Episode 5: Jason Flores - Top Tips for Building Strategic Partnerships

Jason talks about how to nurture a symbiotic partnership relationship, unlocking maximum mutual prosperity by 'staying in your lane' and more.


This week on The CoSell Show we are thrilled to have Jason Flores, Executive for Strategic Accounts and OEN Partnerships at WalkMe.

 

Topics Covered:

    1. How to Nurture a Symbiotic Partnership Relationship

    2. Unlocking maximum mutual prosperity by "staying in your lane"

    3. How to grow, and maintain, trust in your partnership

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

Listen & Subscribe

 

Apple Podcast   Spotify   Stitcher_Logo

 

Follow Along With The Podcast Transcript

Taylor Baker:
Hello, listeners. And welcome back to The CoSell Show. I'm your host, Taylor Baker, and today we are going to discuss some top lessons learned from building strategic partnerships. Our guest today is Jason Flores of WalkMe. Welcome, Jason.

Jason Flores:
Thanks for the warm welcome and it's a good to be here.

Taylor Baker:
To get us started off, can you tell us a little bit about your background and the path that led you to where you are today at WalkMe?

Jason Flores:
So, I actually been in sales for probably the last 20 years, and been working at companies like EMC and Salesforce where I really got my start of understanding partnerships and the power of partnerships. And then from there I actually jumped into more of the the startups and doing that and, gosh, partners ... Doing the partnerships and kind of incorporating that into my business has actually been the philosophy to my business. So that's a little bit of my background, and then just kind of how it relates to partnerships too.

Taylor Baker:
Our favorite question to ask all of our guests here at The CoSell Show is what is something interesting about you that our listeners cannot find on your LinkedIn?

Jason Flores:
The thing I think that's not on my LinkedIn profile is, became an Eagle Scout back in the day. And actually one of the things I really loved about it was the backpacking and the outdoorsmanship, as well as the camaraderie that was ... As a kid, it feels like it puts you into so many experiences that prepare you for life. Yeah. That is probably one of those things that's not on my LinkedIn profile.

Taylor Baker:
Congratulations. My dad is an Eagle Scout, and he brings it up a lot, actually, how it's very special and not many Boy Scouts make it all the way to Eagle Scout. So congratulations.

Jason Flores:
Thank you. Yeah. A lot of distractions on that journey. But then there's those that find the path and make it.

Taylor Baker:
Are you able to start a fire with nothing you would typically need to start a fire?

Jason Flores:
No. I'd probably need a lighter or some matches.

Taylor Baker:
Fair enough. My husband and I, when I lived in LA, we loved going to the beach and doing bonfires. He has a beard, and so naturally everybody thought that meant that he knew how to start a fire. So anytime we would ever go there, someone would always come up and ask us to help them start their fire because no one knows how to do it. So it is actually a surprisingly hard skill to achieve. But again congrats, and thank you for sharing that.

Fires are fun, but let's get back to partnerships. So can you tell us a little bit about what drivers have you seen that have made the largest impact on the success of a partnership?

Jason Flores:
I think probably the number one is trust. There has to be this trust of whatever you put in place that both sides are going to come and deliver on that. The other side of it at all, it has to be equitable for both parties. Reciprocity is alive and kicking, and particularly in re partnerships. For instance, if you bring somebody a lead, they're going to basically bring you something as well, or it just kind of works out that way. But there has to be, again, trust. And it has to be equitable to both sides where you both want to go forward with it.

Taylor Baker:
Oh, absolutely. I think partnerships, when you look at all the benefits on paper, are really impressive. But I think some people get a little excited about what they're going to get and forget about the fact that you have to contribute and that it's a symbiotic relationship. So absolutely. You need to have that trust. What has been your most successful partnership venture and why?

Jason Flores:
Oh gosh. I've had a number of a really successful, but I'd have to say back when I was at Salesforce, the whole business thrives off partnerships. And basically I lined up with a couple of partnerships in Chicago, of partners, and I would bring them into accounts. And they actually had their core competency, their business as far as implementation of CRMs as well as they did a variety of other things. So I was essentially a lead gen for them because they would actually come in and do the service work, as well as they were able to deliver the services at a lower price than my own organization. Then that freed up dollars to then spend more on software, longterm, either buying more skews or whatever it happened to be. So that was actually a problem that I was looking to solve and they solved it.

From there it became super equitable between us because as we'd go exploring other opportunities, they were starting to bring me into opportunities. And then I was also continuing to bring them into other things. And it was a thing where we basically stayed in our lanes. I wanted to sell software, they wanted to do services, and we never crossed over. Even though I actually would erode revenue that were commissions that I could get, but I actually felt like they were a good partner or a good service partner to deliver the services. And they cared tremendously about it because that was their core competency, that was there their sole business. Then I came away with great implementations, which then typically led to upsells, cross sells, and they would actually find many of those opportunities for me. So when you find a partner that can do that, that's a relationship that's going to thrive.

Taylor Baker:
Definitely. It sounds like a match made in heaven. So in that vein, what types of partnerships have best served you and your team, whether it's co-selling, co-marketing, reseller relationships, et cetera?

Jason Flores:
Again, it's partnerships where everybody kind of stays in their lane. Whether it's a services ... So I did a deal with a company recently. And their core competency was creating collateral, marketing, whatever it happened to be, but they were creating the content to support this customer. And then what we were doing, as a software, we just created another delivery mechanism. And then we actually ended up having them do the deal because they actually had the paperwork in place, all the MSA, and the legal stuff already figured out that we were able to piggyback on their paper. And so then we just assured that they got the services, as well as they also got more of the content creation which was the core part of their business. So it was actually a really, really good partnership.

And then today we're continually do expand, even though we've now actually moved the relationship where we have a direct relationship with the customer. We still give them the services, as well as we recommend them as the content provider because they know how to create content for the delivery mechanism we're providing. I have services I could sell, but I have to forgo that. And with the benefits that ... I'm getting way more benefit with that partner than if I just sold it myself. And then that's where you go into the "stay the lane," because as soon as I go in and I cut the partner out and I use my own services, that partnership and your partners have ecosystems dead in the water?

Taylor Baker:
Well, yeah. I mean, sometimes if you get to the party and you get really excited, and then you forget who invited you to the party, but you have to remember why you're there.

Jason Flores:
Yeah, 100% agreeing.

Taylor Baker:
So now that we know what does work, do you have any examples of a partnership not going the way you wanted? And if that was the case, how did you course correct?

Jason Flores:
Yeah. There's been partnerships where it doesn't really work out. Either we get started, and we just can't seem to find some middle ground ... And then usually it just fizzles out, has kind of been my experience, until we can actually find something that is actually equitable between both companies. The hardest part about getting started is who goes first. So I try to bring something to the relationship, and then if the reciprocity isn't there, or if something doesn't kind of boomerang back, then it's hard to maintain going forward with that partner.

Taylor Baker:
Absolutely. So how exactly do you measure the success of a partnership?

Jason Flores:
The way I measure the success of the partnership is we just tend to do more business together. And it has the trust, as well as the commercials lineup together, and everybody's staying in their own lane. Success is also where I'm bringing them stuff, they're bringing me stuff, and basically both of our businesses are growing.

Taylor Baker:
Great. I read this morning an article about how, of 450 companies surveyed, they said that those companies got 20% of their annual revenue from partnerships. Do you also have any way of measuring how much fiscal growth you're gleaning from partnerships? Or is it more just, "We're still working together and we're obviously both growing from it"?

Jason Flores:
I think it's the latter, where we're still working together, we're all benefiting, but candidly it's ... I haven't really thoroughly measured it, but I can actually see that there's a massive velocity to the business, where if a deal cycle takes a hundred days it's probably cut in half, or you can reduce the sales cycle by a third. That's typically what I've noticed, but as far as a core measure I don't a metric on one thing that I go to. So I think I'm mostly looking at ... When I look at all the deals that I'm doing with partners versus without partners, I notice the velocity of ... They just tend to close a much faster.

Taylor Baker:
Wow. So you're saving time and money, two very valuable assets. So what has been your biggest surprise in building a partnership ecosystem?

Jason Flores:
Not everybody jumps right in right away. Building the ecosystem tends to be a little bit slower. The biggest challenge is who goes first. So I find that if you are going to start to build that partner ecosystem, it's almost like, "What olive branch are you bringing to the table first?" And that actually usually kind of triggers or sparks the relationship. If you want the ecosystem to happen, you kind of have to go first as far as either bringing something, losing a little bit of money in the short term, but with massive gains in the future. You'll have bigger deals, faster deals, and I just look at that as an investment to kick start it.

Taylor Baker:
That's really interesting you say that. I find that most of my guests have said that the hardest thing, when it comes to building a partnership, is in fact just starting that conversation. And it's interesting to look at it as a sense of, "Oh, who's going to make the first move?"

Jason Flores:
Yeah. The thing is is there's ... The partners are all around us; you just got to look. And all these companies that we're selling to, they're already doing business with people, and you just got to understand who they're doing business with. And then how does it help. I guess ... What is the synergy of doing business together? And to me, once you find that, that's an easy conversation to have.

Taylor Baker:
So what advice would you give newcomers about building strategic partnerships?

Jason Flores:
Once you've built strategic partnerships, it's maintaining the trust and then also protecting it in every way possible. If one thing goes wrong, you have to do right by the partner. Things are inevitably going to go wrong, but it's how you handle it. And it's also if you do right by the partner, you'll maintain the partnership. So they will do business with you because ... if you value them and you put them first. As soon as you snub the partner, or you go the wrong direction, it's the kiss of death. And pretty much not only do you lose business with that partner, you're going to lose business with the entire community. And it's a very, very small world. And the worlds we all typically work in, everybody talks. And once you do wrong by one partner, it's pretty much over with all of them.

Taylor Baker:
That is very good advice for relationships in life in general. It's very often not how you act, but how you react to when something happens. So thank you for sharing that.

Jason Flores:
Yeah.

Taylor Baker:
So to wrap things up, do you have anything exciting coming up that you'd maybe like to share with our listeners?

Jason Flores:
Yeah. Actually I'm currently over at WalkMe, and the company is just at an explosive place right now. We actually are building our partnership community, our ecosystem, which is from resale, to implementation, just to give our customers options of how to work with WalkMe. It's an exciting time. We actually have roadshows that are lined up; you can catch up on our website. And we've spanned the different cities, from San Francisco, to New York, to Chicago, to Boston, and those are happening as we speak. I think there's happening one today in New York, and then the next one I believe is in Chicago on October 9th. So you can attend, check out the technology, notice all the different partners that are there as well as customers, and then ... Yeah, give me a ring. I'd be happy to share with you as far as how these partnerships work. And I'm pretty open about it with my customers as well, on how they work.

Taylor Baker:
Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that. Well be sure, listeners, to link to his roadshows for WalkMe in the description. But in the meantime thank you so much, Jason, for taking the time to talk to us. It was such a pleasure having you.

Jason Flores:
You got it. Thank you 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 CoSelling content. Now go get your partnership on.

Similar posts

Relationship-led growth is the future. Join our community.