Matt, just to speak to that, a lot of teams, when they're looking at partnerships, they are going and back to that did they source the deal or not? they're almost competing with marketing to some extent, because you're like," Wait, I talked to the partner and partner sent the lead over, and they came to the website and the marketing team was like," That's ours." So it's important that the partnership team, and especially the marketing organization/ growth team ideally, they have goals that they're all collectively contributing towards, and then you figure out how to use the resources against that. But I've been part of organizations in the past where you are in a competitive situation where there's only one team that gets credit and that's terrible because then, you end up with a competition between the different business units. But yeah, if you think about holistically, how the software world supports different business units, there's a ton of tooling and discipline and processes for marketing now and customer success more recently and, of course, sales and it feels like in partnerships, we're just now starting to get a high level of focus around tooling that really helps you measure all this stuff. Crossbeam is just one of many tools that have especially come up more recently in the last like two years, because of the advent of more SaaS partnerships, there is a specialized set of technologies that's growing to help these teams get the credit for all the work they're doing and make it easier to collaborate with the other business units around the company.

Matt Bilotti: It's funny because when I hear you both talking about the measurement and how you shift the strategy over time, and there are just so many parallels in terms of the state at which the partner motion is evolving and the state in which the growth motion is evolving. Both of those are in this weird in- between where it's very different and so many different places and they're trying to find their way. Chris, something you said is like," In the first few months, don't measure it this way, because you can make them do the wrong thing." That is a lot of what I see out of growth teams too. CEOs give growth teams three to six months to prove results, and then the teams start doing these weird hacks to try to get results, and it incentivizes the wrong behavior.

Chris Samila: We can all empathize with that part of the business. It's hard, the business it's if they look at these things and they go, like they see these well- functioning programs that other their companies and they're like," I want that thing," and you're like, If we give them six months, that's more than enough time them to figure it out." It takes a lot of foresight for someone who's leading that team to say," I need to learn and we're going to AB test to figure out the right stuff until we get to the right answer, and then we're going to step on the gas pedal." But, you know what? The reality is this probably in six months later, you're going to need to build a whole different program. That's the same thing that's happening in partnerships is once you get to a certain stage, there's a whole new strategy that evolves and you'll have to get back into learning mode. So Matt, your thoughts?

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. No, just anytime you're you bring up AB testing and all that, it's just like that's such a classic area for the growth team to help with the partnership team. That's what a growth team ideally should be doing day in and day out is running these experiments. I think there's just a ton of surface area in the partnership world that growth teams probably haven't really looked at, is how to AB test and how to rapidly iterate with the partnership team, especially as they're just getting started? It's the perfect opportunity to apply that lens that we traditionally think about every day to a team that probably hasn't historically, thought that way.

Matt Bilotti: Yeah. It's such a good point. I think it's something that I've seen where growth teams, they look at the product, they look at the marketing funnel and they experiment on those things. I've seen some growth teams, and we did this at Drift a little bit where the experimentation channel was a set of sales reps and the sales reps process and whatnot, and what you're saying here, Matt, is this other channel that has so many facets to it that is like green field to play on, which is looking at the partnership channel as a function for running experimentation and all that.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. I'm trying to think of a good example off the top of my head, but it's almost like rather than sink a ton of resources into not just building out something natively within your app, but even building out a full- fledged integration it takes a lot of time. So rather if you were able to get several MVP versions of a bunch of different integrations up, and then you work with the growth team to figure out," What are our success metrics? Is this going to move the needle in the way we thought it is and roll those experiments out, and basically, try to put those MVPs in front of people and see if they bite?" That just gives you a lot more data and the partnership team a lot more data to say, all right," This is where we're going to spend a lot more of our time, and we're going to let some of the other potential integrations fall by the wayside for a little while." None of that has anything to do, necessarily, with lead sourced and all the traditional metrics with partnerships. It's all got to do with product usage.

Chris Samila: So Matt, actually there is a good example. We're doing this right now with generating, again, one of our integrations where it's not actually a true integration; it's manually feeding the data into that to ultimately mimic the ability to launch campaigns to that marketing channel. But it's all being hand done by you guys, and that's the data that's helpful for the partner team to know our customers responded to that, is that a good channel for partner data to flow through? So yeah, that's awesome, brain is now turning on other ways we can potentially replicate that.

Matt Nicosia: Yep.

Matt Bilotti: Yeah. I love this because it draws two really clear verticals for how partner and growth teams can align and work together. One, which we talked about earlier is driving adoption and use of things that the partnerships team is doing, like the growth team saying, "What have they done? How do we supercharge it?" And then, on the other side partnerships team looking at the growth team and saying, "Can you help us validate where we should spend our time, and how do we drive the early demand for it?"

Matt Nicosia: Yeah, 100%. Yeah.

Chris Samila: I guess, Matt, a question for our team at Crossbeam, how much of the focus is on the later stage product utilization versus the early stage," Get the customers in the funnel," kind of thing?

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. What keeps me up at night personally is what we call an" activation." So of our users who sign up, which we get a lot of, how many of them actually get to that point where they're like," I get Crossbeam, I'm now going to do some harder steps to take it further?" Honestly, I think where I'm most interested in, and I think as a company we should be most interested in is that activation phase. We're not going to go too deep down that rabbit hole, but when we talk about loops and growth loops, our biggest one is actually of people who sign up for Crossbeam, they then invite more of their partners to join Crossbeam and so on and so forth. Activated companies are the ones who do that far and away, by a significant margin. So we're more interested in getting to that level of penetration, and I think if we're talking specifically about integrations here, that's why we have some free integrations that we know will help people move along there. Then, we have other integrations that are part of different paid tiers that basically provide the equivalent level of value to the tier that we put them in. I don't know. Chris, does that answer your question?

Chris Samila: We're mentally backing into is a healthy question maybe for the partner teams is to be figuring out where's the growth team spending their energy and then how can the partner team almost figure out the right either service providers, say, aka channel partner relationships to help that journey or technology partner, relationships and integrations? So you could almost deploy different strategies based on where your focus area is on that growth curve for these customers.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. If we were to come to you with a request for an integration, if we were to say," Hey, it looks like when people communicate about a specific overlap," I'm talking in Crossbeam speak for a second here," but if people do that, they are much more likely to become fully activated." Well, where does communication happen? It's Slack." Can you build us a Slack integration?" That would be the thing where we'd say," If you can do that, make it a part of the free tier or at least just that little bit, then people might be way more likely to communicate about these overlaps and then, get activated and use Crossbeam more fully." Even though the thing we're asking you to do is outside of the app, it activates them in inside the app. So we've already got a Slack integration, I'm just thinking about crosstalk

Chris Samila: Well, that's like if you think we go back to the earlier part of the conversation about partnerships, collaborating with the product organization, this is that signal from the growth team saying," There's value in us getting our data into these other platforms around us, or other tooling around us." Instead of the growth team, just going to their own product team and having that conversation. It's like," Let's open it up under a broader horizon, and who else does this really well? Can we go work with them?"

Matt Nicosia: Yeah, and there are limits to that, I think. We've got integrations that we wouldn't put in the free tier because they wouldn't activate somebody, but they're meant for power users who should be paying us. then, there are others that most people can and should be using them and they provide a lot of value to the masses, so make those a part of your free tier if you've got that.

Matt Bilotti: So all this stuff that we're talking about here pulls me back to a phrase that you guys had said before we hopped on recording, which is around you ELG, or ecosystem led growth. I hadn't heard that term before. I would love to just hear how you think about that world and what that means and how it encapsulates a lot of the stuff we're talking about here.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. I'll jump in. I know Chris has talked about this a bunch too, so I'll let you jump in as well afterwards, but we always need more acronyms. Right? Why not just come up with more buzz words. PLG seemed to do well, so we'll just call this ELG. But we do follow PLG in a lot of ways at Crossbeam and we realized there's this concept of ecosystem led growth that really fits nicely into it. One thing Chris said one time that really resonated with me is PLG is very insular. Yes, there are loops that bring in people from outside your company, but by and large, you're are just doing things that are within your own company. What ecosystem led growth does, is it if you're familiar with Reforge, which I'm guessing a bunch of listeners probably are, there's that concept of the micro loop and then the macro loop. It's just like you can get real inception, but it's just loops on top of loops. Ecosystem led growth is that macro loop where you just build these flywheel on top of each other, and because you've built up your ecosystem, they all start just pushing each other along. So a good example is, let's say you're Amplitude and you build an integration with Segment. So Segment's customers now want to use your product. They want to use Amplitude because you've built that integration, so you've got this little micro loop that happens there. You get more people who want to sign up for your product because you built an integration, then more integrations want to get built because you've got more users and it should feed itself. There's an ecosystem led growth component to that if you back out a little bit, which is if you've got channel partnerships or agencies that are helping to evangelize the integration you just built, so Segment in this case. They're now going to go talk to all of their customers and contacts about this integration that you just built. Then, that just keeps feeding this continuous loop all the way around. That's something that I don't think we've really built a good definition for, clearly. I just rambled a little bit, but it gets us pretty excited, and I think that you can see the evidence of it, but I don't think a lot of people have purposefully built... I don't know, Chris, what do you think?

Chris Samila: inaudible This is something we are actually seeing firsthand at Crossbeam when we did our HubSpot integration. So we've always had the ability to send data from HubSpot into Crossbeam, but we recently enabled the ability to send Crossbeam data, which is, in essence, partner ecosystem data into HubSpot to then create the ability to do campaigns and then put that partner intelligence inside the CRM. What happened was once we launched this, is that HubSpot Elite Agencies, which is the top tier channel partners started reaching out to us and they were like," We think our clients could start using this. we should build a partnership together, because we want to evangelize your new integration." Then when that happens, then they start looking at the other integrations, which then, I have now other technology partners that want to work with HubSpot Elite Agencies. Now they're now building relationships. So you get this blossoming effect of all of these different organizations rallying behind servicing these customers, but in their own ways, whether that's the technology integration or services, and the cool thing is, is that if you really extrapolate this out, it's not just during this sales cycle. It really should be the entire customer life cycle, because even after they buy the software, they might need help with adoption. They might need help with change management. They might need other integrations. So I think the tooling and the ways that we can track all these relationships to these B2B companies is something that's still very immature. But I fervently think this is the future is like these, as Matt says, loops on loops with all these different partner relationships servicing these clients.

Matt Bilotti: I love that because there's so many variables and so many things they can build on top of one another, and if you can open up your lens from just the product that you're building or the marketing stack that you have, but opening up to what is the ecosystem that we exist in and how do we leverage all those different pieces? You can build so much more, you can get so many more loops, that is such a cool way to think about it. All right. Last questions before we wrap here. If some many listening doesn't really have a partner team or partner motion established, I'd love to hear from either or both of you how can they think about getting started? What is a good way for them to think about," How can I establish this channel as a growth lever for us moving forward, and what's a good starting point?"

Chris Samila: Yeah. One of the things that generally leads to a successful partner program is like listening very intently to what your customers are doing. So in my first career in the SaaS industry, I was in the sales team and then we realized that there was digital agencies buying our software. This is back at the company called Optimizely, and agencies were getting tremendous value from this because they were giving it to their clients. So we were like," Wait a minute. If we build a program to help these agencies use this product and figure out the services they're providing, in essence, help foster that unique way of engaging with these agencies, can we turn it into a lead channel?" So that was the beginning of our partner program was figuring out who's buying the product? How are they using it, and can those folks evangelize our solution downstream to their customer? So there's an organic channel growth motion where you, in essence, find other parties that want to represent your product, and especially now in the SaaS world, it's pretty common that the ISV or the tech company wants to have a relationship with the customers in the older channel world of, think of Dell hardware and shipping servers and things like that. You have resellers that would own the entire customer relationship end- to- end and that's different now at SaaS. A lot of times you have a direct sales team working with partners, and so that's a pretty organic natural path is to find places where you can start to have a sales team spend some time with these co- selling partners. The other big one, this is where we started at Crossbeam, was on the tech side where it was like," We have customers that could use this partner data in sales tools, marketing tools, et cetera," so we figured out that we should go and build a technology partner program, support the growth of these integrations, both through of the lens of building APIs to get the data out of our platform, but also investing in what we call" integration infrastructure" or, in essence, the people and the processes to actually build integrations ourselves. So that's the other divergent path. It's very common is the technology partner side.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. One thing that I think is interesting, Chris, as you were just talking about that, going back to what we were saying earlier is as you try to build this stuff up, I think it would be really helpful for us and we should do a better job of this, but anybody who's building a partner program to really think purposefully about that ecosystem led growth concept to if you want to build that flywheel, and get to a point where you have those agency partners coming to you, you can follow somewhat of a roadmap if you know who the major players are in that space and what gets them interested. In this case, it was a HubSpot integration, but I think you had a anecdotal understanding that was important and would get them. But if we had some data that could back that up, that could be particularly powerful, too.

Chris Samila: To build on that, empathy of why the other party cares is incredibly important. Their job is not to sell your software, their job is to sell their service or their software. If they can blend your solution in with what they're offering and you can tell that story in a really elegant way to them, they're going to come to you en masse. Really, it's sometimes hard to get out of your own head of," Why should the other person care about this?" But that's like if I was going to have one recommendation for all the people that are thinking about building these programs, it's like have a lot of empathy for why the other parties should care, and it's okay if you realize they don't care. That's good. That's a good data point for you to realize," Maybe that channel's not the right channel for me to spend my time right now, and there's another different type of channel I should go build up instead that would get us results faster."

Matt Bilotti: For folks that are listening that maybe have a relatively established growth partnerships channel, is there anything that you'd recommend that they should be thinking about that we haven't touched on already? I know we've covered a lot of this. Is there anything else you'd recommend that they should be doing or thinking of that can help them get to a next step function?

Matt Nicosia: I'm going to leave that up to Chris.

Chris Samila: So there's a lot of ground to cover here. So I think marketplaces is another huge one that we didn't really touch on. Historically, a lot of technology companies would showcase integrations and partnerships in a relatively simplistic fashion, and they might actually try to build that themselves. There's been this explosion of software tools to make it easier to launch these marketplaces, that's an amazing area for the growth team to run those AB tests and figure out what are the most interesting integrations and really help move the needle there because we will see probably many, many more companies build more of these marketplaces. That's just a good place to invest some energy, especially since you can launch them in a fraction of the time compared to what it used to take even a year ago.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. That is a good point. We did just recently do that, and the signal that comes from those marketplaces is incredibly useful. It's a level of granularity into what people want, and you don't want to trick people too much, but even if you haven't fully built something, if you even just put a tile that says," Coming soon," or the ability to up vote something, you could really quickly see who's interested in what, then you could tie it even further back to," Did the person who requested that integration or showed some level of interest, what did they go on and do in the product, and were they eventually an activated user?" to tie things back to what we were talking about. There's a lot of stuff we could do with that.

Chris Samila: One more thing that just popped in my head here, because it's something that I was not super deeply familiar with when I got the Crossbeam, but Matt is very comfortable in a data warehouse environment and building visualizations and running that analysis. A lot of partnership people like myself, we live in Salesforce and we don't have that acumen of understanding how to leverage all these different data points to come up with a better analysis of what to do next. So one way the growth team could get started with the partnering team is just sitting down with them and thinking through the business problems that the partnering team is trying to solve for, and having the growth team share the problems that they're trying to solve for and then, you using that data warehouse and using all that data that really the growth team is just better equipped today to figure that stuff out, super valuable, something I'd never done before. I think that's going to become more common is partnership teams coming to the table and then collaborating around these data warehouses and visualization tools with the growth team.

Matt Bilotti: Awesome. Well, we have covered quite a lot of ground here. Any other parting things that either of you want to toss out there that maybe we didn't get a chance to cover before we go ahead and wrap up here?

Chris Samila: No, I think that just I tremendously appreciate the opportunity to chat with y'all. I think this is an exciting area where I think there's going to be a lot of collaboration for all the reasons we've touched on, and so I just encourage anybody who's listening to go and start some conversations with your peers in the partner team, or talk with your CEO or someone on the executive team, and just talk about why partnerships really should be the thing they build at their business, then how the growth team would collaborate with them.

Matt Nicosia: Yeah. I agree with Chris. I really appreciate the time. This has been an amazing collision of my two worlds in a way that most people don't normally pay attention to either of them, so this has been a ton of fun. I hope that anybody listening out there gets excited about it just the way I am.

Matt Bilotti: Awesome. I appreciate you both very much for taking the time hopping on here. This has been a really fun conversation, so I very, very much appreciate it. If you are listening and you like this episode hit, the subscribe button. There are going to be many more great episodes like this with experts and, and people that know their stuff. There's 80 other episodes in the library that you can go ahead and check out, so take a look at those. If you are a fan, leave a five- star review. Written reviews go a really long way too, and I'm trying to get a few more of those, so I would appreciate that. I know that there are so many things that you can be working on, listening to, watching, spending your time on whatever it is, I appreciate that you're spending it here listening to this podcast, so thank you very much. My email's matt @ drift. com. Send me a note with any feedback, topic ideas, whatever it might be, and with that, I will catch you on the next episode. Thanks.


We’ve talked a lot about the different areas of growth on this podcast, but there’s one topic we still haven’t hit: partnerships. Partnerships go hand in hand with growth - creating a channel for companies to expand. In this episode, Chris Samila, VP of Partnerships at Crossbeam, and Matt Nicosia, Director of Growth at Crossbeam discuss different examples of partnerships and how they play a role in growth.

The Notes:

  • (1:33) The different approaches companies can take to a partner program
  • (3:29) How companies can figure out which partnership approach is right for them.
  • (4:50) How Matt and Chris think about the relationship between partnership channels and growth
  • (9:37) How Crossbeam’s partnership and growth teams drive adoption across a shared customer base 
  • (12:21) How do you measure a partner channel?
  • (21:38) How partner and growth teams can align and work together to reach their individual goals.
  • (25:58) What is ecosystem-led growth?
  • (31:02) How to get started with a partner team
  • (35:49) Final recommendations from Chris and Matt

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Today's Host

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Matt Bilotti


Today's Guests

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Chris Samila

|VP of Partnerships, Crossbeam
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Matt Nicosia

|Director of Growth, Crossbeam