035 - Elevating Partner Ecosystems to the Board Room - AVANISH SAHAI

What's up PartnerUp! We're BACK and dropping heat with the best names & knowledge in partnerships you SHOULD have heard of. And this is a name you're not going to forget with some lessons you can take all the way to the Board Room.

Did you see those logos in the title?

Avanish is perhaps (and IMO undoubtedly) the most decorated B2B SaaS Partner Executive of all time.

Avanish has helped lead partner programs & ecosystems for SalesForce, ServiceNow, Google Cloud and is on the Board of Directors for HubSpot.

We discuss the rapid changes in B2B GTM leaving the door open for ecosystem as a competitive advantage that executives and boards are starting to wisen up to.

You're going to love Avanish's cool, calm, and collected thoughts from someone who can say a thousand words in one crisp sentence.

This is how a true partner executive and board representative talks partnerships and the strategic imperatives for their business. Tune in and level up your executive presence that you can take all the way to the Board Room on this very special episode of PartnerUp.

Don't forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you get your pods on the go. And leave a FIVE STAR rating -- because I do this all for free for all of you. It's the least you can do :)

If you liked the show, share the episode with your commentary on LinkedIn and hash #partnerup #partnerships. Tag us in on the post so we can comment and share back!

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  00:22
Because we are didn't lose, you immediately know we're here. Alright, there we go. So welcome everybody to partner up for those looking on youtube I am in a strange location I did do the job though bring my camera so at least I'm somewhat in fidelity, trying to get the lighting figured out. So it's a hotel room. I'm here in Boston. Working with a drift team after some big news that I'm sure everyone's saw if you follow the drift story with a strategic investment from VISTA that's kind of the first of its kind, so exciting to be traveling a little bit for some strategic stuff. And today's episode I am stoked to have on authentische Hi, Ivan, welcome to partner up.

Avanish Sahai  01:04
Jared, delighted to be here. Thanks for the invite. And congratulations to you and the drift team on the great news as well. And really looking forward to this. And I think it'd be fun to fund to have a good good dialogue about a lot that's going on in the world of partnering and ecosystems.

Jared Fuller  01:18
Definitely, there's, um, I think it represents just the the speed and the acceleration of change happening. If you look at think actually, this might be an interesting place to kick off. If you look at what happened with marchetto and Vista, right, so marquetta was fledgling a little bit in the public markets, right? This brought them under their wing. And, you know, what was one of their key levers during that period was ecosystem as a strategy, right? They really figured out their channel and solutions partner program, they solidify that alliance with Adobe to where VISTA got one of the best returns I've seen in a while, right? turned a little bit more than billion into four and what less than three years, ecosystem was a big part of that strategy. And I think we've seen VISTA come to drift to go, Hey, this isn't just a strategy for, you know, traditional people think of private equity, it's actually can be a strategic lever to bring companies into, you know, the next phase of their maturity, public markets, etc. So I think, you know, Vista recognize, hey, there was already ecosystem with drift and marchetto, right, that partnership, we were Adobe's Partner of the Year, how do we double down here and take that to the next level and bring drift into the public markets? So, you know, venture capital and private equity and, you know, growth, investing SoftBank, right, like all of these things are sort of colliding on what, what the future is going to look like? I'm sure you're you're seeing some similar things in the market where you might you might agree or disagree with that take.

Avanish Sahai  02:49
Now, Jared, I think broadly, I completely agree with you, right? I think the the growth that the tech sector is seeing right, the lines are blurring between what's a seed round and a round and be around a growth round. And frankly, with the kind of valuation that are out there and the opportunities that are out there, right, what I would consider typical PE or buyout firms like a VISTA or Thoma, Bravo, and others, I think they see an opportunity to really make strategic investments, help them grow, right, it's not a fix it, it's a take something that's amazing and innovative and grow it. And to your point about ecosystems, right? I think there is a recognition, right at a board level, what an investor Level A C suite level, that the ecosystem or the you know, the partners, and the channels used to be a bit of a more of a distribution model or a augmentation of my professional service organization, or some integrations. I think the last few years, you know, you and I've been part of some organizations that have really made this a core piece of growth, right? How do you really scale faster, how to kind of make this work like a flywheel. So I think folks like this, and others are seeing that as well. And finding opportunities to invest in organizations and companies that have that as part of their DNA.

Jared Fuller  04:07
I couldn't agree more. There's there was a foundation here that I think needed to be in place. And it's cool to see it kind of from the front lines, because I think a lot of venture firms that were you know, more traditionally early stage that they're they're not participating in the public markets, where ecosystem is a core part of the strategy, right, like most venture backed b2b startups, there aren't chief partnerships, officers and, you know, true VPS of partnerships that have done that story 234 times like there are in public, you know, publicly traded companies where there are the CMO, the, you know, Chief Technology Officer, the C suite that's like, Oh, yes, they've been in this story multiple occasions. You just don't see that in early stage companies. So it's cool to see that shift happen and I think it's bullish for why you know, this podcast is um, you know, important companies like crossbeam communities like the cloud software Association, I get that plug in every time if you're not a member, see our worth that and go to cloud software Association comm and join the slack group, great supportive group of people for helping you figure out how to get buy in, figure out some of the things that we talked about on this show. And also annual conferences coming up at the end of the fall. So check that out. But with that Avinash, let's, let's hop into the first topic you and I were aligning on which is maybe helping the audience understand, you know, the perspective that you have on defining what ecosystem means and how that might be a little bit different today than what you saw the emergence of, let's say in your Salesforce career. So for the for the audience, Aventis has had formative, I'll call them formative positions, leadership positions at Salesforce at ServiceNow. And now, Google Cloud, kind of leading that ecosystem charge, so to speak. So I think the perspective that he can share on this is really illustrated on what it might mean for the future versus what it meant, whenever, you know, the the ecosystem that a lot of us play in Salesforce. Right? What it meant back then. So maybe let's start with that ecosystem topic, how you how you would define ecosystem?

Avanish Sahai  06:20
Yeah, so I think, again, if you look it up in the dictionary, you'll probably find some very specific definitions. But I think of it from a practitioners perspective, like you and I are Jared, in a very kind of almost a visual manner, right? In the old world, right? Call it the the era of client server and so on. Now, there are a lot of partner programs, there was no like a partner programs. But the classes of partners all operate in silos, right? You had some service partners, you may have had some managed service providers, you might have had some technology integrations. But each of those might have been managed by a different Partner Manager or a different set of partner managers. But they didn't really operate in a true integrated fashion. Right. And I think what we've seen over the last 10 years, right, and certainly, some of us, I think, kicked this off at Salesforce, the late 2009 2010 timeframe was how do you think about this in a different way, right, and ecosystem should really have a multiplier effect. Right. And, you know, I think of it visually as a, there's a stovepipe model, which is what it was before all these separate stovepipes. But now it's a flywheel, right, which is, hey, an SI could also be being a building product on a platform, and they're selling the product as a subscription. Right? Or, again, an MSP is bringing different products together, stitching them together in a common offering, and bringing that to the market, right and helping both maybe a platform provider, different technology providers, can really create a much more valuable solution that the customer then says, look, that thing solves my problem in a much more comprehensive manner. At least for me, that is a visual, I think, you know, from stovepipes to more of a flywheel. And how do these different categories of partnerships and partner models work much more in tandem, and much more much more collaboratively? rather than, you know, each of these being kind of a, what I would normally have said, Hey, just a pure augmentation of a services team of maybe have a sales team to resell and so on. How do you kind of really bring that, again, strategically, right? So it has a lot of strategy implications, how to bring that in alignment with your traditional sales and distribution models? And frankly, how do you support that on an ongoing basis, from product product roadmap, from frankly, a support itself perspective? So those things have to change, for you to operate a real ecosystem, at least in my view? Do you agree with that? What's what are your How do you feel about

Jared Fuller  08:54
that? Well, what's funny is, I was going to maybe ask for an example. But what what's hilarious is like, I have an example of exactly what you just said, right? Now, that seems weird given our stage, like you said, anyone si can also be building product. So you would think of a large si as having the capabilities of doing some product development. But let me give you a weird real life example of drift. There's a company called market link. They've been doing chat services like a BPO. They do outsourced, you know, chat, because that was a fairly common thing for a lot of companies. And they've been doing it for well over a decade. chats been around for a long time. drift kind of disrupted their business model in a lot of ways because their top clients were b2b. So there's bots and automation and AI. And they leaned in to developing services around drift and they actually became really good implementation partners. So then they moved up the stack right into kind of like the services world from the outsource, you know, arbitrage on ours, which very low margin services a little bit better. And then you know, what they've done they've launched a product called lift AI. And now this isn't a multi 1000 person AI company. This is 100, a couple 100 employees and lift eight.ai has they have landed some of our best customers. And I can mention some of them because there's case studies on our websites like Okta, public SSO company. Point, click care, I did a webinar with point click carrot, decent sized company lift.ai, which wouldn't be a startup by the San Francisco Silicon Valley terms in drift and how lift AI helps them prioritize bot targeting for anonymous website visitors like they built a solution around drift that is it SAS product that's driving value from our customers and is doing services. I just I couldn't have imagined that three years ago. And it's like, it's happening. So quick, even down market, right? In the startup world services, businesses are innovating, just like he said. So I would say, if I had an opinion, I'll let the market Tell me and the markets telling me your audition is right, like you've seen it with your own eyes. And we have I think the question that I would have for you as a follow up is, okay, so that that blended, I kind of have two different teams, I have a channel team, and I have an ISV team. What would be the recommendation? Like? Obviously not every partner is colliding like that? Should we be thinking about that Partner Manager kind of role, so to speak, that's, you know, they're not responsible for the customer journey. They're not responsible for like the the customer success or the sale, but like the partner themselves? Should this be combining into one function? Is that what you mean by partners versus stovepipe, or just more integrated across the business? Yeah,

Avanish Sahai  11:45
I think there's a Yeah, that's a it's it's a really important question, right? And I think it's, again, it's part of an evolution. So out of this a perfect answer quite yet. But those of us who are living it are basically thinking, hey, there's First of all, from a partnership perspective, right? You think about these partners in a much more holistic fashion. So when you put together business planning, you think about what is a three year five year business plan? It's no longer just services or just managed service or just product, right? You think about in a much more holistic fashion? Number one, right. So that is I think the baseline is how you think about the business itself? And how do you help the partner think about their business is changing, too, from a organizational perspective, the rank, they think the metrics is where you start with, and the success metrics have to start changing? Right? It's no longer just, you know, remember, in the in the traditional si world, it was about influence? Well, now you're going to have influence, you're going to maybe have a CV, because they're selling product, you may have rev share, because they may be distributing a core part of your offering a platform. So how do you measure that? How do you Well, first of all, drive the right incentive, and then to measure the success of the relationship and of the therefore the team started change as well. Right. So it's no longer again, the the stovepipe of hate each of those teams that very well defined, you know, a single, single threaded metrics, it started change. So it's, you have to think about in a much more holistic fashion. And then I think I do think that the organization and the skills that you want in that team have also have to start changing, right? So you want someone who can think across these lines and think more, you know, find an opportunity, just like the example you just gave, and say, Hey, you know, talking to a CEO of a cx o v, one of their existing partner saying, Hey, we thought about maybe thought about x ray, we thought about a building your product, because seems like you have something repeatable there, or have you thought about a managed service model. So really taking a much more strategic alignment. And and I think that will require some changes to both things are organized. Things are how success is measured. And frankly, how you think about scaling, both the business and the organization along those lines.

Jared Fuller  14:06
That's such an interesting way to approach it. Like, if your remit as a partnerships, leader in doing the organization had the approach of what you just said, so to speak, your job is, you know, in the old world is you need to manage our channel program. And like, here it is, or you need to manage our ISVs or our platform and developer community or alliances with that one, you know, account, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, but your remit was something maybe different. along the lines of how do you create an ecosystem that is across these, you know, barriers, and I think that example of, you know, having service providers that are building on your platform and driving value and they're becoming stickier to your ecosystem, because then they're dependent on let's say, some, you know, ACV Arr, recurring revenue from product and they're servicing life. Shout out to Don Simpson and lift AI team, I guess that that's how he's gonna work his way onto this podcast, by the way, so wherever you see him next, Dawn's definitely going to be on here because we need to talk about this more. You know what? It, it's really hard to surface the value of that. But they've kind of embedded themselves everywhere adrift. And I don't know that a partner leader today would be thinking, Oh, yeah, like, we should get these service providers to build, you know, product. You just wouldn't have never thought that and now that you say it, so simply, it's like, well, what a competitive advantage. What a competitive advantage over everyone else. Because what's the value to you know, there's by 1000, more tech companies 1000s of sales, tech companies, data infrastructure, that's this whole other category. We're all over inundated with too much information, too many choices, too many options. And I think in the BD world, we're competing every bit as much for attention, as we are for differentiation. And to get the attention, you better have way more value than the person next door.

Avanish Sahai  16:08
Yeah, and again, I think you're absolutely nailing it, the dirt on that, right. So think about the customer, if we are overwhelmed, think about them, the customers, right? And how overwhelmed they are, with all these different folks, approaching them from you know, different marketing campaigns, email campaigns, social etc. And they're saying, Where do I find the folks who can actually help me build my business, right? I don't want to stay transactional relationship, I don't want just, you know, a pure technology vendor, I want someone understands my business, bring something to the table that actually is relatively complete, yes, of course, we'll configure it, and we'll tweak it, and so on. But I think that is the, you know, fundamental change, I always think about starting with the customer. And I think it's the customers are driving back, which is they don't want, you know, hundreds of relationships, they want fewer, more strategic, tighter. And these, these organizations we just talked about will play that role, or, frankly, being a bit more that aggregator rather than letting the customer do all the aggregation and figuring things out, and how to connect all these different capabilities. Work with the fewer fewer ones of them, but but really, who understand your business, and are not just an implementer, or just a vendor or just a just an ISV. So I think that is a fundamental change. But I think we're all in the midst of

Jared Fuller  17:27
it. When I talked to David cancel, originally, he's a CEO of drift. And one of the reasons I thought there is something to learn for him kind of under his Tuttle edge, so to speak was, you know, asked him why why start drift? Why have this category? You know, what, what is so meaningful about this? And he told me, he said, You know, he folks focuses on, you know, undeniable shifts in behavior, consumer behavior, and, you know, so messaging, you know, five, six years ago was an undeniable shift, right? It hadn't made its way really into customer experience on the b2b side. So he was ahead of that curve, but it was based on an undeniable shift. I think what you just said is another undeniable shift in a different way, in that there is a mass consolidation happening. I mean, the news just broke today about, you know, MailChimp, acquisition, you know, into it picking up MailChimp. And it's like, Whoa, that was a nice $12 billion acquisition of a brand that I think if you've been in startups for a long time, we've known for it we've all known forever. And loves. Yeah, first of all, business. I started with 100, actually, first nonprofit, before I even started a business. I started a nonprofit, I used them in 2000, you know, vibed, 2004. That's how long they've been around. But that's everything's consolidating, I wouldn't have thought of Intuit is getting into the email marketing space, right? Yeah.

Avanish Sahai  18:55
No. And again, you think about it. Why? You know, yeah, if you think about the rationale that they proposed for that acquisition was, hey, we are a trusted provider of the back office, to the vast majority of SMBs, and a large number of corporate or mid market clients, right? Everybody uses QuickBooks, everybody is kind of relying on that. And they're basically argument is their basic argument is, hey, if we're the trusted advisor, and trusted vendor on the finance side, what are other things that those same customers need? That we can bring to the table? Right, then it actually makes makes logical sense. Because guess what, the marketing function in that SMB not there's probably

Jared Fuller  19:39
a lot on Main Street, it's not right. Like I remember my journey my journey was, I think this is where domain registrar's in the large part have really screwed up like GoDaddy versus like an Intuit because you know, my journey started with you know, domain and then, you know, I'm, I'm selling my own clients, you know, this is 2000 five through eight, some of my own clients, and then you know, it's like, oh, gotta get my books set up. So then it's QuickBooks, you know, into it. And then a little bit after that, it was like, hey, I want to start doing some, like email marketing, then it was MailChimp. So I think they're a gatekeeper to a lot of those relationships for Main Street, where back office kind of get set up first, because your sales are manual, you're not an email audience first. Exactly. So that consolidation makes sense, the same way that consolidating kind of these functions into you know, more? What do we call these roles, typically, channel account manager, alliances manager. You know, to me, this is all about having a true consulting function, where your job is like, Hey, your ecosystem partners, wherever they are, your job is to make them more dependent on the ecosystem by virtue of these new way of looking at the metrics, right and driving value to their organization and helping them grow, versus you hitting a number. That, hey, it's like an inverse look on the same challenge and same opportunity, because there's consolidation happening everywhere. And if we can get our ecosystem partners to kind of consolidate around our experience, and then going cross solution and technology and let's say, strategy, there's a number of ways to monetize an ecosystem beyond just the traditional ways of thinking about it. That macro trend, consolidation, right? consumers, just, there's too many choices like, makes it way easy QuickBooks Okay, MailChimp, right? It just works. It seems to be true.

Avanish Sahai  21:41
Yeah. And I think there's one other factor right on top of that, right, which is, the world has moved or is very quickly moving to a world of subscriptions. Right? And therefore, the notion of customer success, no matter the size, right? is how do you make sure you retain that customer relationship? How do you make sure you bring to your point, bring continuous and incremental value, right? So if you have the relationship, the ability to, again, if you're doing a good job, to bring in more offerings, more services, more capabilities, it's a natural way to kind of grow the relationship, right? Some companies will do that through building new products. Others may do it through acquisitions, others may do it through the ecosystem. Right? And that's the combination of, of modes, right? Build by partner. And I think that is a fundamental change. That's that's also going on is yes, the consolidation is again a result of that. building that relationship, growing the relationship driving more, more value, right to the to the customer. And as long as you are a trusted advisor, a trusted relationship, trusted vendor, then you have earned the right to bring more into that conversation.

Jared Fuller  22:53
That the question that that then poses is, I feel like in talking to a lot of folks involved in business development and partnerships, they're there. There's lots of firefighting, and being mired in the weeds, so to speak. And I think this this question, for example, like there is a mass consolidation of that's happening, because consumer expectations have shifted to like, make it so simple that I don't have to think about it. Because otherwise I'm out of your funnel. Like, I'm no longer a customer. It's just underneath inside. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So how are you as a partner leader, or your organization, your board, etc, dealing with that shift? And if I think about it, from that perspective, how am I dealing with that shift? I'm like, I actually need to think about this, right? This is something where this wasn't part of the plan, but then becomes an opportunity for us if we are able to get ahead of that curve. So I think that's really illustrative to go, okay, the stovepipe, to flywheel model. I think we get that from a marketing perspective. But I think there's these other shifts that will start to change and we'll see it we've already started to see it in the market. Let's let's take it into the the next phase around. Specifically, like thinking about ecosystem is this blended thing based on some undeniable shifts? One of the things that I feel like is a outlier in some ecosystem strategies is when you're the small one, and you have a relationship with the big one, right? So I've done some of that with like, drift to Adobe, but how do you name of this podcast, right? How do you think about partnering up and not just becoming a cog in the machine, so to speak around, you know, as Salesforce ecosystem or Google Cloud, right, another great, you know, vastly quickly growing ecosystem having led those organizations I'd love to hear your perspective on on the lens that you look at that question of how to how to partner up.

Avanish Sahai  24:57
Yeah, it's a frankly, it is a It's an ongoing, I think quest to figure that out in a way that makes sense for all parties involved, right? Because, again, you want to make sure that makes sense for the customer, first and foremost, and make sure it makes sense for the partners, they want to make sure, of course, it makes sense for you as the orchestrator, which is another term that's been used more and more, right. It's not no longer just a platform, but you know, you're the orchestrator of this ecosystem, right? And the way I think we think about it is the following, right? is understanding what are those core guy capabilities or offerings, that makes sense to bring, you know, help bring together, right? So rather than saying, hey, come, one come, all, everybody's got access to all the core capabilities, we want to find the ones that can truly help us move the needle, and help the customer become more successful and bring more value to them? So we actually spend a lot of time think about what are those whitespaces? Who are some of the leading companies that we think can we can bring into our ecosystem? And that we can help them? Or frankly, they can help us? By frankly, in the notion of partnering up? Can they open new conversations, like with buying centers of decision makers that we normally might not talk to? Do they bring something to the table that opens up a discussion with, you know, someone in the front office that may not be typically, you know, a traditional buyer of infrastructure, for example? Or are they doing something unique in the world of AI, right? And say, hey, can can we leverage our AI infrastructure and capabilities with their domain knowledge. And that usually will come in the form of either vertical, or horizontal, right? So kind of really think about this as solutions that fit into that, that framework and saying, Hey, here's, here's someone who understands, you know, problem x in retail, or in telco or in some other industry, and they're really disrupting, right. So now there is a value proposition to them. And there's a value proposition to us in our customers to say, look, we are aggregating this, we're doing a bit of the, you know, the old world of curation, and helping bring something to the table that truly is more unique and more distinctive, right, and back to the point of differentiation you're bringing up. So that requires a, you know, a proactive approach to it, which is you scan the market to keep tabs on who's doing what, keep tabs on, you know, key investments to keep tabs on where the innovation is coming from. And frankly, the beauty of it is that innovation is on what's happening around the world. So you really can no longer can say, Hey, I can focus just on, you know, Boston, where you are in Austin, and then the Silicon Valley in Seattle, for example, right, really have to open up that, that lens. And there's some amazing things happening in Latin America, there's things happening in poorest in Southeast Asia, and India, and so on. So I think that is part of what a lot of us are playing the role of, is really keeping very close eye on what's happening in the marketplace, what are the things we can bring together. And then frankly, again, use the term orchestration, and bring together platform capabilities, bring together these offerings, maybe bring together one or two KSI that understand that domain, and really drive that as a more complete solution to that particular problem. That I think at least in my mind, is how we've been approaching it, which is how do we help? Again, there was, like you said, there's so many folks out there, how do we help the customers make the decision faster, and bring something to the table that has the you know, tight coupling, tight integration, and it's really a lot simpler, a lot more seamless, to be deployed and configured, and so on.

Jared Fuller  28:56
Okay, so I'm going to reverse engineer what you just told me and try to give away the the secrets for how to break through into big part partnerships, then. So what I heard, I liked what you said at the beginning, you know, horizontal and vertical and horizontal strategy, and I can't wait for the AI of the future where I can like right in front of me, and it's kind of will happen, it's, um, so let's imagine a matrix in front of actually a spreadsheet, right? So x and y axis, right? And understanding, okay, I'm going to partner up with your name named the sumo of your space, right? And so what is their vertical strategy? So like, what verticals are they playing in? And then what's their horizontal strategy meaning like, let's say the the buying centers, departments, you know, kind of, you know, centers within each vertical and map, okay, where they're where they're the strongest, you know, where they have to win. And where are you as the smaller partner, right? So like, Where are you playing? And then then you're understanding Okay, here's how we're potentially important to them, we kind of fit into their strategy that might be like a good first exercise To understand, like, hey, they have a bunch of partners over here. And I know you've said that not all partners are created equal, right? Would that be a good way of kind of thinking through that initial approach, if you're the smaller one approaching the bigger one is a make sure you have that understanding, don't just pitch hey, here's we can provide the best service possible, we can provide you an innovative tech, you got to think about it that way is maybe a good start. I

Avanish Sahai  30:24
think that's a it's a great, great kind of framework to start with, right? Which is, again, it's about empathy, right? It's help us help you. And I think having that framework of, Hey, where are we headed, right? And if someone shows up and says, Hey, I do, I'm not going to call anyone out. But you know, I only work in micro vertical x. And nowhere in our storytelling or in our messaging or positioning, we've talked about macro vertical x, that's probably not going to land, right. So I think thinking about exactly you described, where are the where's the focus? What are things are doing, what have they talked about? But more importantly, how can I help them? Because remember, our sales organizations across you know, myself, my peers, were also being inundated with a lot of folks looking for attention. So try to understand, where's that fit? How does it complement? And again, I always think about success metrics, right? is do your homework in understanding what is it that drives success? For my organization, or my broader organization, right? So if I'm working with an infrastructure provider, like Google Cloud, or AWS, or Azure, well guess what the metrics are on consumption? And if I am a smaller company, and my driving consumption, and my heavy data storage, compute networking, you better have that answer. Right? And say, yeah, look, this is the amount of consumption I drive, I typically, you know, that because I drive a lot of data gravity. You know, once we're deployed, here's the amount of volume of data that a typical customer is going to bring together, because they're going to run these AI models on on this perspective, cloud, for example. Now, there is a an angle,

Jared Fuller  32:14
you're gonna think you're giving away all the secrets right now?

Avanish Sahai  32:18
Well, I thought, that's what I want me to do. I can't you know, we can keep quiet,

Jared Fuller  32:21
you give it away. He's gonna start charging you per listen to this one. Because what, what's so interesting there is, imagine a conversation. So let's take that strategy at the top, which I think you know, let's say VP of BD to like VP of BD, hey, why we should partner you're the bigger one, we're the smaller one, aligning to those core metrics is, of course, you know, it seems like a no brainer. But then imagine, let's go down the stack to the front line. Right? So where, you know, hey, my, you know, fledgling partner teams trying to work with the bigger teams, like much more experienced account teams. They're getting pinged by a lot of people trying to get access to their customers in their accounts. And if you're just coming in it without the the wisdom, what's in it for me, like me as a CSM, or an account manager or whatever? Like, why do I need to prioritize your time little partner over the 500 other partners that are trying to take my time. If I don't understand that, I don't know that I can, you know, so it's like, Hey, I'm, let's say, I'm a CSM to use your consumption model. And I'm compensated on the net dollar retention of the aggregate of my accounts based on consumption. If I'm driving, and I know I'm driving X amount of y amount of more consumption, every time one of my accounts is connected, then I have a really easy story of like, Look, here's how we help you make more money, and your customers more successful. And in the 10 others that we've done with you know, Susan, and john and your peers, here's what we've done for their accounts, come prepared for that conversation. That's the trick. That's that's literally the secret of how I did it with Marketo. That is exactly how we did it, because it was consumption.

Avanish Sahai  34:14
Yeah. I mean, and again, in some case, may be consumption, right? In the case of someone like Salesforce, hey, I'm driving new users, right? There's net new users that are no not in your current. Right. So you have to really think that through and yeah, you know, you know, Manager for a long time, but that, that I think that mindset is not always there, right? I think, and not to, you know, put anyone down, but often, even at the CEO level of some of these older companies, they're so enamored with their technology. They're that, okay, we're the coolest thing, right? since sliced bread, or whatever other analogy you want, they might be. But if they're not going to align with those success metrics, and understand how to drive those outcomes, They're gonna get lost in the noise, right? And that is, again, back to the point of talent and organization. that mindset, you know, the partner management function has to facilitate that. You have to as a Partner Manager, as a leader, you have to instill that in the organization that says, Here's, at the end of the day, this is not just about, you know, Barney, relationships, nobody has time for that. So this has to be around impact around value and ultimately run economics. And, you know, the simple story is follow the money, right? How we're gonna, how we're gonna help people make, make money, drive consumption, drive growth, and that's where the, again, back to the flywheel. Right, that's where you have to think about it not just in a linear fashion, but frankly, in a more complex fashion. And that people are succeeding in these kinds of roles now, are the ones that can put that kind of framework and really communicate that in a very, not as simple but has to be simple and credible way, right? It's not a, it can't be Yes. Are we out of it? Right? You have to really think it through and understand how to how to drive that kind of value.

Jared Fuller  36:15
I could not agree more I mean, this this topic. That's how I got into I would say partnerships is a area of specialty is this concept of like leveraging existing relationships in market with the category leader, and becoming number one with that person, like their most important partner, that is something I became obsessed of, because it seemed like the biggest growth hack in the world. I come from, like, you know, being an entrepreneur myself, I've failed companies that they've learned a lot. And it's like, what is the best way for me to get ahead of the line of all of the competition and noise in the space, it's to get the front of that line to become their best partner. And I'll do my like, towards the end of the podcast plug for the cloud software Association. I call this, you know, finding your Sumo. With a black swan event, like what is that activation moment that no one is aware of? Where you go, Hey, here's exactly how I've helped these customers with this use case. And why it drives why amount of value for you at the top line is strategic to your horizontal and vertical strategy and where you need to go. And here's how the front line is responding to it because it's helping them hit their metrics. And this is how we're going to be your number one partner. I'm giving a masterclass on this October 21 10am, PT for the cloud software Association. See I work that right back in same topic. So it's the first time I've done a masterclass with a cloud software Association. And would love everyone to join in, check that one out. It's basically how to land your big Alliance and expanding on some of the resilient foundation that Avinash has laid out for us here on the topic of partnering up, so I just squeeze that one in because that, that, that just happened. Yeah, we partner with them. So I got to give them a plug, I gotta get my plug.

Avanish Sahai  38:06
There. I double down on your plug. I've worked with them before. I think you're spot on.

Jared Fuller  38:13
All right, I think if you did not fully grasp the strategy of horizontal, the vertical of how to make sure that you follow the money and tie what's in it for their business on the impact side down to the ICS? Like, how does this really help me hit my number, I think listen to that part, again, because that's the trick right there. That's the trick to partnering up. And I think the last kind of will go from ecosystem into like, the big alliances to maybe the board room, you know, if we're kind of like going up in scale is like framing that conversation around the why on, you know, ecosystem like the point at which this becomes a strategic imperative for organizations? It seems like it's different based on size, or I often find, you know, maybe Google is an interesting example, because Google's ecosystem is vast. But it feels also different, right? Like, Google's ad ecosystem is probably very different than Google Cloud ecosystem. That's almost like, you're like, doing a different ecosystem. And maybe you're trying to convince, you know, ad partners to, you know, go in there and build ad products on Google Cloud and how it's going to be better. I think you might have just you caught that team, you might have heard some of the automations insight into how we might be thinking about leveraging the ecosystem that already exists at Google. But the framing for that, why in the conversation coming out of the boardroom for ecosystem becoming a strategic imperative. I'd love to kind of hear your take on, on how you kind of unpack that from like the top down right from the executive team or board level down to, you know, ecosystem strategy and the rest of the business.

Avanish Sahai  39:52
Yeah, so I just buy in by way of firsthand experience. So I'm on the board of HubSpot, and I've been on the board for three years.

Jared Fuller  40:00
I should have, I should have said that too. And yeah, that's what an incredible other ecosystem, right?

Avanish Sahai  40:05
And one of the reasons that I was invited join that board was exactly, because it is a board level issue, right, which is, you know, I fundamentally believe that the most successful companies are platforms. And platforms were defined in many different ways does not always mean it's a platform as a service just for development on top of it, right? But a platform could be, hey, I'm exposing core data. And I've got some really interesting aggregation of data around behavior around conversation, Ai, and so on. And the more I can expose that, the more I can plug things around that. One, the stickier I get, but it's good to me that for me to, again, I'm driving more value to my customer, right. So I think the board imperative and the C suite imperative around this is evolving, as companies build their overall business strategy and associated product strategy. They're going from, you know, offer from single product to multi product, to then a platform. And once you have a platform, then you have to build an ecosystem around the platform, because otherwise, if nobody's connecting to it, nobody's building on it. Guess what, you're not a platform. So that was a journey, by the way I went through at Salesforce wait was sales and then added service and marketing and then force.com, and the platform around it, even service now when did the CSC right was some it to it plus, customer service management plus HR plus security. And now let's expose a platform and help other companies both build on the platform and around those those application areas. That's what hub spots doing, you know, and that's to a certain extent, what we're doing at Google as well. And the notion then becomes, that becomes that accelerator. Might, though, for that flywheel to kick in. Right? It's a business strategy of greater customer traction, greater value, greater share of wallet. And that's why it becomes much more than, you know, can they just a program for partners, right? What is how can we really become more? Much more strategic, or you talked earlier a lot, we talked about consolidation? Well, in that consolidation framework, right, the consolidator has to bring a lot of value. And that value is going to be because they've got the platform and ecosystem around the platform. That becomes a board level discussion. Why? Because Hey, one, from a revenue perspective, are you going to make it work?

Jared Fuller  42:35
to why will monetization? Why would stickiness

Avanish Sahai  42:38
exactly right, and from a product perspective, you want to make sure that, again, this is not I have to say this is non trivial, right? This is not an easy decision or investment, right? It requires, you know, having a clear understanding of what you're investing in? How do you make sure the product and the product suites and the platforms are ready and equipped for that, you know, do you have an API strategy? Are you maintaining it? Are you documenting it, right are things gonna break the next time someone you do a new release, right, so it's a pretty comprehensive set of discussions and decisions that have to be made. And that requires, I'll say it C suite alignment, right, because it involves product, it involves marketing and involves sales and involves support and of all services. Right, and that's part of the beauty of what I like about this kind of role here is you're you know, increasingly you're really have to be, again, to be successful to be very cross functional. You have to work across the organization to make sure that he understands why you're doing this, what the outcomes going to be, but also what are the expectations and dependencies that you have from the other parts of organization and that's where the board and the C suite have to both one get it and to sponsor it

Jared Fuller  43:51
it's interesting because it feels like a few companies are born out of that you know founder discussion let's say you know a couple founders and then that relay team is like ecosystem is this strategy from the beginning. I we've had some people on the show that have you know, like Jay McBain and Forrester who I you know, love Jays, great writing is like, Hey, you have to have the McDonald's First, you have to have something that's franchisable. so to speak, right? And that that franchisable thing is something you need to be able to build on, so to speak for my channel model. And I think from the platform model, you have to have enough value there to replicate that. And what I think my my thesis is with the emergence of technologies like cross beam and you this partner kind of ecosystem category of software, which, you know, that was never on anyone's mind, like, Hey, you can make this work better. That we'll start to see people try to be a little bit more disruptive with that with that as part of their core strategy out of the gate, especially when it's like wow, you know, like one of my, I love like, whoop out of Boston, shout out whoop, they have the amazing fitness tracking etc I love you know, peloton I love all these things and then just look at Apple today launches fitness plus fully integrated, beautiful customer experience and it's like, wow, okay, the competition is coming from everywhere the you know, accounting company, email marketing, it's all consolidating. And I think the lesson for all of us out there is like, and maybe that's why there's not a playbook. I think we're gonna end on this note is like, why have this podcast? Why listen might be part of the community is there isn't a playbook. There isn't the book you can buy on Amazon, that opposition is gonna say, Go buy that right now. That's what you need to read. And you'll get partnerships. I think, not yet. Not yet. I think we there will be one that's more interesting. I think the point is, is you know, maybe that's for a good reason that everyone else is role models, like there's stuff to learn from them. But the goal of business development and being closer to the market, and what's happening is to be innovative. And to be a core part of elevate yourself to that conversation at the C suite that's required of you know, big public companies and if your earliest days try to pull that innovation forward. Because I think the victor goes the spoils on who figures out that game you know, that's that's why you know, you're you're also part of their HubSpot core part of HubSpot strategy, we need to make sure that that's a board level conversation.

Avanish Sahai  46:19
Absolutely could not agree with you more and I think that's very well summarized. And and also, one thing I understand is I don't think it's a one size fits all either, right? So that's why the Why is so important is really understanding from each organization's perspective. Not Why should they or, you know, and they should not in some cases, take on sort of strategy. It's it requires really thinking that's

Jared Fuller  46:43
amazing. Avinash, thank you so much for coming on, partner up and remind us the audience if you listen online, you can check out YouTube. If you're on the podcast rate on Apple podcasts, subscribe on Spotify, tell Alexa play partner up. She'll do it. I actually got that set up. And we'll see y'all next time. As a reminder to in two more episodes. This show format is completely relaunching, so you're in for a surprise. We'll see you next time. Peace out.

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.