021 - Partner so good they want to buy you - Kris Jenkins of Workfront acquired by Adobe

Howdy Partner!

Today we were honored to welcome Kris Jenkins to the pod who was the Sr. Director of Alliances at Workfront (acquired by Adobe).

On this episode Kris gives the keys to the M&A kingdom on how to partner so good with your alliance partners that they buy you outright!

Don't forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you get your pods on the go, give this episode a like, and the PartnerUp Youtube channel a subscribe. Check out all past and future the PartnerUp episodes at https://www.partneruppodcast.com and... don't forget to follow join the world's largest partnerships community at https://www.cloudsoftwareassociation.com to hang out and learn with 4,000+ partnerships professionals.


  • Apple
  • Spotify
  • Or literally, anywhere you get your podcasts. Seriously. Ask Alexa: “Alexa, play "PartnerUp the Partnerships Podcast” and magic…


Jared Fuller  00:21
So that's probably how we're gonna start it off today, same way. Speaking of. We were kind of talking in the pre pre roll stuff with our illustrious guest today, Mr. Chris Jenkins of workfront. Before we hop into Chris, Justin, what was that article? You slacked me this morning. This is a big partnership of ours. Holy cow.

Justin Bartels  00:41
A lot of unicorns on loose. You got 6sense $2.1 billion valuation? Wow.

Jared Fuller  00:46
$2.1 billion valuation froma company that was relatively unknown. I would even say two three years ago.

Justin Bartels  00:53
I mean, that's got to solidify ABM is a category Right. I mean, is that is that when you call it is that when you call it, you know, defined category and something that's gonna stick around for a while.

Jared Fuller  01:02
I mean, they think they're calling it revtech or something. But the point is, is that there's crazy demand for ABM, right crazy demand. But given that multiple on that valuation, so shout out to the 6sense crew, Elliott virol, Jason, Latane, Mark, all the folks over there, kudos on a fantastic raves and a huge milestone. So they're definitely part of the martec b2b kind of like partner ecosystem that's coming into the forefront. But passing the partner news, I want to give a shout out on the pre roll to before we pop over to Chris, because I haven't done any pre roll kind of shout outs of the cloud software Association lately. I'm normally mentioning them at the end. So if you really like what we're talking about on the pod, and we want to engage with folks like Chris and other thought leaders in the partnership space, there is a community. So it's at the cloud software Association, about 4000 partner professionals are in there. So follow along, come join in, there's no cost to join, or you can be an executive member for 250 bucks a year. So I am and there is my plug for the CSA.

Justin Bartels  02:07
So can I add to that? I've been in the slack group and you know, I've watched some of the threads but I gotta say the probably the best part is Wednesday or Thursday getting you know, an all at here, notification about their upcoming webinars. And typically, Thursdays, there's just been some really good ones lately. Really good advice that just popped up right kind of right when I needed it. So if you're looking for ongoing add ongoing networking, you know, ways to sharpen your game, I think, at least be a part of the slack group have it open so you get those notifications. Take a look at the topic. It may or may not resonate with you. But lately they've been on fire. So just want to throw in that little personal plug there. Love it. Love it. Well, Chris, you've heard Justin I banter enough. Welcome to partner up my man. Yeah, thanks. Appreciate you guys having me today. I'm excited. I've heard a few of your podcasts. And it's Yeah, I'm excited. I'm thrilled that you even thought of me to bring me to the to the podcast, so I'm yeah, swag. We need swag. This is why we need swag at this point in time. Swag. Oh, we did a partner swag. It's about time. Yeah, it's a pretty common thing to do with partners, right is to share the swag. Yeah, yeah. That just you got to let my brain entertain that idea. Don't Don't send me down the swag rabbit hole for partner I'm

Kris Jenkins  03:27
already thinking about the socks and pencils and glasses gonna

Jared Fuller  03:30
get slacks for me at 3am tonight.

Justin Bartels  03:34
Yeah, what do you think this is swag. Yeah. Funny story off of that. But for a later date, we'll get to that

Jared Fuller  03:44
for a later date. That's what we had Marnie read a pfml that's we'll have to get her take on that because she knows swag. Well, today with Chris Campbell, we wanted to hop into was thinking about nailing that strategic alliance so well, that they want to buy you. And now you can't do this with every single partner, right? There's kind of like this other class of partnerships, that lives above the rest that I think really has ELT or executive team, you know, buy in alignment and even visibility, right, like the C suite is thinking about it. It's so big, the C suite can think about all your partners, but they really can't think about that top tier one percentage. And why have you Chris? Well, speaking of unicorns, and you know, billion and multi billion dollar exits, you most recently built and scaled a partnership with Adobe at workfront, which is now a part of the Adobe family. So maybe we could start there as a general topic is like, Yeah, what was the charter whenever you came in, to, into work front around partnerships and alliances and what led you to making a particular bet on Adobe?

Kris Jenkins  04:56
Yeah, awesome. So a little bit of my background. I've been in, in software engineering product management for most of my career. So I've been like really close to the technical side of software, companies and software building. And prior to joining work run, I was with a small startup called Banyan and we sold to a local company here in Utah called Nuvi. And, you know, made a little exit and, and I was kind of looking for what that next thing was. And I had never really considered technology partnerships or even even partnerships in general as a potential career path. But the whatever the listing was, for this job, I don't I can't remember all the details. But I thought this actually could be really interesting because as I was leading the product and engineering group at Mannion, I spent a lot of time with technology partners. And ultimately, that's how this acquisition with movie happened was just through those relationships and starting to build like, where do we best fit for customers, right. And so I interviewed with Paige Ericsson, she brought me in. And and what was great was that they had already started a kind of a technology partner, part of their business program. And this role was to lead strategic technology partnerships. They had a couple contacts at Adobe, they had built some integrations at work front with Adobe, and had been thinking about, you know, that this could be a good opportunity, just because a lot of our customers overlapped. Right. And so what I was told, basically, those first few weeks at workfront, was, it's important for us that you make sure that workfront becomes relevant inside of Adobe. And and that was ultimately the charter and there wasn't a whole lot more detail to it, other than figure out what that means. Tell us what the budget looks like, where do we need to invest? Who do we need to be talking to what you know, what engagements do, we need to make integrations etc, to to make something happen, and what was great was, you know, they thought about it more holistically than just a single partner, it was very much a Adobe is one that we see a lot of traction, but like the spectrum of partnerships is open. So wherever you can find traction, please go do that get as much traction, you can in those in those partnerships. And so that's really how it started was just, you know, we believe that the top level, so I think Jared t to your point in the beginning, page actually had the full buy in from the executive leadership team. So she sat on the executive leadership team reported to the CEO. And because she had that, like direct connection, you know, to the CEO, from a partnership standpoint, I think that really lends itself to getting the right support from the rest of the organization. Because it's such a challenge, as I'm sure all the listeners, your audience understands is like, it's hard to get professional services, it's hard to get sales, it's hard to get engineering, it's like there's so many departments and teams that you have to work with. And to get them to understand and be able to prioritize partners can be a very, very challenging thing. And so that's that's ultimately where it started, we had the right buy in at the executive level, the right charter to just become relevant and the right sort of big brother type technology companies. And then, you know, figure out along the way, who the right people are the right partners to give you the right traction. And that's what that's what started to happen at Adobe and ultimately led to the acquisition. And I can talk in more detail about those things. But I think the last thing I would say, as part of the introduction is every one of those companies that we looked at as a strategic technology partner, was significantly bigger than us, like, we knew that they could write a $2 billion check or a $10 billion check whatever it was that we felt like we needed right to exit. Although we were not targeting that it was never mentioned to me that we wanted to exit that way. We always wanted to IPO and move the company in that direction. It just what it did was it gave us options, you know, so that when the time did come to make some decisions, we had those options, and we were in a good place financially to make it you know, to make it wherever we wanted to go.

Jared Fuller  09:15
I have a this is a silly tactical question. Follow up from that, given the awesome intro you had. Because I've been involved in one of these before, where I was a part of that m&a conversation, like I was coordinating meetings like it was, it was something that was brought up kind of by me with a public, you know, leading kind of plot, marketing and sales platform. The the question that I have is, at what point did you know that conversation was turning that direction? And Was that something that was a part of what you were doing because like throughout the entire lifecycle, it's like, we're not selling we're not selling and not selling and at some point that changes to like, oh, there's actually an m&a evaluation that's happening. I'm curious. When you knew that was happening, and if you were involved in that process.

Kris Jenkins  10:04
Yeah, so without getting into too much detail, of course, basically, what I was trying to do was set up as many of those companies that could have that conversation as possible. Right. And so every conversation that I was having went with it with executives, generally. I knew that that was always an undercurrent. Right, right, that there's always never discussed, but it's No, no, that it's not, it's not something brought up initially. Right. And, and, and really holding your card, right, you're playing a poker game, you're just like holding your cards as close to you just as possible. And, and not revealing them until it's until it's the right moment. And so I think, in this case, right, all of those executive conversations, it was it was pretty clear that, you know, it was an undercurrent, and that we would have the opportunity at some point in the near future to have that conversation about, you know, whether they're interested in wanting to do that or not, how it happened, you know, with Adobe, I can't share the details, but certainly, you know, what,

Jared Fuller  11:05
was on your radar, right? Like, it was like it wasn't, and then it was, and then in terms of the due diligence, let's call it that, if you were helping facilitate due diligence.

Kris Jenkins  11:16
Yeah, so So all of that guts, kind of started with me, and then transitioned to the rest of the team. So essentially, our executive team was pretty small team, right? Like there's less than 15, you know, executives at workfront. And, and so that group and the engineering team and sort of the need to know, group is where that you know, where those conversations were had. And so my role at that point, basically just became, continue to sell in the field, continue to get traction and continue to show value, versus being you know, directly in the conversation for the due diligence.

Jared Fuller  11:52

Kris Jenkins  11:52
All of the all of the materials, all of the demos, all of the conversations that they were having, were all related to the work that had been done by me and my team. And then when that was all taken care of, then clearly in the due diligence, as they looked at, like the value proposition, the customer joint customers that we had the future opportunity, all of that stuff had been completed as part of the partnership process,

Jared Fuller  12:15
right? Yep.

Justin Bartels  12:17
Gotcha. So going back to the beginning, you're given this charter be known? And now that sounds sounds kind of vague, right? That can mean quite a few different things. How did you translate that into like, your initial goals with the partnership and what you set out to do? And kind of phase one of the partnership?

Kris Jenkins  12:34
Yeah, so a great question. Because, for me not having done partnerships in the past, like I was sort of clueless on what that meant, you know, and, and, and what was important, so like, the first month or so of being in this role, and kind of learning the details of workfront, and how it mattered to the Adobe customer and things like that. I didn't, you know, I was very much focused on the integrations and very much focused on like, how do you support the customer and add drive value to the customer. And that was certainly an important aspect, because because I think my ability to understand all the technical details of and the value of the solution together makes how I think makes me better in the conversation with the right folks. But I was neglecting just the number of conversations that you have to have with salespeople, with, with leaders, executives, with, you know, partner managers with, like, there's so many folks inside of large organizations like that, that you need to have a rapport with, you need to have understand who you need to name drop, like, there's so many things that I just really didn't understand. And so I, I had some great coaching from Brent Nixon, at workfront, and patriarchs, and both both on my team page, who I reported to, they just really helped me start to see like, what's, what's important is less the integration itself, certainly, you know, having the right integration of value proposition is important, because you can't go anywhere without that. But once you have that, it's really about the number of conversations that you can have with the right people. And so you could you could kind of say, you know, you pick up the phone, talk to the right person, or you send the LinkedIn message, and you start to have those conversations, and then you start checking the box of whether that was the right conversation or the wrong conversation. And if it's a right conversation, then you move them to the next level of Okay, so this person now gets it, who can they introduce me to right at that next level? And so you just start climbing that ladder? of, you know, do they get it or do they not? And are they willing to bring us forward or not? And then you just have to move through that and navigate through that as quickly as possible. So you can get to the right people. Once you have the right people at the at the organization, then it gets really easy, right? Because then you start to get sort of a champion that can start driving you to the right conversations, and they know all of like, and this is something that they don't just share with whoever they you know, with anybody but like Where when are they having, you know, sales QB Rs? When are they having executive meetings? What are they talking about these things, you know, who are the folks that are sort of leading that sales, architecture, sales engineering, like, that's, that's really where you start to get the value is you get those right people into, and then they bring you into the right meetings where you can then, you know, sort of extend that value proposition much further in that organization.

Jared Fuller  15:26
So whenever you're, you're, I like the simple way that you framed it, like the right people the right conversation, in terms of like frameworks, I think a lot of partnerships, professionals need even the most basic framework to think about, you know, working a large account. I'm curious how you thought about that simple framework of right person, right conversation in the context of like, let's say goal setting or planning, right. So, in the beginning, I'm sure the goals with an alliance partner are very, you know, to Justin's point vague, he says bag, that's your soda showing Justin gotta push out on that one. He's gonna order a bag. Bag. Yeah. Have you owe me a zinger, Justin, um, the, the question I was gonna get to was, how do you think about that from wherever you move out of that vagueness and into? Okay, here's what we're trying to drive with our strategic alliance partner. Like, I think that frameworks helpful, but the totality of those meetings, like you probably need executive alignment, in product in marketing, in sales in field and product marketing, right? How did you start to think about those two things colliding of like, okay, here's how we're going to drive x millions of dollars. And here's why we need to have this partnership across the organization. Did those two things ever collide for you?

Kris Jenkins  16:57
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So, and I'll share a little bit of sort of the sausage making, I guess, of what we did here. The first thing was, and I don't know where this came from, because I didn't, it's not something that I invented. But I was basically told that the thing you have to think about is what we call the high value network. And, and it wasn't explained in great detail to me other than, hey, you need to build a high value network. And I was like, Okay, what does this mean? And so I did some research and tried to, you know, figure out what it was. But for me, and for our team, what that meant was, is we had to start mapping, who the right people, we thought at least who we thought the right people were inside of the organization and kind of an org chart fashion. Right? So and then we broke it up into the different departments. So we thought about, you know, sales engineering as one department and Who were those right people, right, you can do a little bit of that, and LinkedIn through Sales Navigator and other areas. But you can start to identify that now, then you and you can do all of this in like a lucid chart or something. And then you have the way we did it was like a couple of checkboxes where you could say, okay, that is the right person, or no, it's not the right person, right. And then you start to switch in and out the right people, once you've been able to find somebody who can really help you identify, you know, identify that inside of the company. So that's what we were able to do initially was we understood sort of vaguely who we need, you know, who we need to contact in the different groups, so sales, engineering, sales, product, product, marketing, etc. And then who were the key our key champions in all of those areas, and then who they needed to then introduce us to so that we could get up to those to those next levels. Right. And it wasn't easy, because there's a lot of gatekeepers, when you're trying to get up higher into the organizations. Right. So that was the first thing we did is we built this sort of high value network, that where the number of conversations that we had would ultimately in our mind lead to the right conversations at at these partners, right. And then the next thing to do is once you've had those conversations, and I say this, because every call that we had, we made it a point to ask, Who else should we be talking to? Who are the accounts that we should be talking to? And who else can you introduce us to? And so when we when we were asking those questions, we would usually get one or two referrals from entire inside of the company, not necessarily sales referrals, but sometimes they were and then we would ask them to actually make those introductions. And they generally would, we would get a quick email and then we would set up a call, right? And so once you start doing that, you then you start to really add that add that value. Once you get to that right person, then you have the account conversations and that's where Jared to your point about like how are we then going to drive the value because once you have that, then you can start to say okay, this looks like 510 million dollar opportunity. As we if you know if we were to promote this to our normal channels, then and then you can take that back to your organ Right. And so you can say, hey, it with product, if we do this right, you name whatever the integration need is or the or the important piece, then we can execute on the five to $10 million, or whatever the number is, right. And it's, it's just the fight for resources and priorities. So but it really started with building the high value network, having those right conversations with the right people, and then taking that that data back to your organization, so that they know that you're building this network that's going to drive revenue for your business. And once once they start to see that, then they get the buy in. And once that buy in is there, you know, then, then the doors start to open up. I'll say that with Adobe, specifically, we, that was a huge challenge, like all the 2019, right, it was just like, let's get all the right people build the right network, get the right conversations, understand what that value is. And then in 2020, like the very end, beginning of end of 19, beginning of 2020, we finally got the full executive teams buy in to say we are going to invest more in this relationship. And so when that happened, that's where it started to take off. Now, we knew that if I, my team were to call up sales, or marketing or any organization inside of workfront, they had to listen, because it was a it was a key initiative for the whole company. And they would put budget towards it like we it was a it was a surprise to me how much more support we got once it became a strategic initiative for the company. How was

Jared Fuller  21:28
that communicated to the company?

Kris Jenkins  21:31
So Alex, our CEO is a fantastic communicator. And and we as a company have a product where we actually call it goals and it's like an OKR system, right. And so we truly believe in in cascading goals and thinking through the value of, of okrs. And so literally, we as an executive and operational leadership team sat down and decided on what those four initiatives were going to be across the company. And then and then once once, all of that was decided, then we cascaded all of that to our teams. So that was very, that became very clear. So it so it was of the for each had like two or three that were a part of those four that every group had. And one of those was this accelerate, accelerate with Adobe. And and then that's what got, you know, all of the support from the rest of the company.

Jared Fuller  22:22
So in the beginning, you talked in terms of, before we kind of hopped on, Chris, we were talking about the context in a lot of your story. And workfront is about Adobe proper, but this could be translated to any other person where, you know, strategic partnerships are kind of like their charter. Talk to me a little bit about what percentage of time you were focused on Adobe proper, right? Like you've you've made a bet, work front as a company, and then you and your position of making this bet on Adobe, how much time were you spending on Adobe at the beginning? versus how much time were you spending, you know, kind of later on, and helping kind of build and passing off Legos to steal a Molly Graham term?

Kris Jenkins  23:03
Yeah, so we, I spent most of my time initially on Adobe, I would say that, you know, probably 70 to 90% of my time was was on Adobe, initially, just having trying to have the right conversations. Once once it started to gain traction, it was too much for just one person to handle. And it was it got very much. It required that we hired somebody. So we actually brought on a former Adobe PSM, or partner sales manager that had worked been working for another partner, to really come lead that sort of in the field day to day work. And he spent his entire time like 99% of his time was on Adobe. And then I still spend another 40% of my time on Adobe, if not more, it then begin where I because I then had time to start developing more of these other relationships. That's where we started to get some options, right? Once you start to see that, hey, there's some traction with one, how much more traction can we get with these other what we call, you know, big brother partnerships. And that was part of the remit from Paige and Alex was they they had us read this book called blueprint to a billion. And in chapter five, it very much talks about these big brother partnerships, and how you accelerate into new markets through these big brother partnerships. And so I that's what the rest of my time was spent on. But Adobe was 90% of the beginning 70 to 90, and then hired somebody full time to do it. Senior, you know, product, partner, manager, and then and then I still spend another 40% of my time on it.

Justin Bartels  24:35
And did you jump into the sales motion right away? Or did you take some time to build that high value network and kind of put the story together the integrations, what this would look like, were they running concurrently? What did that look like?

Kris Jenkins  24:47
Yeah, so we had an integration with Adobe, you know, years ago, and it was very much for creative teams, creative studios. And that integration is what sort of led the value proposition right. It was Very much directing from a customer standpoint, what what needed to happen in this space. And so, it because the story sort of developed itself, right, and the customer really pointed us to where it needed to go, there were already a lot of sales happening before we started building that high value network. So what was nice about it was the building blocks were there, we just needed to then expand the network of those that really understood the value of that of that combination of workfront and Adobe. So yeah, definitely after that we built the high value network is one of the accelerated, but we didn't need to wait too much on, you know, on building a story building a customer following those things had already started to build themselves from from customers.

Justin Bartels  25:45
Right? It was there like one event, we found this with a lot of the partnership professionals who had when they're talking about specific partnerships, there's something that is a turning point, where it really clicks for everybody, as far as the potential the size, the you know, value has been created with the partnership was there like an event or a moment or a customer story where it really clicked? And everything started to, you know, to 10x? from there?

Kris Jenkins  26:11
Yeah, I think we had a couple customer stories that were just really good brands. And when you have those the right brands, and then you have their buy in to promote their brand in that same story. That's really where it started to take off for Adobe, what, and there are a lot of partners right now at Adobe in this same space, where we were in their exchange program. And as an exchange partner, you know, we were kind of a mid tier partner, we decided to invest in the top tier level. And when we did that, right, we were able to get more marketing support, we were able to get the sales teams interest, because there were some quarter retirement if they brought workfront into deals, there was a lot of reason why, prior to that the sales reps didn't necessarily want to talk to us. They you know, as much as we wanted to show that like this is a huge high value for you and your customers. If there's no real incentive for the rep, then it can be a hard conversation. Right. And so that was where I think I would say that part of that turning point was moving into that next year. And getting that support where it was actually retiring quota for reps. They were starting to see value into why they would want to bring us to the conversation because ultimately, then we were able to join a lot more QB ours, we were able to Hawk our wares better than we've ever been able to. But yeah, that was a good investment on on the WordPress side. As you

Jared Fuller  27:39
How is your role started to start to change? You know, after the acquisition, and you're looking at kind of like, okay, here's now the other side of the table. Right. So you were you were big brother partnership focused? Now your big brother? I mean, you work at the second largest software company in the world. Right? How do you think your role starts to change your perception of partnerships? Maybe some of the lessons that you've learned looking at it from the other side of the table?

Kris Jenkins  28:10
Yeah, great question. There's a lot going on right now. Right? I mean, through the acquisition, we're still sort of ironing out where everybody fits how these organizations sit together, what that might look like, it is nice to be on this side, right? And be able to tell technology companies like you need to conform to our needs versus the other way around. Right, which is sort of what we did

say that.

Kris Jenkins  28:36
It felt very good. Yeah. We had some conversations where I thought, yeah, this is actually we're finally making progress. And I had nothing to do with me, it was just the big a right? That was all that mattered. No, but the fun part, too, is that we no matter who we want to have a conversation with, we can now and we usually can get to the right person very quickly, which is also really great. So from from that perspective, I think that there's a lot of great opportunity for work friends inside of Adobe now that I, you know, I had already seen and had been trying to promote for a long time, but now that Adobe sees it, they are, you know, taking work run into a lot of different places. The other thing that I would say to Jerry to that question is, you know, workfront as a as a software acquisition that Adobe made, right was looking at this as a growth opportunity. It was very much it's not like they came in just to acquire customers or to acquire a technology, right? they acquired the whole company looking at it as a huge long term play in a space that's continually growing in the collaborative work management space, right. And we're, you know, looking at it from initially like, let's just nail marketing as a solution. But overall, there's there's a lot of opportunity for work management more broadly across all companies in lots of different departments. And so I see that the reason sources that Adobe has to come in and really sort of expand that we're working on just by themselves just wasn't able to get to that full fruition of the long term vision can actually be executed. And I think that's part of why, you know, it's a little bit speculation, but like, part of why our executive team was happy with that acquisition was Adobe is one of the few companies out there that can really take the vision that we had, and execute on it.

Jared Fuller  30:28
Going into kind of the relationship, and we've talked a little bit about the beginning and kind of the end. Can you pinpoint a turning point? This is where I like to reference, maybe some tangential material. So Chris Voss never split the difference. And what he talks about Black Swan events, right. So these black swan events, I've found are key to unlocking strategic alliances. It's like this thing that is true. But the people sitting across from the table for me don't realize is true. And that I don't realize is true, until it becomes true. Was there one of those black swan events during your tenure, where you were like, whenever we realize this? That's when things changed?

Kris Jenkins  31:13
Yeah, I think that the first thing was, and workfront was just really good at this, from the beginning, was that we are so much smaller than these partners. And so we can't go in there with a chip on our shoulder, about who we are what we do expectations, right. I mean, I think a lot of startups and technology companies very much feel like their technology is better than anybody's out there. Or they're disrupting the market, or they're doing things that nobody else has ever done. And they, they have

AI and Yeah, exactly.

Kris Jenkins  31:46
So So, you know, I think that we were, we were sufficiently self aware enough to know that, you know, whenever we are in the conversation with Adobe, we were the little brother, we were, we were definitely there to learn and to grow, but, and not really push beyond what we can push in that in that conversation. I think that really helped us, because then then folks inside of Adobe that saw that, that we had something, but we weren't, we weren't going to mess up relationships that they had, or, you know, that they could feel comfortable taking us to their boss or taking us to the executives. That's when that's when it started to really take off was, you know, they they really knew that they could take us to a lot of places because we knew that we we weren't bigger than we work, right. And we weren't trying to change anything that they were doing. We wanted to conform as much as we can to what they do, because we knew that's where the opportunity was.

Jared Fuller  32:44
Way to tweak that would be. Was there a moment where you realized, or it was realized really like what's in it for me? So I have my a red hat on, I can put on my Adobe Red Hat. Actually, I have that on it. And then there was some point, Chris, where your team and their team are like, here's what's in it for Adobe?

Kris Jenkins  33:05
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's again, getting to that right person, when you have the right person that can see that value. That's, that's their meeting, a couple examples would be like, we have a technology or a business unit that's driving 100 million dollars in revenue, right? If I were to add another skew to that, how much more revenue is that? Did I doubled that? I tripled that? Is it half? Like what does that look like? And when you get the right person to see that, and then they can take it to the right person, all of a sudden, there's a lot of momentum behind it. And a lot of people investing in it, because they know that that they can hedge their career a little bit on that opportunity. So you just have to provide, you know, whatever that opportunity is to the right person and help them see that one thing. And usually it's revenue driven. I mean, I from from the corporate side, it definitely was revenue driven. It was we were very much focused on how can we take a little old workfront attach it to a skew, attach it to a go to market or a specific sales play, that we know could drive X number of deals more or increase the average sales value by a certain amount in those in those accounts. And then And then from there, like it became very clear when when Adobe looked at work run as an acquisition like, yeah, this is this is going to drive, you know, a lot of conversations that we wouldn't otherwise have had. And then there's obviously growth beyond that. So I think that would be the one thing I don't know if that answered your question, but I feel like no, you actually

Jared Fuller  34:33
answered my question incorrectly, twice. And but here's what I mean by that here. You answered. You answered in a way I didn't expect, which doesn't mean it's actually incorrect. I'm just messing with you. You answer it in two ways. I didn't expect because I think most people have a tendency to answer that question from like a product positioning perspective, right? Like we're bringing new capabilities to market together, right? They try to go like, Hey, here's what's missing. And then here's why that Makes your company more defensible or attractive to current or future customers. Right? Like, that's how I probably would have answered the question, which means, I probably would have answered it incorrectly, because I actually like your answers a lot more than what I would have done is that, you know, it's about money. It's about money. So how do you help them make more money in the most simplest terms, and then behind that, I'm assuming, right? The third way would be like, yeah, here's actually how workfront delivered a capability that Adobe didn't have, right?

Kris Jenkins  35:30
Well, like I was saying earlier, you know, the customer was already telling us exactly where this needed to go. Like you, I could list you know, fortune, fortune 100, companies multiples that we're doing workfront and Adobe together. So it wasn't like a stretch to say that there's value here across these product lines, right, what we had to do was just show this, like, yeah, here's here is that, you know, added value added value. And then but what does that look like, from a revenue standpoint? What does that look like for my team? I mean, you could literally go into like a regional sales leader and say, Okay, I have because I've worked with the PSM, we've mapped accounts, we know that there's another $10 million, just in your accounts, if you can bring this product, if you know if we can map and talk to these accounts this way, right. And about that value. Like that's, we already knew that because the customers were just screaming it that this is a, you know, a joint value that needs to happen. And part of that was, and I guess to just dig just a little bit deeper into the kind of the direction you were thinking, the we identified really early on, where where the gap was in the Adobe technology, because we had the right conversations with some of the solutions engineers that were saying, what we hear from our customers is that although you have workflow, it's not people in process workflow. And so we're not realizing the full value of your technology, you have great technology, Adobe, but what you don't have is, we're not able to align our people and process across all of those technologies together. And so that's where we were able to go in and say with some very key words that the Adobe reps were like, very used to hearing, hey, we're not willing to renew because we didn't get the full value or our people are not aligned to the process. Or there's another technology that I have to sign into, or I can't keep my metadata straight, something like that. Right. And, and so we just went in and kind of really hit hard on those value propositions so that it would solve those headaches that they were already hearing.

Justin Bartels  37:37
Jared, how do we always get to the Golden Nugget like right before we

Jared Fuller  37:41
wrap? That's what I said, before we started, I said, we're going to get to the best part of the pod in the last 10 minutes, because we kind of got it, you know, a we're looking to who we need to bring back on again. So Chris is repeat guests already? I can tell. But yes, that is that is

Justin Bartels  37:59
a hell of a first story in partnerships. That's,

Kris Jenkins  38:02
yeah, yeah, that's one thing that I just can hang my hat on now, I guess is that, you know, I've done it once. And that's all I need, right?

Jared Fuller  38:11
It doesn't sound like you want to do it again.

Kris Jenkins  38:13
Well, I would be happy to do it again. What's interesting at Adobe right is like, we're already at that sort of top, you know, top echelon of companies, but like, where can that go from here? And I think that there's a lot of things that Adobe is thinking about, that maybe other companies just aren't thinking in the same light and workfront. Certainly, we think about the world a little differently than others do in the same space. And I think that will add to it.

Jared Fuller  38:36
On one, one follow on from that last point, I'm assuming that's where the enablement collateral, the joint value propositions, like the, the Adobe plus workfront story started to develop. And that's what ended up in front of solutions engineers, account managers, as specialists like that's where that content ended up living at the end of the day was like, Hey, here's how to help XYZ, you know, account, or how to drive that conversation.

Kris Jenkins  39:04
Yeah, what's great about Adobe is they already had like a partner enablement portal, right? So all of their sales reps knew that they could go to this portal to access all of the materials. So if they ever heard work front on any account, they would go into that portal be sort of refreshed on what worked on is because we're a partner and then have contact information directly to me and my team, so that they could say, Hey, I'm on this account. Can you connect me to that to the rep who already has, we already know warfronts in there, something like that, right? And that collateral was just used very widely, and that became things like you know, one pagers, battle cards, demo videos, links to different website pages, right or, or micro sites that really just gave all that extra information. If you don't have all of those components, you're not going to be successful. Like I think that there's too many too many people at the large companies, your big brother Companies that are already following like a very rigid sort of standard process, these are the materials, this is what you have to provide in order for us to be enabled to have the right conversation. If you don't have that, then you're already behind.

Jared Fuller  40:12
Right? I love that. You've brought a lot to the conversation from kind of like the right person, right conversation checkbox, and, you know, org chart matrix, to you know, the brother, big brother, little brother, parent child kind of relationship and partnerships. In some ways, it kind of feels like parent child. Right, like you're trying to help this organization mature in a lot of ways and grow up, you know, in their in their rebellious teenage years, right. In a lot of ways, I feel like that's where companies like us are in their maturity curve. Maybe the last thing I wanted to touch base on is, we've shared some of our best, like tactical tips on this podcast. Before that, I've actually heard from the community that they've implemented, like one of them that Justin I've discussed is like Gong filters, right for your tech partnerships. So like, just to see how your sales team and customers are talking about them. Another one we've shared is like having a partner wins Slack channel to like surface visibility for anytime something awesome happens for internal buy in? That's just an easy way to aggregate some you know, cool wins, so you can put it in that executive deck or in that QPR, or in that sales training, where you need some social proof. Is there anything Chris like that, that you'd be like, Hey, here's a tactical tip that we learned, you know, in, in enabling Adobe, or an enabling workflow workfront to better work with Adobe, that you might have for the listeners of like, Hey, you all should be trying this?

Kris Jenkins  41:38
Yeah. So that's a good question. I've, I've actually, because I came from the world of not working with partners, right, like never really doing any of this. And so a lot of those tips, I started learning that I thought were radical, a lot some of the things you just mentioned, and I thought that would be that those are amazing, right. But I know that companies have been doing it forever. One, one that we learned, working directly with strategic technology partners in, you know, in their business, right, not not directly with work, right, I think that the one thing I would say for everybody is that you need to get executive buy in on the partner organization, especially really early, if you don't have that, then you're probably destined to not make a lot of progress, it's gonna take a long time. So you've got to get that executive buy in internally. So I mean, like your CEO, needs to have a direct report that is in the partner organization, right. So your VP, SVP of product or partnerships needs to be reporting directly to the CEO, if possible, or at least have on the executive team, you know, a representative from the partner organization route, you're not going to get the buy in from the whole organization. That's, I think that's probably the biggest tip, which it's harder, it's easier said than done. But that's definitely one thing that's critical. From a very, very tactical place. When you're working directly with your, let's say, partner, sales manager, or somebody internally at your, whoever your strategic partner is your big brother partner, you have to be visible all the time. So that means you can create a community sort of email chain, and we did this where we would just blast all of our contacts and say, Hey, here's, here's a win that we had, right? So we're not telling internally at work, friend, here's a win. I mean, we were but we were telling Adobe, here is a win, right? And here are the details on that win and why it's a big deal. We were asking for segments on their internal podcasts and or on their blog posts or on a lot of different things, right. But we had to make sure that we were relevant every single day, inside of Adobe, and add as big of a level as we could. So you know, you can't let a day go by where you don't have a conversation with that big partner. Otherwise, you're going to become irrelevant, right? really quickly. So just just make sure that you're always having those conversations. That's that's what we did is we made sure that we checked the box every single day that we were having a conversation with somebody at Adobe, as well as blasting out sort of the regular communications, and in a lot of different departments. Because ultimately, this is what happened, right? When, when that due diligence was going on. People who maybe didn't know exactly who workfront was, they went asking to every department and every team who who has worked for it, what do you know about workfront? Right? Or what do you know about that partner? And if they don't have positive things to say about you, then the chances of them actually writing a check later or doing an offer? right are you know, slim, or at least not as, you know, not as likely as if you have a lot of positives from a lot of different areas. And so that's how we how we did it. We were very relevant in a lot of different teams. That way when the CEO or the due diligence team was asking around like, Hey, what do you think about this, this company they knew and they had great feedback for it.

Jared Fuller  44:55
Awesome, awesome. I can't think of a better way to put this to a to a close Chris, you've given us a lot to digest. Like, I'm actively thinking about our own partner motion right now. And Justin and I are going to be jamming on some stuff that we want to do differently after this conversation. Before we bounce, quick reminder for everyone to come check out the cloud software Association 4000 people and, you know, get some of the masterminds and stuff like that, Chris, we might want to connect you to do one of those mastermind sessions, actually. Because I absolutely love this conversation. Quick reminder, like we've just had two heavy hitters back to back, Justin. I mean, yeah. If you didn't listen to our last one, we have Laura pedia the Global Head of BD at zoom, she is incredible. I mean, talk about just part of vision and then Chris, coming from the product and engineering side to like nailing and really figuring out some core tenets of partnerships. You know, kudos on the work front and Adobe story. That's one that some folks will be studying for a while for sure. So Justin, one of the folks supposed to do on Apple podcasts with six star review, and then YouTube.

Justin Bartels  46:04
Subscribe, comment, comment. There we have your CTAs down.

Jared Fuller  46:13
Finally got our CTS job. Alright, well, Chris, thanks so much for coming on. partner up. We will definitely see you next time.

Kris Jenkins  46:20
Yeah, thanks for having me, guys. Alright,

Jared Fuller  46:22
peace out. partner up.

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.