If you’re running a software development agency, it shouldn’t be too hard to grow welcome to managed coder  podcast tune in every week to find out how to grow your software development agency and help you to solve your day-to-day problems with 20 plus years experience running an agency, please welcome  your host shahed Islam. 

Shahed : Hey, Brian, welcome

Brian: Hello Shahed,

Shahed: Happy New Year

Brian: doing great.

Shahed: Thank you. Great great. So it was very nice talking to you a few weeks ago. I thought I Our conversation was very interesting and I like to invite you to our podcast. Can you introduce yourself a little bit and tell me about your company?

Brian: Absolutely. My name’s Brian gerstner and I’m the president of white label IQ. We focus on working with agencies as strategic Partners to help them scale and in doing that we bring a level of expertise to agencies that we believe they’re not able to handle in-house or to maintain a sustained in house. It creates a great Synergy for us so we can really kind of help clients bring that kind of sophistication to their end clients in a way that they cannot do on their own.

Shahed: That’s great. Great our conversation around strategic partnership and that time it’s probably in something new for a lot of agency Owner who are trying to grow and so far my first question would be what is strategic partnership, you know, if you have to explain it to someone who doesn’t who doesn’t have any idea about it.

Brian: No, absolutely. It’s it’s like a lot of business. It’s finding somebody whom you can develop trust with because at the base of it businesses Trust, You know from that point, it’s finding someone who compliments you really well. Finding someone who has resources who has skill sets industry knowledge that you don’t necessarily have but because of the trust in the relationship you can build you can become a greater than the Some. from that It’s about being able to take that to Market. If you have a specialty if you have something that you do very well. And you have a partner who has something they also specialize very well and you complement each other. Then that opens up the doors you can approach more people you can approach more clients. It gives you a lot more opportunity to be able to go in the market and really deliver that value because at the end of the day, it’s not really about what you do. It’s about the value. You can bring to your own client. You can’t just sell things you have to sell you have to sell that value and you have to have a way to describe it and the Partnerships kind of give you a way to expand that description expand that value.

Shahed: Can you give me since we are our audiences are mostly web development, software development agencies, you know, they are niching down a specific group of people. But can you give us some examples who would be a strategy partner for a software development company in India or Bangladesh or even in US or in Europe in Netherland? What would be?

Brian: no, I mean some of the key areas are as a development agency, you know a lot of times maybe you focus on WordPress. Maybe you focus on e-commerce. Maybe you focus on design or SEO, you  know, those are all very Niche areas. So if you really want to do well and you bring the expertise, you know, it’s you you can have a lot more power by talking about how you specialize in one area instead of going out to somebody and telling it. Hey, I do this and I do that and I do this. So if you are an agency, who knows what you do well, and you’re very confident about what you do possibly and an SEO agency might need a really strong web partner a web partner might need an SEO agency because that’s very content and strategy driven. You might have somebody who’s just doing WordPress, but you need help moving into like say dot net or another technical area or even if you’re somebody who’s doing WordPress, maybe even having somebody who brings a bit of expertise into e-commerce so that you can be more aggressive into e-commerce the complement there between WordPress and e-commerce may not be as obvious, but eCommerce is so critical to a business.That you really have to have additional capabilities like the ability to be 24/7 available. If the site goes down the ability to you know, understand the requirements for getting payment gateways to be able to ensure that, you know site stability. Is there Website Maintenance and just the type of even you may even find a great opportunity in strategic Partnerships in partnering with somebody who has great account management who has great onboarding who has great client relationships. So you can provide those technical skill sets against somebody who really has the relationships that you need to really have that reach out into the market. So a key part about strategic relationships is honest is being honest with yourself. What are you good at and having the strength and confidence to just to focus on those things. You have really quality expertise deliverability on In just being able to demonstrate that. Yeah, that’s hard. Okay. I mean

Shahed: Very well said i I can agree with you so much because in last 19 years running my agency, I think so many times. We have done strategic partnership with and a competitor also because I found out that they have a very good sales for developer, Unity developer. Yeah. I cannot go and hire someone so reaching out to them and working and client, you know relationship, you know, just with your name on White Label. A lot of time white level can be done. So my question would be if I am running an agency with five 10 or 20 people. How do I find a strategic partner do I go get work First or do I make a relationship first?

Brian: Um III tell this to our clients all the time you you really need to start developing the relationships with strategic partners and it’s how we’ve grown there. There are times where maybe we could have handled it in-house but we use the opportunity to grow a relationship. Because when you need somebody you need to know they’re There. And strategic Partnerships don’t just happen out of magic like it’s not like walking into a store and purchasing as I said in the beginning. It’s about trust you need to trust that person on the other side. Are they going to deliver do they have the skill sets? You nee they reliable? Are they trustworthy? Are they honest with you? So, you know taking the time to invest in that partner in to invest into the relationship to bring them work so that you can still you know be top of mind with them is important. From in the reason the relationship is the leads is because if you have that trust all of a sudden you’re way more confident to go after the business. You know, you have that person you’re going to be more aggressive about it. Just out of human nature. If you’re not confident, it comes across people see it. You know and the beauty too is once you have that relationship.Bring the partner with you on those meetings bring them in. Let let be honest about it. You have to be vulnerable to be in a strategic relationship to bring that person in to let them speak to their expertise to tell the client at the end that you’re taking care of them. Because you know you bought you brought the bread the best with you.I’m the best here. They’re the best there and that that type of vulnerability and honestly also goes a long way to build trust.

Shahed: And that does not mean that you Outsource everything it is a little bit different than oh, I started a few person company and I outsource everything to everyone everybody will do that job. It is your core client base. Your core team has to be there. You just like There are certain weaknesses. You have it. You look for some someone, right?

Brian: No, absolutely. And also we do it a lot. Also we have in-house our core what we do and just like other things like, you know, we want to grow a little more into doing more sophisticated platform work and maybe you know, we need more expertise And  not Js.You know, I don’t have enough work right now to support one or multiple positions and not .js in addition to that if I just brought one person on Staff. That one person needs to take vacations. They need to they get sick. They have a life outside of it. So when we when we’re growing into new verticals and areas, we find a partner we find an agency partner particularly because When I have someone who has a problem.People don’t work in a vacuum. They need other people in that agency to work through issues with so when I’m working with an agency partner, the individual person has the resources available to talk to the person next to them to figure out the problem and that that brings more confidence to us and it allows us to bring more quality to the table. And here’s the thing about being honest is these are just these are Partnerships. This is business, you know, as a strategic partner, you know, one day that your partner they’re success might mean that they grow and you help them get to that point. But maybe you know two five ten years from then they build that capacity and house because they’ve gone they’ve gone great. You know, that’s not a bad thing. Mm-hmm. You you just demonstrated that you can be a strategic partner and that you know how to do that and look what I just did. I just helped my client grow and just be successful to the point where they’re doing great. This is not like a One-Shot thing you did. This is a skill. This is like something you it’s not like you do it once and you have to be worried about them going away. You need to know how to do that and you need to figure out how to do it multiple times.

Shahed: So can you give us actually three-step process? Like how do you start? What is that next three step for any agency? Who’s looking for partners on strategic side of it?

Brian: Yeah, I mean the first is just to invest the time start reaching out just start doing discover calls and just tell people. Hey, I’m I’m I have some big growth goals in front of me, you know, one of my goals is to do XYZ and just start going out going to LinkedIn set up five 10 20 minute conversations just to talk to people you know and you know and once you like that’s the first step and then when you identify somebody you feel you have some chemistry with because right at the end of the day, it’s you know, like there’s a million people could do the same things we have but if we get along and we have chemistry we can we can build on top of that. The second one is to start finding work to start finding ways to collaborate to start sharing information about how you do what you would do. Even if it’s just advice saying hey, I just want to tell you I found this cool thing and here’s what I’m doing with it. That might be beneficial to you. If you have the right partner, they’re going to come back and start doing the same thing with you and you’re going to start to develop a communication. Okay?You know from there bring work, maybe it’s a small piece of work. Maybe you land a really big job, but you’ve already identified people so start going to people and start make putting yourself out there. Start working with them. The third step in developing a strategic partnership is to really is to build that alignment. Okay is to go a little bit farther Beyond projects Beyond a transactional relationship and actually start looking for a little bit of love telling them. Okay. I think we can do more. I think we can do more Together. And then start finding opportunities together. That’s beyond the transaction start going we can do this together. Let’s start bringing our resources and go after bigger game. Let’s start hunting after larger accounts together.

Shahed: One area of concern for a lot of other agencies. I have seen that they are thinking about that. If I go ahead and share my client information to another strategic partner. They may take my business away. You know and that is a valid concern. So the legal side, how do you bet a you know strategic partner? How do you protect yourself so that you are legally protected at least some level? I know we can never protect ourselves 100% but what are the steps you can take? So at least there is a white Level side of it that terms white level maybe something you want to explain.

Brian: Um, you know as we talked about earlier trust doesn’t come easy it takes time you earn trust. But one way is look for agencies who do this with other people already look for someone who’s already has a proven track record and having strategic Partnerships. Because if if that agency has multiple strategic Partnerships, they did not get there by being dishonest. You know they have and maybe even, you know, see if they’re willing to share references.Um, there is risk involved there always is you know, and you can put as many contracts as you want in place and the day is still paper.But if you really want to that find somebody who’s already doing it find someone who’s already been successful at it with other agencies and just becoming one of their partners.

Shahed: um, that’s great. That’s great. Any other advice for agency owner from you on the Strategic partnership or anything else on 2020. They should think about.

Brian: the the key for it is know what you’re good at and focus if you’re not if you’re not niching down.

Um, then you’re never going to be great at anything and you’re not going to be remembered for anything. You need to have a focus to do well in these markets because there’s so much noise. There’s so many people out there and and clients these days. That they’re not signing up with one person anymore. They’re bringing someone on for SEO. They’re bringing someone for development. They’re bringing on someone for another thing and they expect you to play well. 

Shahed: Thank you. Thank you Brian. It was very nice talking to you. Hopefully you will welcome you back again with lot of other things. Thank you. What is the best way to contact you?

Brian: Through our website white label IQ.com or find me on LinkedIn too. We produce a lot of content and hopefully if you go there you’ll  find it helpful.

Shahed: Thank you, Brian. Thank you. Take care.

Brian: Take care.

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