Episode 31: Danielle Simon, Director of Channel, Alliances & Partnerships, CybelAngel.

Danielle talks about how to build an 'ideal partner profile', short & long-term partnership goals, the 80/20 rule in partnerships and much more.

This week on The CoSell Show we are thrilled to have with us Danielle Simon, Director of Channel, Alliances, Partnerships at CybelAngel.


Topics Discussed:

    1. How to build an 'ideal partner profile' (IPP) when building a partner program
    2. The importance of thinking through the short and long-term partnership goals
    3. The 80/20 rule in partnerships, and how iteration in building your target partner list is critical

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Follow Along With The Podcast Transcript

Pete Ryan: [00:00:09] Here we go. Hi listeners. This is Pete Ryan with the Cosell show. Thanks for listening today with me, I have Danielle Simon, the director of channel alliances and partnerships at Seibel angel. Cybil angel is based in New York city. It was founded in 2013 is a series B funding company, and it's the leading digital risk management platform providing enterprises with actionable threat intelligence switch with teams being fully remote now has become more.

X just exponentially more important than ever before. So Danielle brings over a decade of sales channel and partnership experience. And over the years, she's really learned that, especially in the early, early days of building a partner program when time and resources are limited, you need to go really deep and narrow into your who you partner with versus kind of shallow and wide and partnering with tons and tons of partners.

So today we're going to be discussing a topic and question that. Every partnership leader needs to be asking themselves, which is, am I focused enough in who I choose to partner with to avoid, you know, obviously wasted time, resources and money later on. And so with that it's great to see Danielle thanks again for joining.

Danielle Simon: [00:01:23] Thank you so much. It's really good to be sitting with you today, Pete.

Pete Ryan: [00:01:27] Yeah. So before I'm kind of jumping into this topic Danielle would be great if you can kind of just provide an overview of your background. And then of course you know, my favorite question is if you could share something that is not on your LinkedIn profile about yourself

Danielle Simon: [00:01:44] So I, yeah, I think you captured it really well.

I've been doing partnerships and all styles. For 10 years, I've worked for about five years in MarTech, you know, marketing automation and SEO. And then I moved more into the data side analytics, governance and cloud most recently cybersecurity and You know, partnership is a constant, you know, every tech out there is trying to build them and getting started is hard and you do often start out with limited resources.

So targeting is really critical.

Pete Ryan: [00:02:22] Yeah. And so and it's something that about yourself that is not on your LinkedIn. And I'm eager to hear it.

Danielle Simon: [00:02:30] I actually have a driver's license on two continents. It's something I'm really proud of. I, you know, I've, I've lived been really fortunate to live in the UK and Japan as well as us.

And so I have a driver's license in the UK, which is honestly one of the hardest accomplishments I've ever achieved. They drive on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road, and I had to learn manual stick shift. And it's, it's one of those weird. Things that has nothing to do with my work that I'm really proud of.


Pete Ryan: [00:03:05] So it was like the driving test different than in the UK versus the us, or, you know,

Danielle Simon: [00:03:11] things that should never be legal, like reversing around a corner. Because obviously the roads in Europe are not built for cars. And so you do find yourself in some sticky situations, but yeah. I'm like, but wait, you know, I would say to my driving instructor would say, but why is, when is this ever safe?

Do you ever actually do this in practice, in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world? But it's, I guess it's more about the maneuverability and they even ask you like, Parts of the engine. You have to identify everything. Where would you put water if this happens? Honestly I was a little bit scared coming back to the U S and getting on the road, knowing that drivers do not have anywhere near as many coffees.

Pete Ryan: [00:03:57] Yeah. I'll bet it is a good test, right. It probably made you like a great driver in the U S right? Not that you weren't already, but you know, like

Danielle Simon: [00:04:04] I can drive on a roundabout. It's not something most Americans know how to navigate.

Pete Ryan: [00:04:09] Yeah. No, that's that's awesome. Okay, cool. So yeah, let's, let's dive in. So really my first question is how do you go about building kind of your partner targets, right?

Like who to partner with? So

Danielle Simon: [00:04:22] you think you, you do start out really thinking about your company and your brand and your company values. And I think as, as much as, you know, internally every day, you're focused on that it has to bleed out into who you partner with and there has to be that sort of softer alignment.

And then. I think the core of it is, you know, who are, who are your target customers and who influences their purchasing in the area of your business. Right. And, and, and that really dictates a lot of it. And then you kind of build your offering around you know, you build your targets around those partner types and who, who really aligns with the core customer.

You know, I like to do, I personally like a mix of partners to partner targets because I think especially when you're starting out, you can't always work with your dream partners and the ones that, you know, may take a really long time to convince and work with. So, you know, I think it makes sense to have a mix, even, even as you're more mature of sort of smaller, more nimble, less expensive partners, more boutiques.

And then also the larger. Partners, but of course, it's going to follow who you work with. Like, do you work with SMBs? Do you work with enterprises? How competitive is your space?

Pete Ryan: [00:05:38] Yeah. And, and so is this typically like a, a list of like 10, 20, 30, 50 partners? Yeah. Or does that kind of matter in the early days?

Would you say?

Danielle Simon: [00:05:50] Again, I think it's going to follow, I think it's going to be different for every company. You know, if, if you're selling something that, yeah, th I think depending on the space and how many players are in the space, you may have a larger list. I've done a lot of enterprise work and I find your list tends to be a little bit more.

Right. Okay. So I think I usually start around 30 to 50.

Pete Ryan: [00:06:18] Got it, got it. Okay, cool.

Danielle Simon: [00:06:19] Well, that's also global, so, you know, I, I think, yeah. Maybe, yeah, maybe a little bit less if you're just focusing on us.

Pete Ryan: [00:06:27] Got it. Okay, cool. So, so you've gone through the exercise, right? Of like building out the, the partner target, you have like the Excel spreadsheet or whatever.

And you're going about like acquiring these partners, like yeah. W what's kind of the process for that.

Danielle Simon: [00:06:44] Well, I think you have to be really clear on how what's in it for them, right. What's that value proposition and how can you clearly articulate it? So be prepared with that. One of the things I love to do is pull my customers and ask them who they work with and more importantly than who they work with, who they like, who they would recommend, because I find that there's more variation in that then you, realise Oh yeah, we work with, you know, three companies.

Okay. But w. Who do you like? Oh, I really like these guys. And then see if your, your customer can, can actually introduce you. I think as well, you need to leverage your board, your executive team, all court, you know, the relationships that your, your team has. And, and also pull them on what they think of organizations.

And once you, you know, once you're down, you know, once you've exhausted those possibilities and you got to get to the nitty gritty most companies have partner programs that you can apply to and reach out to. And I've found I do a lot of, I mean, even just submitting an application on a website, Works LinkedIn works.

And then networking, networking is always a constant you know, both in your space and in your industry, but also with other partnership people I've found to be a surprising boon and, and more, you just more helpful than I ever realized it would be.

Pete Ryan: [00:08:06] Yeah. And so have you ever found like kind of good partners outside of your target or kind of your focus initially?

Danielle Simon: [00:08:15] Absolutely. I mean, especially earlier on, sometimes I think it's more about who really wants to work with you then who you want to work with. Right. And sometimes you find that you want to work, you know, everything's lines up on paper, right. And, and it's, you know, that's the one everybody agrees and then you get talking to them and just doesn't click or it's, it's not, it's not the timing.

Isn't right. They're not onboarding new partners, whatever it may be. So I really do think It's important to be open, to work with new partners, as much as you're targeting and you have your, your list, you know, and have some qualification standards and also entertain the ones you maybe haven't thought of.

And, you know, you often don't even know which what a business is pivoting to as well. Like what an organization is maybe not known in the space, but they're trying to get into your space and they're hungry and willing to really work with you. So. I suppose I I'm rigorous with targeting, but also rigorous with like, you got to have the openness to

Pete Ryan: [00:09:20] yeah.

Got it. And, and so yeah, it sounds like kind of a balancing act, right. Because you know, you. I I'm sure as you know, let's just say, you're just starting your partner program right. From ground zero. And you know, you're maybe a a more well-known brand. You're getting all this inbound, right? Like, yeah.

I guess I'll play devil's advocate, right? Like, why not just like have a conversation, you know, being the sales guy that I am, right. I'll just like, ch like connect with everyone. Maybe you still do that, but you still qualify, but like, Why not just kind of sign up every partner that wants to work with you, right?

Danielle Simon: [00:09:57] Yeah. I mean, I think in some cases, you know what, I, I suppose it depends too, like how many, how many resources it requires from your organization to sign up partners? Right? What types of partners are you working with? Like the more. The, the longer-term partner types, like if you're working with managed service providers and there's a huge amount of training and commitment on both ends you can't sign up everyone because you don't have the resources to do it.

You also, I mean, and every part of your business supports partnerships with legal team, right? You're going to take a ton of time going through contracts and that sort of stuff. So. I do talk to everyone. Actually, I'm a little nuts. Like if somebody reaches out and they want a partner, I'm always going to respond and thank them.

And you know, unless it's, you know, as long as it's reasonably aligned to the business, I probably will get on the phone. If. Yeah, I just don't think, I don't think an early stage, small company can really work with everybody. You can't, you just can't support it. You know? And, and I don't even push even the partners that I'm targeting and that I want to work with.

I don't even push them into contracts. You get a lot done with an NDA. I just think it's more about creating that market alignment and that focus and getting it off the ground, getting those early wins together. Before you start investing a ton of time.

Pete Ryan: [00:11:22] Yeah. And do you feel like you know, well, how does your partner targeting strategy kind of change over time?

Right. As the company evolves?

Danielle Simon: [00:11:31] Well, you know, sometimes you don't get to work with the dream list at the beginning. You know, I think. I think when you're starting out, you know, it's going to follow the maturity of your brand in the market, right? Like you, you know, you work in the enterprise, let's say, and you want to work with the GSI and all the big companies, but it's going to take two years to do that.

And you don't have two years. So I think earlier on you have to be a little bit more, you have to have more of a hustle. You have to focus on what's achievable, who wants to work with you now? Right. And then again, having that balance of short and learn long-term partnerships, and eventually as your company matures, as your partner offering matures, you have more information on, you know, how long it takes to onboard a partner.

When they make money, when you make money and all of that stuff, then you can you know, then you have more confidence. You can, you can go after new targets and I would also say that in our, in our fast changing tech world you know, your business changes your, your, your tech may pivot, right? So who you work with today, isn't going to be who your partner is tomorrow, maybe because maybe you're launching new lines of business.

So I do think. You have to, when you're starting out, it's like, what's, what can you actually get to, you know, have a little bit of a mix of like who you can work with now, and then the longer term, and then stay very aligned with your business and your innovation because. That's going to also fuel new partnerships and you targets.

Pete Ryan: [00:13:09] Yep. Yeah. And you know, so just recently I was talking to the company and they have over 200 partners. Right. And when they actually look at like the, the, the percentage of partners that are driving partner source, like partner influenced revenue, it's just a really small percentage of that. Right. So yeah.

You know, kind of what I've been hearing and I'm sure what you've experienced right. Is it may seem like you know, 20% of your partners are like doing 80% of your business, right. The classic, you know, 20, 80 rule you know, have you found that to be true and like, you know yeah. Whereas yeah.

Danielle Simon: [00:13:49] Yes. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic.

So, you know, I think often when you are starting out with partnerships, you have to be a little bit friendlier and open to who wants to work with you. Right. And let's be real. You're you're really. Pursuing partners more than they're pursuing you. You're also, I mean, the partnerships is a team sport and it's really horizontal to the business.

So you're going to get recommendations from all corners of your company. Sometimes that's your perfect target. And sometimes it's a lot, a little bit off the Mark. And again, when you're early on and you're just trying to get things going, I think you're a little bit more flexible on your own. Your targets, right?

So, so you wind up getting probably those early partners that are maybe not, not as aligned to the businesses as what you'd want, because you really just trying to get it going. And, and that's a reality. And often, like when you come on board to build a program there's already partnerships existing that have been brought on by your salespeople and your, you know, by different corners of the business again.

So. Yeah. I, I, to be honest, I'm not worried about that as well, because I think if you're really leaning into innovation through your partnerships as well, and you are, in some cases also testing new things and speaking, you know, driving innovation with partnerships, you're also going to get a good degree of failure with that exploration.

So I think the more, honestly, the more innovative you are probably the higher rate of failure.

Pete Ryan: [00:15:28] Right. Yeah. So you're kind of just testing and iterating. Right. And you're starting small and then yeah. Starting small and you know, the proof is kind of in the pudding, right? Like when you build this part, you know, initial partnership, you know, you, yeah.

It, it sounds like just having some key wins early is really important to get the momentum going and yeah. And, and then you kind of expand from there. It sounds like, right.

Danielle Simon: [00:15:54] Well, I think it's also because it's, sometimes everything is perfectly aligned on paper. It's your target. It was on your list, your CEO's love each other.

And then he doesn't get off the ground for whatever reason. Right. They don't have a partner per program or somebody's following it. Somebody leaves your, something changes, you know, so. Yeah, I think there is a high rate that you know of, you know, not everything converts in partnership because it's a company partnering with another company.

If it were two people doing it, it'd be a little bit easier to manage, but you have so many, you know, you know, you're, I always say nobody's partnering with Daniel Simon. They're partnering with my company and I have to really coordinate that alignment. And it's hard.

Pete Ryan: [00:16:41] Yeah. A lot. I mean, so many different stakeholders, right.

You've got product and sales and, you know yeah. Th the C-level team, you know, and things change. So yeah. Well, you know, listen, this has been terrific. You know, and fun. Right. So, and I'm super grateful for you joining I guess like any like last words of wisdom that you'd want to share, and then.

Also, you know of course for our listeners that have any questions for you around like how to, how to create your target list and how to engage those partners and kind of some tips and tricks of what they should be thinking about, like how they can best contact you. That'd be. That'd be great.


Danielle Simon: [00:17:25] I think you said it to you, you have to target rigorously, but you have to iterate very regularly and reevaluate your targets. Not just over the course of your partner program, but, but even, you know, quarter to quarter, you know, what is your product working on? You know, what, what is your services department working on?

I think it's really important. Never to really forget your early partners to always, you know, those ones that are loyal the early ones that really help you build your business and you have to work really hard to continue to treat those partners with maturity w with priority. As you mature your offering and work with larger partners, for example.

But I firmly believe in keeping your ecosystem open, right? So you have these targets and you want to, you know, put your focus, your outreach there, but to also have that openness to work with the partner that you never thought you would, that turns out to be just completely amazing. And you know, if you weren't doing that, I don't think you would be expanding your market.

In the right way. So, yeah.

Pete Ryan: [00:18:28] So it sounds, it sounds like you've had it. Yeah. I'm going on here, but like, it sounds like you've had some surprises there, right. Where you had a partner where you're yeah. On paper, they might have not looked great. But then as you kind of went down the road with that partner, it, it, you know matured into something much greater than you would have thought.


Danielle Simon: [00:18:47] I think a lot of companies have the same sort of larger channel targets rate, went to work with the GSI and the big names. But the question is, who are you going to call when you have a project and you need delivery service, and those companies don't necessarily have dedicated people trained.

You're going to call one of your loyal, you know, Smaller nimble partners. And honestly, you also need a degree of price variation, not everyone. You know, you need partners that can work at different price points for your customers. So I guess my point is you have these targets and that's what your, sometimes that's what your company wants to hear.

And that's where you should put your focus. But then you also have these sort of more nimble loyal boutiques that are really critical to your business. And it's it's it is a balancing act, I think. Well I would say to contact me I'm I'm I live on LinkedIn, so I'm always open to connect.

Pete Ryan: [00:19:48] Awesome.

Well, yeah, in, in the post, I'll include your LinkedIn as well as Cybil angel.com link to your website. So again, thanks so much, Danielle. It's it's been great and have a great rest of the day.

Danielle Simon: [00:20:02] Yeah, you too. Thank you.

Pete Ryan: [00:20:04] Thank you. Okay.

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