Skip to content
19 min read

Building Your Strategic Partner Program

Featured Image

Deciding to start or to modify your Strategic Partner Program isn’t a simple choice. You have to ensure that the people you bring on as your strategic partners have the same mission vision, and desired outcomes that your organization does. Today we will take ideas and insights from Angie Scheribel, Director of Partner Networks at STS Capital Partners.

And, if you have questions about if it’s time for you to launch your Strategic Partner program, give us a call.

What you'll learn:

  • What is a strategic partner program
  • What to consider when implementing a strategic partner program
  • How to scale a strategic partner program
  • How to qualify strategic partners using five factors
  • How you can determine the success of a strategic partner program
  • What are the types of strategic partners
  • How to keep strategic partners committed to the program
  • What are the potential pitfalls of a strategic partner program
  • How can leaders address potential challenges in your program.


Relationship University

Insight Timer - The Free meditiation app

Angie Scheribel on LinkedIn

When you need to hire top sales professionals, turn to a recruiting partner that speaks sales. Alaant Workforce Solutions. Learn more and book a discovery call at

The perfect CRM system, streamlined business processes and happier customers – Eligeo CRM Inc can make it happen for your business. Go to for more info

FFF S01E107


[0:00] We sell companies and we think outside the box on how to do that.
Rather than looking at a company and saying, you know, you're in this industry, so therefore you're worth X times EBITDA, we think about it at much more strategically and like to understand how much money will the acquiring company make owning this, our client's company.

[0:17] Music.

[0:23] This is the Full Funnel Freedom Podcast, supporting sales leaders and managers to improve their sales funnels from people to prospects. I'm Hamish Knox. In this show, you'll learn how you can improve your results, lead a great team and hit more targets with Full Funnel Freedom. Welcome to the Full Funnel Freedom podcast. I'm your host, Hamish Knox. Today we'll be getting ideas and insights from Angela Sharable from STS Capital around building a strategic partner program. Now let's hear from one of our affiliate partners.
The perfect CRM system, streamlined business processes, and happier customers.
Allegio CRM Inc can make it happen for your business. Go to slash Allegio for more details. That's slash E-L-I-G-E-O.

[1:19] So my guest today, Angela Sharable is a 20 year sales and business development executive.
She's worked across various industries from timeshares in Mexico to Spanish language TV in the US, to construction to coaching, and now she's in mergers and acquisitions.
Her superpower is building genuine relationships and being able to put herself in the shoes of others.
Angela, welcome to Full Funnel of Freedom.
Hey, thanks Hamish. Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here.
Yeah, I'm really excited to visit with you today. I've given the audience the 30,000 foot view of who you are and where you are today.
Take us down several levels. Tell us the story of Angela, how you got to where you are today, and what are you doing right now?
Hey, thanks for asking. Yeah, I started, as you said, in timeshares in Mexico, crazy. But my background before that was, as a child, we had a lot of exchange students from all over the world.
So I had this beautiful opportunity to meet people from many, many different cultures and see that they get to, they live life very differently, they think very differently. And so I believe that I brought that into my whole career. So from actually living in Mexico, working down there, thriving there, to coming up here and then bringing that into every role I've done. So.

[2:37] Starting in Spanish language media and just being able to get into the shoes of my clients.
My very first job, I was an assistant. I was a sales assistant, but was able to have these real conversations with our clients and see what they needed and how we weren't providing it and and provide ways of changing things so that they could get what they wanted, so that we could get what we wanted.
So I've really been able to do that, to dive into the shoes of our clients wherever I'm at, and from that bring success to the company I'm working with.

[3:07] Amazing, love it. So STS Capital, give us a bit of a high level, what is that and what is your role with that organization today?
Yeah, so STS Capital is, we're in our 20th year this year, started by a really awesome entrepreneur named Rob Follows. And what we do is we work with mid-market private business owners to help them create extraordinary exits. So we sell companies, and we think outside the box on how to do that rather than looking at a company and saying, you know, you're in this industry. So therefore, you're worth X times EBITDA. We think about it much more strategically, and like to understand how much money will the acquiring company make owning this our client's company. And so we love to negotiate off of that integrated value.
It's a very strategic approach.
And by doing things that way, we get much higher valuations for our clients' businesses than they're expecting.

[4:03] Very cool. Your role with STS Capital, where are you falling into that right now?
Yeah. Today, I'm the director of what we call partner networks, for our strategic partnerships.
I've also had the privilege of building out our referral network there.
Very cool. I would imagine being in the M&A business, getting referrals is probably a better way of building up a business than making cold calls and saying, hey, do you want to sell right now?
Yeah. It's a pretty interesting position to be in because nobody actually cares about what we do until we're the single most important thing in their life, right?
So absolutely. Absolutely. And from my experience, usually they, they're.

[4:42] You're the most important thing like two years later than you should have been the most important thing in their life. Yeah. That's a good insight. It's true.

[4:51] So speaking of strategic partners, if a leader wants to build on a strategic partner program, because there's a lot of business going through channel these days, going through partners, et cetera, et cetera. And partner can be an overused and abused word. What from your experience, if the leader wanted to implement a strategic partner program, what would they consider first?
What should they think about? So two things really. Number one is what is your company's goal, right? So there could be a lot of ways of going about it with our business. We want to be introduced to business owners who are thinking about an exit, It's pretty specific, so we need to get very clear on what kind of organizations would be able to make those introductions.
But then secondly, once you know your own goal, it's what's the value to the partner?
So just making introductions, even a hefty referral fee or whatever might come with that isn't enough.
What's the value that we can bring and why would they want to introduce their clients who trust them to us? And it's going to be different for every partnership.

[5:58] Absolutely. That should get confusing potentially. How would you recommend someone put a little bit of a box around that so they don't have special deals with every single person?
I think it's putting them into categories. In our business, there's multiple kinds of partners that we can work with, but a few buckets, so to speak, are like a CEO coaching firm.
So these CEO coaches are working, doing the heavy lifting with the business owners helping them make their businesses really solid.
When they want to exit, it makes sense for them to hand them off to somebody that they can trust.
So that's one bucket or wealth management firms.
Being able to find buckets that make sense and then going after some more of those.
Very cool. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

[6:50] Categorize them and then you have less variability. Now, let's take it down level.
We've considered the things that you've suggested we consider, now we're going to go out and find these strategic partners.
How do we do that and how do we qualify them? Because I'm sure you've had a bad experience or two with a strategic partner who looked good on wedding day but maybe was not so awesome after the fact.
Yeah, for sure. So we are a referral organization, and that's not just to our clients, right?
So we use our referral network as well for our strategic partners. So the great majority of our partners are people we know organically, we have relationship with them or have been introduced to them. And that's been a really awesome way for us to bring in partners. And then secondly, of course, once we find that category, like, oh, this is a category that that works really well for our business, we will seek out more.
And that could also be through asking for referrals, right? Who do you know that has.

[7:52] Do you know any outsourced CFO companies, right? We would love an introduction to them.
And so just asking for those intros of those that we know work well for us.
But how do we qualify them? We have probably five main categories, five main things that we're looking at.
One is the desired relationship, right? Will they either, will there be an intrinsic benefit for them to refer to us?
So for instance, a CEO coach, if we sell their client's business for a really high multiple, that's a really awesome win for the coach, right?
That intrinsically is beneficial to them. Or are they motivated by a referral fee, right?
What is the, is there a desired relationship in there that works for them as well as for us?
Obviously, do they have access to our target client, right?
We have a very specific client that we're looking for and we need to be serving the same types of people.
And then we're looking at their reputation and is there any red flag?
So what does the market say about them? Do they have testimonials?
Can we talk to any of their clients? then we might do a background check as well.

[8:55] Are they well managed? If we send them referrals, are they going to be organized? Are they going to take good care of them? Are they going to report back to us? Are they going to show up for our calls? Are they going to be as proactive as we are? One of the things that we're looking at and evaluating as we go. And then for us as well, we're really big on philanthropy. And so we're always looking to see, is there a value alignment there? And a lot of our partners are actually philanthropically minded and or non-profits. Once we've qualified, so we get the strategic partners and I especially in the world that you work in like background checks and reputation and things like that because that's really when we put together a strategic partner program, we're basically saying we endorse them and they endorse us and if there's any skeletons in the closet that can go sideways really, really quickly. How do you determine the success of a a strategic partner program, because these people don't work for you.
Sure, absolutely, yeah. Herding, herding cats, right?
So, in my world, there are two types of strategic partners.

[10:01] So, there are the platforms, so to speak, right? So, it's a partner who they bring people together by virtue of who they are.
So, for instance, it could be an educational platform, right, CEOs come to learn from them, or it could be that CEO coaching organization. And for them, we're usually paying to play.
So it's a pretty easy metric, right? Is there a return on investment?
So we know what we've invested and are we getting a return on that?
But then the second piece of that is, are we providing value to them, to their clients, to their people, because the money will never be enough, right?
You have to be providing value, providing education and helping them do their job better.

[10:50] So that's how I would measure the success of the platform partners.
But then apart from those, we also have other organizations like ours.
So other organizations that would pay to play at the platforms.
And those are also really great partners for us.
For instance, outsource CFOs, right? We could have a client who doesn't have a CFO and is looking to sell their company and they really need to bring somebody in for the interim to help them.
And so getting to know the... An outsourced CFO company is a great partner for us because they benefit by sending their client to us and we benefit by sending our client to them. So.

[11:28] Those types of partnerships, we measure success really just in referrals.
Beautiful. And that's really what... If it's our strategic partner referral partnership, that's really what the ultimate metric is, is are things coming back and forth. And I know I've seen where that strategic partnership is really parasitic because it's only one person who's doing all the giving.
And then eventually, even if they're incredibly altruistic, they're gonna get tired of that because it's not gonna feel both ways.
And it sounds like that you've got a way of really ensuring that it is a partnership and not a parasitic relationship in either direction. Is that fair?
Yeah, absolutely. And of course, if we send a client their way, we need to make sure that they're happy, right? Have they taken good care of them, so.
Of course, of course. So how do you keep your strategic partners committed to the program?
Because again, there's a referral partnership and yeah, outsourced CFO organization loves to get work from STS and their clients.

[12:28] That also doesn't necessarily keep them sticky. So how do you ensure stickiness with your strategic partners?
Yeah, that's a great question. Thanks for asking. I think there's three aspects.
So one is the vision, right?
Especially in our line of work, it could take some time for things to stick, right?
For things to begin to develop. There's a bit of a long lead time, right?
From somebody deciding they want to sell their business to selling their business.
And so we like to start and make sure we've got an aligned vision.
We understand what it is that working with each other is going to do for each other and for our clients and why that makes sense. So that's the first piece.
But then secondly, it has to be followed up by action.
A great vision doesn't do much.
We've got a lot of things going on. Everybody's busy. And so having action behind it, right?
We've got regular calls to check in with each other or reaching out, sending, hey, you were talking about this, and just making sure we're top of mind, but then also making those referrals, having a plan in place.
What are we doing together? Do we wanna do a combined webinar?
So there's things that we're doing to help drive the actions and the leads to each other.

[13:39] And then of course, it's the success. So once there's the actions, once there is referrals, you have to actually do a really good job or it's all empty, right? If you send me a referral to a client of yours, and we don't do a good job selling their business, well, that's the end of that partnership. So that would be the final piece. And once you've got in, like I said, there's a bit of lead time, right? It takes some time to get all of those pieces going, especially in our line of work. But once all of those are going, then the businesses, the partnerships tend to hum. Yeah, absolutely. Now we've talked about all the positives, all the great things, like with anything, there are potential pitfalls in a partner program. So, let's start with that. I have two questions, but I'd like to start with what are the potential pitfalls of a strategic partner program from your perspective? Yeah, great question. There's that quote that says the road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? So good intentions are not going to get it done, we can have a really great, exciting conversation about how we can partner together, and that's not enough.
So, like you had mentioned earlier.
I, none of my partners report to me, I can't control what they do. And so it's really about.

[14:59] Constantly assessing, right, we can have really great intentions, we can have the vision, but it all it's all, you know, the proof is in the pudding, right, you have to be able to complete on that. And so we know our metrics. And we're constantly keeping score, we've got a scorecard and ranking our partners, one against the other. And we'll constantly reassess, right? And we might know, it depends on the partnership, we might know that a partnership has a really awesome potential and has not yet paid out. When we look at that score, and we say, let's, let's invest more, right? Let's, let's put in more time, more effort. Let's go deeper. Or it could be the opposite, right? We could be put and have put in a lot of effort into this partnership. And there's there's not much coming out of it.
And so we will assess that as well, and maybe we'll pull back on how much we prioritize that and put some of our efforts elsewhere. So it's just a constant being able to stay on top of it and measure one against the other and prioritize accordingly.

[15:57] I love that. And you've addressed a little bit of the second question, which is how have you addressed those at STS? So it sounds like you've got scorecards and you're making tough decisions.
What else have you done what else would you recommend a leader do when they are addressing those potential pitfalls in a strategic partner program? Get really clear and really honest. And it depends on the organization, right? So we might have a clear, honest, come to Jesus type of conversation with the partner itself, right? Here's what we've done, here's what we invested. The truth is we're not seeing a return. What do we need to do differently so that we can change that? Because we all want to to be on the same page.
And it might be not continuing to work, to move forward with them.
So it's just getting really clear about what's working and what's not and not feeling too tied.

[16:47] To any one of them, you know.
Well, when your funnel is full of partners, it's easier to say goodbye to the one that's not working out whereas if your funnel is a lot skinnier, then you still want to hold on because maybe possibly someday something will happen with them and. Yeah, that's true.
And so you're right, yeah, having a full funnel of partners is really helpful.
And not that we're, you know, we're not willy nilly with our partners.
We're not lightly committed. We're very committed.
But being real about what's happening and, you know, if something needs to change is really important.
Totally. And in a partnership program, a full funnel might be five, might be two.
It's really going to depend on what you're looking for and all the qualification stops that the, or steps that you talked about a little bit earlier is.
So we're not certainly saying that we have to have everybody as a partner.
We want to have the right partners. We also want to have enough of them.
So if one of them goes sideways, we don't feel like we're going to be cutting off our arm and potential revenue growth down the road.
You And understanding how in each particular partnership, we can provide value to them, is really important. So just after this, we're doing a webinar with an entrepreneur organization and speaking to business owners and just educating. Just educating on how to appeal to a strategic buyer and just investing time in that. And so things like that, and that will be very different for each type of organization. But giving back and providing value there is really important.

[18:17] Absolutely, it is. And I know I find that I like to address issues when they're at 10% instead of 90%, because when they're at 10%, that's when we can have the emotional conversation without the emotion and we can possibly part ways as friends as opposed to when things have gone real sideways. That's usually when there's a lot of hurt feelings and potentially legacy issues on the back end. Yep, absolutely.
Angela, I am curious, given your varied career, if you could go back and coach your younger self and you can be, go as far back as you like, what would you coach younger Angela to say or do differently to arrive at the same place, but with a little less scar tissue and fewer bumps and bruises than you might have accumulated?
That's an awesome question.
I would coach her to never undervalue the power of her network.
So as I have switched careers, switched industries, the people in each of those careers and each of those jobs and each of those industries are what was important.
Just recently, I was connected with an old CEO. He hired me in 2007.
I built out a Hispanic media division for him.
Great guy, but we parted ways for whatever reason a few years later.

[19:29] And I was just recently chatting with him on LinkedIn and he just sold a business through another investment bank.
So, oops, right? Oops. Yeah, so and as I've gotten older, I've seen that value.
I continue to stay in regular contact with co-workers and people that were in my network, and just make a point to reach out, to not forget about them, to say happy birthday, whatever that might be.
But in my younger years, that wasn't as much of a priority, ready to move on and forget about the last guy.
That would be how I would coach younger agents.
I love that advice, and I've experienced something similar recently.
In fact, that's how you and I reconnected, and how we ended up on a podcast today.
What have you read, listened to, watched over the course of your career that really helped your personal and professional development that you'd like to share with the listeners that they may want to go check out as well?
I'm always studying, learning, growing. It's what I love to do. So today I'm doing a handful of things. So professionally, I'm actually back in grad school getting my MBA.
And that's been hugely valuable.

[20:39] I am in a program called relationship university and it has been phenomenal it's helpful for all relationships but particularly family and marriages and head has been eye opening and.
And life changing relationship changing so we've my husband and i have been undertaking that and it's been awesome and then i'm always listening to books i am also a mother of three.
In school full-time, working full-time, so audio books right now tend to be the best form.

[21:12] For myself in today's day and age.
But also there's an app called Insight Timer and I will, every morning I block out at least 10 minutes and do like a guided meditation, some sort of a meditation.
And that, with all of the things that I have going on, that ability to sort of be at peace, center myself, create some internal space to start my day really gives me the ability to go through the day and to do it all well.
Very cool. We'll put links to all of those amazing things in the show notes as well.
So listeners, if you wanna check them out, Angela recommends it.
I typically go check it out as well. So I encourage all of you to check out those links in the show notes.
Last question for you.
What would you like to leave us with? A closing thought, a bit of wisdom, something to plug the floor is yours.
Thanks, Emesh. My plug would be just to connect with me on LinkedIn.
You can find me. I'm Angie Sharable. My last name is a bit hard to spell.
We can put that in the show notes as well because spelling is probably.
But yeah, I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and continue to talk about sales, business development, strategic partnerships.

[22:25] Very cool. Well, Angela, I have had a blast today.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights with us around building our strategic partner program on the Full Funnel Freedom Podcast.
Thank you so much for having me Hamish.
You've been listening to the Full Funnel Freedom Podcast. I've been your host Hamish Nox.
Today we've got amazing ideas and insights from Angela Sharable at STS Capital around building out a strategic partner program.
The Full Funnel Freedom Podcast is brought to you by Sandler Calgary.
Sandler Calgary's clients desire to dominate their niche and seek to scale sales sustainably so they can eventually sell their business for their number, not the number they're told to take.
If that sounds like someone in your network, encourage them to go to forward slash how to Sandler to book an initial 15 minute call.
Thanks for listening.
Leave us a review and a rating. Share this episode with a couple of sales leaders in your network who you care about. And until we connect on the next episode, go create full funnel freedom.
Thank you for listening to Full Funnel Freedom with Hamish Knox.
If you want to increase your sales with ease, Go to full funnel freedom.

[23:32] Music.