Podcast

Creating Partnerships to Skyrocket Growth & Community with Brendan Dubbels of Ontraport.

Brendan Dubbels – Ontraport

Ontraport expert case study for everlast epoxy image
Name: Brendan Dubbels

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bdubbs

Company Name: Ontraport

Company Website: https://ontraport.com/

Short Bio:

Brendan has been with Ontraport since it’s startup roots (AKA OfficeAutopilot/Sendpepper). He’s actively managed several different portions of the business. This gives him experience in low level QA, accounting/billing, sales, technical support, advertising, deliverability, and social media marketing to name a few. Critical thinking and being able to come up with creative solutions keeps him inspired.

Show Notes

In today’s episode, I’m speaking with Brendan Dubbels, who is head of partnerships at Ontraport. Ontraport is an all-in one sales and marketing automation tool for SMEs. Continuing with the season one podcast theme of sales – we talked about how building great partnerships is a great strategy for long term growth and community building.

I hope you enjoy the conversation and please let me know if you’ve got any feedback or questions about the show. You can always hit me up at [email protected]

If you enjoy the episode, please take 10 seconds to leave a review on Apple Podcasts or like, share and follow with your favourite podcatcher!

Brendan’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bdubbs
Website: https://ontraport.com/

Transcription

Sam Wilcox:

Brendan Dubbels from Ontraport, how are you doing today, my friend?

Brendan Dubbels:

I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on Sam.

Sam Wilcox:

No worries, mate. Always a pleasure to chat to somebody I already know as a friend that I hung out with, we can talk, we can geek out. We can talk about some sales and business stuff. What better way to spend 30, 40 minutes?

Brendan Dubbels:

Totally.

Sam Wilcox:

So why don’t you give everybody a little bit of a heads up in terms of what you have done in the past, because I know you’ve been at Ontraport for a long time, so you’ve had a… What’s the term I’m looking for? A decorated career or something along those lines.

Brendan Dubbels:

Decorated, I like that. Yeah. So I’ve been with Ontraport, it’ll be 12 years in May.

Sam Wilcox:

Long time.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. I couldn’t even drink a beer at the bar when I started. I’ve been on a few different teams. I started off in customer support. Then I helped start the email deliverability team, was our sales manager for a minute, was in charge of our client experience team for a while. And then I’ve moved into the marketing team to help with some of our marketing campaigns. And now I’m looking to start working with our partners more. So really figuring out one, how to make sure our partners are getting the most out of our relationship. And then two, figuring out how I can help support them in selling Ontraport.

Sam Wilcox:

So when you say partners specifically, do you mean us, the certified consultants? Or do you mean the certified consultants and others? What does partners mean?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. So a little bit of both, the way that I look at it is it’s in the sort of the support and promotion categories. So I’m not going to be doing, for example, Matt is going to be in charge of teaching our consultants, making sure all the testing’s up to date, making sure the curriculum is good because that’s what he’s really got a knack for. He was a professor at the city college here. That’s his thing. He’s really good at making courses that help transport the information from one line to another.

Sam Wilcox:

Right.

Brendan Dubbels:

And then for me, I’m going to be here more in the supportive promotional category. So how do we position Ontraport as a partner? How can we sell more accounts? What do our partners need? Is there a functionality that they’re hearing in the marketplace that we might need to implement and really being that bridge between our partners and Ontraport as a whole?

Sam Wilcox:

So that might be, as I noticed, obviously, with receiving emails from you guys, you did a recent partnership promotion with Deadline Funnel, for example. So partners to you guys could just be promotional campaigns done with complimentary services to kind of bolt onto Ontraport and different brands like that, that kind of well-known in the market.

Brendan Dubbels:

Exactly. Yeah. We’re always looking for ways to really help our customers sell more and help their businesses flourish.

And so for example, promoting Deadline Funnel, that was a no brainer. It’s a really great tool, Jack Born from Deadline Funnel, amazing guy. And it’s something that our customers can add on to their Ontraport accounts and help increase their conversion rates. And when we’re doing those types of promotion, we’re not even actually taking any kind of affiliate cut or anything like that. We’re just kind of helping get the word out there about services from our partners that can help our customers.

Sam Wilcox:

I presume that they would be promoting that promotion as well though, to that list, right?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yep.

Sam Wilcox:

So necessarily, it’s more about the exposure to their audience as well as the vice versa for them, right?

Brendan Dubbels:

Totally.

Sam Wilcox:

So it’s a win-win for them, isn’t it? How do you approach this kind of partnership mentality then? The reason I’m asking and I know you’re relatively new to this position, so there are no experts. We don’t need to pretend like we’re both experts here, but I’m interested in this topic specifically because of what we do as a business. And I’ve had a little bit of a strategy change over the course of the last couple of months. So what we used to do is we used to go out and try and find client after client, after client. And then it’s like you get into this kind of up and down cycle of big projects coming in and then there’s a gap. A big project comes in and you’re riding the waves of clients in and out.

What I think is a better approach now that we’ve really niched down our solution to be focused on a very specific part of the customer journey is what you were saying, approaching other companies to partner with that offer complimentary services in our instance, to kind of deliver on other parts of the customer journey. So because we’re focused on leads to sales, we don’t do lead gen. So it would be good for us to find people that do lead gen to partner with. So that’s kind of my thinking around it right now. One of the things that is difficult, I think is trying to approach partners in the right way, is trying to get into conversations with partners, especially when you’re coming from a lesser known brand. You might find this a little bit easier because you’ve got the Ontraport powerhouse brand behind you, but what’s your take on that? How do you approach these partnership conversations and how do they generally go?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. I mean, for me, I think that the most important part of the conversation is really the intro and the ideology behind it. And so one of the very first things, for example, when we did this webinar with Deadline Funnel, one of the very first things that Jack talked about was making sure that there was good content and good value. And so this webinar that he did, even if someone were to watch the webinar and they weren’t to follow through on getting a Deadline Funnel account or getting an entrepreneur account, they leave the webinar better for it. They understand a lot more about the psychology of sales. They understand the importance of creating urgency and the effect that it’s going to have on their sales process.

And so making sure that it’s not just about selling accounts, but really truly at its core about educating the viewer is what’s really, really important because at the end of the day, if we have leads watching that video and they don’t buy Ontraport, if they’re more educated about the sales process, we have now positioned ourselves as someone that is a giver. We want to give them information. 

Sam Wilcox:

Putting value. Right.

Brendan Dubbels:

Them with their business, which is really, the truth of the situation. We don’t push any high pressure sales tactics. We are here to help small businesses remove the burden of technology. And so it’s important that kind of carries through.

Sam Wilcox:

Carries through into the partnerships.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

So I suppose from your side of things, maybe you have to be… Because I presume you’re approaching other companies to do these partnerships with right now. I presume that’s kind of what’s happening, but I suppose that even though you’re doing the outreach, you’ve still got to qualify them as a good partner once you get into a conversation so that they still stick to that methodology around providing value first and it not being about, okay, well what’s in it for you and what’s in it for me type of situation.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah, exactly. And you can really feel that from the moment you start talking with someone. You can tell right off the bat, this person is looking to teach or this person is looking to hardcore style and there are two very different conversations.

Sam Wilcox:

From a sales perspective, just tying this in to sales because this is obviously this is a sales method of growth. So if we’re thinking about sales, it’s like, okay, well revenue growth for the business. Let’s say partnerships is one of those opportunities that I would lump into sales in general. Right?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

You’ve had a little bit of kind of experience with the sales process at Ontraport as well. We actually spoke with Casey on a couple of podcasts ago. Casey Hill from Bonjoro. So he was talking a little bit about the sales process at Ontraport. Is it managed differently than I imagine? I supposed it has to be, right? Because if we get techy for a minute here, it’s a process. You’re not just dropping partners into the same process and pipeline as you would be with customers. So are these partnership conversations built into pipelines and processes or is it a very much more ad hoc situation for you at the minute?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. So Ontraport it’s a unique and really amazing situation. We’ve never spent a whole lot of time actively promoting and fine tuning our partnership process. And we’ve been very, very fortunate that a large part of our business growth is that people can enter the platform and they like it so much that they tell their friends so that’s been very fortunate for us. As far as how we manage new partners coming in, we do have a separate partnership funnel if people want to apply to become a partner. We’ve also got, when people sign up, we have a little button, it says, “Oh, I’m an agency.” And then that’ll let us know, “Oh, this might be a good partner.” And we can reach out to them that way.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. Right. Okay. So you all kind of segment them on the way in to see if they would be a fit for a partnership opportunity, right?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

How big of a part of Ontraport has it been? The partnership side of things? Because I know consultants play kind of a pretty big part in the community. Obviously I’m a consultant and I hang around with other consultants as well, built some really good friendships out of the community as well. So even from a sales perspective, if you’re providing the ability for people to come in and become a partner, but also be a part of the community, that’s also a really good thing. But how big of a part of the entrepreneur journey would you say the partnership side of things has been?

Brendan Dubbels:

I mean, it’s been huge. I can’t get into specific numbers. And honestly, the community portion that you mentioned is really second to none because our community has generated such a value add that if you talk to most of our certified consultants or you talk to our larger refers out there, almost always unanimously, the biggest benefit is the community, because I don’t want to say accidentally, but we’ve curated this community of people that actually care about their customers that care about growing their businesses. And there just aren’t that many places where you can find a community that’s that tight knit from all over the world that met over some piece of automation software.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. You know what I find interesting about that as well and I think this has a big part to play in it is that if you at for example, infusion soft partnership program or HubSpot partnership program or active campaign partnership program, these are all things that you can do online. You pay a certain amount of money. They’ll get you into a cohort, but essentially you do it all online. It’s not like you got to go anywhere or meet anybody really. You can be as involved in the process as you like, as long as you pass the test at the end of it. Right?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

So I think one of the interesting things about the Ontraport partnership program, and I think one of the reasons why it managed to develop such a really awesome community off the backend of it is because if you want it to be a partner, I know it’s changed slightly now because of the world that we live in. But up until last year, you had to go to Santa Barbara, right? And you had to sit in a room with a bunch of other people for a week, and you had to learn about the system, learn about the strategies of being a partner and what that means. And heaven forbid you have to go out for pizza with everybody afterwards and get to know them as people. So I think when you approach it that way accidentally or not, you definitely built this community feel, it’s got much deeper roots than some of the other partnership programs that I’ve potentially been on the edge of joining. Let’s put it that way.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. I guess for us, the reason, obviously not accidentally, but I think the reason that I use that word is that’s just what comes naturally, that’s naturally what happens. Of course, we want to meet the people that are going to be out there selling, of course, we want to go grab a pizza or have a coffee or whatever. And so, naturally this community has just kind of sprung up from that. And Rochelle had an amazing part to do with that. One, not only is she an amazing human, but so genuine that she’s connected over the years with each of our classes and really brought in like-minded people, which has been great.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah.She taught our class and she was awesome. So that’s cool, man. I think for the listeners, in terms of a takeaway from this, I think if you are building a sales process and you are kind of going out of bounds, or you have a certain amount of inbound leads, I would not treat them all as potential customers or clients. I would analyze those potential customers or clients and figure out which ones could actually be a mutually beneficial partnership. Because I just think a lot of people don’t think about sales in that way. And I think even if you just apply that kind of mindset towards the sales process and the leads that you’ve got coming through, cherry pick the people that look to be a good fit and start a different conversation with them.

Don’t just put them into the usual pipeline that you’ve got set up and have them go down the same sequences. But that comes down to the qualification criteria as well. It’s like knowing what qualifies as a good partner. I don’t know if you’ve got this far with partnerships and what you’re doing with it right now. But if we think about partnerships and what you’re doing, if we park consultants, and people that are using the tool and referrals and stuff like that, if we’re looking at more of like these strategic partnerships like you did with Deadline Funnel, other than the ideology and methodology behind adding value and stuff that’s gotten matchup, is there any specific criteria that you’ve got to match up to? Again, you might not be able to share numbers and stuff like this, but do you have a set list of criteria that you’re kind of on the lookout for?

Brendan Dubbels:

Not yet. I think the main thing for me again, is just making sure that we match up, actually having the conversation and making sure that their businesses align in such a way with ours to where… Excuse me. If one of our customers goes and gets Deadline Funnel, are they going to have a good time? Maybe for whatever reason after like a week, they don’t like the platform and they ask for a refund, are they going to get that refund? Or after less than a week, are they going to say, “Oh, sorry, you’re locked in for the next year.” Because in my opinion, that’s not cool.

Sam Wilcox:

It’s not a good experience.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. Mistakes happen. And so making sure that we partner with just like-minded businesses is super key. Originally, I was thinking, “Oh, well, we’re only going to look to do these things with people that have a following of 5,000 or more.” But really, the more that I thought about it, what we want from this situation is we want education and we want to continue to grow our tribe of like-minded businesses. And so to me, if they are a like-minded business and they’ve got something to offer to our people for free, let’s do it. That’s really the biggest qualification for me because I’m looking to get our customers the biggest benefit out of it.

Sam Wilcox:

Nice. Yeah. I think that makes sense. If there’s value to be added and people are willing to share that value then it’s a worthwhile engagement. Cool. Well, listen, we have a couple of questions that we round out the podcast with. So I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit here, man.

Brendan Dubbels:

All right, cool. Let’s do it.

Sam Wilcox:

It’s mainly around resources and software, right? So we all geek out on software over here. You do, I do, the listeners do. If you had to recommend a piece of software or a tool that you’ve used in your career and sales experience that’s helped you. Is there anything that kind of stands out among the crowd that you can point people at?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. I think it really depends on where you’re at in your journey.

Sam Wilcox:

Perfect. Yeah.

Brendan Dubbels:

First step always, if you’re just getting started, you need a calendar of some sort. This whole back and forth, via email, is a really easy one for you to drop the ball. Two, for the person you’re communicating with to drop the ball. Three, there’s going to be a lag time in between someone contacting you and you getting back to them. It just makes sense. Get self-scheduling set up immediately. First thing, no questions asked.

Sam Wilcox:

Do you recommend something like Calendly or something like that?

Brendan Dubbels:

Calendly is great when you’re getting started. We’ve evolved, we use ScheduleOnce now. That being said, Ontraport calendar is something that’ll be coming so be on the lookout for that. It’s going to be sick.

Sam Wilcox:

When’s that coming?

Brendan Dubbels:

Don’t ask me but I am looking forward to it. So yeah, that’s the first thing. This isn’t necessarily a tool, but I think as folks are looking to plan out their sales process, automation is good, but we have a tendency to over automate things and having that human touch is super important. So one thing you can do to kind of bridge the gap, this is further down once you’ve established your sales process to bridge the gap between automation and personalization, you can get a video tool like BombBomb or Bonjoro and still apply that human touch in a way that’s not going to eat up all of your time. So those are some other tools that are great once you’re a little further along.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah, I agree. I checked out Bonjoro after we had Casey a few weeks ago. I like that tool. It’s very nice. I like how it connects to your phone as well. So you can record the video straight from your phone and ping them out that’s super helpful. You made a good point because a lot of people, when we get to this question, a lot of people lean on loom and Loom’s great but it’s very ad hoc and in the moment, and you’ve got to remember to do it. It’s kind of like your email example earlier on with scheduling appointments and stuff. You can easily forget to do a Loom video. It slips the mind. Whereas with the Bonjoro situation, you’ve got automated triggers at different parts of the process. That’s super helpful, but the amount of times we’ve mentioned Loom and Bonjoro on this podcast already and we haven’t even done 10 episodes. I should definitely be in some kind of affiliate for sure.

Brendan Dubbels:

Hey, listen. If you’re struggling with remembering to do a Loom as part of your sales process, I’ve got this great sales and marketing automation tool, you should check it out. And it can fire off a task to let you know, to do that Loom video.

Sam Wilcox:

Exactly. So Ontraport is obviously a great tool for people to look at in all seriousness, from a sales perspective, the automation functionality of Ontraport is what sets it apart, I think, and has done for a long time. The campaign builder and the automation that you can do within the system and the flexibility of the system is super, super useful.

Brendan Dubbels:

Absolutely.

Sam Wilcox:

I love geeking out on custom objects, relationships in the sales process. And we’ve just built out a crazy one for one of our clients this morning. I was doing some deep work on some sales process stuff this morning for a client, which is always a good for-

Brendan Dubbels:

Cool.

Sam Wilcox:

Other than software, what kind of books do you read, man? Do you enter books? Do you listen to podcasts? Anything like that, to help you kind of educate yourself on these situations? These different companies?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah, definitely. Well, let’s see. I got a few over here.

Sam Wilcox:

Brendan’s destroying his office now for anybody listening.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. I mean, I don’t read so much like directly sales focused stuff anymore. I think one of the reasons is after a while, after you’ve read a handful of sales books, a lot of them start to repeat the same thing. Few books I’ve read that I’ve absolutely loved, From Impossible to Inevitable that was a great one.

Sam Wilcox:

From Impossible to Inevitable.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. This is a total cliche, but this book literally changed my career, changed my customer service habits, changed the conversations that I was having on the phone, Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Sam Wilcox:

I’ve never read that. People always talk about this book. It’s good?

Brendan Dubbels:

I loved it. Yeah. I mean, granted, I haven’t read it in probably a decade, maybe a little more, but from where I was at that time, what was that?

Sam Wilcox:

Probably listen to it on Audible now, right?

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah, probably. From where I was at the time, it just really transformed everything for me.

Sam Wilcox:

Did it? That’s interesting. So is there something that you read before you joined Ontraport and stuff?

Brendan Dubbels:

It was after I had been at Ontraport for probably about like a year.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. So in essence pretty much year one? Yeah two?

Brendan Dubbels:

They were going for probably about three years before I joined in various capacities. And then I got hired because they realized there was a product market fit and they were starting to take off. And then I would say the last one, and this is another book that was game changing for me, not sales related, but still one of my favorites to date-

Sam Wilcox:

It doesn’t have to be sales related by the way. We’re all good.

Brendan Dubbels:

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday. Absolutely fantastic, amazing book. It catalogs a lot of different stories about stoics throughout history. And it’s just a great, great book that really helps you reposition your thinking in terms of how you deal with things that are in the way.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. Funnily enough, this is the second time stoicism has come up in two separate podcasts. On the last podcast, I was speaking with a chap called Pat Helmers who runs a Sales Babble podcast. And he’s big into stoicism and Taoism and stuff like this. And we were talking about stoicism. The only reason I’m putting that out is because it’s just interesting to talk to people that are of the same mindset and mind frame in terms of what they’re trying to achieve in life and trying to improve and be successful. People tend to kind of correlate around these topics, right? Like stoicism. Right now I’m reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. So have you got it? Have you read it?

Brendan Dubbels:

I do. It’s in the bedroom, but yeah, I’ve got it sitting right in the bedroom.

Sam Wilcox:

Nice. And it’s an interesting read, right?

Brendan Dubbels:

It’s funny.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. So I think it’s cool that these kinds of things keep coming up. And I think in terms from a listener’s perspective, they might not have paid any attention in the last episode. But then if this gets mentioned again, it’s like, “Oh, maybe there’s something in this.” Right? And that’s part of the reason why I even started to read Meditations because it’s not like all of a sudden, I’ve only just heard about my meditation. You notice that the same people talk about it, different people that are achieving success. It’s like, “Right. Well, there’s probably something in this.” So yeah. Dude, I really appreciate your time. And thanks for coming on the show. We’ll wrap this one here and I’ll let you get back to your busy day. But yeah, thanks for joining me, man. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with you.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. Looking forward to the next time you’re able to make it across the pond.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. We’ll go mountain biking again for sure. Right? We’ll get no flat tires this time. Cheers.

Brendan Dubbels:

Yeah, see you.

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