081: Strategic Partnerships with Michael Sacca of Crew

On this episode of Working Without Pants, I had the pleasure of interviewing the former President of Crew, Michael Sacca. When Michael came to Crew, he was the head of partnerships, and we get to talk a lot about how he worked on creating valuable partnerships in that role.

We also get an in-depth look at some of his outbound campaigns and how he crafted these to best reach his audience.

This was a fun interview with a ton of insight, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Partnership Outreach

Crew matches freelance developers and designers with companies who need them. They have a vetted network of talent, and people come to them with projects they need help with.

So, it is no wonder that partners are huge in sustaining business.

When Michael joined Crew, there were a few potential partnerships, but nothing was solidified yet. At that time, they hadn’t sat down and solidified what contracts would look like, what success with partners would look like, or how they would even pitch the idea.

They then focused on outbound to approach potential partners.

The Big Ones

Crew had a short list of HUGE companies they wanted to approach about partnerships.

Because these were companies that get sold to all of the time, they knew they couldn’t just blast them with the same templated email everyone is used to.

For these companies, they really dug in to do their research on who the company was, who the decision maker was, and what the pain points were that they could really address.

These potential partners were so important to Crew that they managed all of the emails personally. The initial outreach and the follow ups were handled with care and targeted specifically to the decision makers.

The Mid Tier

Crew knew that they needed more potential partners in their pipeline than just the big fish, so they ran a campaign with higher volume targeted toward mid size companies.

They used Close.io as the tool to help them send personal emails and manage follow ups and meetings for about 2,000 contacts a week.

The campaign they were running was a small 3-email sequence, but they found a ton of value with it.

One other thing I loved about how Michael ran the campaign is how he handled a specific type of response. When running an outbound campaign, it is common to have someone say, “I’m not interested now, but I may have a need for this in the future.”

The team at Crew took all of these responses, and put them in a new Close.io campaign that sent a simple message each month along the lines of, “Hey, I just wanted to circle back around to see if it is a better time to work together.”

This approach kept opportunities from falling through the cracks by a lack of timely follow up.

The Messaging

A lot of the campaign was targeted toward C-Suite decision makers. These people are very busy and get a ton of emails.

Crew kept the messaging short and made sure to provide value up front. They would talk about a pain point, show how they could address it, and then ask to meet. The more empathy you can have with your client’s situation, the better.

Too often, people fear being direct, and this can make the message confusing or too long for someone to pay enough attention to care.

Crew and Content

Content has also been huge for Crew.

A lot of their growth started with Medium. They wrote a few posts that got became popular enough on the site to get them on the radar of The Next Web and Lifehacker.

These huge sites helped them create a lot of back links and build their audience in a way that allowed them to create their own blog. And, those back links are great for SEO.

In fact, that is a big focus for Crew moving forward. They are looking into refining their SEO and Adwords campaigns. Unlike outbound, this approach will help them find potential clients who are further in the buying cycle.

Michael is always looking for new ways to break through plateaus in order to get more talent and companies to their site.

I had a great time with Michael on the podcast, and I hope you found a ton of value out of it. I also encourage you to check out the links below to learn more about Michael and the team at Crew.



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