We recently sat down with Reckon’s Partner Engagement Manager Andrew Hellier to chat about his experience in building valuable partner networks and cultivating meaningful relationships and events.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do here at Reckon?
Sure, my role at Reckon as the Partner Engagement Manager essentially is to act as the Reckon voice for our trusted partners, which are made up of bookkeepers, BAS agents and tax agents.
A lot of what I do is in passing on partner feedback directly through to our development team and by doing that, ensuring that our clients and our partners have the best experience with our Reckon products as possible.
This comes down to product usability and feature sets as well as customer service and our support team.
My role encompasses all aspects of the partner and client experience to make sure it’s positive across all aspects of the business, from the software side to the customer service and support side.
How does that feedback system from partners to development work?
We can engage with our partners across multiple (and varied) channels and software feedback could come from anywhere.
It could come from a conference, a phone conversation, or a Microsoft Teams call. I could be on the road, or I could be onsite at the partners premises (and actually diving into the software and the feedback is coming live from the partner themselves.)
Feedback might be centered around a potential new feature that could make a difference to the way that their clients work. It could also be something that’s working quite well within the software itself, but it just needs a little bit more enhancement to be extra useful.
We have a great internal technology stack which allows us to make sure that this partner feedback is channelled correctly to the relevant Reckon staff members, such as head of development, our product managers, or product design team.
We also actively seek feedback through our online ‘ideas portal’ and we run ‘useability sessions’ with our users and partners to help steer UX and development to create an even better product.
What role do Reckon’s partners play in the business?
Our Reckon partners are essentially our small business accounting and payroll software champions.
You could even view them as an extension of our workforce. But by being tax and BAS agents, they’re out there on the ground providing that next level of support and guidance to our mutual clients
They’re promoting our fantastic software and some of them also consult and act as resellers of the product as well which is a great way for advisors to earn a passive income. Essentially our partner channel acts as an extension of our sales force, our marketing team, as well as our product experts.
They excel when it comes to supporting our products because myself and my team are not tax agents or bookkeepers, whereas they hold that experience and expertise.
Being BAS and tax agents, our partners have many years of experience and the necessary accreditations. When you couple that experience with their product knowledge and enthusiasm for Reckon products they can act essentially as our force out on the road.
In return, how does Reckon benefit its partners?
There’s a number of benefits we provide back to our partners.
We provide ongoing education to our partners and training on the software itself.
We take the experiential feedback they’re giving to us on board and provide them with a better product to help support their small business clients. We also assist our partners to connect with new clients to increase their business.
But what’s important is that our partners are not in the business of software sales.
Their business is around supporting small businesses from the standpoint of tax, BAS, bookkeeping, or compliance. That’s their bread and butter and where they provide support and value.
So, we support our partners by introducing them to new business opportunities in and around Australia. And we do that in a number of different ways. We introduce our partners to clients who come to Reckon looking for assistance. We also run events where we connect our bookkeeping and accounting partners with small businesses in their local community. (It’s here that we find ourselves building those long-lasting relationships.)
Having that two-way partnership provides a fantastic product that our partners can sell and support, with the added bonus of commissions, and is also very much about providing new connections to those partners so they can build their businesses and ultimately continue to grow and succeed.
What’s the secret to building great relationships? Do you have an ethos or approach you’d recommend to others?
I think when it comes to building and maintaining great relationships, whether it’s internal (here at Reckon) or with our partners, is really acting as a trusted advisor.
And what does it mean to be a trusted advisor?
Being a trusted advisor to our Reckon Partners is about knowing your product and industry inside out. It’s not just about knowing that Reckon has a fantastic payroll product, but it’s knowing how that works and how that payroll product can be implemented to the client base of a specific advisor.
It’s being across what’s happening in the industry. It’s knowing about what compliance changes are happening right now and taking an active interest in the general environment for accountants and bookkeepers.
It’s about being in the industry, asking questions, and taking industry feedback on board to influence how we conduct ourselves and how we set our strategy as a business going forward.
This means having an open and honest stream of conversation. Being the person that partners can call on, and not have to tiptoe around because they don’t want to upset their client and they don’t want to upset Reckon. It’s being able to understand their needs.
Partners know that I’ve had years in the industry and that they can call me and have a conversation, not just about a software feature, but about challenges with a client, or a compliance issue.
At the end of the day, it’s about respect and trust and demonstrating an active interest in our partner’s lives and businesses.
When it comes to putting on industry events, what is your main aim and how do you deliver value to partners?
When it comes to running an industry event, a great example is our recent successful ‘Reckonnect Conference’ which we held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.
We had over 150 of our key accounting and bookkeeping partners travel from around Australia, and even internationally, to hear not just the latest from Reckon in terms of what we’re doing but hearing the latest from the industry. At the event, in terms of content, alongside our internal Reckon subject matter experts, we partnered with the industry’s best speakers and subject matter experts, to cover all the hot topics like Single Touch Payroll, and the rise of AI.
You want your attendees to read the agenda and see value and knowledge acquisition!
They’re busy people, right? They need to make sure that they’re getting something out of it, and can improve their business – whether it’s compliance, business improvement, or marketing.
You also need to wrap some awesome social events around your conferences as well. How can we make it fun? How can we make it exciting? I think it’s always important to take advantage of the local surroundings.
Having it in Sydney, we took advantage of getting out on Sydney Harbour on the Starship Sydney, which was a fantastic way to wind down after a busy day one at the conference and just connect in a casual environment.
So, I think the key to success for an awesome industry event is content, value, and having awesome social events to create a bit of excitement around that conference or event.