018 - Partnering With Your Competition - Marne Reed

What is up PartnerUp - we're back with an OG of B2B Martech and Enterprise SaaS, Marne Reed. Marne is the Chief Evangelist at PFL but she's pretty much held every position you can think of in addition to running their alliances and partner programs.

Marne hails from the finance side of the house but also has run Human Resources before turning her love to partner programs. #notnormal

Marne is the Swiss Army Knife of B2B SaaS and you are going to love her unconventional takes on partnerships.

In today's episode we're talking something so controversial that your board is quivering just because you have it in your queue...

We're talking partnering with your competition...


You're going to have to listen to this one before passing judgement!

Don't forget to follow along the conversation at https://www.cloudsoftwareassociation.com/ and join the slack group to hang out and learn with 4,000+ partnerships professionals.


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Jared Fuller  00:21
All right, Justin, after last time, you got the new haircut and then I'm stuck wearing a hat today. So I guess I'm the one to do for the barber.

Justin Bartels  00:30
Yeah, I mean, it's your I mean, it's really your turn. But you've been able to go to a barber for what, six, eight months. Now, I don't think you ever had a lack of access to it. But I mean, at some point, you'll have to drop your hair routine because I mean, this lick is unique Jared look like I don't. I mean, I think that's it. I think it's a look in its own right there. Yeah, I'm

Jared Fuller  00:48
supporting the Florida tire where, you know, it's it's like it never existed here. For whatever reason, we will get into the politics behind that. But today, we're, we're joined by we're so excited to have Marnie Reed Marnie, welcome to partner up.

Marne Reed  01:04
Thank you, Jared. Thank you, Justin.

Jared Fuller  01:06
I'm excited to be here today. Absolutely. And it's an interesting week in partnerships. Wow, there's been some crazy because Marnie, you, you're responsible for all the partnerships at pfal. Right, correct. Yep, absolutely. Okay, so we have, you know, the tech Alliance side, which you've done some amazing things with Salesforce. And then you also have some of these agency relationships. And, you know, one of our partners this week just got acquired lead, MD, so shout out to JT and Justin and Josh. Yeah. And then one of the Oh, geez, who we've talked about on this podcast with Joe rally in one of those episodes. Dave Lewis, like the first Eloqua agency, I guess that news dropped today to Marnie,

Marne Reed  01:47
it did it dropped today, so they just announced their acquisition with BTO digital. So it's kind of a new arm for the BPO team, and bringing in the expertise of the demand Gen team, so to talk to David on Friday, and very excited about this new home for him.

Jared Fuller  02:03
What the heck is happening?

Marne Reed  02:07
Right, the wave, that's all I can say is every partner that I'm talking to here is just so excited to see some of these changes happening. It just, it's validating the space, it's validating the value that we're bringing to these marketing teams and these customers. And so this is these are really exciting times right now, I'm loving it. And I just am looking at it saying how do we, each one of us individually take advantage of the excitement and the fire that's happening right now.

Justin Bartels  02:36
I think it's also gonna be interesting. I think these two in particular gonna be like an interesting AB test, because you have, like lead MD, who's a little bit, you know, they were acquired by a little bit smaller, more b2c focused agency. seems very cutting edge and looking to do a little bit today, we'd love to learn more, then you have demand Gen kind of acquired by the larger, larger group there with bdl be interesting to see how those two play out over the course, over the course of it, but

Marne Reed  03:02
yeah, absolutely, it is going to be fun. But we got reassured by the demand Gen team that no one's going anywhere. So the team, the team is whole, and they're going to continue on with their demand Gen NES only under a different logo.

Justin Bartels  03:15
Right. Right. And I think you know, I think both of those are shot marchetto agencies, like with the acquisition of Adobe, you think a lot of those larger players are looking for ways to build practices around marchetto, Adobe, their ecosystem there. So no brainer, Kurt? You know, I think big congrats to those teams there.

Marne Reed  03:32
Yeah, absolutely. Very exciting.

Justin Bartels  03:33
Have you seen any others, I mean, any other moves in the space.

Marne Reed  03:38
The other one that got announced, I think it was last week, or maybe it was the week before Terminus taking in 90 million. So that's very exciting. So I'm interested to see what that investment looks like for them. And where they actually put those dollars as far as growth, you know, one could be curious to say, Is there going to be an acquisition strategy on their part, or potentially, a really, you know, building out their product offering? So I'm, I'm following them quite closely. It does help that my, one of my employees spouse also runs their team over there. So I kind of have a little bit of an inside scoop.

Justin Bartels  04:14
For sure, for sure. So we'd love to dive dive into this topic today. So you know, strengthening that we're talking about strengthening the category here. But you've done some interesting things partnering with your competition. I use that in quotes. Yeah. I think that the whole point is to not necessarily call out the competition, but I would love to hear about how how this play originated, how you started to, you know, partner with your competition. And you know, how did this idea come to light because I don't think it's something that, you know, we tend to think of when we think of partnerships, we tend to think of building ecosystems to compete with our competitors. But how did the idea first come to light for you?

Marne Reed  04:52
Definitely not super common. And I can also say, you know, when I started to think about this, I'm like, do I do it? Do I not do this like, you know, Should I take this leap? But really, it came down to what I was hearing from our own sales teams is, hey, we're coming up against our competition in our own sales process. And how do we speak to it? Like, how do we convey that we're different than they are? Or should we convey that they're different than we are? And so it was just a lot of I don't want to say the word fear. But I think there was uncertainty, certainly from our teams on how do we how do we broach this topic with our prospects? And you know, who I'm talking about sendo. So and so we both have the amazing ability to put things in a box and send it out. So what's the differences between our organizations? And so I thought, you know, why don't we just get them on the phone call and just see how they articulate their value prop, and see how that's different from our value prop. That seems like a fairly low risk conversation. And so that's really how it all started was just knowing that there was an uncertainty on my team on how to answer some of these questions and thinking, why not hear it from the horse's mouth on what they feel like their value prop is, and then use that as a kind of a go to market strategy.

Justin Bartels  06:10
Gotcha. So did you literally like wave a white flag across the field or

Marne Reed  06:14
it was another, it was another situation where I knew Sentosa was partnering with another partner that we partner with. And so I was literally like, Hey, can you ask them? Like, would they be open to a conversation? And it was literally like, a minute later? And they responded, and it was an a, you know, 100%? Yes. Which reassured me, you know, because if we're both will very eager to have a conversation with each other. It told me that, you know, they're probably looking for something similar to what I was looking for, and how do we actually compare notes, but not cross the line?

Jared Fuller  06:49
It's, it's, um, it's interesting to see these business models and kind of extending beyond digital into the physical world, right? strategies. It's a space I'm actually really passionate about because my wife and I had a company called swag bought. Oh, nice that we never got to see the light of day because I think Brandon had started was at coffee center. And now Braden, Braden. Braden rehab, coffee center. Originally, I knew him from an HR tech startup, we were both nice equity back in the day, and then pivoted to like the platform. And then you guys really started to take off at pfml. And my wife and I abandoned the project.

Marne Reed  07:27

Justin Bartels  07:29
Yeah, there's no better


Justin Bartels  07:33
Yeah. If it's any consolation, Marnie, I probably have heard about 11 different ventures that Jared has started.

Jared Fuller  07:41
We go, we don't bring out the stories from the graveyard. But I would like to understand more like, how this, how this originated, from your perspective versus like your sellers perspective, and what those first conversations kind of looked like, whenever you're thinking about, you know, partnering within Dosso? Was it ID does a customer pain where you needed to inject a partner solution? Was this simply a sales process thing where it's like we can deliver part of the value proposition maybe go a little bit deeper into Yeah, where that originated? And if it was, like ideated, from the top or from feedback from the frontline.

Marne Reed  08:16
Yeah, and I think it, it started off as the front lines of when you're hearing your teams Express either confusion or uncertainty or potentially fear in their sales process, that's not going to do your sales team any good. So you need to figure out what are those obstacles and then figure out from a high level, like, how do we blow through those obstacles. And so that's where it really originated from. And then it was, we knew what our value prop was, and what we were delivering to our customers. And I'm very sure that Sentosa knew what their value prop was, but what was happening is, is when we're getting into our sales process, our prospects were not clear on what the value prop was. And so from there, we knew that we had a communication potential issue. And really defining the category issue where, you know, like I said, we have boxes, there's things in a box, but what we're doing is actually quite different from each other. And so that was where it got to the point where I just wanted to have a conversation with them to hear a Who are they selling into? Not necessarily from a named account perspective, but what persona are they selling into? And what did they call themselves? Like? What's the, you know, what's the kind of the title of their category that they're calling themselves and then from there, it was, okay, I know what PSL does, and now being able to push this out internally to say there's a place for us both, you know, there's absolutely a value prop. Yeah, to us both. And so, so hopefully that gives you a little bit more information on on really how it originated, but it was literally like hearing from our employees, these are obstacles and then from a leadership perspective, are we willing to take that leap of faith to have that, you know, open door conversation to Say, where are you guys out? And here's where we're at. And how do we actually help define this category? more in detail?

Jared Fuller  10:06
So, take me through that moment in time, whenever you were like, Okay, I'm going to engage some dough. So when did you align that? Did you reach out to Braden, did you reach out to CEO? Where were you like, Hey, I'm going to start a conversation. And then how did you even get them to agree to a conversation?

Marne Reed  10:21
Yeah, it definitely started on the partnership side. I think that's one of the things that if you look at partner teams, we're relationship builders, it's what we love. You know, at the end of the day, we need to produce results. But we do it through relationship building. And so Braden I had actually talked to each other when he was at coffee center. And so I knew of him I had, I hadn't fostered a relationship, but I also knew someone who had fostered a relationship with Him. And so I asked for that introduction and to see if he'd be willing to have that conversation and he jumped all over it. He is a super great guy, he's very easy going and PFS, also the same way I that's kind of how I play is, is I'll be very upfront and honest with you with what I can and cannot do. And so we just said, Hey, can we spend like 30 minutes just getting to know each other and figuring out is there a place for us to work together? And he said, Yes.

Jared Fuller  11:15
And he said yes.

Justin Bartels  11:17
And from there, so you have this call, you figure out okay, there might be something here, we might be able to help each other out. Help us when help them when? In any kind of a little bit unorthodox way? Yeah, who did you go to next? Was it a,

Marne Reed  11:31
it's really

Justin Bartels  11:33
a round table,

Marne Reed  11:35
I'll caveat that this is still pretty new. So it's not like I have a years of relationship with them. So we are still figuring out very much so but it's literally just giving each other permission to talk. And so the conversations continuing with Braden, we have brought our CMOS into the conversation also, from a positioning standpoint. And and we're still early, you know, this is something that I think we're we're saying, you know, let's call out what the obstacles and risks are of this conversation. And just be transparent about it and ensure that we both feel comfortable having the conversation. And then let's put some milestones or some goals together on what do we think we can do together? So that first initial conversation was, can you describe to me, Braden, what the sendo value prop is like? How do you help customers solve their sales and marketing problems? And then we did the same thing, even down into whatever? What are our capabilities, like when you say, here's the features and functionality, not only of our platform, but here's from a support standpoint, what we can do for you. It just made it super clear in my mind that there's absolutely a place for both of our organizations to live within a customer.

Jared Fuller  12:46
Is your you're going up in building that value proposition, I'd love to learn more about how you think about these. We call them value hypotheses here at drift. What was the insight that led to there is something that is better together, like knowing what Sunoco knows about pfml. And what you know, about sendo? So that's not enough, there has to be something that's like, here's the reason why this is important. What does that end up being?

Marne Reed  13:14
I think number one, for me is category creation. I mean, the marketing technology landscape has been around for what 1012, I don't even know how many years I'm probably dating myself. But it's the realization that when it comes to including tactile sends or gifting sends within your digital marketing campaigns, is not that new, or I'm sorry, it is new. And so when you're hearing from your audience confusion about well, how do I use it? When do I use it? Why would I use Windows Oh versus over pfml or vice versa. That's when you know that if we can come together with what I feel like are the two leaders in the space and also npfl and get crystal clear on what the value is that we bring to our clients, then that creates such a strong category. If you look at the analysts like Gartner, you don't have a tactile marketing category, you don't have a direct mail category. And so I think it's really important to refine and get clear on what that category means to our marketing teams and to our sales teams.

Jared Fuller  14:20
Are you looking to other players in the space now to like, actually, two questions here. You mentioned a couple words, direct mail, tactile marketing, have you at the leadership level decided on the category that's being created here?

Marne Reed  14:34
Well, pfml has decided on the category and it is tactile marketing automation. And that's what we have been using for the last seven years. And and frankly, that's when we see people who are in the space. That's what they have are using. So they're using tactile marketing as the phrase.

Jared Fuller  14:49
Have you done. I'm just curious, have you read play bigger? No, I haven't. Okay, it's a great book that kind of talks about category creation and I was just curious if some of those thoughts that Like influenced how he, how his business and leading these partnerships have thought about it. Second question to that around tactile marketing automation. Are you also looking to other folks in the category? Like, I know, there's one, Alice, that's I think popped up?

Marne Reed  15:15

Jared Fuller  15:16
Do you view this as like? I'm trying to get crystal on this one, because this is very interesting. The role of the partnerships professional, and the charter of business development seems to be changing beyond just manage the tech partnerships, manage the service relationships, it's also thinking about building the market.

Marne Reed  15:36

Jared Fuller  15:37
So are you also reaching out to other people and trying to help influence that category creation?

Marne Reed  15:43
You know, at this point, I'm not, I figured I'd take one step at a time. So I'm taking the crawl approach with with Braden and Sandow. So, you know, at this point, I think it's it we're proving out what this could potentially look like. And based off of how that works out, I think it's, it's worth a worthwhile discussion. But I also think there's kind of an interesting play where you can elevate the leaders in the space and kind of squash the trailing potential competition.

Jared Fuller  16:13
Right, I think there's, um, this is where I'll give the cloud software Association plug, whenever this is live, and you have like metrics attached to it. And it's like at that next phase of activation, then we need to do the cloud software Association case study on how to partner with your competition. So there you go, coming back to you. And Braden. With that one, Marnie.

Marne Reed  16:30
I love it.

Justin Bartels  16:34
I would like to ask, you know, having at least begun this started this, what would you recommend if somebody is listening to us right now? And they're like, Whoa, I never thought maybe this can this company that I always viewed as competition could be somewhat complimentary from a partner standpoint, help us strengthens category we're trying to build? Do you any tips of the trade rules that you would follow? You know, as far as evaluating? Yes, that would be worth going down? Or no. It's it's, you know, going to create too much murky confusion?

Marne Reed  17:02
Sure, I think there's a couple things one, is it there really is no harm in initiating a conversation? If they say no, then you have your answer. But starting that conversation, and then being able to call out the potential risks to say I don't. And I even said this in our initial call, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable. So if there's anything I asked, and you don't feel comfortable answering, that's okay. And I'll do the same courtesy to you. We're all business professionals. We're all trying to run successful businesses. And so you know, if we can leverage knowledge from each other and help elevate both brands, and and both companies, I think that's step one is just that level of vulnerability. The other piece that we got into on the first phone call is is I want to understand who are you selling into? And if it looks like we're selling into the same ICP, and we're also selling into the same persona tread lightly. You know, that may be the point where you say maybe this is not a wise business decision for us to have these kind of conversations. But when it came down into it, there's certainly some crossover between us and Sentosa as far as capabilities and also who we sell into, but there's also pretty big differences too. And that was the point where we thought this is a really worthwhile conversation to have, because they're I mean, PFS is really good Sentosa is really good. So those are two brands that if we can learn off of each other and actually accelerate the growth or business, why would you not do that?

Jared Fuller  18:24
What's interesting is we started the conversation talking about some partner news in these agencies being acquired. And if you look at ecosystems, what's funny is you look at the space that you're creating, and you have a handful of people in it right now. But then if you were to look at, I don't know, maybe HubSpot agency program, there's like what 5000 HubSpot agency partners. What's so interesting is how well they played together, and they're technically all competition. And as this martech landscape rose from I didn't even know in Chief martec Scott Brinker staying how many 8000 9000

Marne Reed  19:01
it was 10,000 10,000

Jared Fuller  19:03
now Oh, my God, when I started to drift, it was five. So it's doubled. Yeah. Huh. Yeah. Wild. So my point being is this is that I think the most innovative companies are going to have an have an answer to that question the same way that marketing agencies has been forced to figure out like, you know, we've mentioned Dave Lewis, or, you know, Justin gray over at lead MD or demand Gen. I bet if you asked, Justin, and if you asked, you know, Dave, they would say, Oh, yeah, here's how, you know, we work with certain people, and here's how they work with certain people. Here's where we're fit. Here's where they're a fit, and they can answer those questions really intelligently about their ecosystem. Whereas I feel like in SAS, it's a lot of Boogeyman. It's a lot of like, No, no, they're the devil they're the worst in that distills a lot of distrust in your sales process when it's like. I don't think you actually know your competition. Yeah. Yeah. What have you been uncovered about them that is kind of like trickle down where it's like, oh, actually, we have better intelligence now that we're, we have a better relationship, we can tell a cleaner story,

Marne Reed  20:07
when I talked to our customer success success managers in our 80s. And I say, Hey, I'm having conversations with sendowl. So their eyes get really wide. They're like, Really? That's awesome. So that was kind of an unexpected reaction that I got from our teams, because they, you know, when you have an organization, and I'm not just saying pfal does this, but you know, I've been in these other, you know, even marketing automation companies where they're like, let's go kill our competition. And, but if you don't have a good narrative on why you're better than them, that really doesn't set your sales team up for success, because they need to be armed with, you know, this is a great company over here, because I think when you're selling, particularly to marketers, they're, they're smart. And they can hear from other people who are using our potential competitors there. And so if you just say, Oh, no, they just they suck, they don't do a great job, but they're getting information from some other marketer over here, then you've just totally lost their trust. And I think arming our teams with the ability to answer articulately, where pfml fits and where we can provide value, and where our competitors fit. And where they provide value, I think is a really critical step for our teams to feel, you know, be bold and audacious in having that conversation with these marketers to say, this is why pfml is the right decision for you. Or frankly, maybe it is PFS is not the right decision for you. Maybe one of these other platforms might be a better solution for you.

Justin Bartels  21:36
Love it, love it. Now I want to hear about it mainly because I know the players here know the folks at p FL. I want to know what was the conversation with Andrew field, like for those that are listening? That's the CEO of pfml. And you're, you're having your sit down with him your one on one, you're like I got this crazy idea?

Marne Reed  21:55
Well, to be perfectly honest, it hasn't happened yet. It literally was. It was literally like the first conversation was with our head of sales and our cmo to say, Hey, I'm thinking about this. And I want you to poke holes on it. What do you think? what's what's?

Jared Fuller  22:16

Marne Reed  22:18
what's the risk? What's potential upside for it? And so then it was like, let's just take it one more step further, one more step further. And like I said, To me, this is like a little bit of an r&d process to see how does this work. And so far, I feel really positive with with the relationship that we're starting to build. And, and just the clarity on where we value, you know, bring value to our own clients.

Jared Fuller  22:44
Have you, um, in this process, like, there's not really a rule book for much in partnerships. That's the reason I prefer this podcast is why Justin's here, it's like, we all are kind of writing the book as we, as we play it as we execute. Is there been any lessons on this where you think like, Okay, this is why it's a advisable thing to do with sindo. So, but in this other situation, or these other situations, it's not have you been able to yearn any type of like framework are like, Hey, here's when it's the right call. And here's when it's not the right call.

Marne Reed  23:22
Yeah. Well, we even say this in our sales process, if it feels uncomfortable, there's something wrong. And so I think it's, it's, you know, I'm not a person that goes 100% off of gut because I think data is important, too. But I think your gut does tell you when it's a conversation that you should pursue or not, that's a pretty soft answer for you. But it is really where I'm at right now, which is, you know, I look at Braden, and how easygoing he is, and I feel the same about myself. If it gets to the point where we're like, hey, like, this is starting to, we're starting to compete against each other, this is becoming an obstacle, we might say, you know, let's, let's stay friends, and, you know, and maybe share different types of ideas. I mean, we're getting into discussions with our partners of like, howdy, and Jess and I were talking about this the other day, like, you know, granular level of how do you measure sourced and influenced revenue. So there's a lot of different nitty gritty pieces that I think are still safe zones. But I'm not going to go do an account mapping session with my competitor, like, hey, let's get on crossbeam. And I'll let me see who you're prospecting to, that would be a bad idea. So I think just leaving it more to the operational side of things, is what I would recommend and and like I said, I think there's no harm in just initiating that first conversation to see if there's a potential opportunity to learn from each other. And frankly, I think it makes you stronger in the conversations with your prospects when you have that level of vulnerability and intel on the other person who's being brought up in the conversation.

Jared Fuller  24:56
It's like when you have that mission that's bigger than you. I mean, that's why HubSpot was you know, They're successful with inbound is a category because it was much bigger than them. Right? lots of companies came on their coattails. But before we pivot to another part of this kind of like partnering with your competition, I'm actually curious if you've had any thoughts on like, at the end of the day, you might end up having a conversation with your CFO, the CEO, or the CEO might say, I gotta take this to the board. Right, like that upper level. Yeah. How would you measure whether or not a partnership like this was successful? What's your gut take on that?

Marne Reed  25:30
Yeah, I think how I would measure it is as if I were talking to our prospects and they had a clear understanding of when Sandoz and when P FL. So I think to me, there's a bit of a feedback loop coming from our own sales organization. On our A is the internal teams clear on when PFS is the right solution when Sandoz, who is the right solution are both working in conjunction to each other. But I also think a feedback loop from just the marketplace. Are they clear on what tactile marketing automation is versus a gifting platform, because corporate gifting platforms, there's very much of a value prop there. And that's not really the direction that pfml has taken are tacked on marketing automation. So that is much like a lot of things in partnerships. That's a bit of a soft metric. But I also would look at it from the perspective of are we closing more deals because our sales teams are clear on the value prop that we're bringing?

Jared Fuller  26:27
I think what could be interesting is like, I'm particularly close to a similar initiative to you right now, where I'm assuming in Salesforce, you probably have, you know, like close last close one reasons and competition identified, what would be interesting to do off the backs of this is to probably take out like that named competition is like, Oh, we lost this deal. And this competitor was in it. Perhaps it's like a competitor was in it. But we identified that it was the wrong fit because of this, right? Like being able to take those close one close loss reasons, like close one, this competition was involved. But we actually identified that because the competition was involved is why we won, or, you know, the competition was was involved. But we we actually exited stage left, because it wasn't the right fit,

Marne Reed  27:12
correct? Yeah, I love that idea. I gotta go.

Jared Fuller  27:16
I'm just geeking out on partner offs lately.

Justin Bartels  27:18
Weird. I'm the ops guy. Come on. I'm the one that's supposed to talk about Salesforce tagging, that,

Marne Reed  27:23
I think, you know, you put these categories, and it just is it's one of those things that if it's on the drop down, then it doesn't really give you that level of detail that you might need that level of insight that you might need to know what's actually happening.

Justin Bartels  27:35
Yeah, I think it's also a good indication of like, how well is your messaging landing? Because, I mean, I look at some of our deals, and I'm like, how are we, you know, obviously, we play in the chat space, we're creating a larger category. But you look at some of these opportunities. I'm like, how is this customer thinking that we're on a similar level as this other competitor or a similar style platform? Yeah. And I think it's also a good feedback loop. how, you know, how well are you doing building that category, and then that brand, and then your messaging and being really honed with that messaging. And obviously, the more time your reps can spend focusing on the deals that they're likely to win and with the better so

Jared Fuller  28:14
yeah, 100% that's like a shameless plug for last week's episode in soutenir, he had the CEO of the cloud software Association, he had a very controversial opinion that the partner organization should report into marketing. And I think that type of market intelligence is a really good point, Justin, that like, you know, how we're going to market in those conversations and what's happening inside these partner conversations, and in competitive conversations, needs to make its way back to the marketing organization. And if you're, if you're just too focused on source dollars from a partner charter, you're too focused on sales, like you lose some of that feedback loop that marketing needs to strengthen your brand and like focus on the customers, you're going to win. To your point for sure.

Marne Reed  28:56
We were actually just having that conversation about is it mark, you know, because we spend, I would say, 60% of our time, you know, doing cool marketing efforts with our partners, but then we have the 40%, where we're helping with sales. And so when you're straddling those two worlds, where do you land? And it's a it's an interesting challenge for sure.

Jared Fuller  29:15
The old sales and marketing divide still applies to partner land.

Marne Reed  29:19
Exactly. It's like that rubber doll that just gets stretched. What was that Stretch Armstrong? Yeah,

Jared Fuller  29:25
yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that. That was a that was the thing that you would like pop your eye out if you accidentally let go the arm back me in the face a few times. So where were Justin I were talking before this, where we thought we could pivot this conversation to something tangentially very interesting because I this happens a lot in partner land is actually partnering with partners who are competitive. Yeah. I'd love to get a high level take from you on if you've seen whether it be on the technology. side are on the agency side of having two partners who seem to be 100% at odds.

Marne Reed  30:05
Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. I mean, I even think of the place where we integrate into. So we've got, you know, Adobe marchetto, we've got Oracle Eloqua, we've got Salesforce Marketing Cloud, we've got Salesforce, and so those not 100% crossover, but they're certainly selling into the same markets. So if they're bringing us into an opportunity, and they're bringing us into the opportunity at the same time, what do I do? And, you know, I think it's one of those things that you have to be respectful and say, Hey, you know, Salesforce brought me into this opportunity. First, I'm going to, you know, I have to give my loyalty to them on this particular opportunity. You know, best of luck next time. And so far, so good. I mean, that has worked really well, just to have that honest conversation I have

Jared Fuller  30:49
interrupt you there. Marty. A, there's probably a lot of people that haven't experienced that. But that might be like a good problem to have. Oh, it's

Marne Reed  30:55
a great problem for me.

Jared Fuller  30:58
Right, let's, just to recap what you said. You said you have integrations and partnerships, either formal or formal with like the Marketo, marketing automation part on Eloqua. Right, so the three major enterprise marketing automation platforms, and you might have someone an account that's kind of referred in by two people in a joint pursuit to have these partnerships. Correct. Do you have an RFP like a rules of engagement around that? Or is that like a stated like, here's, here's what we feel is fair and right. And given the circumstances,

Marne Reed  31:31
we have, we do have the rules of engagement. And that's something that I've you know, when we go through like a sales enablement, training with a different ABS or solutions, consultants at these different organizations will talk about this. I also use it as a bit of a leverage, though, to say, Hey, you know, don't let your competitors out solution, these opportunities. And so if you have competitors, yeah, because it's like, I want to help, like, I love all my partners, I want to share the love. But first come first serve. And so if I have someone from Salesforce, bringing me into an opportunity, and then Marketo comes afterwards, I'll be honest with them to say they got here first, you know, and so they're they're moving at a, either they're out solutioning you or they're moving at a faster pace than you. So in order for you to be successful in your own career. You know, make sure that doesn't happen again. I don't want to have this conversation with you again, it's disappointing. But

Jared Fuller  32:22
yeah, disappointing. Oh, my gosh, I love you

Justin Bartels  32:25
be able to share that story morning because I feel like Jared would love it. If you can't a okay. But

Marne Reed  32:29
no, I can share the story. I think there's enough people that probably no longer there, it'd be fine. But Mark, Mark Kennedy asked me to present to their 80s, their revenue kickoff meeting. I don't even know how many years ago, maybe three years ago. And I had two slides up. And the first slide was like the number 169 opportunities. And then and I said, Hey, and of course, I think this was mandatory, like all their heads were down on their phone or in their laptop and not paying attention, which makes me feel sad. But you know, I stood up there. And I said, Hey, you know, I want to show you guys something. So 160 on opportunities. What this stood for was how many times Salesforce brought me into opportunities in the last year. Next slide zero, I said, this is how many times you guys have brought me in into an opportunity. I said, so what that means is your competitors are out solutioning, you guys, and everyone's head just like popped up. And it was literally like, I have to admit my palms were a little sweaty, I was thinking, is this a bad idea? It got my attention. That's for sure.

Jared Fuller  33:28
And you know who that was? Don't give me the number. But is that number more than zero now? Yes, it is. Okay, so it worked?

Marne Reed  33:35
Yeah. Yeah, great. And I think you know, at that, at that point in time, like I said, I don't remember when it was, they didn't have a strong partner. ecosystem, it wasn't something that they paid rev share on. And so I it didn't, there was really no incentive for those at ease other than potentially losing a deal. So and that's what I wanted to educate them on is I want to help you in deals, use your partners. That's what they're here for. They make your solution stronger.

Justin Bartels  34:03
And I love that he also leverages to kind of enforce, you know, tagging and operations and the data hygiene and that all right, you want to expand on that.

Marne Reed  34:12
I'm tagging operations as far as like in our owns Salesforce instance.

Justin Bartels  34:17
Yeah, yeah. on that one, understanding, understanding customer bases, understanding where they're playing, having that up to date.

Marne Reed  34:24
And that is like, you know, when this comes to some of our other technology partners, so like in the ABM space, obviously, we have partners that are competing against each other, and we do have to have those rules of engagement of, you know, when we are sharing account mapping, you know, there are certain things I don't want to show to the competition because are not my competition, but you know, across them because that's not going to earn trust and respect with pfml. And so making sure that you have those things flagged within your own Salesforce to say, hey, this particular customer of ours is also a you know, number One ABM partner, our platform, you know, using the ABM platform, I don't want to show it to my other partner, because I just think it creates kind of an uncomfortable situation for both parties involved. And so I'd rather just not engage in that conversation.

Justin Bartels  35:15
Right, right. I think that's a good tip for all other folks who are new are trying to figure out that about a couple of people. Drop me, you know, comments on LinkedIn of like, Hey, I'm thinking of partnering with a competitive partner to my partner. Yeah. You know, what should I think about I think it's a big one is, you know, having a clear understanding of who they're working with, and clear rules of engagement of like, hey, if they're already in there, I got to play Switzerland on this 100%. Yeah. And or, you know, they got first opportunity, that type of thing.

Marne Reed  35:42
And I think everybody understands that, you know, I don't know, if I just have fantastic partners, and everyone's just very laid back and easygoing, but also hungry and driven. But, you know, they, they're like, I totally get it, you know, they don't want to put me in a bad spot. I don't want to put them in a bad spot. And I also think, when you're looking at some of these account, mapping software's like crossbeam, or share work, you know, they make it pretty easy to be able to set partner specific rules up where it's like, I'm gonna hide these particular accounts. So

Justin Bartels  36:10
and how do you how do you educate, you're one thing that's come up before is, you know, having partners in a similar space, the CSM is that as they're trying to understand them, how do you enable your teams to understand you know, when to recommend one of those partners over the

Marne Reed  36:25
so someone who has joined my team in the last, I think she's at six months right now, she is doing a fantastic job at helping educate our internal teams on who are what we consider our elite partners are. And so we have a very hand selected number of partners that we will refer business into, because they're very like, like pfml in the sense of customer success first. And so one of the things that she's doing with those partners is every single week, we have a business weekly review, where it's an all hands review, where we look at, you know, every part of the business to say, here's what's going on in the business, here's where our revenues are, this is what's happening and CSM, like each division gets to report kind of some highlights but in addition to the highlights some optical obstacles so we can figure out how to help each other. And then once a month, what we do is we invite a one of our elite partners to do a spot partner spotlight, they get 15 minutes, they get to talk to our entire team about what their value prop is, what their solution solves for and then really what to listen for. And so that is step one to really helping educate our teams. But then it's also making sure that your alliances team are actually in the cadence meeting with the CSM and the ease. So when we do our a pipe review, I'm listening for those opportunities where, you know, deal stalls, why did it stall? Is it something that we have a partner relationship that I can leverage the intel on that relationship to be able to move it forward? Or partner or customer stall? Because their data isn't clean? Okay, who do we have from the data perspective that I can reach out to and say this is the problem that they're experiencing? How do we help solve that problem? So I think those are two tips that I would recommend is just getting your partners in front of your entire organization to help educate them on this space. I mean, like you said, both of you 10,000 companies in the mahr tech space, we're not going to learn them all. But how about 12? You know, take take kind of a at least one step forward and educating our teams.

Jared Fuller  38:24
I'm going to take this in a slightly different direction because I think Marty your profile and understanding of PFS business is a typical in many ways. You've touched how many different parts of PFS business outside of partnerships

a lot

Jared Fuller  38:42
more for the folks that don't know, like, I mean, you know, for a while, but you've touched what specific functions outside of partnerships.

Marne Reed  38:49
So I actually started in our human resources. Actually, I started our human resources. We didn't have one before I came on board. So that's kind of my background is HR and recruiting.

Jared Fuller  38:59
And from there I took on DNA comes from is like the the recruiting side.

Marne Reed  39:03
Yeah. relationship building. It's people, I love people. Oddly enough, I had started our own PSL childcare program. And so that reported through our admin department. Then, after a while, I was looking for kind of a new challenge. And so I started running our software development team and our business analyst. And so I did that for about four years and wouldn't trade it for the world love the technology side, Jess and I were just talking about how alliances gets brought into product development quite often. And so that's armed me with just enough information to be dangerous. But I also realized that when staring at code was not my forte, I actually created headaches. So I told Andrew, I'm like, this is not where I think I want my career to go and he said, we'll find your replacement. I heard some from Oracle and I said, Well, I'll just go, like hang out with the partners and see, how do I help them? How do I enable them to sell our solution so That's how our alliances team actually got started.

Jared Fuller  40:03
And how long have you been working on that as your like primary charter?

Marne Reed  40:07
A primary charters about seven years, seven, eight years.

Jared Fuller  40:12
And you also have some background in like in accounting.

Marne Reed  40:17
the accounting department did report up through me. I know, it's like I can't, they did report up through me. Yes. So when I'm very proud to say that our who our controller was that reported to me has now grown into a VP of finance role. So she's now sitting on our senior leadership team.

Jared Fuller  40:34
That's fantastic. Yeah, I love that for a number of reasons. But the reason why I wanted to call that out is that the reason why I started this podcast is about once a week, and sometimes multiple times a week, I'll get an email, or an email from someone that's like an account executive, a customer success manager, someone in the organization where it's like, hey, my cmo, my VP sales, my CRM, my CEO has just tasked me with like, taking on the partner program starting a partner program. Yes. And I think you're the first person that comes that I've talked to that I'm at least I'm aware of that has come from like an HR background. And this blossomed into like having a very mature understanding of what it takes for successful partnership relationships, and how to drive management. And I think in the partner world, we break down all the barriers of like, what is the career trajectory for partnerships? Where do you start? And where do you need to end up? It's like, no one's starting in the same spot? What advice might you have to someone out there that's like, thinking about the partner landscape and being like, this is a very challenging and unique part of the business. You know, given your trajectory that you've navigated your way through to it?

Marne Reed  41:48
Well, even looking at the people who've been on my team on the partner team that have been successful, they've been in other areas of the business. And I do think that's a very critical component to being in the partner team, it's just being exposed to other areas of the business, because, as you guys know, we get on a phone call, and we'd have no idea what that phone call looks like. It could be a sales call, it could be a partner call, it could be a product development call. I mean, that is kind of the nature of what we do is, you know, someone's reaching out to us, and they say, I want a partner, that's very vague. Does that mean you're trying to sell me on something? Does that mean that you want me to integrate into your platform? Do you want to integrate into my platform? So I think just having that business context helps you navigate those conversations and be fast on your feet to know, is this a yes? Is this an Oh, who else do I bring into this conversation? So to me, you know, when I've talked to people about who want to come on my team, and I always give the recommendation, I want you in as many areas of the business before you come on my team. And I think that's a very valuable attribute for an alliances person.

Jared Fuller  42:52
In even beyond that, it's like as many areas of a business like, like, if you're thinking about the channel side of things, like the services in the agency, oftentimes, I describe that role as you are a consultant to consultants. And we're paid probably, presumably, if they really are a consultant in a big global agency, etc. And they are architecting solutions for clients at scale that, you know, are in the mid to high six figures, or sometimes seven figures, you have to presume that they're probably pretty smart, too, that they have business acumen there, yeah, you're being paid to transform companies that are bigger than the company you're working at. Yeah. And having that broad breadth of business experience is oftentimes I feel like left out of that partner things. I think it tells people like, partnerships is probably one of the most lucrative, challenging gray hair, parts of being in a business, but it allows you to just be so wide. And to understand so much more about business context. I love your story and background, like there needs to be a profile on you in the CSS.

Marne Reed  43:58
I've always said if I have to get another job somewhere, I think people would look at my background. I go, what, what what are you? What direction would I go? And I have no idea. But you know, I think the other thing that I've told my teams is, you know, we got we get brought in to conversations with Salesforce and Marketo and an Oracle where they're saying, okay, Marty, I specialize in the FinTech space, like, I'm verticalized here. What are the use cases? You know, and I and I know not all companies have those types of conversations. But you know, we have to be very forward thinking in Okay, we may not have a customer in there, but I'm going to go research the heck out of it and find what would be an applicable use case and how do we actually prove out ROI with this? So we, I feel like alliances tends to be maybe a couple years ahead of maybe where some of the organization is

Justin Bartels  44:56
I always describe it as being like tied to the front of the boat.

Yes, we're Like,

Justin Bartels  45:00
you're going to take a lot of waves sometimes. And you know, it's going to be sometimes choppy water. And you know, you may be taking it out of the chin, but you get to see the tip of the TAM, yeah. You're never using and what's out there. And I think it's very important to also communicate that to the back of the business. And that's how you learn the strategic force within your organization is when you can say like, Look, we don't help within serve right now. But the use cases and the need they have aligns really well with this vertical we already work with. Yep, I think we've tackled X, Y, and Z. We could really no, we had these partners here. We could really, you know, expand our market there. Absolutely.

Jared Fuller  45:38
You too, are thrown out too many one liners like tip of the TAM, Justin. To me the first time I love that, and I've stolen it many times. You know, you're being out solution by your competition. There's lots of one liners in here that are just gold, it should be topics unto themselves. Your future. Yeah, absolutely. Marty, we're gonna have to have you back on. And before we start, I do want to give a shout out to the cloud software Association. So it's a membership organization with 4000 partnerships, professionals. Don't go it alone. There's lots of people out there like Marni, like us that have been there. And I can't say done that. But like failed, figured it out. And then like, do the thing that we did to get to where we are. So come join the CSA Slack channel. It's a great community with on demand events, live events, and we're proud to partner up with the cloud software Association. And before we go, one last thing, too because Justin, I don't do enough, a good enough job at this. We're hiring lots of partnerships, people adrift, so put me on LinkedIn, ping Justin on LinkedIn. We're looking for some awesome channel account managers and some folks on the BD side, Marnie, Are you hiring anyone let's give you any any because we're not beholden to any one partner up is

Marne Reed  46:50
gonna have 51 positions we are filling out this quarter this quarter. So we are growing like gangbusters. So Customer Success managers, if you love serving accounts, love serving your customer and making them successful, and then elevating their success. We would love to have you on board, business development reps. We've got both Indianapolis, Montana and Colorado that we're looking for their sales reps. Marketing, I think every department we're we're looking for people so

Jared Fuller  47:20
fantastic. So go check out pflp Marnie, or hit up Justin and me if you're looking to join a what we think is going to be the this decades big breakout partner program, but we're not Marty, this was a blast.

Marne Reed  47:37
Thank you. It was a lot of fun. I love it. It's a great way to end my day. I've got a beautiful sun setting over the snowy mountains over here. And so it's been fun. It's been really fun with both of you. Awesome.

Jared Fuller  47:49
Well, we will see you all next time on partner up before we go Remember to if you're watching us on YouTube, like subscribe. And if you're taking a look at us on Apple podcast, Justin lives for five star reviews. So we've got one of them five star reviews and let us know what you think. And until next time. We'll see you folks on the flip side

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