Episode 7: Jenna Earnshaw, Enterprise Account Executive, PartnerStack

Jenna talks about what co-selling really means & how it is vital to your startup, tips for landing your ideal partner, women at the workplace and more.


This week on The CoSell Show we are thrilled to have Jenna Earnshaw, Enterprise Account Executive at PartnerStack.

 

Topics Covered:

    1. What Co-Selling really means, and how it is vital to your startup

    2. Tips for landing your ideal partner (and managing expectations throughout your partnership)

    3. Women and the workplace - How to everyone can thrive

Brought to you by our host: Taylor Baker for CoSell.io

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Taylor Baker

Hello, listeners. And welcome back to the CoSell Show where we discuss all things business partnerships. Today, I am incredibly jazzed to introduce you to our guest, Jenna Earnshaw of PartnerStack. Welcome, Jenna.

Jenna Earnshaw

Hey, thanks for having me.

Taylor Baker

Pleasure, thank you. So to get us started off, would you mind telling our listeners a little bit about your background and your current role at PartnerStack?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, absolutely. So I've been working in the early stage startup space for about six or seven years now. So working with companies that are just starting out and then growing pretty rapidly. I've been with PartnerStack for about a year and a half now. And really what I do here is working with companies that are looking to build out that partner channels. So whether that's a referral partnership, that reset up partnership, pretty much everything under the sun there, I typically work with them on helping them map that out and launching it.

Taylor Baker

That's wonderful. So one of our favorite questions to ask all of our guests here at the CoSell Show is, what is something fun about you that our listeners cannot find on your LinkedIn?

Jenna Earnshaw

Good question.Well, I am from London, originally, but I'd have in Toronto, Canada now. So I think often when I start a conversation with people, they're like, "Oh, I didn't realize you had an accent and why is it Australian?" That's not something people usually know just from my LinkedIn until we actually start having a conversation. They realize that I'm not from here. So I'd say that's a big one. I was born and raised in London and super random fun fact, I used to play a sport called horse ball, which is kind of like rugby on horses.

Taylor Baker

Oh, horse ball. Wow. Rugby on horses. Are you like tackling each other on horseback? Because rugby is pretty physical as a sport.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah. It's a very unique sport that I realized in North America no one had really heard of it. And I thought that was just part of what you do growing up.

Taylor Baker

I actually grew up in Texas and I actually had never ridden a horse. I have not experienced horse ball here in the States. Wow. How interesting. It's funny how much people tie what they know about someone by something as simple as your accent or your voice. I lived in California for a bit and when I said I was from Texas, the first thing anybody would ever say is, "Oh, you don't have an accent." "Well, not everybody in Texas talks like this and rides horses to get feed." So that's really interesting that you've had that experience. So, to roll on into the partnerships side of things, 'cause I know our listeners are eager to hear what you have to say. In your mind, how do you define co-selling?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, for sure.I think for me, co-selling really is working with another partner. Whether that's another company, an agency, someone in your partner program, to [inaudible 00:02:45] and close the sale, kind of walking together and using resources from both sides. So really, a collaborative sale I think is how I would define it in the short term there.

Taylor Baker

That's really great because actually using the term co-sell is still a little new, I found. Because if you Google, "Co-sell," it's a bunch of information about like a sportscaster named Howard Cosell, I think, is how you say it. So it's still becoming defined. So I think that's really great way of saying it. Thank you so much.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah. And I think companies are already starting to think differently about how they're selling now. So I would agree, it's definitely a newer term and a newer thing that companies are doing. But seeing a lot of success from it, just being able to leverage two different company's resources to really go in and make a strong sale.

Taylor Baker

Absolutely. I think of co-selling as a great example of working smarter, not harder. Because, you know, like you said, you're utilizing twice as many resources and it's just instantly easier and more lucrative that way.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, exactly.

Taylor Baker

So I think it's really easy to make a wishlist of potential partners. Of course, when you're saying, "Oh, I'm a startup and I would love to partner with Google because they're a really established company." It's really easy to make that list and have those dreams. But how can startups, especially, turn these lists into tangible partnership endeavors?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, for sure.I think it's having really clear terms in place. So knowing exactly what you're looking to get out of the partnership and what's that going to look like for the partner as well. I hear conversations all the time where it's like, "We should partner." And it's like what does that really mean though? What is our commitment to each other? What do we even have resources to commit to as well? 'Cause sometimes, especially if you're on the smaller side and you're walking with a larger partner company, they're resources may not be as readily available. So just having really, really, clear balance in understanding what you're looking to get out of it and making that very, very clear for them as well. So they know what to expect and you can kind of hold each other accountable to that as well.

Taylor Baker

Oh, absolutely. I think a big through line with partnerships is it has to be a symbiotic relationship from the very beginning or else it's just not going to work. So in that respect, actually, how do you structure these partnerships to ensure everyone is engaged and driven to help each other throughout the entire partnership from infancy to full maturity?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah. I think that kind of relates in to the last piece as well. It really is just about setting it up so everyone knows what's going on. And that almost like scoping it right at the beginning before you get in the weeds and then realize that you just need to put too many resources into this and that it's not going to be successful. So that's what we always encourage any of our clients to do as well, is to really kind of think about what it is that you guys both need at the beginning when they're starting a partner program or working with a different partner and then kind of working back from that. Another like kind of great way is just like ongoing communication, ongoing engagement. I know a ton of companies that will have weekly, biweekly and monthly check-ins with their partners. They'll do evaluations together to kind of assess the health of the partnership. Those are all really important things. It's very similar to kind of a customer success relationship as well. It's been working and nurturing them and making sure that the health and the status of the partnership is still there.

Taylor Baker

So working specifically at a company that facilitates partnerships, you've probably seen everything under the sun. Do you have one to three, you could say your top three, most successful partnership examples?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, for sure. I'll probably use a client example for this one, to kick it off. And that would be a company called Unbounce. So there's a lovely man called Ty, who launched that channel out. What he did really, really well is identifying the different partner types that he was looking to work with. Understanding how they need to be communicated with, understanding what motivates them and then working with them in those specific ways. So instead of just having this blanket, we have a partner program, we're working with partnerships now, go figure. He really took the time to understand who his different partner personas were so he knew how he could get the most out of those different channels. So I think that's really important and it's really important to look at that. If you don't understand who your partners are, how they like to be talked to, how they like to be motivated, you just have a blanket program, it can be pretty difficult to scale that. Another example I would give as well, we're walking with a couple of companies. One is called Spocket and one is called Looker. And it's really interesting. So they both use PartnerStack to run their partner programs, but then they also promote each other's products. So there's kind of like this partnership on top of the partner program. And I think that's really cool. I think I love seeing when companies come together and they work in the same space with the same ecosystem. So for these guys, it's very much like the e-com space and they're actually able to promote each other in a really effective way. And kind of leverage each other's partner networks and build a much more holistic partnership. So that's one that I actually found out about earlier this week and I was really, really impressed how they were doing that.

Taylor Baker

Oh, wow. Wonderful. So to kind of flip that on its head, what types of partnerships or just partnership examples have you seen that have maybe gone awry, where it didn't go according to plan?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, definitely, I think ... I would try to think of one specific example. But I would say it takes work to build a partnership just like it takes work to close a sale or to manage an account. Those are kind of internal kind of structures that mimic what it's like to work with a partner. So I would say just some people, they're like, "Yeah, we're going to start a partner program and let's just turn it on. AK will have like a form on our website and that's going to generate us a ton of revenue." But the reality is that isn't how a successful partnership works and it takes time to nurture that out and to build out those relationships. That often, I think, that there is some misconception that you can just turn a partner program on and it will start working.

Taylor Baker

How much time, on average, would you say it takes for partnerships to begin to become fruitful?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah. So it really varies and it varies on the type of partnership and what the desired outcome is as well. Especially for smaller stage startups, I always recommend focus on a few key partners that are engaged with you, that will be able to provide you feedback that you can then replicate for more partners that you bring on. So it should take more time in the beginning, but once you have that template, then you can build that out a lot quicker.

Taylor Baker

I mean, you touched on it a little bit just now, but just to maybe extrapolate that, what advice would you give to startups specifically about creating a fruitful partnership ecosystem?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, I would say focus on your industry. Focus on building partnerships within the space that you know. Definitely have had conversations, like you mentioned the first one, "I'm a startup and I want to partner with Google." So really bring it down to like what is the industry that you're in? What are the types of partners that are in a space? I find every industry there's associations, there's other software companies, there's marketing agencies, there are so many different types of partners that you can explain in your one specific industry that will be much more fruitful than trying to go for that Google or IBM that is so far out of the realm of where you sit in the market. So that's a really big one that I always recommend. The other one is focusing, and I often say this as well, is bring your customers into it. There's a lot of programs that we work with that have really successful customer referral programs. Or that they have successful programs with thought leaders, again, in their space. This is always a really easy starting point, I feel, thinking about really growing out and having these big partnership programs because they can provide good feedback for you. They can help bring on new customers as well. And obviously everyone wants more revenue. So I always recommend that to people as well as really think about, you know, who do you have access to in your immediate network that can drive value. And often that will be customers or support leaders in this space.

Taylor Baker

Sort of on one last partnership note, working at PartnerStack, can you maybe explain a little bit more about when and why should a company come to PartnerStack?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, absolutely. So there's definitely different stages of conversations that we have with companies, but often it's they're looking for a piece of technology to help them manage and automate the program that they have in place or the program that they're planning to launch. Partnerships is a really funky one because it actually touches every department in a company, usually like the marketing department, the sales department, the billing department. So companies look to us as a way to automate all of those processes. So things like rev share or payouts, they will handle it as well. So it's really when they're at that point they're looking to manage their partners, they're looking to scale out that program. And that's really where we can add a lot of value.

Taylor Baker

Wonderful. So I have to tell you, this is I believe our seventh podcast and you are actually my first female guest. And I could not be more thrilled. I wanted to touch a little bit about obviously there's been a lot of talk about equality in the workplace via payment or any other respect. And I just was curious what your experience has been working in what I would say is probably a traditionally male dominated industry.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, for sure. Up and down, yeah, it definitely is a male dominated. But that with that, I think it's about finding the opportunities for yourself, finding where you can grow through all of that. And a lot of it has to do with where you work, and I truly believe that. Are you working in the environment where there is equality and that you do feel valued and that kind of gender balance is fully balanced. And I've had the experiences of working in the software space in organizations that didn't value that. And I'm very, very grateful that I work in an organization right now. And that's one of the things that I love the most about where I work, is that it doesn't feel male dominated and we make a very conscious effort to hire women, to have an equal workplace, to have women in leadership at every level. And so I think a lot of it is be cautious and cognizant of the environment in you're in because that won't necessarily change even if you want them to. And look for organizations and colleagues and people that work with, that have that level of respect and that level of equality valued.

Taylor Baker

Oh, absolutely. Just scrolling around through LinkedIn a lot recently, there are job postings all over the place. And all of the ones I've seen, the very first thing is, "We are an equal opportunity employer," and that's amazing. But there is, I do think, a line between, "Oh we are putting this on here because it makes us look good or like legally we need to do this," and the company actually living up to those expectations.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, exactly. And it's all about asking the questions with that. And you can do your own research. Like if you're applying and you're looking at a job at a company, like what percent of their leadership that you see on LinkedIn is female? And in what roles? And how many of the people on the team that you're applying for are women or have diverse backgrounds? These are all things that you can do and look at to kind of weed out a little bit of it. Are they just trying to hit a diversity metric or do they really care and invest in having that kind of environment?

Taylor Baker

Sort of on that note, do you have any advice for young women that are just starting out in business or hoping to get into partnerships?

Jenna Earnshaw

I mean, partnerships is an interesting one because so many people I talk to, it's their first job in partnerships because partnerships is such a new concept for so many companies. And so like my biggest advice is like lean in, take opportunities before you're ready for them because you can always learn on the way. That's something that I've definitely tried to do is like, "Yup, now I can do that." And then I'll go and Google what that meant just to figure it out. which I think is fine, I think that you need to push yourself and be able to take those things. And I think there's a lot of good organizations as well in really leveraging that. I do find there are a ton, so it's about finding the right fit for what you're looking for. But there's a ton. I mean, up here in Canada, we have so many organizations to help women find funding or to help them get in front of investors. So leveraging those networks I think is really valuable.

Taylor Baker

Thank you so much. Just out of curiosity, I know this is a personal thing with me. Have you ever in a position where you've worked really hard and you got a job or you got a position that wasn't all it was cracked up to be and you had to make the decision to leave or go somewhere else. Like have you had any experience with that?

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, 100% absolutely had that experience. And it was really tough 'cause I didn't want to walk away. So I was like, "No, I'll work through this, this is going to be great." But the reality was is the work environment wasn't the same work environment that I knew was right for me. So I made that decision. And I think it's tough and I think especially with women, I think there's this element of like, "Oh, but I won't be able to work somewhere else, or I won't have the same opportunity or the same job," or all of these excuses and reasons as to why not to walk away from a situation like that. And I've been in that and now it's something that I promote and say to everyone is, no. Like if things don't feel right, if you aren't happy or this isn't an environment you want to be in, walk away and have the trust and knowledge in yourself that something better will come and that you will be able to have new and better and greater opportunities.

Taylor Baker

Exactly. Thank you so much for talking about that and sharing that vulnerability. I really appreciate that.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, sure.

Taylor Baker

So do you have anything exciting to share, slash, how can our listeners reach you if they have any other questions?

Jenna Earnshaw

So I'm on LinkedIn all the time. So it's just Jenna Earnshaw on LinkedIn. In terms of of exciting things coming up with PartnerStack, we've grown our team very, very significantly in the past year. So that's a really, really exciting growth stage for us. Personally exciting things, I'm going home to London for Christmas. So looking forward to seeing my family.

Taylor Baker

Well, I'm so excited that you get to go home. Jenna, you have been a fantastic guest. I really appreciate all of your insights and I know our listeners did as well. So thank you so much for taking the time.

Jenna Earnshaw

Yeah, no worries. Thanks so much for having me.

Taylor Baker

And to all of our listeners out there, thank you for listening and be sure to tune in next week for even more exciting co-selling content. Now go get your partnership on.

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