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The Partner Channel Podcast | Season 2, Episode 25

Moving from Sales to Partnerships in Your Career with Teddy Ludmer

Show Synopsis

Join host Tori Barlow and guest Teddy Ludmer, Head of Partnerships at Pento, for our Wednesday episode of the Partner Channel Podcast. Together, the two talk about the transition from a sales-based position to a career in partnerships and the skills that can transfer over.

Highlights:

  • What to be mindful of when looking to make the transition from sales to partnerships
  • How to identify opportunities within your organization to make the switch and how to capitalize on them
  • What can be done to progress in your career 

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The Script

Tori Barlow: Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, The Voice of the Channel. I’m Tori Barlow, VP of Marketing at Allbound. Excited to be here with Teddy Ludmer, Head of Partnerships at Pento. Welcome, Teddy. We’re excited to have you.

Teddy Ludmer: Hey, Tori, super excited to be here as well.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, this one’s going to be a great one. You head up partnerships at Pento. And by the way, Pento is a fully automated payroll software, one of the first in the UK. You have been in the UK for ten years. So I hear a little bit of the accent. And you built your career in startups. A little bit of a bonus fun fact about Teddy when she first moved to the UK. You lived in a shed?

Teddy Ludmer: Yeah, it’s a funny one where you think it’s going to be a proper flat and then when you get there at the viewing, it’s behind the house. It was a studio shed, so everything was self contained. It wasn’t like I had to find a bathroom somewhere else. It was a different location, but it was just very much behind a bigger house and three studio sheds of people had just moved to the UK from different places living back there. So it was a fun, a fun month. Good way to start my journey here.

Tori Barlow: Hopefully you upgraded to the garden center after that then. 

Teddy Ludmer: Exactly. Moved into the house.

Tori Barlow: Great. Well, today we’re all about moving from sales into a partnerships role. And I’ve heard a lot about this recently, Teddy, where folks start their career in sales, for example, maybe kind of climb the ladder as and SER or AE, whatever have you and then kind of realize, you know, I like this partnerships thing and it’s a different type of sales tactic. So I think this is going to be a great conversation. And curious what you’ve been up to at Pento, what you were doing when you decided to make the move?

Teddy Ludmer: Yeah, for sure. So I joined Pento just over two years ago, almost two and a half now as the first proper commercial hire. So they had just launched in the UK, the founder was selling into the market and they realized it’s time to hire a salesperson. My background is actually more in commercial account management, so it was very much product relationship driven but with high revenue targets each each quarter. So very sales focused too. So when I jumped into this role, I came at it with a different kind of mindset. I worked super closely with the product team and the CS team, and when we started, when I started selling, we had only a few integrations in place and I realized actually if I work closely with our integrations, I can get more insights into my deals. I can make our sales cycle a little bit more stickier, getting more insights and information from those integrations. So that gave me that kind of light bulb moment of, “Oh, this is actually pretty interesting working with our integrations.” And I started to see more and more, whether that be on LinkedIn or different podcast and articles about partnerships, it suddenly became more and more trendy. So I started to do a bit more research into it and I realized there’s a huge opportunity for Pento to start having a function of their own within the business. So that’s kind of where the idea sprung.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. And so did you stay as a sales rep for awhile leading up sales and partnerships? How did you even bring that to execs like, Hey, we should try this?

Teddy Ludmer: Yeah, it’s a good question. So I started off as an AE, like I said, so being an individual contributor and then moved into a sales lead role. So managing the account execs. But once I started to see that we had good relationships with integrations, I started to do it a little bit like a side hustle. So when we had a sponsorship partnership, I looked after the referrals that came from there, as well as the leads that came organically from our integration. So there wasn’t a proper dedicated resource, but we kind of looked at it as we went and as and when, when we needed to. So it wasn’t a hybrid role as very much sales focus with always, I guess a finger in that pot of “Oh, this is interesting, let’s keep this within my remit because I do find it quite interesting.” And the more I looked into it, the more I realized that the, the huge on top revenue of if we put a lot of focus and dedication, there’s a huge business development side, product development side, but also revenue source when it comes to growth and marketing as well. So once that came to fruition, in my mind, I did a bit of digging, did a few impromptu questions to a few people on LinkedIn. I presented it to our head of sales and our found one of our founders to say, Hey, look, I think this is a huge opportunity here. I’d love to be the one to do this for us with the product knowledge I have, the sales knowledge that I have, I could really hit the ground running, develop the relationships with the few integrations we had and help map out what partnerships looks like for for Pento.

Tori Barlow: Okay. That’s really great. So you do you feel like a good kind of foot in the door for anyone maybe thinking about this or, you know, finding opportunities within their organization, a good partner type to even start with is that tech piece, the integrations piece. Because it’s already kind of forming in a sense, right?

Teddy Ludmer: Yeah, exactly. So for us, we integrate with HR software, for example. So there’s a huge opportunity for me to reach out to a rep at let’s say Hi Bob or Sony or Bamboo, for example, and say, Hey, I have a lead. They’re looking for an HR and payroll provider together. Let’s go in and as a best of both worlds and pitch together type of thing. But then there’s also where there is, let’s say, a product gap, for example, where I would get questions about expenses or global payroll where they looking to hire, let’s say one or two people abroad. Pento doesn’t support that, which is something we want to focus on payroll and payroll alone. So I’d go and reach out to other businesses and start kind of partnerships and referral partnerships there. So when I was selling, I was like, you know, this is a great way to keep the credibility within a product and make me look more like a trusted advisor because I have recommendations and, and partnerships up my sleeve to recommend when a prospects ask those questions.

Tori Barlow: And if folks are in sales, they’re kind of looking for maybe a different type of sales role because partnerships at the end of the day, still has a lot of characteristics from sales. So what do you feel like folks should be mindful of if they’re interviewing for a partnership role coming from sales? What qualities do you feel like you still embellish in this role?

Teddy Ludmer: Yeah, I think having that that hands on and that strategic mindset that a sales rep would have. Being able to map out your book of business, understand your pipeline, I think really transfers super well into partnerships. The added bonus that I really find interesting is the relationship building aspect. So you’re building your champions within the businesses, just like you would be doing in your sales deals. But you’re doing that within your partners, so you’re trying to set your business apart and yourselves apart to your, let’s say, your competitors. A lot of times, especially in SaaS partnerships, are agnostic. So your partners can be partnering with your competition and you’re partnering with their competition. So it’s super important to be able to build that trust and build that rapport with your with your partners, to set yourselves apart from the from your competitors that they also work with. So I think what’s super transferable is that strategic approach to mapping out your book, creating and building your champions, and then multithreading within those as well.

Tori Barlow: And then what do you feel like has been the biggest gap between sales and partnerships or something that folks can maybe practice or look out for when they make the transition?

Teddy Ludmer: Yeah, I think Partnerships takes time. So when I was doing a bit of due diligence before I moved into the role, I did a lot of messaging on LinkedIn where I saw people moving from sales to partnerships and I was like, “Hey, can we have a chat? I’d love to hear about your journey.” Which I definitely recommend, by the way. A lot of people told me that partnerships isn’t going to happen overnight. It does take time. So I think it’s about managing your own expectations and understanding what that funnel looks like and then also managing that up. So I think it’s super important to show, yeah, we’re making an impact, but this is what impact looks like and understanding how long that could take. So whether it be three months, six months, nine months, I’m really mapping that out and especially when you are looking and assessing a new opportunity, trying to find how you can hit the ground running, but also think about those long term goals as well as short term.

Tori Barlow: Okay. Yeah. And before you made this, the transition, were you also carrying your quota and was it tapering off as you took on more partnership responsibilities? How do people balance that?

Teddy Ludmer: It’s a good question. I think from my side, I was quite lucky where I had a very sales specific role and then I slowly did the handover where I didn’t have a partnerships target until I moved into the role, which was great. And I think that’s because had a very fine split before the Head of Sales took on all of the AE’s. And what I was working on and I was able to start fresh. I know a few people that did a hybrid role where they had a target for sales and a target for partnerships. I think it’s tough. It’s definitely doable, but it’s tough to have both. But I think that’s where you can start using and building those relationships with partners to help close your sales book. So start looking at which deals are in your quota that you can bring on partners and help kind of give yourself a step up for that next step. Right? So I think having that is is super helpful. One of our partners, she was working on the sales team as well and moved into partnerships too. And she did just that. So she worked super closely with me on her deals, but as an AE but with a partnerships hat on as well.

Tori Barlow: So transitioning from sales and the partnerships is something you can check off. Building a partner program at a company is something you can check off. What are you guys up to right now on the partnerships front at Pento?

Teddy Ludmer: It’s a good question. So right now we are looking at attribution right now. So we were we’re looking at partner source versus partner influence. So trying to understand the difference between the two. I mean, we understand the difference, but really getting granular and understanding the stats behind it. So how many partners will it take to close a deal quicker and what does that look like? We’re getting the sales team involved as well, so we’ll soon be launching a spiff to incentivize and create the behavior with the sales team to start giving back to partners. So for every piece of insight or any link up on a deal, we’ll give them a point. And then at the end of the month, we’ll tell you that up for for a prize. So we’re trying to kind of incentivize more behavior that will promote partner influenced opportunities as well. So for us, it’s all about attribution.

Tori Barlow: Wow. Going from no partnerships program to now figuring out how to optimize and tweak. Thank you to our guest, Teddy, head of partnerships at Pento. And thank you to you, the listeners for joining us here at the Partner Channel podcast. If you like what you heard, subscribe to our podcast episodes wherever you like to listen to podcasts.