We met Ryan at Agency Connect, a cocktail party series hosted by the Cloud Software Association to bring agencies together to talk shop and build relationships with software partners.
Our host is Sunir Shah, CEO of AppBind, which makes it easy for digital agencies to sell more services to more clients by bringing the managing and expensing of subscriptions under control.
Thank you to Ryan Jones, Founder & CEO, Refuel Creative, a digital marketing agency and Hubspot partner, located in Adelaide, Australia. For the past four years, they ahve served customers throughout Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
Refuel Creative partners with software companies extensively, including Adroll, AirCall, BigCommerce, CallRail, CloudFlare, Drift, Google, HubSpot, Microsoft, Sendgrid, Shopify, and Wordstream. They have also become AppBind customers. Of any digital marketing agency, they have some of the most extensive experience I know building a business with software.
Who has been the most disappointing software partner you've had?
Treating us as just a sales channel, not a partner.
I think the most disappointing ones treat you as just another sales channel rather than a partner. It's one thing to say that you are partner, but it's another thing to exhibit that give and take of a partnership. They just want to sell to as many people as possible. I know we all, to an extent, want to sell to as many people as possible, but as far as the partners here, we want to know that if we're recommending a software provider that our client will be treated in a fair and equitable way.
If we have a client that we feel like is a good fit for the solution and they can't make the time to talk to us about it, they make it difficult to onboard the client.
Taking over our client
They want to basically take on the relationship with the client. They don't want to work with us to manage the solution. Well, they don't want to work with us.
Who has been the best software partner you've had?
A lot of our clients are a little less daunted if the software is a brand that they can recognize and know other people use when they're investing in. Take something like HubSpot. That might be a very large investment for them compared to their other marketing costs. So they'd like to be able to ask other people and talk about it.
After sales support
The best partners work with us not just on the sales side, but also on the usage side. Hubspot is a really good example of that. They have people that make sure we get the most out of the tools for our clients. That means that if we do have a completely ridiculous, outrageous idea of something that we want to do on the platform, they can generally track somebody down who can talk to us about how we would do that with the system.
Communicate with Slack
We work with a couple of providers where we chat directly with them on Slack. That just makes it easier to work with them. When an opportunity comes up, they're front of mind It's a relationship that we enjoy working with them rather than feeling like they're just they're just out for blood.
Shout out to Cradle that have been fantastic to work with over the last six months. It's easy for us to start to use their platform because they're providing us with trial licenses that we can use for own R&D. So we don't have a huge investment to get into their platform to get experience with their software.
Any advice for software companies reaching out to you to become a partner?
Solutions, not software
A lot of people would not like to hear this but nobody wants to buy your software! People don't want to buy a piece of software. They want to buy a solution to a problem.
Costs add up
While the software as a service software is so much more affordable than it's been in the past, you can exhibit this death by a thousand cuts with many micro transactions on a monthly basis that add up to these enormous amounts of money.
Tell me honestly who is your ideal customer
Who are the people that you feel are the best fit for your software? When we feel like we have a client that is appropriate, can we easily reach out to you and ask, "This is what the client needs to do. Is this something that your software can do?" If your software can't do it, don't tell me that it can. Tell me that it can't. Tell me that you're working on it and you'll let me know when you can. The worst thing you can do there is promise that you can do it and then find that it doesn't work at all.
Where does your product fit in our business?
Tell us where it fits in with what we're already doing. You know, if you spent four seconds on our website, you'd be able to work that out. If it does replace something that we're already using that we're already promoting on our website, you need to tell us why.
And a big bugbear of mine being in Australia and being the other side of the world, do not expect me to get up at 5:00 a.m. If you can stay back at work an hour and we can get a more attractive time then we'll get along much better.