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The Allbound Podcast #20: Define the Rules of Engagement with Annette Iafrate at Vidyard
March 20, 2017

Define the Rules of Engagement with Annette Iafrate at Vidyard


Annette Iafrate, VP of Alliances and Partners for Vidyard, joins me, Jen Spencer to discuss channel alignment, building trust, defining rules of engagement and more on this episode of The Allbound Podcast.

Vidyard’s partner program includes integrations with some really great technology partners. You also have agencies who partner with you, who are the ones creating great video for their customers to use within your product. Is there one segment of your channel that you’re really focusing on right now, either in terms of net new growth for your channel or existing partner enablement? Or do you feel your efforts are spread equally across the board?

We are leveraging, essentially, all of the partner ecosystem. I think to your point, it’s really more about timing and where to spend time. I think because of the expansive potential of video across markets, we’re probably trying to cover a lot more with partners a lot sooner. As you mentioned, we’ve started with some key strategic alliances, primarily because the first use case for us was in marketing. When you’ve got marketing automation platforms that people are already using, it just makes sense to have those strategic alliances particularly be at height integration. So, we’ve got strong relationships in the marketing automation platform area with companies such as Marketo and Oracle, MC, Salesforce, Pardot, HubSpot, Act-On, and what that does is enables us to jointly extend our reach. People that are already using marketing automation systems can actually boost on their ROI by just augmenting with video, so there’s just a real natural relationship there. So, a different type of relationship. It’s not a reseller, it tends to be more co-marketing, co-selling, but video plays really well there.


And then from an agency perspective, particularly in the marketing use case, many of our potential customers or prospects are already working with a digital marketing agency. They are the trusted advisor to the company. Whether they’re doing full-blown digital strategy, working on content, campaign creation, lead generation activities, a video platform with the hosting, the analytics, the enablement, everything from personalization to interactive video is a perfect augmentation. So, having agencies simply add video through Vidyard is great for them. It increases their business, is great for the end user and gets us into accounts that we might have more difficulty getting into directly. We love working with agencies. In other use cases such as sales, internal communications, even customer support, well, agencies aren’t selling there. If you’re in tech support, you’re not working with a digital agency. So, in that case in addition to going direct we’re looking at leveraging other channels, systems integrators and resellers.

Tweet: Building trust is a process, it's all about relationships & understanding the alignment of businesses - @annette_iafrate #AllboundPodcast Building trust is a process, it’s all about relationships & understanding the alignment of businesses – @annette_iafrate #AllboundPodcast


I find that, as organizations spend all this time identifying the right partner, sort of vetting that partner and on-boarding them, that activation is sometimes a roadblock that people face. What have you done to really earn your partners’ trust and get them to buy in? Especially for some of these entities, like you mentioned martech solutions or agencies where they’ve got a lot of other people they’re partnering with also, right? So, you’re just one slice of the pie. What have you done to really earn their trust and get them on board?

Building trust, it’s a process, it’s all about relationships. So, initially, it’s understanding the alignment of the businesses, because if we can make a case and actually show the business how we can help them build their own business as well as their customers’ business, you can start to build a communication, not just strategy but just ongoing communication about how we can help each other. It has to be this win, win, win, across the board. It’s the ongoing communication, it’s direct communication. Sometimes you’ll vet partners and you kinda look at one another and say, “You know what? This is great but we’re not quite aligned yet. Maybe this is too soon. Let’s maybe refer some business to each other, but we’re not ready yet.” I think it’s also really important that, particularly with things like strategic alliances, you’ve got rules of engagement. Who’s passing a deal to whom? What are the rules when you go in together? And I think overall trust, delivering on what you say you will is important. You said you’re going to do something, are you doing it? If you do something wrong, do you correct it quickly? And it always helps if you can bring them business, some profitable business.

Tweet: It's important that, particularly with strategic alliances, you have rules of engagement - @annette_iafrate #partnersales #AllboundPodcast “It’s important that, particularly with strategic alliances, you have rules of engagement” – @annette_iafrate #partnersales #AllboundPodcast


What are some of the challenges that arise when you’re engaging current partners? And what do you do? What steps have you taken to try to overcome those challenges?

There are a lot of things competing for attention. The biggest challenge is staying top-of-mind. If you’ve done your job vetting them and you’ve got the alignment, it’s how do you stay top-of-mind when they’ve got their own clients, their own crises, and they are selling their own services? Or in the case of agencies, other products. So, how do you stay top-of-mind? Part of that is ongoing communication. How do you help them, or stay in front of them to remind them how Vidyard can contribute to their growth, as well as the growth of their customers. You know, hints and tips. Are there best practices that help them improve what they’re doing, what their customer is doing? Are their partner use cases that are particularly good? I think that the fun thing with the video is we’ve got statistics, you can actually show results and people are happy to talk about them. So, how do you get that in front of them so that they say, “Oh, that’s right. We’re meeting with this customer, we need a way to get better ROI or there’s another project we can do.” So, having a cadence of communication. I think you also brought up a great point in that you’ve got to have multiple contacts. They need multiple contacts within our organization, you need multiple contacts there so it’s not dependent on one person. And again, depending on the size, you can’t do this with every customer, but eventually you sort of tier your partners.

Tweet: [Partnerships are] not a simple process. Everybody's competing for the same eyeballs & the same number of hours in the day- @annette_iafrate  [Partnerships are] not a simple process. Everybody’s competing for the same eyeballs & the same number of hours in the day- @annette_iafrate

So, we assign a customer success manager to each of our partner accounts, so there’s somebody else that’s involved with their business, understands their business, can answer some questions. We do quarterly business reviews. Some of them are virtual, some of them are face-to-face, so we get a better understanding. They understand where we’re going, we understand their business needs. And we discuss things like “Is the business still going the same way? Are there more opportunities or less?” so there are no surprises. We host an annual event called Viewtopia, so, a lot of times, just getting people together and encouraging the networking and understanding how other customers and other partners are working with our product, as well as with our alliance partners helps us stay in front of them. But it’s not a simple process. Everybody’s competing for the same couple of eyeballs and the same number of hours in the day.


To learn more about channel alignment, building trust, defining rules of engagement and more, tune in to episode 20 of The Allbound Podcast.

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Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes