This might be the most important podcast episode I’ve ever recorded. If you want to run a successful affiliate program, whether you’re the owner of the company or an affiliate manager, this episode is a must-listen. Without this one trait, you cannot be successful. Today, I reveal the #1 trait of great affiliate managers.

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Previous Episodes of The Affiliate Guy

Why Your Affiliate Program is Failing (And What to Do About It)

How to Build Strong Relationships with Your Affiliates

How to Use a Challenge for Affiliate Marketing: How Entrepreneurs on Fire Made More than $250,000 in One Affiliate Launch

10 Lessons I Learned Launching a Bestselling Book

Affiliate Profile: How Holly Homer Went from $0 to $3500 in Affiliate Commissions in Her 2nd Promotion


#1 Trait of Great Affiliate Managers

This might be the most important podcast episode I’ve ever recorded. If you want to run a successful affiliate program, whether you’re the owner of the company or an affiliate manager, this episode is a must listen.

Without this one trait, you cannot be successful. Today, I reveal the number one trait of great affiliate managers.

So I was talking with our team recently with our agency team, and we had all of our affiliate managers on our standard daily meeting. We typically have about a 20 to 30 minutes stand up every day just to talk about what’s going on with our clients. What’s the good news?

Where are the obstacles? Where do they need my help? The reality is, I’ve been an affiliate manager for 18 years, and some of them have been an affiliate manager for a year or two.

They often need my help, and sometimes we just need to strategize. And somehow we were talking about the workflow of an affiliate manager and it came up. What does it take to be great?

How do we become great affiliate managers? Like, it doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of the company and you’re serving as the affiliate manager, or if you are a hired affiliate manager, maybe you’re a full time affiliate manager for one company, or maybe you work at an agency, maybe you run an agency. Maybe you work for me because my team listens to this, right?

You guys are listening, right? I assume so. They mentioned from time to time that they liked a podcast episode, so they do listen. Hi, guys. 🙂

Anyway, so I’m going to come right out and say it just like I did with my team. And this came up and I just said it.

And this was a few weeks ago. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I realized this is absolutely true. The number one trait of a great affiliate manager is tenacity. Tenacity being tenacious. I was curious. I know what the word tenacity means.

You know what it means? You know what being tenacious means. But I looked it up and it said this is the dictionary, right?

Persistent in maintaining adhering to or seeking something valued or desired. If you look it up in a thesaurus, you get words like persistent, stubborn, obstinate, determination, perseverance, doggedness, persistence, endurance, resolve, grit, patience. That’s an interesting one. We’ll talk about later.

The list goes on and on, right? This determination, I love that one. Persistent. I love stubborn, obstinate. Like, I am not going to give up till I get what I want.

But that last part of that definition, seeking something valued or desired, certainly describes affiliates, right? So how does this apply to affiliate management? How does this apply to running an affiliate program?

Well, it takes tenacity to follow up. It takes tenacity to follow the schedule that we teach, which says we are going to follow up with the person ten to twelve times every eight to ten days consistently. That requires persistence.

Not replying is not an answer. If you don’t reply to us, we will follow up. No is a great answer. I love yes. My second favorite answer is no, because no means I don’t have to follow up anymore. We’ve accomplished something.

We have established you are not going to promote our client. You are not going to promote our stuff. That’s great, I love it.

But not taking no for an answer, even it’s really not taking no for an answer. It’s not taking no reply for an answer. When one contact method doesn’t work, well, I emailed them five times.

Really? Did you try DMing did you try reaching out on Twitter? Did you try reaching out on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook? Did you try texting? Did you try mailing? Physical mail?

When one method doesn’t work, we try others. We DM, we text, we do other methods. That’s tenacity, right?

If you’re an affiliate manager or you’re an owner serving as an affiliate manager, how is your tenacity? How is your tenacity? Would you say you’re a tenacious person?

If you’re not? You might be in the wrong industry. I hate to say that, but you might be.

Or you need to work on that. You can develop, but we’ll talk about that. But if you’re serving as an affiliate manager because you run the company or you’re the CMO, or you do something else and you got stuck with this job and you’re like, you know what, I’m just not a tenacious person.

I don’t want to be. There’s nothing wrong with not being a tenacious person. Not everybody can be a tenacious person. Just like not everybody can be a great writer. I am not one of those people. Everybody can be a great writer.

No, they can’t. Everybody can’t be a great speaker. Not everybody should have a podcast. Not everybody should do videos. Not everybody should write. Not everybody should be an affiliate manager. Not everybody should play soccer. Not everybody should play baseball. That’s just the reality.

So if you’re just not a tenacious person, maybe you need to admit that and go to your boss and say, listen, I don’t know that I have what it takes for this. I’m great at this other stuff. You don’t need to be tenacious to be a social media manager.

You don’t need to be tenacious to do a lot of things. But if you’re looking for an affiliate manager, I want you to look for tenacity. If you’re looking for an affiliate manager, I want you to look for somebody who’s like a bulldog with a bone.

Like they will follow up and follow up and follow up, and you can test for that. You can ignore their messages for a few days and see if they follow up. You can leave them hanging and you say, oh, that’s just mean.

No, you’re testing for tenacity. You’re testing to see just how tenacious they are. So talk to them about those types of things.

It’s not about intelligence. Yeah, you need to be able to we’ll talk about some of the other traits, but you need to be able to carry on a conversation. You need to have the other traits.

They need to be good at building relationships. Yeah, but this is about the number one trait and that’s tenacity. I mentioned, it’s like a bulldog with a bone.

I mean, like no matter what, they are not giving up that bone and they will keep looking and looking and looking until they find it. We learn these skills in sports, for example, it takes tenacity to be a skilled athlete. I’ve got two kids and they both play soccer.

I’ve talked about that before. One of the things I love most about them is they just don’t quit. Like our daughter gets mad in a good way, not mad.

Then she starts throwing elbows and getting fouls. No, she’s just like, you’re going to put three on me, you’re going to triple team me. I’m going to get through it.

Sometimes almost to the point where it’s like, hey, if you have a triple team on you, that means you got two teammates wide open. Like they are open, pass our son’s the same way. It’s like, no, there is nothing you can do to stop me.

You might be better than me, but I am not giving up. And we learn those things in sports. That’s why if you look at this is also one of probably the number one traits of successful entrepreneurs in general.

One of the reasons why so many entrepreneurs are former athletes. Not always, but so often. It’s because they learn that tenacity.

They learn like they just don’t quit and they keep going and going and going. I mean, I remember growing up playing golf or basketball. Like in basketball, I had bad games, I had bad weeks.

But I showed up and I followed the routine, I followed the plan. Sometimes I did more because I just needed to do more. I was tenacious in golf, I was tenacious.

It didn’t matter what the day before, it’s like I was going to show up and do what I needed to do that day. My dad taught me. And when I was in school, I’ll never forget my junior year of high school.

I was so frustrated. No, it was my sophomore year, my sophomore year of high school, I was taking algebra two and I was the kid, I was a year ahead in math because of the previous school I’d gone to. And so I was the only sophomore in the class. Everybody else was juniors. And I was so frustrated to this day, I hate algebra. I was very blessed.

I made mostly A’s and A pluses in school, not algebra. Algebra was, like, struggling for my C plus. And I remember there’s one particular homework assignment, and I was rocking an Algebra Two.

I was, like, in a C, maybe even a C minus. So I was frustrated. And I remember I took my Algebra Two book and I threw it across the room. I was in the middle of the home. I just threw it, but, like, swiped it across. I was so mad.

I was like, why am I even learning this, dad? I’m either going to play golf, or I’m certainly not going to grow up and need Algebra Two. I get basic algebra.

I get why I would need to learn that. And of course, then later, I’m taking, like, trigonometry and calculus, and to this day, I don’t even know what calculus is. I made a B in college.

I got through because I had a good tutor. I don’t even know what calculus is, but I remember being so mad and thinking, just so stupid. Every kid who’s not good at math says the same thing.

This is stupid. Why do I need to know this stupid stuff? Like, I intellectually understood why I needed to know history, and I knew why I needed English, and I knew why I needed even some of the other stuff, like why I needed to understand economics.

I got that, but I’d not know why I needed to understand Algebra Two. And my dad said, what if it’s not about the math? What if it’s about the discipline?

What if it’s about the fact that you started something and you’re going to finish it? What if it’s about just sticking with something and the being able to work through a problem that takes you five to ten minutes to do, and it’s about taking the five to ten minutes? And I went, all right, I got you.

It’s not about the math. And what I learned in that was the ability to sit there and just go, I hate this. I hate this, I hate this.

This is stupid. I don’t want to do this. Oh, wait, if I go there, do that, and then, okay, that’s how you do this problem.

And I learned how to get through those things, and that has helped me so much as an entrepreneur, as an affiliate manager, because there are so many times where I’m just like, this thing is stupid. Get this. I don’t get this.

Why is this not oh, wait a minute. Yeah, and it’s because I stuck with it. And that was tenacious.

John Maxwell, one of my favorite authors, leadership guru, he writes that tenacity, and I’m quoting here, is “giving all that you have, not more than you have.” It’s giving all that you have. Some people, they lack tenacity because they think it requires a skill they don’t have.

They think, okay, why? I don’t have the network, Matt, like you do. Do you think I was born with the network?

No, I worked at it. I don’t know. I’m not great at writing these emails.

Cool. Go grab our swipe files. We’ll give you swipe files to recruit affiliates, but they think it requires superhuman effort, and they don’t have what it takes to make it happen.

Maxwell writes, he says, “Being tenacious requires that you give 100% effort, not more, but certainly not less. If you give your all, you afford yourself every opportunity possible for success.” That’s exactly true.

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I can promise you if you follow up and follow up and follow up, and you don’t give up on that person who’s not replying, eventually, you will get a yes or no response, and you’ll probably get more yeses than no’s. You will eventually hear from them. You will eventually get a response.

You will eventually be able to cross them off your list one way or the other, and it might just be a yes. He says “Tenacious people don’t rely on luck, fate, or destiny for their success. And when conditions become difficult, they keep working.”

They know that trying times are no time to quit trying, and that’s what makes the difference. For thousands of people who give up, there’s always someone like Thomas Edison who is marked,

“I start where the last man left off.”

Here’s the thing. You may be reaching out to somebody who doesn’t really understand what affiliate marketing is. And you reach out ten times and you’re at that point where you made an image where the guy’s got, like, the pickaxe and he’s digging through the tunnel and then he turns around and the other guy keeps going and there’s diamonds on the other side.

You’re the guy that got to that point, and then somebody else came along and picked up where you left off. Think about that. But if you just keep going, eventually you’ll get them to say yes. I love Robert Strauss. He talks about, says “success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.”

So being tenacious means you go until the job is finished. You keep following up and following up and following up. You try different methods.

You keep working until you get the answer that you are either seeking or the other one. As I said, you either get a yes or a no. And affiliate managers, like the great ones, are just tenacious.

Like that. I said those synonyms earlier, right? Persistent, stubborn, obstinate, determination, perseverance, dogginess, persistence, endurance. It’s a good one. Just enduring resolve. Grit.

I think of grit, I just think of somebody who got like dust on their face and they just keep going. That patience. I said the interesting word, right? Patience. But that’s part of the tenacity of affiliate management. Part of not taking no for an answer or not taking no reply as an answer is patience.

Thomas Henry Huxley says “Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice the weight of cleverness.” Yep, you can have the best emails. I mean, again, grab the swipe files, right?

Like, if you go to MattMcWilliams.Com/bestemail, I will give you my number one affiliate recruiting email. I’ll put that in the show notes for you, right? I have some other show notes as well.

If you want to learn all the ins and outs, go grab the affiliate code. If you want to find affiliates, go grab my First 100 Affiliates report. But the point here is that patience and tenacity are more important than the right email. Because my email, that number one email. Here’s the deal. I usually don’t talk about this.

I say it’s my number one email. And you might have in your mind, you might be going, oh, it’s Matt’s number one email. This is the email that helped him build a million-dollar-a-month affiliate program. And he went from zero to over 500 affiliates in a year and a half. It’s true. I worked to get that.

My best-performing email, the one that I include in the swipe files, actually comes from 2015, nine years after I’d built a million-dollar affiliate program. Well, then how in the heck did I get the first 500 affiliates? Or how did I get really, the first roughly 50 to 60,000 that I worked with for different clients?

How did I do that? I did it with less than my best emails. How did I do that? Tenacity? Patience. That’s how I did it. I kept doing the work and I kept tweaking it.

And yeah, I went from this one that had a 3. 8% response rate, and this one that had a four. And then I went like, two years where I didn’t improve it. And then I found one, I tried one, and I got like a four and a half.

Here’s the deal. My best-converting email is my number one affiliate recruiting email. Now, this is not true. If you only send it to 50 people, if you send it to 50 people, you might hear, that they’re super targeted. You might hear back from 20, and you have a 40% response rate. We reach out to hundreds of thousands of people.

So my best, the one I will give you the template of, because I have tried hundreds of email, and this is the best one again, took nine years before I developed it. Actually, ten years. Took ten years. It was nine years after I’d already built a million-dollar affiliate program. Took ten years, and it gets roughly a 6% response rate.

Like, that’s your best 6%? Yeah, because of the volume that we reach out to. But that means how do we end up hearing back from over 50%? Follow up, follow up, follow up. Tenacity. Patience. This is something we talk with our clients about.

You got to think long-term. The results don’t come in the first month. I’m not picking on a client. But they were like, we just rolled out an Evergreen program with them. And they’re like, Why is nobody promoting the Evergreen program? Because we started it three weeks ago.

Takes time to get on people’s calendars. Most affiliates aren’t to start promoting something tomorrow because you tell them to. You got to get on their calendars. You got to wait. You got to think long-term. That’s tenacity at its core.

Being willing to get back at it tomorrow when you don’t see results today, being willing to reach out to more affiliates when yesterday produced no results, being willing to keep going when the voices scream at you to stop, that’s what tenacity is. And I tell them, like, the reality is, your first four months with us, you’re going to break even.

You’re going to lose money or break even. Then in months five and six, you’re going to make some money. And if you stick with us, after a year or so, you’re making a lot of money. But for most people, this is the thing.

Most people on their own, they give up. In the first few months, we didn’t make any money from the affiliate program. Only made 4000.

Whatever number seems like nothing to you, but you laid so much of the groundwork that when you fast forward six months, a year later, something, you’re going, I’m doing the same amount of work or even less work than I did the first six months, but I’m making ten times more money.

And you build $100,000 affiliate program and then half a million-dollar affiliate program, and then a $2 million affiliate program. And I mean, I shared just a few episodes ago how we did it, how to steal your competition’s affiliates.

And I shared how we did it, and it happened faster than it usually happens for most people and for most clients. Even for us.

Even in that story. It was four, six months of slow going and then suddenly we hockey stick up. Was it because of a bright idea?

Not really. It wasn’t because we did anything super different. We tweaked a little bit.

It was mostly just because I kept going and going and going. So how do you become more tenacious? If that’s the number one trademark, how do I become more tenacious?

A few thoughts. Here, a few tips. I guess the first one is just get clear on your goals. I say don’t stop until you hit your goals where you don’t have any goals. So what are your goals? When do you know when to stop and set process goals?

Like, I’m going to send x number of emails a day. Ours typically is between 100 and 125. We’re going to send 100 no matter what.

I’m tired. I’m going to send 100. It’s a busy day. I’m going to send 100. Not going to send 200 some days and none the next. I’m just going to send 100.

That is a dog with its bone. The dog is just going and going and going on the bone. You ever notice how those bones eventually get smaller, but it doesn’t get smaller from day to day?

Sending 100 each day for three days probably isn’t going to get you a whole lot of affiliates. Sending 100 every day for two years will build an empire. So we have process goals.

I’m going to send x number of emails, x number of DMs, x number of calls, and you measure them constantly. Keep them in front of you and just keep them right there. Like, okay, I got to send 100 today.

So my goal personally, because I’m doing some higher level reach out, my goal right now is I engage with five people every day. That’s it. Five people, five higher-level affiliates every day.

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But I do it. I mean, literally, there are exceptions when I plan in advance that I’m not going to do them. But if I say I’m going to do it, that does mean I’m an entrepreneur.

I get to work when I want. Yeah, but if I tell myself I’m going to do five a day and I don’t finish by 5:15 today when my son’s got soccer, then I’m doing them tonight. I will do them tonight. I know I’m already going to run out of time. I’m recording this episode. I got two other things to do.

I will run out of time today. So I will do my five tonight because I’m clear on my goals and I don’t stop until I hit them. And my goal says five today and five tomorrow and five on Monday and five on Tuesday, but not five next Friday.

I’ve already planned on next Friday. I’m not see, that’s how that works. The second thing you do is make it a competition.

Make it a competition with yourself. Make it a competition with someone else if you need to, but competition leads to tenacity. I talked about that earlier with athletes.

Part of the reason why I was so tenacious was because I was competitive. The tenacity to go out, I went out. Now, this doesn’t seem like a lot in comparison to elite basketball players, but I wanted to make 53-pointers every day, about five days a week.

Again, I planned days off, but when I was playing basketball, and again, I peaked. In middle school, we were city champions. We did go undefeated and won by like, an average of 30 points a game.

We were amazing. But I was never going to make it past maybe, like, the freshman team in high school. So I quit. But I made 53 pointers every day. Some days, I mean, I only needed to shoot, like, 82. I was not Steph Curry.

I needed to take at least probably 75 to make 50. Some days it meant I shot 160, but I was going to make 50. Come h*** or high water, I was making 50. So make it a competition.

Third is you got to surround yourself with tenacious people. We are who we hang out with, right?

We’re the average of the five people we hang out with. So if you hang around a bunch of quitters, what are you going to be? It’s going to rub off on you.

There are people I don’t hang out with any more than I have to. I don’t have a choice but to hang out with them a little bit. Some of them are family, but I do not hang out with them any more than I have to because they’re quitters.

They quit all the time. They’re not tenacious. They’re not like a dog with a bone. I want to be around people like that. And if you hang out with people like that, you will become more tenacious.

The last thing I’ve read about this in my book, do the Thing That Scares You. Do the thing that scares you. I love the story of Eleanor Roosevelt. She consciously worked to diminish her fears, to minimize her fears by doing the things that caused her the most apprehension, the things that scared her the most.

There’s a quote in the book I share that says, you gain strength, courage, and confidence with every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I have lived through this w****. I can take the next thing that comes along.

This is key. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. If you want to be more tenacious, just in general, reach out to one person every day that scares you, you know what they’re probably going to do?

They’re probably not going to respond to you or they’re going to say no. But if you do it every day, one person that scares you, one big name, one whale you have no business reaching out to them. And you know the answer, and you’re going to get but if you do it five days a week, every week, you’re going to get 260 No’s, every single year.

You gain strength from that by doing the thing you think you cannot do. And you might just get lucky. You might just get lucky, but do that.

So again, number one, get clear on the goals. Set those process goals. You do not stop until you get them.

Number two, make it into a competition. Third, you got to surround yourself with tenacious people.

And fourth, you got to do the thing that scares you.

Now, to be clear, yes, there are other traits. I’ve done episodes on those. Great affiliate managers are friendly.

Yes, they’re absolutely friendly. They’re focused on relationships. Totally. They’re empathetic and they’re creative. Absolutely. You got to be creative when it comes to promos.

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You got to be able to think on your feet. You got to have a sense of humor because that’s part of relationship building. You got to be able to make things fun.

One thing is, I’ve noticed you got to be able to bounce from left brain to right brain because you’re in stats. One moment you’re analyzing things and you got to go to relationships, and you got to go check your email. Then you got to come up with a contest.

Then you got to analyze some trends, and you got to be able to do that. Those are all traits of great affiliate managers. All those things are true. But the greatest trait of them all is tenacity.

So how tenacious are you? How tenacious is your affiliate manager? If you have an affiliate manager, two most important questions you can ask. If you want all the skills you need to know how to start, build, and scale an affiliate program, check out the affiliate code. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes.

Go grab the affiliate code because it’ll help you. If you want to know the swipe file, if you want to write a great email and just have it given to you, go grab that. I’ll put a link to that in the show note as well.

But how tenacious are you? That’s the key. Because I can give you the emails and I can give you the skills and the knowledge you need.

But if you don’t have tenacity, you will not be successful. So go check out all those links. They’re all in the show notes there.

Make sure you check those out. Make sure if you have any questions about this or you just, I don’t know, you got some thoughts on what I shared today, text me at 260-217-4619. I would love to hear from you about that.

And make sure you hit subscribe because in the next episode, I’ve got a super special guest, and I oh, my gosh. I am so excited to share this discussion with you. We’re going to talk about how to build your personal brand and become a celebrity in your niche again.

I invited a super duper special guest that I cannot wait to share, so make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss that. I’ll see you then.


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

Find Your First 100 Affiliates

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Affiliate Marketing Sales Secrets

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