024 - CROSS-POD TAKEOVER! A special episode w/Adam Michalski on "The Future of B2B Partnerships"

A VERY special episode where PartnerUp and Partnered Podcast take over each other's feeds.

We had a blast with Adam and you are going to love (or reallly hate) our takes on the future of B2B SaaS Partnerships.

"Nowadays nobody owns the customer, the customer owns themselves." Adam.

Yeah, Adam Michalski gets it. So much so that he quit a very successful B2B SaaS company as the Head of Partnerships to start Partnered.com and is the host of the Partnered Podcast.

Don't forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, follow on Spotify, or anywhere you get your pods on the go. AND give this episode a like and the PartnerUp Youtube channel a subscribe. :insertprayhandsemojihere:

Check out all past and future the PartnerUp episodes at https://www.partneruppodcast.com and join the world's largest partnerships community at https://www.cloudsoftwareassociation.com to hang out and learn with 4,000+ partnerships professionals.


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Justin Bartels  00:20
Start with Jared's big expenditure that he has coming relates to his partnerteam.

Jared Fuller  00:25
We should not start there that was not pre college Enza. But yes, actually, I have a big bill coming up because I have to fly everyone out and put them on a boat sometime in June or July for growing partner source revenue by what like 250% this quarter. Oh, nice.

Adam Michalski  00:46
Was that something that you guys agreed to in advance or there was like a milestone there was a stretch

Jared Fuller  00:51
goal. And I think we hit the stretch goal by like, I mean, we're talking basis points. And we hit it so I gotta I gotta own up so kicking off kick off this one with an expensive topic. Thank you Justin for throwing me under the bus right away.

Justin Bartels  01:07
It was funny demeanor a flat comments change as we got closer and closer. It was like, there was a lot of rah rah cheering going on early and on like, Oh, yeah, like fight every you know, tooth and nail and then as it got closer, it's kind of like, Whoa, well, let's, uh, let's, let's look at these numbers here really quick.

Jared Fuller  01:25
That's a sourced deal there?

Justin Bartels  01:27
Let's double check.

Adam Michalski  01:29
Yeah, exactly. You got to audit all the attribution, right?

Jared Fuller  01:32
Yeah, actually ops on our site audits every single partner ops. So the good news on that is, you know, he's no fluff. That goes back to the what the David pilgrim episode, Justin?

Justin Bartels  01:42
Yep. Don't fudge the numbers.

Jared Fuller  01:44
don't measure fudge. don't measure fudge. And I apologize everyone for I don't have COVID. I've tested negative twice. antigen and PCR over the last three weeks. My entire family's been sick. So my voice has been going in and out. Apologies in advance for that. Adam, you said you were you just got your shot.

Adam Michalski  02:02
Yeah, I just got it three hours ago. So I mean, so far, nothing crazy. Just feel a little bit of soreness in the right arm. That's where I got the shot.

Jared Fuller  02:11
It does hurt. sore.

Adam Michalski  02:14
It makes it sore. story. So my wife who I went to go get the shot with, she actually passed out about five minutes into it. We're like, right after the shot. We were waiting outside, in like, because they hold you for 15 minutes. And then she was like, I don't feel so good. And like just passed out. So luckily, she's completely fine. Just to be clear. Oh, okay. But it was like I was just like, oh my god. And then I like I had to run back inside. We have to ever lay down. So yeah, not to scare anyone. I mean, again, she's completely fine. But she just gets a little bit like Wheezy when it comes to stuff like this.

Justin Bartels  02:52
I did my I had to, I was perusing the vaccine like spotter websites for when openings were coming up and went into like log a time and didn't go through because somebody took it as I was trying to take it. So I logged another one. And I got through the process. And I was like, great. You know, I think it's, you know, two hours from now my midday is pretty open, I should be good. I go look at the time and I'm like, Oh, it's 1040 we it's 1032 right now and the luckily the medical centers like five, six blocks away from you know where I am. But I took off in an all out sprint, like running down the streets of Boston to like make make sure I got it in time. And of course they're like, so are you experienced any symptoms like, you know, elevated temperature, you know, difficulty breathing? And I'm like, why I just ran here as fast as I could. I don't some

Adam Michalski  03:39
experiencing both

Justin Bartels  03:40
acute symptoms, you know, from physical stress, but no, I'm not experiencing actual symptoms here. I'm grateful I got it. One dose down.

Jared Fuller  03:52
Well, hopefully we'll this would be the end of an era at least the era that we knew is like locked down everything shut down period. You know, this upcoming month I think the the US luckily knock on wood is trending that direction. So I'm excited for it. I'm an optimist. And because no one owns this podcast, at least not yet. We get to say and Justin, go get your shot. Not that bad. So that

Adam Michalski  04:18
you guys got a boat ride a boat ride to get to write

Justin Bartels  04:21
a disclaimer on because we just mentioned the word and it's gonna be like if you're looking for information, you know,

Jared Fuller  04:26
right? Yeah, actually true. True story. Yeah, like go Yeah, go talk to be experts. We're not experts. We're just a part not opinionated partner people. Speaking of opinionated partner, people, before I formally introduce Adam, I want to give a quick shout out to the cloud software Association. If you're not a member, go check out the website on the slide group. There's a weekly masterclasses. I think you did a masterclass on partner attribution, didn't you?

Adam Michalski  04:51
I did. Yes. Yes. End of last year. So it was it was pretty exciting, has a pretty good turnout. But yeah, I mean, I've been at an attribution company prior to this Starting partnered for five years and component of what we do is attribution. So if I can geek out on attribution for more than I care to admit,

Jared Fuller  05:07
awesome, awesome. So that's, you know, good plug kind of both ways. I actually checked out that course and sent it to my operations team. As we start to think about scaling a lot of our partner marketing and tech partner marketing initiatives is a we should have some baselines in place for for attribution. So come to join us and check out the CSA. So without further ado, we have Mr. Adam Michalski here. And Adam, today we're going to be talking about I think a really exciting topic is we're all running around with our hair on fire, trying to like put out the latest partner fire, get the exec onboard onboard that partner, fix the thing that that partner broke or fix the deal that this rep screwed up for that partner. And I don't know that we've actively spent enough time as an industry, or as a community talking about the future of b2b, you know, kind of SAS partnerships. So you ran a partner program at branch that was pretty successful you like we're a top, you know, Adobe partner, you are referenced in a few different places of like, what a good partner program could look like. But you decided to quit and start a sass company serving the partner persona, which is partnered.io, correct?

Adam Michalski  06:16
That's correct. Yeah. Well, we recently got the.com. So it's just just partnered, because here when you go to partner.io, it will it will redirect so

Jared Fuller  06:24
partner.com, even better that you must have closed your seed round then. Getting there getting there. Okay. Okay. I just figured with required the.com. But so clearly, you think this market is going somewhere different than where it is today? Like, let's start there.

Adam Michalski  06:42
Yeah. I think it's interesting. And is I mean, the the one other part that I'll add is Yeah, I mean, I host a podcast myself, the partner podcast, we're gonna be crossposting this.

Jared Fuller  06:53
Wait, hold on.This is, this is a cross pod. How did we not call that out?! This is a cross pod was like geeking out over here. This is a cross pod. So your podcast and

Adam Michalski  07:03
the partnered podcast. So we actually we're gonna be posting Episode 50 this coming Monday. And, and I'm super stoked. I mean, the reason why I bring it up though, is because I actually think Jay McBain has talked about this a lot. And like some of the fundamental thinking that I have on just the overall future of b2b SAS has a lot to do with like a lot of the great research and stuff that he puts out. So yeah, we think we had him on on episode 26 on the party podcast. And one of the ways in which he describes it that I fundamentally agree with is like, when you look at how b2b partnerships were done historically, like the vast majority of them were really done transactionally, you know, so like reseller type agreements, where you do X, I'll pay you out why. But, you know, as SAS has become much more prolific, it's just a fundamentally different type of business model, you know, you have to rerun the customer. And, and with that, like, we're seeing a lot more like non transactional type partnerships, we're seeing a lot more, you know, partner marketing, where you have to like real and the customer, you know, or, you know, basically make sure that you can return the customer every single year. And with that comes a really different way of kind of partnering. So I think that a lot of the infrastructure and everything, you know, that we can touch on, obviously here and more in more depth that's being built now is really because of like that tectonic shift that was happening under the scenes. So that's really what got me interested. When I was working at branch. I mean, we did like a full analysis on all the other tooling out there in the market. And, frankly, the vast, like, nothing that we could find was really solving the fundamental issues that we were looking to solve. So. So yeah, I mean, we started building like some stuff on the side, and then ultimately, that became partnered. But yeah, I think that there's there's a lot of different shifts that are happening in the market right now that in general are very, very interesting for for just a broader, you know, partnership ecosystem at all companies, you know, like moving forward over the next five to 10 years.

Jared Fuller  08:59
There's a there's an interesting conversation to have around. What is the primary driver in that shift? I wrote? I don't we'd call this Justin, you read it the brief history of indirect channels and what's next, no ecosystem, which hopefully someday I'll pull

Justin Bartels  09:17
Jared wrote it in a cabin in Montana. Nice,

Jared Fuller  09:21
it got a manifesto, but I aligned it a little bit to drift specifically. And I think one of the primary driving functions is that is in b2b specifically is what you said. So a lot of my philosophy came after spending lots of money on Jays research Jays made a good Penny off of me in the last few months. Not even just his blog is the blogs are good. So go check out the forester blogs that Jay publishes his free stuffs great. His research is just as good is this shift in the function of marketing and sales. So prior to the year 2000 marketing was his That's the brand era, right? There's no digital channels, there's not 15,000 SAS companies. So all of channel was oriented on the transaction because the marketers job was to drive brand channel was to drive revenue. Right? Like they were they were acquisition to, you know activation sale and retention, I mean even go like companies that are as new as NetSuite, that's that's how their channel operates, right? It's a full picture, right acquisition, activation, sale, and then even support, like, if you're a NetSuite partner, you actually even handle customer support like support tickets, which for us in like b2b, modern SAS would be like, your partner's handle customer support, right, like, single drift partner that handles customer support today. So like, there's that first one, talk to me a little bit Adam, how you kind of saw that first era like that the pre 2000s the old channel? How much should we be thinking about the the origins of channel? And maybe the perceptions that people have of channel in that pre 2000s? era? Or should we be like, it doesn't apply at all digit? Forget it?

Adam Michalski  11:06
Yeah, it's a great question. So I think one of the ways to think about this is like, you know, back in, back in that era, you know, somebody essentially owned the customer relationship, you know, or it was a lot more black and white in that respect, that like, like, who actually had that direct relationship. Nowadays, nobody owns the customer, you know, the customer owns themselves, and you're gonna end like that buying process for that customer is not going to happen, you know, just because they have a relationship with, you know, john smith at XYZ company, you know, it's, it's gonna happen, because they're surrounded by, you know, marketing, they're surrounded by other influencers in the ecosystem, that are going to point them when they ask, Hey, I have XYZ problem, what's the best solution out there for that, you know, when two or three of those influencers who are around that table, say, you know, your solution is the right solution there, guess who's probably gonna win that deal? You know, so, and then what changes is that, you know, from there, it's not just, you know, that that that first initial sale, but then you have to continue to re earn that customer, you know, whether it be on a monthly basis, or, you know, a yearly basis, or however you structure your contracts. And the customer success component of this is also another fundamentally different piece that you need to think about, you know, how it's not just getting that customer in the door, but then how do you make sure that they're happy? How do you make sure that they're actually continuing to expand? How do you make sure that you're upselling them cross selling them, all these things are really like, fundamentally different tectonic shifts. And what I, what I kind of liken it towards is like, what we're seeing here is that I mean, partnerships have always been, I think the one one unifying factor is that partnerships have always been incredibly impactful. You know, you look at some of the largest companies out there in the world, Microsoft, you know, Salesforce, like a lot of these companies do the vast majority of their revenue through their partner ecosystem. You know, it's really the longer tail of SAS that just starting now to understand, Okay, wow, I can really leverage an ecosystem strategy to become top tier and in my, in my, in my industry. And what we're kind of seeing because of that, is like, similarly to how sales went from, like an art to a science, you know, marketing went from an art to a science, like partnerships is now becoming more of a science, you know, we're still in the early innings, you know, but I do think like, like, a lot of that, that, like, actual science component of this is really starting to get built out, you know, like, how much how much should we be driving from individual partners? You know, what does that look like? What does the marketing look like, Whoa, marketing initiatives look like, all of these different initiatives, like how do you do attribution, all these things, that a lot of that infrastructure is getting built right now, you know, by companies like partnered, obviously, but also like a lot of other very interesting companies in the space right now. And I think that, you know, the next couple of years are really going to be a game changer. For just how the role of partnerships is done. What does partnerships mean? What does a career path and partnerships mean? A lot of this stuff has been very opaque. And I think a lot of that is like, we're gonna see a significant amount of change in that very rapidly over the coming years.

Jared Fuller  14:20
There's so much to unpack there. Because I mean, that that goes back to the origin story of why I started the pod. And you know, Justin's here is like, there's nothing out there. I mean, that's why I'm sure why you you had a company that you were kind of building around it, but there's also put the company aside. There, there needs to be a movement, so to speak, right? Like the shift to, you know, demand generation or inbound marketing or whatever's happening in in whatever space, there needs to be a movement associated with it. And there really hasn't been that ecosystem movement, but I'm starting to feel it now. Right, like we're coming together, like there's two podcasts where they're kind of collaborative came together to talk about this this future. And I'm starting to talk to people that like, my goal is to run, you know, a global partner program.

It's like, wait, wait,

Jared Fuller  15:10
hold on what? Actually, I don't know, if I told this story, I had a candidate interview for our account management team. And she told our VP, I need to talk to Jared, but are your head of your partner program, and I was like, hey, this candidate needs to talk to you. I was like, okay, she's like, my goal is to come in, and to eventually help out with corporate strategy. And my best path to that is through partnerships. So I want to make sure that if I can crush it over here, on your account management function, that I can come over and help you build tech partnerships, to get a perspective on corporate strategy. And I was like, what happened to have this for like, a long time now, you're the first person that's ever come in, and has been like, hey, partnerships is like my path to a career plan. What do you see around that specific kind of career question? There's obviously the standard marketing and sales, you know, stratification of role, you know, VP, C, C suite. I've actually never seen a C suite partner roll. So that's an interesting question is a partner.

Adam Michalski  16:15
It's coming slowly, slowly. It's we're getting there. Yeah.

Jared Fuller  16:18
So like, Tom talked to me about that stratification. In terms of the next phase, do you have any perspective or hot takes, if you will, on what that stratification of like the partner career trajectory might look like?

Adam Michalski  16:29
Yeah, so a lot of really good things that you had mentioned there. So I think, let's start with Yeah, the stratification component, what I think I mean, that that was very interesting, too, is you watch like the science of, you know, sale, or like, the art become a science and all these other different industries, and you go back 1020 years, you know, or even, frankly, customer success more recently, you know, customers successful and underwriter like, like, similar type of trajectory. What's unique about partnerships is that partnerships can mean a million different things to a million different people. So it makes the problem, I would say a lot more complex. Because within what what do I mean, partnerships is a catch all term, as we all know, but there can be tech partnerships, solutions, partnerships, you know, integrations, partnerships, agency partnerships, like all of these different, you know, types of partnering under each umbrella. And then even within those subsets, when you go to an individual organization, like they may be what they might call an agency partnership for us what somebody else calls that agency partnership could be completely different. So that's, that's the complexity here that I think like has traditionally held stratification back. I do think that because of that movement that you're mentioning, which is very real, I mean, you look at organizations like CSA, you look at organizations, like partnership leaders, like a lot of these, like a lot of these areas, there's a huge yearning, you know, for for figuring this out. And it's not, it's not a simple problem. But the reality is, is that, you know, the more folks that you get out there connected and talking, the more that there's going to be like industry norms around each one of these. So I don't have an answer for you for what exactly it's going to look like. But I can tell you that like the grass roots, you know, are is happening right now. And you're even starting to see, you know, like, what does a Partner Manager mean, you know, like, how do you actually get, like, you know, like, higher up in organization, like more and more of that is actually happening now. And I've even seen it firsthand, you know, where, where you mentioned, you know, getting on the sea level, had a couple folks on the partner podcast recently, who have made it to the sea level, you know, like, following following the actual partnership path, and it teaches you a lot of different things, you know, when you can support a partner like, like, it's a lot of the different skill sets that you need to become a sea level exec. So, so yeah, I think that will increasingly see more and more of that, what it's going to look like, not necessarily sure, but is it coming? Yes.

Justin Bartels  19:01
And did your outlook change after this last year, like what you thought going into pre pandemic, the world of partnerships is gonna look like in five years, is that different? Somehow, then, you know, how you view it today?

Adam Michalski  19:14
Good question. So I think so where I sit, and the lens that I look at this is always at the intersection of like your partnership, ecosystem and revenue, you know, partner source, you know, partner influenced revenue. That's really kind of like my vantage point. And from that perspective, I am even more bullish than I was, you know, six months ago, maybe significantly more than I was 12 months ago. You know, a lot of folks, especially with the pandemic, you know, as things have changed substantially on go to market fronts for most organizations, they've had to lean much more on their partnership ecosystems, you know, because you're not wining and dining folks, you're not going to conferences, you're not going to all these different places where you can tradition interact with folks and really expedite your sales cycle, you have to rely on somebody like that, oh, wow, you're connected to a tech partner who's already closed that deal. And they can provide you a warm introduction, or they might, you know, put it on your radar that they're looking for it as you're a specific type of technology, which is going to get you in at the exact right time, and then potentially give you the right talk track, like all of that has become, you know, much more important. And I would say that, like, the pandemic, you know, essentially kind of fast track that by at least a couple years. So, so yeah, I mean, that's one of the interesting macro trends that I think like, you know, when you add that to everything else that was that that was already, you know, some of which we kind of talked about earlier happening that like, is only expediting the entire field in general. And, yeah, I mean, I'm particularly, you know, like, excited for what's to come.

Justin Bartels  20:48
Yeah. And I think I've definitely seen it in my own workflow, accelerate the adoption of technology and be like, almost like a technology first part Alliance manager, right? Whereas position beforehand, would have been a lot of plane travel, a lot of developing relationships in an office over a happy hour, you know, at a conference, and now it's, you know, much more like, How can I be the most engaging over digital channels? You know, and how am I gonna stand out from all these other partners that are now my, you know, Target, target partners inbox are vying for their same attention?

Adam Michalski  21:23
Exactly, yeah. And even mapping it out, like I mentioned earlier, like, I mean, you want to figure out who are those people that are around that customer? And the more and more of those that you can influence, you know, the more influence you're going to have on your buyer? Yeah.

Jared Fuller  21:36
What do you think the I, in terms of like the future of b2b partnerships, there's the elevate the elevation, you know, it's kind of stratification, maybe even formalization of the partner functions and roles across these different buckets. But it also feels like there needs to be a movement or I don't know a come to, you know, the partner God's moment, if you will, around the rest of the business. So like CMOS being educated on this concept, CRM is being educated on this concept, CTO, CPO CEOs. Because the best you know, I actually just had a call today with Brad coffee. Brad was the Chief Strategy Officer at HubSpot oversaw a lot of these things. And one of the best examples in recent memory of building an ecosystem centric company, he talks about these key moments in their journey. And these were C suite decisions across the board, right, there was not like this, you know, Savior, partner person, like coming in from the sideline being like, here's what we're gonna do Everyone follow me it was really concerted effort across their C suite. How do you think we start to address that challenge? Because it seems like in order for that all to be true, we also have to educate and empower the rest of the organization to have that, you know, an ecosystem or partner centric approach.

Adam Michalski  22:57
Yeah, I think you're 1,000%. Right. I am personally on a crusade, you know, to help to help make that more of a reality. But the Yeah, the The reality is that we have a long way to go on that front. I think that I mean, if you go into any organization, they know how to do direct, you know, like, it's, it's what VCs know, it's what you know, organizations have been doing for years is what everyone has like, Great playbooks down. And if you want to talk about how to run like a direct playbook for go to market, I mean, you'll find no shortage of information out there. Indirect, particularly when coupled with sass, some folks are starting to figure it out, you know, they're they and those folks are definitely like the early movers in the space. But there's, there's a big learning curve there, that needs to happen for a lot of those C suite, like folks, and many of those folks like have been running the direct playbook their entire life. So they might be a little bit against change. Because a direct and indirect are two fundamentally different things. I think what is really important is the organizations that actually understand that and like what I always hang my hat on, is if you look at the organizations that that actually figure it out, and really, really get it and put the right infrastructure in place, put the right resources in place continue to allocate resources towards their partner function. They outperform, like across the board. So yeah, I mean, it's, it's once you actually start diving into the data, you start to realize, okay, like, you know, I need to invest in my infrastructure, and you'll have some C suite like CEOs, CMOS, and folks who who understand that, but there's a lot I think there's a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of room for frankly, folks like us, you know, who are going out there and having more of these conversations in more language that you know, a C suite executive would think about, how do you tie to revenue? How do you do all these things that are going to be important for any type of b2b organization, I think the more and more education that happens in the space, like the faster that's going to become the norm.

Jared Fuller  25:07
Two questions that follow that kind of come off the heels of that, as you think about the kind of educating these different personas, it seems like there's opportunity to kind of who are the who are the thought leaders in marketing in sales in these different functional areas? How might we go about building those kind of community or content tracks? Like, what do CMOS listen to? Right? Like, what are the places they go for authority and making sure that there is a Hey, how cmo should think about working with ecosystem? It seems like that needs to happen, thinking of CEOs and heads of sales. And then maybe a follow on from that. Are there any role models today that aren't HubSpot, Salesforce, Adobe, Microsoft, that have like organizations that you're like, hey, they're, you know, they're 100 employees or even 1000? And they're starting to recognize this? So maybe two questions.

Adam Michalski  25:59
Yeah, I mean, on the ladder question, I'll call out Monday, comm is one who really gets this very well. And we had them on early in the podcast, I think organizations and particles and other one one of partners, clients, who I mean, a lot of their business, frankly, because of where they sit in the market, they're a CDP customer data platform, they do this exceptionally well. I mean, there are increasingly more and more folks that I'm seeing like that, that are actually, you know, really figuring it out and allocating more resources to the space. I think, once you like, usually the moment, the moment of truth, for lack of a better word is like, once it starts to click, I mean, what when you when you just average everything out, like how influential a partner can be on your ecosystem, I mean, at your, at your, you know, like, or like organizations who have actually invest in and put the right infrastructure in place, you're talking about sourcing, you know, anywhere from 20 to 40, maybe, you know, more percent of your overall pipeline. And then, you know, on the influencing side, you could be talking, you know, 80% Plus, at some organizations like, that is massive. That's massive, you know, like, why is that that was kind of the, the moment for me, where I started to take a step back and just be like, okay, you know, if marketing was actually like, if marketing was driving as much, you know, or sales, who obviously, is going to take a massive amount of credit, just because the attributions a lot, a lot, lot more straightforward. All of them when it comes to the end of the quarter or the end of the year, you know, because it's very easy to attribute their actions. They look like all stars, you know, but the reality is, is the partnerships is actually driving an outsize return, particularly when you add in the fact that they're usually a sub, like substantially smaller part of the organization. And yet, in a lot of places, they get treated as like second class citizens. Because, you know, like, the mean, data rolls everything, and at the end of the quarter, at the end of the year, if you don't really have a really tight data strategy on your attribution, and like tying everything to revenue, a lot of that's gonna fall apart. And then guess what, you know, sales and marketing are now looking like the heroes again. So like, I think that when you actually like have the right infrastructure in place, and really understand where partnerships can be impactful, that's when it's really going to click and then like, being able to actually add additional headcount add additional resources for the partnership side of the organization starts to become a no brainer.

Justin Bartels  28:27
Are we do you think we're still five years 10 years or so? But talking in terms of source and influence? Or do you think there's gonna be a new set of metrics that prevail over time as the data gets better, as the attribution gets better? As we have more, you know, platforms like partner,

Adam Michalski  28:43
we shouldn't have asked this one, because I could probably talk for an hour just I think influence is going to become significantly more important, you know, so when you go back to what we were talking about earlier on in the pod, we, you know, you have all those folks that are sitting around that buyer, you know, yes, sourcing is easy, you know, most organizations are going to default to sourcing, because like when it comes down to channel conflict, or you're having that conversation internally, you know, you can point back to like, first touch attribution and say, Hey, it was us who actually sourced this opportunity. So it makes sourcing the easy one. And because it's the easier one, most organizations will by default, go to sourcing. But the reality is like, especially in the type of deal cycles that we have today, and especially, I mean, I'm assuming more of like an enterprise deal cycle, but honestly, it doesn't even have to be like it could even be more of like an SMB type cycle. The more enterprise though, the more this like this is actually relevant. influence is going to be as important if not more important, because that buyer is not just, you know, going off of an introduction, they're not just going off of like one individual sourcing touchpoint. You know, as we're all aware, there are multiple different things that are happening on the sales side, on the marketing side on the partnership side. That are going to influence that decision that the buyer is ultimately going to make. So I do think that once you start to look at not necessarily like the first touch model, which is the way that most organizations are being run today, it really becomes more of like a multi touch model where that buyer might have, they might have read a case study, and then they got spoke with an SDR but then a partner recommended them. And then another partner came in and said, Hey, by the way, you should work with them for this, like XYZ reason, all of those different touch points should be allocated some type of percentage of attribution, you know, in terms of what drove the deal. But that requires having the proper, you know, infrastructure in place. So, yeah,

Jared Fuller  30:38
I'm gonna interrupt you there, because I think all of us conceptually, probably agree around this kind of multi touch, you know, influence model, the question that I get really stuck on, I want to get your take on from a capacity, operating model headcount kind of planning perspective, that's a marketing view of the world, in most partner organizations are going to have some quota carrying component. So a channel account manager or a partner, account manager, channel, sales manager, whatever you want to call them, that's dedicated to driving, you know, outcomes with partners. How do you tie those things together? Like, you know, hey, we have these partners, but we need people to make these partners successful. How many people do we have? I feel like those multi touch attribution models, we haven't quite quite crossed the chasm to. That's how you staff a partner team accordingly.

Adam Michalski  31:30
Yeah, so this is a really interesting one. And I mean, we we made that switch over at at branch. And the way we did it was really around, kind of rethinking how the entire process should be done. And I'll go into a little bit more deeper here. But keep in mind, you know, like, branches, a attribution company. So like, we tend to geek out on this. But yeah, I think what was interesting is like, when you start to look at that multi touch model, which I think, you know, as you mentioned earlier, I think a lot of us can can agree that that's the proper direction to focus. But harder, you really start to look at it as like, Okay, what are all the different touch points, and on the sales side, you know, you can use tools like outreach to figure out like, all the different emails that are going out, or, you know, meetings that are scheduled and stuff like that, on the marketing side, you can use tools like Marketo, you know, to figure out each one of the different marketing touchpoints. And then, on the partnership side, a lot of the infrastructure that we've been building at partnered, is to basically understand, you know, how do you how do you understand each one of the different partnership touchpoints? You know, was it an introduction or recommendation information? How are the partners actually helping each one of your different opportunities. And then what it takes is like, across all three of those parts of the organization, you then need to come to some consensus, which again, easier said than done, on what is the weighting on each one of those different touch points. Because, you know, when you look at it as like an email, you know, it's not going to be worth as much as somebody reading a case study or attending like a dinner, or like a partner introduction, each one of these should be weighted accordingly. And then you can use tools like a bizible, or an engage eo who are purpose built for multi touch attribution, to basically pull all of that data from each one of those different data sources in there and run your multi touch attribution analysis, such that you can basically look at your pipeline holistically, and see how much is coming from each one of the different parts of the organization, or, you know, look at an individual deal, and basically see each each touch point what happened, and apply that waiting on it to really understand like, you know, like, who realistically actually influenced that, it's a lot, it's a, it's a fundamentally different way of kind of thinking about this, then like the first touch way or last touch way of actually getting a deal done. But I'm a firm belief that it is the way that you know, sales attribution should be done. And a lot of that has come from marketing.

Jared Fuller  33:58
Yeah, I'm gonna ask this question maybe in a slightly different way. Let's, let's say you have a team of I don't know, you know, tech partnerships, managers, and then like, agency partnerships managers, right. So they manage a book of, you know, 2030 4050 agency partners or tech partners, in that view of the universe that you just mentioned, which I agree with, how do you craft their quota?

Adam Michalski  34:22
Yeah, so the way that we did and I listen, there's still stuff that needs to be figured out on this was definitely a little bit a little bit more of a

Justin Bartels  34:32
Jared the invoice for the free consulting after the call.

Adam Michalski  34:38
You basically you comp on on the points versus on like total, you know, total, like total pipeline or partner source or partner influence. So when you look at that weighting that we were just discussing how every single part of the organization, they're basically going to be given a certain amount of points. And we would call them like at branch recalling the BD influence points. Were Whenever whenever like somebody would get an introduction, that's three points, whenever somebody would get helpful information, you know, that's one point, a recommendation two points. As you start to add each one of those up, they're going to be, they're going to be influencing everything, you still want to have, like the the macro numbers in play, because when the CIO or the CEO or looking at their year and they have, like $100 million target, they're still going to need to see that, you know, 30 to 40 million is coming from the partnership organization. So you want to measure that and make sure that you understand like, how you're tracking towards that macro goal. But when it comes down to each individual, like Partner Manager, you know, regardless of their role, agency tech, that's when you can really start to break it down on more of like a point basis, and it's not going to be perfect out of the gate, like this is something like an N 10 exercise that realistically could take, you know, months, if not longer. But and there will be massaging along the way. But again, I think it starts to get you a lot closer to what like, what is proper attribution in the space, at least for how you can, you know, as you like, the the sea level is start trying to figure out where this revenue is coming from, this gives them a much more accurate depiction. And then you can figure out exactly like all the different compensation from there.

Justin Bartels  36:10
Interesting. So are you to get really technical, are you also assigning $1 value that's associated with that touchpoint and attribution model? Or is that just a blanket amount for all the, you know, one point equals $1 amount?

Adam Michalski  36:25
Yes. So each one of those, like, individual touch points would be assigned to that actual opportunity. So if the opportunity is, you know, let's just say $100,000 opportunity. And then you see the multi touch model, like, depending on how you've built it, we'll be able to tell you, you know, like 30% of this was coming from sales or was influenced by sales, you know, 40% of this was influenced by marketing. The remaining 30% was like, influenced by, you know, by sales, so you can start to look at it that way to really get a good understanding of like, how the organization was actually influencing each one of those deals.

Jared Fuller  37:01
What do you see next? And so there's this emerging category that you're playing in right now, Adam, which is what is I believe foresters The only one and Jay is the only one that's actually called it something right that he published something that was what did he call it? There's like an ecosystem you have like the martec land

Adam Michalski  37:18
the ecosystem tech stack

Jared Fuller  37:20
ecosystem tech stack. Right, so in the mahr tech space, that's JT Brinker, right at HubSpot, right. They had the martech landscape. There's some sales tech, and then Jays was the ecosystem tech stack.

Adam Michalski  37:35
Yes, he he posts it annually, I think, in January, if I'm not mistaken. And he in as of this year, I think it was the first time he did it. But he basically put together like different quadrants, the the quadrant in which way in which partner displaying in his I think ecosystem and like ecosystem management. So if you're looking at that actual quadrant, like I mean, if you're looking at the entire tech stack, it's going to be in the bottom right quadrant. And that's really, you know, Jay, is thinking a lot more about ecosystems, I think if you look at his writing over the last two years, like each one of these, like, oh, how do all How do all like the partnerships, like, play into the broader ecosystem for your company, and a lot of that ecosystem management software is being built out, like, you know, now as we speak, I think partnered falls right within that,

Jared Fuller  38:26
right? Because PRM, for example, is going to have a very heavy weight on, you know, like, agency si tech implementation partnerships, right. So like, you're not gonna, like, in my partnership with outreach, there's no way I'm getting, you know, 200 outreach reps to use my PRM. And ain't going to happen. There's just 0% chance, but I can get, you know, that digital global agency, right to register their next deal to make sure that we're fully engaged around that opportunity. It's a different kind of splay. So as you as you see this kind of emerging categories of technology companies, you're making a bet on one that I think is, is near term, and there's a need now, what do you think's missing? What do you think is missing from that overall, kind of like, I don't know if I want to say tech stack, but but go to market, you know, kind of purview of a b2b SaaS company.

Adam Michalski  39:25
Yeah. So, and we were just talking about PRMS actually think like a good way to kind of think about this, or the way that I kind of conceptually think about it is essentially like a funnel. You know, like when you're thinking about, like your partnership ecosystem, you have this funnel that you need to bring partners through, you know, one is actually like, finding the partners that you want to work with two is like, you know, onboarding them, bringing them through like your training program, you know, traditionally gold silver bronze, activating them making sure that they're like, you know, actually like, you know, working partners in your like in your ecosystem. But then at The bottom of you know, that funnel is really like managing and measuring those partnerships. And where we're, like partnered is specifically playing, it's really the intersection of like, Okay, how do you, you have all these folks in your ecosystem, and you want to basically, every b2b organization, the Northstar is always going to be revenue, you know? So how do you tie the efforts from your ecosystem back to that, that actual revenue target. And there's really three main problems that I think like exist in that space. One is going to be like understanding the overlap between you and your partners to begin with, like, so what has traditionally be called, like account mapping to is kind of facilitating the collaboration, you know. And when I say collaboration, what's interesting is it's not just across your, your organization and your partner organization. But when you're talking about specifically revenue, it's actually the internal collaboration that oftentimes is where a lot of things fall apart. Because you know, they're rep and

Jared Fuller  40:57
seller. Exactly,

Adam Michalski  40:59
yes. And that could probably be an entire podcast on itself,

Jared Fuller  41:03
Justin, knows nothing about that whatsoever.

Justin Bartels  41:06
Yeah, yeah. My own, but

Adam Michalski  41:11
there is, there's a lot of dynamics there, that that are that are like, very, very interesting. And I think like, I mean, a lot of that is like, where partner is focusing, just to be clear, so yeah, for us, I mean, making that making the reps, you know, think about the partnership ecosystem, as another tool in their toolkit, or in effectively in a cheat sheet in a lot of ways to close their deals, is there needs to exist, like some technology there that can make it dead simple, because sellers have a million different things that they have to be doing on any given day, you know, and like, they're not going to be logging into a PRM, they're not going to be looking, you know, through spreadsheets and digging through them. They're gonna, they're gonna basically take advantage of like, all that data, only if it's spoon fed to them in the right place when they're prospecting, you know, when they're doing all these different things. So I mean, that that interaction there is really important. And then, of course, all the measurement stuff that we talked about as well. The attribution, I think, is just like, it's a glaring hole in this market that just really needs to be solved as well.

Jared Fuller  42:12
So I think that's one of the things that you've just signed up for it partnered is that you are going to really build out the category of content for sellers to like, help them like, understand why they need to be looking at the, you know, ecosystem as a core competitive advantage to what they're doing like that, you know, ecosystem cheat sheet, if you will, I want to sign up and get that stuff and put it in front of the sellers.

Adam Michalski  42:36
You're going to be seeing more and more stuff. Yeah, I mean, we're going to be investing heavily in that. And I think it's, I mean, I've done sales to historically like, I mean, for me, what's interesting is that if you actually if you look at most organizations, I kind of fell into it, because I was just seeing a lot of other sellers who were doing who were working with the ecosystem be the most successful sellers in an organization. And if you look at that, and most organizations, the best sellers have actually figured it out. Like it's a way to cheat sheet their deals, you know, but but like, I mean, there's, there's, there's still, the vast majority of sellers aren't there yet. So So how do you bring that knowledge? How do you actually like, democratize that? Is is essentially I think, the the, yeah, the the Crusade, if you will, that that we're on,

Justin Bartels  43:18
right, and I think you're gonna see that with, I mean, with partners like, or with platforms like partner it is, you're gonna get a lot more reps partnering a lot earlier in their career, and they're gonna get a lot better at it, because the previous friction that prevented you from doing it in the commercial space, and only reserved for your enterprise sellers, who have big deals, you know, is is, is getting less and less. So you're gonna see a lot more people start to partner, you know, in their first sales role, you know, because they can go to their account, see which partners are on it. There's a workflow built around that partner in order to engage them on that opportunity. And you know, if you're, if your partner teams doing their job, there's a lot of enablement and support and handled and to make sure it goes well, the first couple times, but

Adam Michalski  44:00
I think you can, exactly and, and then I mean, the Partner Manager is also like, they, they they want this, you know, like, I mean, ultimately, if your goal then you know, partner source and partner influence revenue, like getting the sales team to really buy into that mantra is very important. So. So yeah, yeah, I mean, a lot of work that needs to be done, but I'm pretty pumped about it.

Jared Fuller  44:18
That is that's just and that observation to me might be the underlying current that really kicks off what I would consider an actual movement, because it's all of us part, or people that are connecting and, you know, slowly up leveling. It's not nearly as many sales people, right? I mean, if you were to take all of the functional partner roles in the United States and compare that to all of the functional sales roles in the United States, I don't even know the multiple, but I'm sure it's 10x 20x. Right, maybe even significantly more. So we get sellers to be educated on this. And that is a natural progression to where it's a part of like You know, I mean, the best account executives today, there's certain things they need to do in their job, right, there's certain things of mastery, like, you need to be able to know how to prospect need, didn't need to be able to know how to do discovery,

Adam Michalski  45:13
you need to ask marketing for account based marketing, you know, when you're dealing with, like these enterprise deals, like, when you think when you think about it, it's almost like, not sure if I'm fully behind the term yet, but it's something that I've toyed around with like account based partnerships. At the end of the day, it's like as an SDR or an A, you are looking to close their book of business partnerships should and will be a fundamental piece of that. It's an additional tool in their toolkit for how they can break. And I would actually argue one of the best tools in their toolkit to break into an account, you know, because you're essentially rather than looking at LinkedIn Sales Navigator and finding like somebody who might have met that, you know, that prospect at a conference 12 years ago, it has no way of actually getting in touch with them. Like if you can use your ecosystem to get connected directly to the seller, who actually close them. I mean, the level of information or signal to noise on that front is drastically different. You know, so like, I think it's a I mean, again, like I mentioned, you know, most of the best sellers, that organizations have already figured this out. Now, you know, how do you actually build the tooling to really democratize this and just make it you know, more of the, you know, kind of take it to, essentially where it should be in my personal opinion,

Jared Fuller  46:22
I think that this is why there needs to be forums like this for nuanced conversation, because what you just said is so true. But the layman or the person that doesn't quite understand will go, Well, you know, I connected with that seller, and she wasn't willing to make an introduction for me. And it's like, No, no, hold on. She just gave you all the answers to the test. Yep. Right. Like the buying committee, the priorities, that's the job is

Adam Michalski  46:50
not gonna fill out the test for you, it's not gonna fill up the test for you, but she'll give you the answers.

Jared Fuller  46:54
Right. So that's the job of the first call, the first call is to get the answers to the test, you're supposed to come in here and develop a relationship and prove that you're going to going to use the information that they give you, right, in a productive way and make their customer happy. And then eventually, like, once you've actually like, Hey, thanks for that information I've treated I've been a good steward of your customer. And the information that you gave me, I've built trust, we've brought on this new customer look at how happy they are, you look great. Next time customer has a similar problem, are they more likely or less likely to make an introduction to you? Right, that's where the source can kind of come back around.

Adam Michalski  47:32
You brought a very, very good point there. It's trust, you know, like, and that that trust is the interesting thing here is like, you know, most partner managers are doing that, you know, right now, where it's like, okay, cool, like, This relationship is pretty good, it's going back and forth, they're giving us some leads, you know, as long as it's not materially off balance, like, you know, that that relationship will continue to hum. But on the A, E to a, when you really kind of like, you know, extrapolate everything out just to the to the like that trust really has to be there, too. It's not just between, like the two partner managers, it's also between the two A's, because that's, that's really the secret sauce. And, you know, as a direct seller, you're not gonna go out, you know, doling out intros or information on somebody like it did to people if you don't trust them. So that that's a huge piece of this as well.

Justin Bartels  48:17
And that's the future. I was gonna say, Can I cut in with a tactic? Because I've been in that situation, or replicon, and getting direction from that, you know, like, I call them to go great, you know, and, and I'm like, all right, flip that around, like, say, this individual shear, he is coming to you for an introduction, did you give them what you would want to feel comfortable to make an interaction? If it's a no, then like, we got to bring more to the table here, we got to earn that trust to get to the point where they would do that. And that is like, if you're in a management role, or Alliance management role, like myself, and you're working with sellers, and you have sellers saying, Hey, I gotta get an intro. Why don't you flip, flip the script on them. And that's why it's great to have those tit for tat reciprocal partnerships, because then they have people come to them, and they get to be put in the shoes of the person that's, you know, that they're asking for a favor from. And the earlier the better, right, the early you can get and set them as their new seller and say, This is how you partner, this is best practice. Get them working on their first deal before you know they're set in their ways and how they're going to sell this company, then all the better.

Adam Michalski  49:19
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, when I was a seller, I would give before I got, you know, and very, very oftentimes I would give, you know, as much as I possibly could, but then what you'll find is that like, you know, that will come back in spades because then when you need something like you know, other folks or your partner ecosystem to jump at the opportunity to help you. So I think it's just being mindful, like, This isn't like, you know, a game where there's everything is zero sum, like it's, you know, in fact, it's exact opposite. Like, you want to make sure that you want to like provide as much value to your partner ecosystem and then you're, you're gonna wind up seeing that back in spades.

Jared Fuller  49:53
Amazing, we're going to Justin with that tactical tip and kind of ending on that future of partnerships where sellers are buying To the kind of like the trust required right to activate these partnerships, I think that's the next level of unlocking if you get your sales team bought into that trust of working with partner ecosystem, and they know how to approach these conversations. I mean, that's when your Salesforce that's when your HubSpot, that's when your Adobe I mean, that's what that's what great looks like. And we'll have to put dedicated an entire episode to that one. So on this cross pod promotional Adam, your your, we didn't get a shout out to your sponsor. So let's give you the shout out on your sponsor.

Adam Michalski  50:30
Yeah, so our sponsor is partnership leaders. So you can check it out at partnership leaders comm one of the fastest and growing partnership communities out there. It's just a slack community where I mean, if you have any questions, anything partnership related, great place to interact with other like other other peers in the space. Yeah, the other partners, you know, the other sponsor is just partner.io. Or Now, like I mentioned earlier, partner calm. See, I even caught myself there. So. But yeah, no worries, if you check out partner.io go straight to partner calm. And yeah, if you have any needs on how do you drive partner service revenue? How do you get your account executives or SDRs involved in the process, we hope to be the place for you to not only learn more about that, but then also to leverage a lot of our technology and for free, frankly, to get started and start getting that motion going. So So yeah, thanks, Sherry. Thanks, Justin. I really appreciate you guys.

Jared Fuller  51:24
You guys having me on? Of course, of course, this is this will be one of several, and then no competition between partnership leaders and CSA. So I think partnerships leaders is more like the exact kind of like paid membership where it's like really high quality. And then CSA is more of like a big giant pool of people. At least that's how I kind of thought about it.

Adam Michalski  51:45
I'm a member of both. I think they both have like, yeah, they're extremely complimentary. And I'd encourage everyone to join both frankly,

Jared Fuller  51:52
yeah, join both. So that's a that's our CTA Adam. It was incredible. partnered podcast, partner up, cross pod. I don't know if I've seen this as b2b SaaS. We're innovators.

Justin Bartels  52:03
It's about time. We talked about partnerships and you know, collaboration and audience cross pollination.

Jared Fuller  52:10
There we go. Alright, we'll see y'all next time.

Adam Michalski  52:14
Appreciate it, guys.

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