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The Partner Channel Podcast | Season 2, Episode 35

3 Must Have Skills You Need to Crush Your Partner KPIs

Show Synopsis

This week, join host Tori Barlow as she sits down with Christy Oyedeji, Director of Partnerships at AWeber. This episode is all about the skills you need in a partnerships position, and how they can help crush your KPIs.


  • What skills to focus on for a career in partnerships
  • What to do to develop these skills
  • How these skills can assist with growth in partnerships or transitioning to partnerships

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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 Kristy Oladeji, Director of Partnerships at AWeber. Welcome, Christy. We’re excited to have you.

Christy Oyedeji: Thank you for having me.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, we’re talking about something very relatable today. We’re talking about what skills to really focus on, hone in on when growing your career and partnerships. And you know, you come from a really colorful background with really big brand names. Some of the most elite brands in software like MailChimp, Cally and Ziprecruiter. So talk to us about what what led you to partnerships all together.

Christy Oyedeji: So I mean, you take it back all the way to childhood. I hate to do this, but I think I just was born with a very entrepreneurial spirit and also this very strong need to help other people by way of like problem solving or just be like lending a hand. And that’s just always been something that has really resonated with me. For example, like the earliest memories of this I have are I noticed that my older brother was selling chocolate when I was probably like four or five, and I was like, I, that looks fun. I want to do that. And then I asked him and he said, Oh, I’m selling it for my soccer team. And I was like, I guess I’m going to be on the soccer team now and had a blast playing soccer. I love soccer still, but also like selling door to door always just gave me such a rush. And so that drive, seeing people really excited about the things they were, the solution. In this case it was chocolate. And who who doesn’t like chocolate was was nice. And that’s like something that constantly drives me, like, how can I make other people’s lives better with these two pieces? And I think that really has been a common thread throughout every single role that I have had from when I first started working. For real. For real. Not necessarily in these, you know, just kind of door to door types of things. But there was one or two of these or just one or the other of these components in each of those roles. And it wasn’t until I actually stumbled into partnerships, I was on the customer success or customer support team at MailChimp, and I had the opportunity to work with Partnerships team and that’s when it actually clicked and I was like, I could do all the things I love with this particular role. Let me figure out a way how to get onto that team as soon as I possibly can. And once I was on the team, it was that was it.

Tori Barlow: Christy, our listeners can’t see this, but I would have been your number one chocolate buyer because look at all this chocolate I’ve eaten today.

Christy Oyedeji: I have to not keep it in the house because it’s just going to be a mess.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, that’s funny timing, but no, I think that makes sense. I think the partnerships world and being on, especially if you’re in the early days of MailChimp, like building that, being a part of that foundation is so special and so why not get a bigger taste? And you talk about going through the gamut of customer support roles. You’ve also led your own business and have still come back to the partnerships piece. So what was it specifically that drew you back?

Christy Oyedeji: I think it was definitely the impact that I was able to drive at the scale, that I was able to drive it within the roles that I previously had and would have in the future. Startup life is amazing. I miss it a lot and still do side hustles on the side because that’s that’s what we do. But I often found that I got stuck in the more nuts and bolts types of things where Rather than driving impact and showing, Hey, this is this thing can change your life. I was fundraising and getting rejected a lot and also doing a lot of administrative tasks and kind of working on the business rather than doing the cool things, like more creative things that I had to outsource to other people. So that is really what I missed about partnerships. Getting your hands dirty. Being able to be creative within a set of parameters and also having the impact that I can have across departments within an organization or between organizations as well. That was a major driving factor.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. And so with your, I guess, really different background of customer support leading your own business partnerships. What would you say are the three skills or characteristics you believe that folks who are trying to grow in partnerships or transition into partnerships should really have?

Christy Oyedeji: Yeah, Yeah. I think partnerships folks, successful partnerships folks, are are really unique. We are maybe a little bit weird, but I think the real key is in balancing two sides of this characteristic spectrum where you have a very creative person that loves people and loves to get out and mingle, have a good time. But then you also have this person that is very focused, very analytical, can lead, can be a little bit more how you would describe it can be on that like a very regimented side of things and you have to be able to play in the in-between spaces and the creases and crevices. And once you find your groove there, I find that you are going to be a very effective and very powerful partnerships contributing member to the team. Specifically speaking of characteristics, I think you have to be really good with people. You need to be open and engaging. You also need to be able to, on the flip side, be able to establish firm, firm expectations. You need to be able to make sure people are following through with things that they have committed to. You need to be creative, like I mentioned, and identifying solutions and opportunities and just allow your brain to go beyond kind of the the standard boilerplate, let’s, you know, market, let’s do some blog posts.

Christy Oyedeji: What else is there if the further out there you can get them more impactful, you can be but also can you actually execute on that? Can you can you do can you get all the people together? Can you get people behind that idea that you are trying to champion? And then can you actually make sure that that creative idea, that solution that you’ve created can actually come to life? Can you breathe life into it? Those are very different sets of characteristics and typically to different people. But if you can find yourself in the middle, it’s really helpful. And then the last bit there is knowing that you need to be very resourceful and driven. You’re going to hear a lot of no’s, you’re going to find a lot of stumbling blocks. There’s going to be a lot of red tape that you have to go through. And being able to continue forward without losing a lot of enthusiasm will help help you be more successful in this role. And I think that was a quote from Winston Churchill that I just find.

Tori Barlow: It’s very inspirational to see.

Christy Oyedeji: I try.

Tori Barlow: I love the one where you said get used to being told no. I think that also has a lot of elements of sales, which is part of this role. And when I think of a lot of the challenges that this industry, if you’re leading a partner program, if you’re an icy or you manage five partner people, it’s hard to prove the value of partnerships to execs. That’s what I’m at least hearing is is challenging. So I think it’s like a how do you get how do you respond to getting told know either from actual partners or trying to do a new initiative and also getting told know from your internal team, like what are the ways to maneuver around that? I mean, do you find yourself coming up against that in these roles, too?

Christy Oyedeji: Oh, absolutely. Especially as you move into more of a leadership role, you’re going to share know a lot. I think the key there in moving through those no’s is listening to the reasoning behind the know and kind of like understanding what’s being, what’s being left unsaid and trying to cater the solution for those specific things. I think a no is just another form of feedback. And honestly, if you’re if you’re able to say, okay, this person said no because of X, Y and Z, how can we address this and make them feel more comfortable and often find that those no’s are maybe people are not understanding the full scope of what you’re trying to. Mean as well. So I think just kind of listening, trying to understand those underlying concerns or hesitations and then addressing those more specifically when you come back around and say, Hey, I heard you, these are the things we’re going to do to mitigate those issues that you were concerned about. Another piece of helpful advice that I was given a long, long time ago was to when you’re speaking with leadership, it’s kind of soft launching the idea ahead of the actual pitch and getting the feedback ahead of time, or just making sure that that person is familiar with the concept goes a long way to helping you pave a path to a yes ultimately, and then try smaller. If it’s a big swing, try a smaller swing as a test, pitch it as a test rather than this big initiative. And then there’s there’s less to lose there, I think. And people can get behind that a little bit better.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, more like a pilot versus like we’re banking on this source revenue from this channel all through next year piloted get a win and then yeah, that’s a really good point. And for the three characteristics or skills that you mentioned, how do folks master these or at least put into practice?

Christy Oyedeji: Yeah, I am a big proponent of surrounding yourself with people that know more than you do. And so I am super thankful that there’s these all of these partnership networks that are popping up around the community. It’s really helpful. A lot of us are in multiple of these networks, so we just get to talk, talk to and see each other all the time. But there’s a lot of great information, resources, guidance, just other people that understand the full breadth of what you’re experiencing in partnerships, which can be really helpful and kind of getting yourself prepared and working a little bit more, a little bit better with people practice, get involved with partnerships, activity as soon as you can if you have an interest. The one thing that’s always going to be true with partnerships teams is that we are always going to be understaffed. And so any any help, understaffed and under-resourced at any help that we can get or likely going to accept it. And so that’s that’s exactly how I got involved. I saw a MailChimp does the integrations. We’re doing really cool things and I wanted to be involved. So I asked and the team said, Yes, yes, we will take your help. And I start. I got to experience everything from sourcing, from ideation all the way through execution. And those people kept asking me back and so I got more and more experience in these really tactical skills. And I think the other piece there, while you’re engaging with these teams, if you have access to them, is observe the processes, the themes that they’re chasing down and the communication style that they use and then begin to incorporate that into your every day.

Christy Oyedeji: It’s kind of weird, but you can practice taking a no and turning it into a maybe or a yes. You know, you can practice pacing on how you ask for things from people or that sort of thing. Practice is huge and you’re not going to get it right the first time. Even when you do score a partnership role, be kind to yourself. Let yourself learn. Those are key pieces there. I touched on this a little bit earlier, but asking for feedback and not taking that feedback personally is key. Once you’re able to kind of distance yourself from the feedback and the initial like natural sense of, Oh, this is a rejection of this idea that I had, and that means it’s a rejection of me. That’s not the case. The industry is constantly evolving, situations are constantly evolving, relationships are constantly evolving, and the feedback that we get can ultimately support some really creative solutions. So take that as a gift. It is hard practice getting knows, practice getting that feedback, and then using that feedback to make your position, your pitch, your whatever. It ends up being stronger in the long run. Yeah, that’s about it. That’s a step up from my high horse.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, that’s a hard one. I think it’s applicable for every role on the note piece, and I think if you proactively seek feedback, then you’re more apt to know accepting the know or accepting that critical feedback as opposed to having your manager or someone else come to you reactively. So yeah, that’s a that’s a good one I’m going to take note of as well. Thank you to our guest, Kristy, Director of Partnerships at Weber. And thank you to you both Senators 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.