We've been needing a guest like this...
For all the listeners out there that manage a partner book directly, this is THE episode for you.
In our first ever DRIFT takeover for PartnerUp, we had a blast bringing on Shareen Shelton.
Shareen personifies how to level up as a partner manager, is currently a Sr. Enterprise Channel Account Manager by day, and a practitioner/student of B2B SaaS. Starting out as a CPA, pivoting to operations, moving to Account Manager, to building and farming a partner book, Shareen knows first hand what it takes to level up in partnerships and in your career.
Prior to Drift, Shareen was the number 1 Channel/Partner Manager at Acquia.
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Jared Fuller 00:20
This is actually kind of funny because the last couple times we've made comments about hairs or hats and then now we're both wearing hats. But I'm gonna try to be nice to Justin today because I'm wearing the nice hat suggestion.
Justin Bartels 00:31
Are you feeling a little edgy?
Jared Fuller 00:32
A little edgy?
Justin Bartels 00:33
Like, do you wear the hat to remind yourself when you're like, you know, edgy or like feeling like you got a little chip on your shoulder?
Jared Fuller 00:40
I feel like this is the perfect 2021 hat. Last year, everyone was a jerk. Yeah, everyone was a jerk. Everyone was so mad last year. So this is the 2021 hat. So excited today to bring on I guess the third? The third drifter? Right, if we done this before? No, we haven't. So welcome shareen. Shelton to partner up sreen what do you do adrift?
Shareen Shelton 01:06
Well, Jared address I manage are rising. So I have a really exciting and challenging in a good way kind of Mission Directorate to recruit a whole new set of partner position to a few really great strategic partners. As we grow more in the enterprise space here at drift we need partners who understand the broader digital experience strategy. conversational AI can fit into your CRM platform. So I love partnerships, which I'm sure we'll talk about and partners as partners as friends yet so I kind of found my passion and doing it over.
Jared Fuller 01:50
Yeah, you've Um, I think what's so interesting about this channel role and like, we've talked about partnerships being this very weird place where people from all walks of life kind of end up colliding like people from with Marnie last year, right, yes. And Mario came from the finance and HR side of the house has been basically done everything at pfml. to, you know, people in sales, customer success. I think where we wanted to take this episode was to kind of use serines story of like, kind of your background, where you came from, and how to become really successful on the channel, because she wouldn't say this. But sreen was like, top global channel account manager at Aqua, which is, you know, company worth billions of dollars, and it's coming to drift to kind of crush it again. So let's maybe talk and unpack that a little bit where you came from shareen. And like your background, because you weren't born in part,
Justin Bartels 02:47
we're still looking for the, by the way, we're still looking for the common theme. That's part of the goal of the podcast is trying to figure out, what is it that unites people in partnerships, and how do they get in it? So we're developing some some pieces decide, right?
Shareen Shelton 03:05
Okay, yeah, gotcha, gotcha. Well, you know, I think kind of my background, and I can get into how what led me here is, at the end of the day, I love working with people. So anything where I can work with people, you know, one of my first jobs, you know, in high school was seen as little elf helper taking pictures with the kids on Santa's lap, and I got promoted to be the Easter bunnies assistant, the next season. So anything where I can, you know, work with people is a huge passion of mine. Actually, you know, did the normal college switcheroo where I came in as a psychology major realized I was kind of awful at writing papers, and I needed something a little bit more hard and tactical to wrap my head around. And so, um, you know, I took the intro to business class and the professor said, you know, if you want to challenge yourself, you know, let's try accounting. Okay, let's do it. You know, there's no subjectivity when you're grading tests about how I write it's there is one answer to solving that equation. That sounds great to me. So I started my career, you know, on that very, what I would call a safe path for very risk averse you can see in my stock selections, we have to throw financial disclaimer
Justin Bartels 04:11
on this pie. Right.
Shareen Shelton 04:20
Yeah, I always get a hard time for for my partner for investing in mutual funds. Spider draggers like that a safe that's great for me, you know, I'm not putting my money and Nvidia right now. Um, good mutual fund 2065. So really similar career wise I you know, did the public accounting route got my CPA out of college? And I really you know, what attracted me to that field at first was it was a very clear path from the you know, where you start and read ended up being the partner and I thought that's what I wanted that really see laid out for me route. I quickly realized that I, in public accounting, you're running, you're moving from engagement to engagement customer to customer. And I realized I wanted to stick with one copy and grow that company over several years and see that that can be improved versus rolling off every few months after the engagement was over. So, you know, I started my career in accounting eventually transitioned into accounting in the software space. So that's I got incredibly interested in SAS and technology, and worked my way up through the ranks in the finance realm of this companies. And eventually,
Jared Fuller 05:34
I want to pause there because like, trying to extrapolate some of the threads or things that might have pushed you in that direction, you mentioned something around that you didn't like peeling off of clients every so often. And then that pushed you to go, hey, maybe I need to go inside and like get something deeper.
What was that underlying
Jared Fuller 05:53
thing? Was that the curiosity? Wasn't the relationship was it? Like all the underlying thing that motivated you to make a change?
Shareen Shelton 06:02
Yeah, I think you need to have those relationships. So I got quite attached to my clients on giving them a business advice as a independent auditor. But really, what we need to do is really learn their business models so that we can understand, you know, what drove them what kind of matches that management at those companies were incentivized by. So really digging into those businesses, I love learning about the businesses versus you know, publishing opinion on their financial statements. And so I would say I got to know those clients very well. And it was a little sad every time I had to say goodbye to them and not knowing if I'd be on that engagement next year.
Jared Fuller 06:46
That pushed you into the private sided Aqua. That's an interesting one. Like going into the the SAS and b2b SAS world that's, you know, it's its own microcosm. But once you're inside of it, you're like, Okay, this is it becomes your escape b2b SaaS recently. Like, it latches on to you as it's growing into this monolith. But you come into Aqua, tell me what happened after the CPA thing, like what made you think like, I want to move from, you know, servicing the business to, you know, servicing the client was because you ended up missing those client relationships.
Shareen Shelton 07:28
Yeah, in terms of kind of what drove me from finance and kind of CPA world to, I guess, sales. It's a funny story. So I decided that you know, if I'm going to be, and this is no, just the accounts up, you know, out there, I believe, actually, you're the best. It just wasn't for me. But what what was interesting is I said, if I, if I'm going to be like, in this accounting world, right, like, what's the most fun I can have, like the country, these numbers, and I said, software revenues, like this incredibly complex industry, there's a lot of rules and regulations around, you know, recurring revenue and software licenses and things like that. So I chose to focus on revenue. As a part of that Aqua had this policy, where, you know, if you're on the finance team, you focus on revenue goes a step. Further, if you go to sales kick off, you have to participate in the pitch contest. So I then had to of course, participate in the pitch contest. freaked out with so nervous that I do for over prepare to the point where my team, which is all sales, folks at the time, chose me to present long story short, you know, one of the VPS of sales. You know, Casey tended to sail forever be grateful to her for giving me a chance to start a career in sales, pulled me over and said, you know, if you're ever interested in sales and account management, like give me a shot, so that was really math related to sales.
She take it home and
Shareen Shelton 08:53
being able to work with the end customer. Sorry,
Jared Fuller 08:57
when did you did you win the pitch contest?
Shareen Shelton 09:00
Oh, no, I
Justin Bartels 09:01
did get the recording and
Shareen Shelton 09:04
better, but I know. I know. I can't remember. Was that Yeah, no, it was it was awesome. And then you know, I think sales kick off every year. Since it's been great. I really loved building those relationships with customers who's obsessed with the business and the solutions he provided and solving the pain points and love to do that in official capacity. I will say I think that it freaked me out though, is an incredibly large upsell quota though. That's the only thing that I was nervous about. I was like I got the process down I know how to use the quote decorator I understand what finance etc to approve my deal, but oh my gosh, how do I hit this so far? So that was that was you know, shared? We've talked about this before, but what am i seeking in their careers to get uncomfortable right and that was making me uncomfortable but in the best way possible.
Justin Bartels 09:54
So I'm a firm believer that like working in partnerships, you have to have a strong grasp on every part. The business, let me know strike midnight strong grasp, at least an understanding and acknowledgement of it. And I'd imagine your background point in that accounting side is a little bit of a superpower in the sense, like, how does that show up and help you differentiate in your partner engagements? Or, you know, from other members of the team? You know, working with partners now on this, this channel?
Shareen Shelton 10:21
Yeah, sure. I've always said, I believe this is a resource to keep my CPA today, accounting and finance kinds of things, your business. And accounting is pretty much the same worldwide as well. So it helps on an international level. But, you know, at some point in my career, like, I'd love to marry my finance side, and then my sales side as well, you know, for something like, you know, Chief Marketing Officer position. So I've always believed that understanding the numbers behind decisions, even if you're an individual contributor, is super important. So you know, an everyday example of be a channel manager, you have a number to hit, but you have that pipeline coverage to get you there. So I'm constantly running the numbers, making sure I have that 3x 4x coverage. Still billing, not up here at drift, of course, but you know, I'm fishing every day, and I'm reading the reports and the data. But I, I think it's so important in that in terms of working with partners, they have margins to hit right. So it has to make sense for that the margins, the services dollars, so be able to paint that picture on.
Shareen Shelton 11:24
you be profitable later? I
Justin Bartels 11:26
think a lot of people talk about, you know, what, what's the revenue opportunity? What's the services opportunity, maybe one of the intangible items or, you know, more items that are harder to measure with partnerships, but getting down to like a profit conversation, I think, is a big differentiator from probably the other channel account managers they're working with across, you know, the rest of their, their tech relationships. Yeah,
Jared Fuller 11:56
I think the the common thread here is that, like, there's some folks that really thrive in becoming kind of the consultant. Right, like you, you mentioned that I'm trying to tie all these threads together here and like, what what might make someone successful because you've, you've become successful in this function in this role, and you still have a long ways to go in terms of like, your, your opportunity ramp is, I think, very long and high and up into the Right, right. So like, you're on this ascension. But what's so interesting is that you identified in when becoming a CPA that like you like that consultative fashion, even though you couldn't necessarily like give actual, you know, proper consulting advice, right. And that's really like, I mean, why do folks that, you know, the big, the big consulting companies make so much money, because it's really hard to go into someone else's business? Like you were literally going into someone else's business, and then you're telling them what to do? like, Whoa, I mean, how many marketing organizations has, you know, Justin, have you run or insuring Have you run? Have you run big marketing organizations? No, none of us have. And yet, we're going in and we're helping transform those types of businesses, right, like those agencies and essays that you work with, right? Like you've never been a managing director at, you know, sapient, or epsilon, or, you know, Accenture or whatever, but you're in there, transforming them nonetheless. I think that's pretty cool.
Shareen Shelton 13:26
Jared Fuller 13:29
I mean, you're working on it, right? Like you're in these accounts, and you're, you're helping them paint a new picture of what's, you know, the art of the possible?
Shareen Shelton 13:36
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, really positioning yourself as a trusted adviser to these partners, or you know, that when you're at a consultancy, or public accounting role, you know, not necessarily like not always being their friend, like, I feel like I'm my I'm friends. I feel like every single one of my partners, and I'm just very lucky and glasses and great partners, throughout my career, but also gaining their trust, right, so they have to tip seriously, you're giving them like high level business advice. Also, you're coming into their business and telling them kind of what to do even with partnerships. You're saying that Why does she care about an aqua draft and Adobe, you know, what have you. It's really similar to kind of how I started my career as an auditor is understanding their business course because that's most important. So that you will want to show that you care, right and taking the opportunity in your business and not just credit.
Jared Fuller 14:34
And maybe we can kind of transition away from the like the the more ethereal parts of like liking consulting and like these these other components into how you think about, you know, you came into this channel role at at Aqua after being an account manager and having a big upsell quota. What were the things that you learned in that like first year, a couple years that you think like helps you define what it means to be successful? It's like A channel manager. I remember the presentation you had whenever we were, you know, kind of in the interview process. And I think I remember he saying like, it's not a it's not a relay race like you are the quarterback. Yeah. And you had a tom brady picture, which, by the way, so stole him down from Northeast. And you know, y'all know what happened? Yeah, y'all know what happened? Yeah. You are the quarterback.
Shareen Shelton 15:25
Yeah. So I think Yeah, what you're leading to is my one piece of advice. Well, I have a few kind of moving pieces that I think really helps you level up as a Partner Manager, one of my favorite is the concept of keeping your head in the game, right. So the reason I like to use the football game analogy, getting to that touchdown line is, unlike a relay race, where you kind of pass the baton to the next person, or in a channel manager role, you get that person to register a dealer tell you about the opportunity, you have to sales, you don't say like good riddance, you know, I bought a deal. Now it's your thing to close it, you need to, you know, stay in the game, like all the way through until that quarterback gets the touchdown, because it's your deal. It's your partner, and we're all kind of a team, no matter what organization you are being a Partner Manager for to get that deal done. And that's the only way I think he could be successful. So my advice as a channel manager would be like, treat yourself if you're the quarterback, and you're the one that has to
Jared Fuller 16:26
call the plays direct the offense, the defense? How was that translated into, you know, maybe a specific example like thinking about, you know, a large deal, you don't the name of the deal or anything, but some situations where it's like, oh, I thought I was just, you know, handing off referrals, or like doing this or doing that, where you had to really be a motivating force cross functionally across, you know, kind of internally, externally multiple stakeholders. I mean, were you were you maybe had that realization were like, Okay, this is I have to drive this sucker, this isn't gonna happen with your my account executives or my partner.
Shareen Shelton 17:01
Yeah. And actually, that's a really good kind of segue into another kind of piece of advice, I always, you know, like to hone in on which is to manage horizontally. So, in terms of example of managing a deal, there were times in my class where I would find, you know, he came up a deal. And earlier in my kind of chain or manager career, I was seeing that, you know, the sales rep, knows what they're doing, they are harder to hit, they're incentivized to drive these deals to pleasure, that always didn't happen. And the reason I found was, you know, sales reps, account executives, especially new logo, folks, they're managing tons of deals. And your deal isn't always the priority, or one of the most focused on it could be that they're getting pressure from one of their managers on a bigger deal. Or there's something that they've been choosing for a while, and this goes off their radar. So what I used to do is assume that they were on top of a deal as I was, and it was as important to them as it was important to me. So I started realizing very early on that I had to be the man to drive, checking in with the partner checking in to see what the next steps were. So it got me It had to get me tactical, in terms of you know, always get back to I run my business with records in data and dashboards. Every morning, I'd run you know, opportunities by my partner apart and see, like what we got last year we had in that step. It's been too long, you know, that was a trigger to me, I need to check in on this deal. So that's kind of what I mean by manageable as long as you see it through the finish line, touchdown line, whatever, that's all touchdown line.
Justin Bartels 18:39
That's a real art in itself. I mean, I've definitely learned a lot about that in the last two quarters, right? You don't you're not directly, they're not directly reporting to you, but your success is their success. So you got a scenario not like I'm going through this right now. Say you got a rep is a little you know, it struggles to keep you in touch with what's going on or struggles to stay in touch with their partner throughout the opportunity. What, What tips do you have? How do you get them engaged and really working with that partner throughout the entirety of the opportunity?
Shareen Shelton 19:11
Yeah, it's tough. I feel like every rep has their different way of kind of managing, you know, their opportunities. It's really personality management, I found and really kind of going back to like, why I love working with people as people are a puzzle. And every every rep like works in a different way and is incentivized in a different way so it's really finding kind of like what drives them you know, I want to certain reps who are so on top of it put all the next steps in an opportunity I don't ever have to check in once unless it's just to say hello and then I abrupt so I've noticed haven't chatted with the customer, the partner in two months and you know, time kills deals, you know that or that it's almost too late, but I realized that me learning kind of like the different working styles of all their representatives you might be working with and really You know, owning it, I guess is, you know, checking into the current yourself, I assume that with established partners, most people would have a bi weekly going with that partner, even if they're just checking to see how their kids or dogs are doing, you know, run your pipeline report before that meeting. And if you haven't realized you had an update about a deal with them, and Wow, great time to ask about it.
Justin Bartels 20:20
I can see this CPA seeping into your partner Day in the Life and just to like how organized like I can already picture your Salesforce reports and dashboards and how you set up your day. I can definitely, definitely see it carrying over there. Awesome.
Shareen Shelton 20:35
Yeah, I love I love numbers. I love spreadsheets still.
Jared Fuller 20:40
What about, you know, you've talked about just managing horizontally. So the next one is naturally managing vertically? You know, like, going up in around and what's any feedback you
Justin Bartels 20:51
want to hear? management? Is there any feedback you have for Jared, let's let's air it out right now.
Jared Fuller 21:02
Actually, it has nothing to do with the partner organization explicitly asking about managing up in the sales org like we can't.
Justin Bartels 21:08
Oh, yes, yes. I love that. I love that.
Jared Fuller 21:10
Yeah, no, absolutely. This, let's hear the feedback that gives us better rating, people would be like, yes, this is the most honest podcasts around. So we can go both directions. Let's start with the sales side, right. So like how you build relationships with those, you know, the directors and like the east and the west coast, and like, all of the different management structure out there, because a lot of times, not managing horizontally also means like being able to go to Okay, I have the reps on the frontline with the deals, but then I need to layer up and have, you know, executive alignment with certain partners in a strategic to pull them in and build bigger relationships. So that way, they're thinking more strategically about that partner, that partner is thinking more strategically about us. Talk to us a little bit about how you've, how you think about bringing in, you know, executive sponsors on your partner accounts.
Shareen Shelton 22:01
Yeah, a couple of thoughts there. So really similar to the wraps, every AVP, or leaders have individual contributors, I feel also have their own working style. So you know, if you, you'll have some that are super friendly, and will take any meeting and always respond to you, because they're, you know, just a nice, friendly, jolly person. And then you have the really other side of the house where they just want, they want to see those numbers get hit, they have a lot of pressure on them. in kind of a lot of cases, I found that in which I think are most sales leaders to be honest, because they need to run a business, finding ways to build an efficiencies into your process, but also, you know, be prepared for when you do have a question or request from them. So gather all the details in advance qualify that opportunity or type of partner you're working with, you know, I see a lot of channel managers, including myself kind of earlier on, fall into the trap of I have a really awesome partner and like, you might know why they're awesome, but they don't just seem like Hey, can I get in front of your sales rep. Like they really want to do presentation of why they're so great group, our organizations routine, making sure you've already done your research and saying, you know, I think this is a great partner for this organization, and to speak to your team. Because here's all the shared target accounts we have, here's their vertical expertise and our industry expertise, and you know, what, what they do and why they're a good fit. And here's why you need to focus on that. And you know, what they're doing for like, your East vertical or your West vertical, I'd say being kind of over prepared. And, you know, something I'm doing actually, right now at drift with the two leaders of our enterprise east and west space is yes, we have Salesforce to mark, you know, certain accounts as high priority, but how, in my experience, how up to date are the sales reps, really keeping those fields, you know, some are really religious about it and constantly updating. And I've talked to other reps, and this is just my current company, this is all companies, some reps, you don't have the best sales force hygiene or whatever CRM we're using. So getting inside them, and I said, How do you have a route to take five minutes out of their day and put down their top 20 no more than that top 20 target because you want to get into from them, the partners, he will come in and assign partners, whether they're the incumbent partner, they already work with them, or they have a really good fit for this vertical expertise to prove it. You can meet up with a strategy there. So instead of saying like, Can I talk to your team, or you know, really, you know, who this person is great. Who's here? Why is that partner because it's easy. And also, here's a process that I've already built for you so you don't have to do any of the legwork. That's actually probably one of my biggest pieces of advice is like don't give sales reps a lot of work to do. They already have a lot of things going on in their mind on their calendars like the more you can prepare for them in advance and make it a very easy process for them. I found is what do we call removing the friction
Justin Bartels 24:50
back to David pilgrim okay easy. I'm seeing the easy button pop up again. Yeah, David program was a previous guest we had ways like when you were going to partners, given easy by Megan is easy. If possible for them. I think you're highlighting here that also stands true internally, right? If you're looking to work deeper with a new sales leader, a new sales team, new sales member, your group with an illustration, given an easy button, right?
Jared Fuller 25:12
I'm actually going to challenge this for a second. So you are right, because I've seen Justin create easy buttons everywhere, instead of in front of the sellers and like do a lot of the work to make it easy for them. And I've seen you start to do that to sreen. Even though we've only been together for like a short time here. I have no doubt that that is the thing that separates mediocre or unremarkable folks. It's like, yeah, you know, they're on the partner team are they're doing this, and I don't really know what they do till they're awesome, right? They do so much for me, they make it so easy for me. What about that dynamic, though? Have you seen? And this might be a question for both Justin answering that might create some dependency or false expectations in that relationship, right? Like I've seen that go the other direction where it's like, you've done, you've made it so easy for them that they almost start to rely on, you know, that relationship for you to kind of that kind of goes too far, which over time is a bit of a drain? And, you know, you might have to call that back out or do something else. Let's talk about the other side of that.
Justin Bartels 26:13
lecturing go person.
Shareen Shelton 26:20
yeah, I mean, great challenge, because I don't, that's totally true that that can happen. And you can fall into the other side of the trap, where all of a sudden, you are doing too much work. And I think it's really, you know, how we create what we call raci model? What is it responsible, accountable, consulted, informed? Did I get that, right? Like, that we do like PS and our customers and onboarding, it's really like, great use internally tos establishing those roles and responsibilities, early frost from the get go. So, um, you know, I would never say, I find it come up. Actually, if we're talking like the technical side of things, I find this come up a lot on calls with prospects and customers. So, you know, for the majority of the time, I found that sales reps are very willing to get on a call with your partner, if it's about one of their top target prospects, less so if it's an account manager, the current customer, they tend to be a little more guarded with new logo pursuits for the majority accounts. That is, absolutely let me talk to Xyz partner, this is a top target, I run into situations where certain reps are that's your job, you know, if it's a partner call, you need to you need to run that you need to run the discovery level customer all the way up to the point where the customer is like ready for a demo, and it was still on the Partner Manager to keep running that, you know, depends how your structure is, and instead of sorry, or, you know, I know we will achieve a drift ourselves on their own they want to but you know, you only need to push back as a Partner Manager be willing to kind of like tell the sales reps like this is what we typically do. This is what we expect from you. And this is how we can be successful together. So not so much bossing them around, per se. But hey, I really think that we can get this deal done to secure this win for you if we do that and kind of tell them why they should be working with you. But just I don't know, what do you think
Jared Fuller 28:10
before I before I let Justin opine cuz he has strong opinions on this? I know he does. I think there's there needs to be a concept of a almost like a partner Relationship Manager maturity model that like you're given on day one, it's like, hey, you're not managing an external relationship. Right? Like this is very, there's no training course or path, like you can't actually go get help outside of our walls. But here's what the five levels look like. Right? Like the first level is like, probably, you know, understanding the customer and the market and like the dynamics, and that second level might be like, you know, making it easy for them. But then there's like another level on top of that, where it's like, if you just make it easy for them. When you go to this next level, it's like, what are you actually doing? Like you've made it easy for them. And then, Justin, what's next? What's next after you've made it easy for him, and then it creates dependency, and you have to like get better? Because I would say that's better, right? Like, you can't not make it easy. But then you have to get better whenever you create dependence.
Justin Bartels 29:05
Yeah. Yeah, I think there's a couple a couple mechanisms at play, I think are in principles the fall like, I think it really helps to understand when you're getting up to speed with that Rep. Understanding the maturity of working with partners, is I found that a lot of their apprehension of communicating is there. There's, they're fearful because they don't know, they don't know, maybe they've never worked with partners before. And this is their first pursuit. And it's like one of their first two deals in a new company. And they don't want things to go sideways and they don't know how to how to run that. So I feel like in that scenario, that's where the easy button and really walking through the process and hand holding them early on pays off because then over time, they see like, oh, when they get the motion down, partners help with my deal, then they're much more likely to be like oh, yeah, I can I can I see how it makes sense for me to run this with the partner or to stay in communication, or to be very partner friendly. pays off in my deals, where the other situation you get I've gotten myself into is there, there may be people that know how to work with partners that are mature, but are like, are very conscious of their time very conscious of their attention. And they'll they'll take advantage of you and the services you provide working with partners, and they'll say, Hey, can you send this to my partner? Or can you send this to the partner? Or can you get an update from the partner and, you know, the same time it took them to slack is the same time that they could have typed up an email and develop that direct relationship. And I think that's when you have to lay down the fuller card. And the fuller principle of hard conversations easy life, you see in theory has gone without that one.
Jared Fuller 30:38
hardship. No, it's not the fuller No, no, that's my boy jersey. grigorik. New Jersey Bergerac is
Justin Bartels 30:45
Jared Fuller 30:46
You don't know who jersey camerawork is sure you? Oh, my God. Oh, my gosh,
Justin Bartels 30:53
take a guess before it Let me guess like, money go in philosopher economist hybrid?
Jared Fuller 31:00
No, he's, um, he is a was the polish. Eastern European, I'm forgetting the exact origin. But Jersey is from the school of hard knocks and actually became an Olympic weightlifter. But he's also a poet, and a amazing writer, just probably one of a kind. And his famous phrase that I love, like, it's just, they could probably tattooed on me, I think about it so much as hard choices. Easy life, easy choices, hard life. Right. So I applied that to conversations. It's a it's a, you know, an adapted version for like, hard conversations, like, you got to have hard conversations. And I think, you know, you hit the nail on the head in that, like, they're mature, they know what to do. I think having that hard conversation to be like, Look, what if you're developing the direct relationship with the partner? And I'm not there? How does that change the dynamic versus me being there? Like what happens whenever I get, you know, I'm gone, I'm moving to another part of the organization, I'm going up, you probably want that direct relationship, right? Like, that's probably a hard conversation to have with someone that, you know, in the enterprise world enterprise account executives top of the food chain, right, that's how there's a perception there. Right, like they are, they're there for a reason that was put it that way. You have to be able to push back. So
Justin Bartels 32:19
yeah, I think to add, like a little more tactical tip to that, too. I think if you understand the partner and to the person, they're working with their accounts, and can highlight, like, look that you're working on one of them, one of your opportunities with his partner and one of your accounts, but they also own three or four more, right? You want to go through me? Or do you want to be working directly with them who has the relationship with the three or four you're trying to break into right now. And being able to if you if you understand if you have the account maps and can call that out, I've seen that also drive a lot more partner collaboration direct with the partner, and then just calling out like the whole fact about, you know, the whole telephone principle like, Look, you don't take good notes, I go and Salesforce, I don't see anything in there. Like, you're asking me to update the partner. What am I supposed to, like, something's gonna get lost in translation here. You're leaving, you know, some variable up for risk, you know, this is much better coming from you, because you were just on the last three calls with them. And I was not, or maybe you you know, you know, may know something that I just don't and you may have a clear ask for them. Here's a couple asks that we commonly ask about partners, but you could probably put put together a more clear ask for, for what you need with this opportunity.
Jared Fuller 33:33
I love it. I love it. There. I wish I could actually be really good at content. I don't know. I'm writing a lot of this content. I'm now I'm actually thinking about the partner Relationship Manager Maturity Model. Phase One is kind of the recap what we're going here because I have a question for shirring that follows. Phase One is like, I don't know, the curiosity, the desire the drive to understand your market and the customer and their business and be a consultant. And then phase two is making it easy for everyone else. Phase Three is like challenge them. What's phase foot? Like? Where do you go next terrain? How do you think about like that next level of like, okay, now that I can actually make it easy for everyone, I'm the quarterback, I can actually have hard conversations and push people. What's the next layer? What's the next phase of that maturity model? You think?
Shareen Shelton 34:19
Ah, well, I guess I'll still go back to that question. Do you mean next phase with the sales rep or with the partner having like the
Jared Fuller 34:24
chance as a channel account manager, so let's think about this framework, the partner Relationship Manager, Maturity Model, meaning you come in here and you barely know anything, it's your first time in channel. And then you get to these phases where you're like, I've mastered making it easy for everyone. Right? I've seen some people come into channel and partnerships relatively quickly, and they make it they do make it easy for everyone. But then they get stuck in that level too. Right? They get they end up making a lot of dependence on them, and everyone's reliant on them and they can't break out. So then we just talked about the challenger mentality of actually having hard conversations giving feedback coaching, you might say Have your internal resources. And if I'm trying to get to the next level as a Partner Manager, what do you think's next?
Shareen Shelton 35:06
Yeah, I definitely have an opinion on this. So, and this is, you know, I think a channel manager can easily kind of outgrow their role. So you know, they come in their new their Partner Manager, they learned their partners, they learn how to work with sales reps hit their numbers, a certain point, the person is going to be consistently hitting their numbers. And then what's next, I would say the biggest thing, I would challenge channel partner managers, whatever you call them to do next, and this is something that takes a lot of skill, a lot of like, 10 years to develop to perfect is the ability to build what we call the go to market or plan with a partner or joint value proposition. So what I hear a lot people talking about is what are we going proposition, you know, and very rarely do I see pen to paper, right, they might talk about an idea why each partner is going to be that company, I never really see that one pager get produced, it definitely exists, it's out there, but it's a lot more rare than it should be. So I would say, you know, especially as a manager up until work with the larger GSS, right, the event centers, the delays, the what have you, they really need like a business plan to go to market plan in place to work with you and to be able to scale on a global level. And that's where I think you're really going to prove your value as what we call it a global, like, partner Alliance manager, to be able to build that and also execute regionally, whether that's just because you have such a great relationship and working knowledge of that organization, or that partner or you have people under you executing regionally. I would say really building out that marketable press release story of why these two organizations are working together, what we're solving for our customers, and then do a campaign from there, right? If you have a specific vertical and key studies and customer rings, you can show you got into an executable, digestible email that you send out to prospects and customers and it went from there. You know, want to hear more stories, as a viewer tell the stories with your partner?
Jared Fuller 37:09
That's such a good answer. Because it It also paints a path for like what you said at the beginning, like, Hey, you want to be a crna? Someday, and I have no doubt that you will be no doubt. Because you're thinking
Justin Bartels 37:22
train in the future, please. I said, Please hire me in the future. Sure.
Shareen Shelton 37:25
You got it?
Jared Fuller 37:27
Yeah, we're gonna both end up working for shareen. Very, very possible. I love the way that you're thinking about this. Because to get to that next level, like what is that next level, it's kind of spanning and actually starting to understand a wider go to market function, right? value based messaging, right, marketable things. A go to market plan, like with this individual partner isn't the same as a go to market plan for, you know, 500 person or a 5000 person company. But if you can't do that with one partner in one use case, in a product that's already defined, right, and a sales process is already defined, how the heck can you expect to do that for a much larger org? So I think that's like, absolutely, the next level is being able to do that, like, as a forcing function, I think, you know, on the Alliance side, a lot of what we did early with marchetto, like forced us to think that way, like immediately, we had to come up with your sell sheets, joint value propositions go to market plan, because they were already baked into like a bigger deal. Right, we had this bigger target and quota and this go to market plan, and we had to ensure that it was all baked through, but a lot of folks that end up owning frontline partnership relationships aren't exposed to that. Right? Like, it's kind of like, Hey, we want to partner What are we going to do together? You know, like, we'll send you deals, you send us deals. I love that answer. Justin, how have you given what you've seen with Adobe? How do you think about that like that building that wider go to market plan and like some of the stuff that we're doing there like now and how much wider we're getting in deeper?
Justin Bartels 38:57
Yeah, what specifically like what what has
Jared Fuller 39:00
changed and what I've learned as far yeah, like building that wider go to market plan and kind of, I don't know, just the the concept of like building a strategic narrative and the various folks that like you know, Brent on our team is in like talking to and like getting wider in the organization. How much more complex but also a different level that is than just managing frontline?
Justin Bartels 39:23
Yeah, I think you know, a lot of ideas are spinning around in my head and I'm seeing my my partnerships world and my love of Andy Raskin closing in very quickly. Exactly. For those that for those that don't follow Andy Raskin I'd highly recommend is in specifically, if you had to read one blog post, go read the most interesting sales deck ever, I think it's titled. But I more and more, I'm thinking like, I'm under the impression of like, if you don't have that story, or if that isn't apparent. It's not worth partnering, you know, or it's like, it's it's a small fish, small fish, right. There's gotta be something that ties into a current shift or trend that's going on in the market that helps you and the partner deliver the customer to a better state over their competition, and it has to be unique from what else is out there. And I think starting with that lens is great of like, are we even talking about the same shift in the market? Are we talking about how the same person and type of account and how they are adapting to the shift or having to adapt to this shift? And the consequences of not adapting to this shift? And then and then how is it flowing into the stuff that most of the partnerships people spend a lot of their time thinking about of, you know, territories and, and incentives, and, you know, account mapping and or, you know, operations. If that first piece isn't there, all this downstream stuff that we have to then live for the next two, three years, as we take this thing to market becomes 10 times harder if that story isn't nailed. And if it's not in touch with reality of what's going on in the market, which is why I think partnerships is also super fun. Because you have to play chess, you got to play chess
Jared Fuller 41:05
100%, that's, that's at the chest level. I love that that's, that's something we need to spend some more time on on the channel side. Like we're trying to do it more globally speaking with, like, how we help agencies si as consultants at a practical level. But what is that, for those of you who don't know, the Andy Raskin framework is, is relatively simple. But yet, I've also been studying it for two and a half years. And I still feel like I'm not very good at it, like I'm getting better all the time like it, you got to practice it a lot. And I think partnerships actually gives you a bunch of ways to practice it, you can practice it with a partner, or a partner or a partner, you can only send so many strategic narratives as a CEO into the market. But you can actually have a bunch of strategic narratives with like, each one different with each partner. So what the framework is, is old world versus New World. Right? What used to be true, that is no longer true. And what is now true, right? That, you know, didn't used to be so you start there with that old world versus new world. And then, you know, you got to say that there's going to be winners and losers. And then you have to name the stakes, what happens for the winners, what happens for the losers? It's a fantastic framework for that next level that you I think, eloquently articulated terrain around helping build that go to market plan. I think we're coming up on time. But before we go, I do want to remind everyone that we are now partnered up with a cloud software Association, serene, I know you're running a whole bunch of cool stuff inside the revenue collective. So shout out revenue collective. Come join us on the cloud software Association 4000 partnerships professionals in there. So slack group, you can join for free. tons of great content, like there's a weekly masterclass series in there that jr and Evan are putting on. So a great community. So come check it out cloud software Association comm join the slack group, get on the listserv. And then they also just rolled out executive membership to that's a paid membership. And I am a paid member, I did pay my dues. So come join us in the members channel as well. So there's my CSA plug. And I don't do it, because there are sponsors, because we actually are partnered up I love what they're doing right now. Because shareen Well, what resourcing and, you know, support did you have in your ascent to partner management role?
Shareen Shelton 43:24
resources? That's right. Yeah. No, well, not not mentorship, maybe
Jared Fuller 43:30
friendship and mentorship. But what about resources?
Shareen Shelton 43:32
lots of resources, lots of mentorship, actually, you know, I'd love working cross departmentally not because I've kind of had the opportunity for a few horizontal movements in my career. So I appreciate kind of everyone's pain points and what what they might deal with. And I know, I always make friends with finance in the sales role. There's so many revenue recognition rules, you guys and they're always changing from six to five to four, and then they're back to five. Now, I forgot I should probably brush up on this. But yeah, I always always partner up with finance internally. But resources and you know, I'll call them out because I always do. And I think you know, as well, Jared, one of the biggest mentors I've ever had in my career, especially in the partnerships roles, Tom Richardson. So, yeah, so he was he was my boss, you know, over ockley I really, he saw me, you know, going back to what we talked about earlier, having a large upside over the person and ever as an enterprise account manager. He kind of saw me Lino herders because I was very new to sales. I was very new to having food up. I discovered that there was a partner and it was every single one of my customers, how can I work with them because they're the weeds on the ground every day of his customers either way, about more about them than me. So Tom's gonna fall like what I was doing the partners and he gave me a chance to come over to the enterprise. During my time in Austria, and, you know, Tom's a really smart guy that he did the web Fellowship Program. Just Have you ever have a chance to listen to any of his presentations he's been but he also like will give it to you straight like very sweet guy, but we'll definitely call you out on your weaknesses in a good way always make you a better you know employee better Partner Manager. So, you know, he saw me crushing quota as account manager really hitting the quota when I started as a channel manager. He was like free like, you have you bulldoze like your ideas on people, like you have to take a step back and realize the power of influence. So you know, he sent me like, book after book after book, Amazon, like the power of influence. And you know that that still resonates with me today. I'm working on every day because I've always been tied to a, I believe I see the NBA. And I realized that one, you know, those are the two even if you want, you have to get people on board and see the vision and have them work with you. I'm seeing like, you're getting good information you're seeing so get them in group with you. And I think, you know, I have a lot of time in my career and some hard learning. He taught me early on some of the weaknesses that I could turn around and, and like my experience, I'm just looking at books on my shelf. Success under stress, leadership rise, having influence to influence people, ego is the enemy. That's all time riches in both studies me and I love
Jared Fuller 46:28
egos, the enemy is a great one. I had one of my, I have this written down, like as a it was this. You can like, customize the background of your phone. I had this as a note that I screenshotted. And I put it as a background on my phone. And I think I just hit me one time five years ago, and it was my ego is worthless. My outcomes are valuable. It's like well, like wherever I that like, hit me. I was like, oh, shoot, it doesn't matter what I I care about the outcome. I don't care about how I feel about the outcome. I just want the thing. I love it to shout out to Tom. And for those of you that don't have a tom Richardson that's what the cloud software association is for. So come on, folks. I was gonna tie that back. It's my point. Is that
Justin Bartels 47:17
on your leading question? Yeah.
Jared Fuller 47:19
Yeah, that's my point is that your community is great. I wish that a lot of folks, you know, you've kind of had that. Final Thoughts Justin, one of the folks supposed to do with YouTube.
Justin Bartels 47:32
Subscribe. Me subscribe.
Jared Fuller 47:34
And with that, we're out. We're recording on a Friday. This was a fun one. Thank you, Shireen and Justin, we had the drift crew here for the first ever trip takeover partner.
Thanks, guys. Alright, peace out. See
Jared Fuller 47:49
y'all next time.