037 - Drop the Stigma, Why Partner "Influence" Is Now Your Most Valuable Currency - ALLAN ADLER

PartnerUp - we're back!

Good to be back too, we've missed ya.

One thing we wouldn't miss though is the seemingly universal disdain of the dirtiest word in partnerships: "influence."

Unfortunately, I think we all get it. "Partner Influence" has a bad rap for a reason -- it's been abused by too many and ignored as a result.

But what about the today's crazy new world in 2022 and beyond makes it time to change how we view and use "partner influence?" Is it time to take back the meaning and measure of "influence" as not only strategic for partnerships, but critical to company growth?

Allan Adler of Digital Bridge Partners has seen partner influence change over each era of the Internet. He's founded, operated, sold GTM consulting firms and coached partner strategy for some of the best CEO's and Ecosystem Executives in tech.

Instead of a dirty word, Allan pushes for the executive team to take renewed ownership of influence as the real currency in the decade of the ecosystem and shares how we can start measuring that influence... right... now!

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Jared Fuller  00:13
What is up partner up? We're back, Michelle, how you doing

Michele Albanese  00:18
back with another one. Let's do it another

Jared Fuller  00:20
one, number three or number two, depending on there's some things happening coordinating schedules. So it's either your Michelle's second or third. So if you haven't caught the introduction to Michelle Albany's and why you need a partner programs manager, definitely check out that show. And today, I'm super excited to talk with our a guest that I've been on. I think, more so than a lot of people I've been geeking out with over slack and a few sidebar conversations. Alan Adler is on partner up. And it has been fun getting to know you and listening to you and reading your content on LinkedIn and the things you've been publishing. Because I think very few people are thinking at the depth by which you're thinking full time about ecosystem about influence. We'll get there in a second. So Alan, welcome to

Allan Adler  01:07
partner up a Jared. Thanks. Thanks, Michelle. Thanks for having me. Yes,

Jared Fuller  01:11
before we get into the topic, because it's a good one. It's a real good one. Michelle, I think there was some partner news today,

Michele Albanese  01:16
partner news of the day cross beam raising their Series C super excited about that.

Jared Fuller  01:23
Is that right? Yeah.

Michele Albanese  01:25
I think that's what it was. Yeah. Awesome. We got a chance to catch up with our CSM over there today. They are fired up excited for more resources and to feel more product for their for their customers. So that's big partner news. That's good.

Jared Fuller  01:39
It's huge. Alan, what's your take on that? Because $76 million series. See that's a hefty series, see, the big series he had b2b SaaS, and then for partnerships, SAS company,

Allan Adler  01:51
and a partnership SAS company that doesn't even have a workflow yet. They just are this amazing data escrow company just helping to exchange influence information, which is what we're going to talk about.

Jared Fuller  02:01
Yeah, I think they're getting there. Chris, is there open up some API's to be able to, you know, actually drive a little bit of workflow. So they're starting, but I think the visions there, and for those of y'all that have not, I'm gonna do a shameless pre episode plug episode 27. Bobby, it's co crossbeam. It's a great episode. I've gotten a lot of feedback. That's one of our audiences favorites. Definitely go check that out if you haven't seen it yet. And with that, that further ado, we want to talk about a dirty word today. Very dirty word. So the one that every single CRO hates, it's the one that every single cmo hates, ooh, especially sales ops, sales ops really hates this word.

Allan Adler  02:42
What is the word? Influence?

Jared Fuller  02:46
Yeah, influence. And Alan, you have a thesis, that influence is actually a currency. Let's start here with maybe, before you get into your definition, let's just make sure that we're all on the same page of defining like in the context of partner contribution, what are the different buckets by which many companies kind of measure partner contribution, like from my point of view, there's typically some sort of partner lead. So partner qualified lead partner source lead some sort of marketing metric. And then probably 90% of the focus is on either partner revenue, which is typically partner sourced pipeline and dollars or partner influenced it drift Michelle, we use total influence sometimes, too. So total is the sum of sourced and influenced, we still call it total influence? Is that generally what you see in market Allen and kind of your consulting and helping companies with their partner programs? Yeah, absolutely.

Allan Adler  03:39
It's like, you know, source was the cool word. When we were in the, you know, in the stovepipe business in the channel days, you know, influences like you didn't go to quote Club, which is where, you know, everyone gets to go to Hawaii, with influence, no matter how much influence you created, and source was it. But you know, the funny part is that, you know, source is almost a joke, because it kind of connects to this idea that, Oh, I own the customer, I got the deal. When we all know that the customer is being sort of bombarded with so many pieces of content that at the end of the day, it's just the source guy might have been lucky enough to have enough influence to actually get the customer to call him to place the order or her to place the order. So I'm seeing more and more of our clients say, we're making the inexorable move from tracking source revenue to trying to get our heads around influence, and that the future of ecosystems influence not source.

Jared Fuller  04:27
I, I think it's inevitable. Like just seeing it today. It seems crazy in this content era, right? Where the best companies buy their content strategies is a pillar of their business. I mean, drift is a perfect example of that. Heck, we were just talking about crossbeam congrats, Bob, you know, Shawn Blanda, I got to give Shawn a shout out Shawn's their head of content. He is so good that content team at cross beam is incredible for an early stage startup, no doubt. Yeah. You know, when they were 50 employees, they were pumping out content the was like, dang, that's, that's way better than most 50

Allan Adler  05:03
person companies. And you know what one of their content teams did figured out this thing called it EQL. Right? Ecosystem qualified lead. What is no? What is it? EQL and EQL is an influencer lead system, which tends to eat right? You know, absolutely the thing we were talking about beforehand is like, I think that the biggest problem we have with partnering today is it's gotten way more complex. And when things get more complex, people say, I'm just going to look in the rearview mirror, and you look in the rearview mirror, and you're marketing your head of revenue, your head of revenue, you have what if marketing of sales, you have customer success, you might have partnering floating around somewhere. But in the rearview mirror, we look at the canonical pipeline, right? Marketing, qualified leads, sales, qualified lead flows, one. So where is it EQL in MQL, and SQL, you know what it is, it's the top of the top of the funnel. So we have top of funnel, typically as a marketing, generated lead, right, and QL. If you put EQL, on top of MQL, the funnel gets really big, because all the influence currency that floats around of partners that you don't have are now in your funnel, as a function of you having a funnel big enough to encompass an ecosystem. And that's why we look forward a couple of years from now, it won't be marketing and sales in the funnel, it'll be partner slash Ecosystem Marketing and sales in the funnel. And that's how we'll run. That's how we'll run our go to market.

Jared Fuller  06:32
So I really love how you frame that because I think it'll sit very well with a lot of CMOs and a lot of CROs that are realizing they have to they have to tackle this. Um, will it sit well, with all of them? No, not not all of them, because it is a dirty word. But for the ones that are like, Hey, we have to do something about this. I think that works. But I want to challenge you there. Because then maybe we're saying something similar is I view influence as a layer to your customer, flywheel or your funnels, right influence can happen at any part of the customer lifecycle. And looking at it through that lens, or are you just speaking about influence from the perspective of building market and from the perspective of marketing? And that's why you reference AQL? Or do you still think anything that happens throughout the rest of the funnel? If influence only happened? You know, like, at the very end,

Allan Adler  07:21
not sure, I've seen you really challenged people. That's kind of like a layup, though, right? Because I only use the EQL top of top of funnel analogy to reflect the marketing funnel because it's the one people can understand. It's right, understand the influence a partner has across the lifecycle. But you're like 1,000,000%, right that I published a blog called ecosystem lead growth, the new flywheel on plg, which is a whole nother conversation. But if you try to understand plg, you see a customer lifecycle. And the key thing to ecosystem is it hits every portion of the lifecycle and where the true influence currency lies in the ability to stimulate activity in each step in the customer lifecycle not just at net new, of course, it's relevant for net new if I have no relationship with a customer, and you do and I don't partner with you, then I'm a moron. Right? Because you're going to help me get to the customer. But after I partner with you, you might actually have a relationship with the customer at a cross sell upsell, pivot point, churn point you name it points s eyes have relationship we have this thing called customer value realization, they have influence at that level post sale. So it's, it's even post sale because we all know you never stop selling, right? You're always selling even post sale you're selling. So 100% Right, that the the whole concept of influence is a is a multi customer lifecycle, not just an acquisition will, you know standard. Yeah,

Michele Albanese  08:44
that's why I like the flywheel concept, right. It's never ending it's not like something you do at the beginning at the top of the top of the funnel, it's something that for me my experience a lot of the time a lot of the activities happening with your own customer base to your point obviously partners want to be introduced to your customer base and working with your customers and get close to them to build their own service practice but there's a lot of value in bringing healthier customers back to the team to then expand revenue and call that partner influence if you will. Well

Jared Fuller  09:14
there's there's there's something here that I think is maybe perhaps deeper and the reason why I challenge you on that is because I just have this this hate and this disdain for the the marketing and sales funnel as we know it. When I say hate and disdain it's from like being obsessed with go to market for the past decade when I say obsessed. I mean, my wife just rolls her eyes all the time. Like how I'm giving her advice on her startup or that I'm you know, it's 9pm at night or I'm driving across um, I just picked up a new 76 Vintage Chevy four door crew cab truck. And I was

Michele Albanese  09:51
another story by the way. Yeah. And you have to ask them about what

Allan Adler  09:57
Jared were you even born then?

Jared Fuller  10:00
No, of course not. Of course not. I don't look that good. I would look that good. I'm not gonna look back at that old. But I was driving it back home. And you know, it's 9:30pm, my wife calls me and I ignore the call. And I said, I'm on the other line. She's like, Who are you talking to at 9:30pm on a Friday night, and I was helping another company with their go to market. Like, that's how much I care about go to market. And yet I hate MQL SQL, like pipeline revenue, I don't like it because I think it is go to market puts you at the center in the market on the outside, in the market needs to be where you start, and then bring in. Yeah, it's backwards, if you know what your market is backward.

Allan Adler  10:42
Yeah, if you think about it, what the EQL, or the top of top of funnel does is connects you to the ecosystem in this kind of collaborative way. Because if you imagine a funnel connected to an ecosystem as a circle, your partners have their own funnel office side, and many partners have many, but what we're connecting to is the other, which is the other is the market, the ecosystem is the market. Your your that's why the ecosystem is so powerful, because it is the market ecosystem, our customers, is there market, if we connect to them, we get influence.

Jared Fuller  11:16
Absolutely. And I think the next point that you make in this in this topic, I think is where a lot of the value comes in, is that you described in kind of your writing Allen influence as a currency. And I want to get really particular about that a currency is something that you can trade it right. And I, you know, Bobby, the intro to partner up right partnerships, partnerships are about trust in sacrifice. I might take objection with the thing, sacrifice, it's a currency, there's a trade, there's a mutually beneficial thing that can happen. And if you think of ecosystem and influence as a currency, then there are transactions happening, right?

Allan Adler  11:56
It's a special currency, it's a special currency, it's not a currency that has that expires, when you spend it, it's actually a currency that creates synergies when you combine it. So let me give you for instance, with that, let's say that the three of us are going to market together, we're three partners, we have a similar ICP, we have the same customer we're targeting, and each of us has 10% influence currency, of that of all the currency that that of all the influences out there, we have 10% of it, right? If we call if we put our through each of $1 with each color dollar in that we create 9x multiplier on that currency, because we get 10 times three, and one times three is nine versus 3x, if we go to market separately, so that's an example of how we combine our currency together. And we create synergy. And that's essentially why in the future, the ecosystem will be the top of the funnel, because people will realize that they can't generate enough volume of activity, simply by going to market directly, they have to go to market with partners and combine our currency. Since the beautiful thing about influence currency is it doesn't expire when you put it together it expanse. Because if we put our currency together, we have more power than if we go alone. That's a synergy. Synergy is great value.

Jared Fuller  13:11
This needs to be in every like this, this conversation, I think is evolving. But it's so hard for me to not be biased towards the fact that go to market that these relationships in market exist. Whether or not we're running a B or C ad campaign, or Account Based Marketing, or SEO, or the best cold outreach emails in the world. What are we doing as a company to drive the market towards us? Not what are we doing as a company to drive towards the market? It's just so such a backwards mind shift. It literally took me six months of doing this podcast and talking to everyone to be like, it's different. It's change. And I think Alan the there's, there's going to be a problem with like the CMO and the CRO, having that point of view. I was actually advising a company a couple nights ago. And I said, Look, you really want my advice, because they were having some problems with top of funnel marketing attribution and like sales pointing fingers at marketing, marketing, pointing fingers at sales. I said, if you really want my advice, you should have a chief market officer and your head of marketing your head of sales and your head of partner should report into them. Yeah, and what should that person do? That person should generate market qualified accounts and leads right what is

Allan Adler  14:31
that maybe we have a seat a new M, instead of CR o we have a chief market officer. Wouldn't that be a better than a seat Chief Revenue Officer revenue is so go to market. It's so insular. So internal. Right. You know, the other thing I think that we should talk about which I think is going to happen, this is another real plug for partnership professionals. If you look at the return on investment for direct marketing spend, and you correlate that to the increased spend in indirect marketing. What I think's going to start to happen is the return on investment for direct marketing Ben is going to drop as the number of impressions what he has what it has to do. Yeah,

Jared Fuller  15:05
I mean, yeah. Like, it's not even, you can't argue that point. customer acquisition costs, skyrocketing conversion rates going down

Allan Adler  15:12
what happens when the CMO is called in by the CFO and the CEO and say, Dude, you're just not getting the returns we used to get, we spend this much money last year, we got more than we got this year, what's going on. And that's when the partnership person raises his hand and does the little math exercise that I just shared with you. If we directed more of our spend toward joint marketing, on joint campaigns with partners with whom we have co built, co marketing, co sales and CO retention are for CCOs. It's not just co selling, it's co building, co marketing, co selling and CO if we direct our marketing spend, we picked those guys because they had influence currency, right? That's why we're working with them, because they can help us get to places we can't get. If we combine our spend, I can increase your marketing ROI. Why not? It's it.

Jared Fuller  15:58
It also plays into this, like if you do it, right. I mean, think about many companies go to market strategy today. There's often a component of let's say, like a podcast, ironically, why? Because it's such a cop out, it's a cop out, I get to go take someone that's in market that's in an account that I want to sell to that looks a lot like the other accounts I want to sell to. And I get to ego trap them into sharing my content in my brand, right with the market. Right like that. That ego trap just but what is different from that, versus doing that with a partner? There's really not that much. No, but yeah, companies are like, Yeah, let's do a podcast. Let's do three podcasts.

Allan Adler  16:44
Do four podcasts. Yeah, but podcasts aren't a bad idea.

Jared Fuller  16:47
They're not I'm not saying they're bad. I'm saying they play on the same thread. Right? Exactly.

Allan Adler  16:51
You could even take that analogy of the three of us, each of us have a certain amount of influence currency. You invite me to the show, I bring my influence currency to your show more people watch your show.

Michele Albanese  17:02
You're talking about? Yeah.

Allan Adler  17:04
That's the synergy. That's the influence synergy. By the way, there's four other synergies we can talk about later that also have similar dynamics. You put them all together, and you go, right? Well, we will have to do that on a second. Maybe I'll be lucky like Bobby and get a second.

Jared Fuller  17:19
No, I'm gonna have to have Alan back. We're having Alan gosh, we just so many people to talk to we need to go through the rotation quicker, produce more content. Right?

Allan Adler  17:29
You know, an interesting story about that is that, you know, I'm a management consultant. So what business or management consultancy, and they're in the business of selling their hours, I woke up one day, and I realized I'm not in the management consulting business, I'm in the influence business. Why? Because if I create enough influence, there'll be more management consulting that you can ever want. So I can then monetize that influence 12 different ways. If people just really got that would change the way people operate in go to market? Because they would say, Oh, my God, you know, they're all I need to do really is either become a great influencer or associate with one. That's it. Or more. I mean, at the end of the day, I got to do more than that. Right? I also have to build products together. You know, this is exactly like our, our solution, our CO branded our CO branded solution is this 45 minutes. And then we didn't have to do any code Dev. We didn't have to hire engineers. So our jobs a little easier. But at the end of the day, it's the same principle. How do we make How do we create force multiplier on our influence, by partnering with others that know more about the customer? And Ken, to your point, Michelle, bring us in any stage of the lifecycle of the customer, ideally, at the beginning, because then we can continue it, but not critical? Yeah.

Jared Fuller  18:40
I think, go ahead, Michelle.

Michele Albanese  18:43
I don't want to like change too much. But I've been thinking about how, you know, just being able to leverage influencer partners, however you want to call it on, like knocking down a new market, to your point, like, why goes through that experience on your own, like with your own research and development team? Like why not go to the market where the experts already exist? And how that bring that, that research and understanding to you? Yeah, right. Like, it's, it's interesting, it feels backwards the way we've been doing it for so long. But now this whole concept of ecosystem is getting more and more popular within businesses. And it just makes so much more sense. Yeah. To your point earlier,

Jared Fuller  19:20
cross, it goes to my favorite book of the past year, which it should have been my favorite book for a long, a lot longer time, which is crossing the chasm. Yeah. And it doesn't matter where you nail your niche, right? You're gonna have to cross from your early adopters, and whatever vertical they are, Michelle, to your point is like, you're gonna have to get into other verticals or horizontals. Right, different personas, extend the value chain up and down the org, or you're going to have to cross verticals into you know, new use cases. And it just seems so much Tam. Yeah, there's there's only so much Tam and it's like, okay, you can have a profitable business and just like sit there for a while, but even then I feel like those businesses the old The old adage if you will of like, build a trench, you know, an inch wide and a mile deep. That was sound startup advice 10 years ago, I actually think it's garbage startup advice right now. Yeah, I actually think it's horrible. It was great advice. 10 years ago, now, you're gonna get eaten, you're gonna get destroyed. And there's not enough time and effort and energy. So how do you get from that early adopter to the entrenched masses, you have to make a bet? You have to pick? Which vertical? Am I going after you have to choose it wisely? In Why would you try to build relationships with people who do not trust you in a new vertical versus right? Operating in markets. So you're going from manufacturing to financial services, the currency that you have Alan, to tie both of these concepts together, the currency that you have is used, let's say your I don't know, an AI product, vague enough that it makes sense. You're in manufacturing, you built a product for AI manufacturing. And you really see some early adoption in financial services that you could go into the currency that you have is you have something unique in AI, that could help a financial service company, the currency that that, let's say influencer, in the financial services, companies, they have the relationships, you're able to make a trade without anyone, like making a transaction, right, like going to procurement and spending $100,000 $200,000. To me, that seems much wiser than okay, here's the 500 financial services companies, let's run ads, let's and emails. Yeah.

Allan Adler  21:30
What's kind of what you said, Jared? About about, like, you know, this, just feeling a sense of, like, frustration with go to market being so insular. You know, it's not uncommon, you know, Michels, you know, to have a tech company who wants to go into an adjacent market to reach out to a partner, because it's so brain dead obvious that assist classic one for the on prem guises. Let's find big system integrator who knows the CFOs and CEOs and the CEOs better than we do? Let's partner with them. Okay, done. Right? That's not uncommon, that's been happening for a long time. The problem is, is that there, the other five elements in on top of influence don't get activated. So for example, we should have a code built solution, right, we should have a solution together. So what happens if I reach out to the GSI, and I don't give them my API to build something on, then they're not going to promote that thing, because they have to have a joint solution to make that make sense. And then we have to have a relationship has to be born, right. And then we need to have a go to market that needs to be born. And then, you know, after we get that, finally, we can get have a common vision about what we're going to achieve. Those are the five elements. But it's interesting. You talked about like, what makes cheap

Jared Fuller  22:36
real quick, Alan, we say five elements, 5 million, grab that for us. The five elements. We talked

Allan Adler  22:41
about one of the five elements of this of this synergy model. That's influence. So

Jared Fuller  22:46
you're calling the five elements, the five synergies of partnerships.

Allan Adler  22:49
Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Michele Albanese  22:51
So that said, there's four more we can go. Yeah. I just wanted to understand what the

Jared Fuller  22:55
rapper was gonna run

Allan Adler  22:56
a bit. I'm writing a blog this week on this called the Five Yeah, of ecosystem.

Jared Fuller  23:01
And this is where on LinkedIn, folks, and it's all about

Allan Adler  23:04
content. Yeah. Check it out later in the week. It's all about synergies, right? Influence synergy. It's actually interesting. You just gave an example of where I'm, I'm I'm, I'm the SI is going to share some of his influence, or influence currency with me. And Exchange, which I'm going to sell, I'm going to give some of my some of my solution currency. So I have solution currency, right? I have these cool solutions, they like those solutions. Now they're going to have to build something on that solution in order for it to create a synergy

Jared Fuller  23:31
in financial services. Right. So it's not it's not bespoke, for its, it can solve something really unique. But there's uniqueness outside of that, that needs to be purpose built for FinServ. That's, so only that partner is going to be able to identify that quicker than I am, and take it to market quicker than I am and educate them on the solution.

Allan Adler  23:51
And the beauty, the beautiful thing happens when they they see the AI unlocking their ability to deliver that value. Bingo. That's why it's a solution synergy because these partnering is all about these synergies, right. Another one is relationship synergies, like what happens when you have a crappy relationship, when you don't feel synergy in your relationship? Well, then you stop partnering, you stop giving leads to each other, then the influence currency falls apart, you stop motivating yourself to build a solution, the solution synergy falls apart. So relationships are the kind of core that holds all the pieces together. And if you build a relationship up all the other foundations increase as well go to markets, the other one, which is we choose to go to market together, right? And then having a common vision in market is the fifth one. Because we have to agree on what we're doing. Otherwise, if we conflict, we won't work.

Michele Albanese  24:41
Right. And I think this is one of the like one of the biggest challenges in partnerships, right? You think about just in general, from a consumer standpoint, there's just infinite choice. That's why we have all these problems. That's why partnerships exist, right? There's just so many options for solutions. So getting the mind share of the customer but I think the same thing goes for a partner right? If you're offering a new solution, how do you get the mindshare and like, the adoption within that organization, specifically, in the example of a new vertical, right? We're telling you, we have this AI solution and manufacturing over here. We're telling you, you, we want you to help us figure it out in FinServ. But how do you like get that buy in? And that motivation? Just doesn't exist? Yeah,

Allan Adler  25:20
this is this, the reason ecosystems are so much harder than channels work, is because ecosystem is a team sport. What do I mean by that, to get the mindshare of that person, you've got to have product on board. Because if products not going to support the get the AI to stimulate their unique FinServ capability, things gonna fall apart, you better you better have sales on board, because likelihood is going to be co selling with that partner, right? You better have customer success and work is likely is the customer value realization won't happen automatically. If there's not alignment. And you better have a good partner leader who's going to pull all that stuff together someone you know, like Jared, who can get really big come No,

Jared Fuller  25:58
not not someone like me, someone that's listening to this podcast, that's

Michele Albanese  26:04
my manager, Alan, you need to listen to the last or the first episode we did on why you need somebody who just came out all these people together because yeah, right on, right. And one of the biggest challenges is bringing all these people together, when they have a million other things going on in their direct go to market. How do they all

Allan Adler  26:21
this is, by the way, right? This is, by the way, why I'm gonna I'm gonna throw a forecast out there. That right now if you look at the average CEOs, desk origins, where they come from very, very small percentage of income from partner. My theory is in three years time, a substantial number of CEO from partner.

Jared Fuller  26:39
Bingo. I could not agree more. If you didn't listen to the farewell episode with Justin Martel's. That's what him and I were talking about, is I actually believe that that is going to be it's just such a massive advantage and go to market, if you understand it, like look at Peekapoo Data Data Box, Michelle, right. Like, yeah, not even to say that data box is going to explode, but it will, it's going to have a great outcome. Like pizza CEO, he was the VP of partner at HubSpot built the best agency partner program to ever exist. There's not even a close second. And he did it from an account executive to you know, $100 million in revenue. He's the CEO data box now. He's gonna crush it there. But what he does after that, I bet it'll be even bigger. Yeah. Why? Because his go to market framework is entirely different than person. Yeah, I completely agree

Allan Adler  27:31
with you. It's interesting that the data point that really knocked me off my chair was when McKinsey came out recently, and they said 30% of global revenue by 2025 will flow through ecosystems 30%. Now that number was six months ago, I'll send it to you.

Jared Fuller  27:49
I definitely want it. I'll put that in the show notes.

Allan Adler  27:51
Guess Guess what? Guess what the number is today? If it's 30% in 2025? What do you think the number is? today? I'm going to use a Jared gonna drop a number you have to guess the percentage today are yours.

Jared Fuller  28:03
To hold on ecosystem real quick. Just so I aligned to this? Do you mean technology ecosystem specific global

Allan Adler  28:08
revenue? Global?

Jared Fuller  28:11
global revenue? Every percentage is ecosystem driven? And you mean ecosystem? Like a lot indirect? Because indirect is like, that's already 70% of world trade?

Allan Adler  28:21
No, no, I don't mean I don't mean it from the perspective of like, like, like the channel component of it. I'm talking about the, let's call it the non the non distribution portion of it as a distribution portion. Great.

Jared Fuller  28:33
I would say what is it today?

Michele Albanese  28:36
I wouldn't say it's wildly low. If you're saying it's gonna be 30%. I'd say it's like 12 to 15, one, two to one to two, closer, let's go with

Allan Adler  28:48
that. That's a 15x to 30x growth in four years. It's insane. So what does that tell you about CEO imperative? You know, at the end of the day, the only thing that's going to get partnering right? Is a top three bullet point on a CEOs chart when a CEO stands up and says, most three most important thing in ecosystems is not a bullet point.

Jared Fuller  29:06
It doesn't stuck. Bingo here it's yeah, it's short. That's exactly what Bobby said. He said everything changed at Salesforce when Benioff put at sales kickoff, partner, partner empathy or partner, or love hashtag. Partner love is one of the three bullet points until that moment, everything was hell after that everything changed.

Allan Adler  29:30
Exactly, exactly. So so this this the excite that's why it's so exciting for those of you who are listening who are just getting into partnership or even better people who are thinking about partnership is going to be the coolest llv ever, because we are going to be the major driver of growth and I had a conversation with a VC you know, plg product lead growth. This is the wild terminology that every startup founder is using to get money from the VCs. What is the driver of product lead growth? What is the most powerful driver of product lead growth? ecosystems? If you do ecosystems, right, every stage in the customer journey gets accelerates back to what you said, Michelle, it's not just influencing for net new, every single stage gets accelerated. And what is product lead growth accelerating the customer journey of product as it moves from awareness through advocacy. That's that is what is the one sentence definition of plg. And using product to do it, but if you add, if you get if we get product, people to start talking about ecosystem roadmaps and not product roadmaps, we not only change go to market from being this insular thing. But we also then open the flywheel up for why ecosystems are going to be the driver of corporate growth for the next five years in McKinsey, you know, give us a layup for that

Jared Fuller  30:48
I have to take a moment of vulnerability on this. Because when I started this podcast, Alan, I did not believe for a second what you just said, I did not believe it for a second. I was almost I wouldn't say resentful. I would say I was the reluctant partner leader, very reluctant. And I always thought of myself as a, like a market person. Like I love branding. I had a marketing agency for three and a half years. So I appreciate marketing. I appreciate sales. I've built in manage products, like just a full stack jack of trades, master of nothing, right in partnerships was this thing that no one else really knew. So I could get some advantage from that. So I kind of leaned in a little bit more like I want to get better at that like as good as I possibly can be. Because it's just so different. Yeah, but but I've just been nodding my head off camera while Alan's talking being like, yes, yes, yes. This is actually happening. I have to hear this. I have to read this McKinsey Report too, by the way that because that's just if you just blew past that and you're like on a run or a jog or you're working at your desk, with one to 2% of trade flowing through ecosystem to 30% within the next four years. Yeah. That's called exponential growth, folks. Yeah. And

Allan Adler  32:02
like exponential growth on exponential. Right. And

Jared Fuller  32:05
that's what I've been experiencing. Since I've jumped into this and had this podcast and in seeing crossbeam come out of nowhere to like, I don't know, Michelle, we just hired Jason Yarborough. Yeah, by the former VP partner terminus, came in. And he came in with experience with crossbeam and starts running with it. And before when I started the podcast, that wasn't even a thing. A year later, he's like, yeah, exactly. Here's how all this works. Here's how we're gonna set up these channels and do all this. And I'm like, that was a year ago, where this wasn't even a play. Yeah. In you all see it? Like what Allen saying like the this is going to be the most exciting line of business. Like, I don't know, where's the Kool Aid because I'm drinking it. I really, really believe that the best go to markets, the best companies, the best leaders are going to have this as a competitive advantage the same way that you know, to your point, Alan, maybe like Yammer, right product led growth, or slack product led growth, like some of these other companies really achieve their multi billion dollar valuations 10 years ago. Is that the next 10 years? It's Jay McBain, it's the early innings of the decade of ecosystem

Allan Adler  33:14
right on it on Yeah, yeah, we did we manage to talk about influence without ever coming back to the ugly question of like, How in the world will we measure it?

Jared Fuller  33:25
Okay, before it before you get there, I wanna throw something at you this question is directly related. I have a thesis for a startup that it's been in the back of my head, one that I want to start someday. And what is that unit of measurement? And the way I view that unit of measure? I don't know what to call it. I don't want to think about it. It's I almost feel like it's almost crypto related. It's almost blockchain related is how do I measure my trust in market? Like, if I think about that Chief market officer title, the only thing I should care about is measuring my ecosystem in the context of the broader market, right? The market is bigger than you and your ecosystems a part of that. What is that unit of measurement? I think trust is is like it, but how do we think about measuring that is that's kind of where the currency and the influence comes in? I think we're thinking about the same thing. And the graph, calling them separate or calling them something different.

Allan Adler  34:25
Well, you know, one thing to start with is we make the same mistake with ecosystems that we make go to market and he says is my ecosystem? What does that really mean? Like let's say we're partnering together, but each of us have 10 other partners? Am? Do I Are you in my ecosystem? Yes, but you're also in Michelle's ecosystem and the nine other partners that you have. And so I think when we use the word how, how much trust do I have in my ecosystem? It's almost like a, it's a figment of our imagination that we have our ecosystem what it really is composed of, is is composed of varying layers of loyalty and engagement. across a variety of companies who are members of many ecosystems, not just mine. So if we think of it like it's similar to like on LinkedIn, you know how many people follow you on LinkedIn? Or do they follow just, you know, they follow lots of people. So there's this temporal measure of loyalty and engagement is two dimensions, right? How loyal are my how loyal MIT determines to a great degree? How engaged I am, right? So I've been playing around with this concept of like, coming up with partnership, scorecards, like like, Would it be cool, if I want to partner with Michelle and I can look at her rating across her entire her entire ecosystem, not mine, hers, her ecosystem measures her. And I can go well, you know, your ecosystem gave you a score of 4.6. While you must be a really good partner, would it be cool if we could actually measure how much how trustworthy someone is? Is not just levels of trust? But how trustworthy Am I like, you go to eBay? If you're going to do some business, somebody on eBay, and they have a really crappy score, you're likely not to buy from them. Why would I partner with someone that has a poor trustworthiness rating. And it's going to be both trust and capability. There's a variety of companies like partner score, who we're talking with the UK has this whole measure of like eight dimensions of, of partnering, sophistication that they use to come up with an aggregated score. But I think I think the key to the whole thing, Jared, is coming up with a trusted scoring methodology for helping us to determine who is trustworthy and who is not. And use that as a way of increasing the levels of fidelity, on trustworthiness and subsequently creating a gestalt about like, if we're going to partner with people, you're going to perform in a trustworthy way. Because I think if that doesn't happen, we won't have the ability to really form these more powerful ecosystems. So you got some, it really shows you.

Jared Fuller  36:49
Well, I'm just googled something that based exactly what you were talking, talking about. So this is just concentric circles Venn diagram. So for those are just listening audio only. I'm just, I'm testing out. I'm gonna start doing this. I don't know, I haven't done this before just Googling things. And like, kind of like, I want to see what you mean. Do you mean something like this? Alan, where it's like, okay, I'm here. 01. This is just a sample, right? Like, it's just a visualization of how I could think about the market. And then my ecosystem, kind of concentric circles of like, I am here, partners here, other partners here. And obviously, there's this overlap between each of these, like, Is this how you would maybe

Allan Adler  37:26
I don't think it's I don't think it's concentric circles is more of like a Venn diagram, you know, where there's me, all places that I touch the edges of all the other companies are in my strata. And so but their circle, this is the interesting thing, their circle is likely composed of mostly not you. And that's something people don't really realize, is that most of our partners are partnering mostly not with you. Mostly, there's exceptions, the ones that get acquired are usually partnering a lot with me, because that's why I got acquired, but in most instances, especially when your loyalty levels or your engagement levels are lower, you're just take a tiny fraction of the edge of that partner, and then you put them in your ecosystem, like it's meaningful. Well, you're like one, you know, you're like one move away from them being gone. Right, right. So it's really I think you're really dealing with charities, you're dealing with level how close am I is a function of how much overlap is there at the surface? So like, someone a lot of overlap with is a really tight partner high loyalty, high engagement, right?

Jared Fuller  38:26
So more like that, then. Yeah. What you're doing overlapping.

Allan Adler  38:31
Like that. Yeah, this is gonna be an interesting audio conversation, right?

Jared Fuller  38:35
Yeah. So I got to bring in more visual things to drive people to YouTube too, because we have too much fun in person, you got to come. That's my plugs. If you're just on Spotify, or Alexa, actually, you can ask your Alexa, play the partner pod now or Apple podcasts, come over to YouTube and have fun with us in person every once in a while to I think that's that is answering that question, Alan. So like, we've, you've talked about it a bunch in this episode. It's such a fantastic topic. But like, what a more what an interesting journey to be on if you're leading partnerships, or marketing or revenue at a company today to go, how are we going to measure influences is a currency at our company? Yeah, I just asking that question and being like, we're gonna we're gonna work on that this quarter. And by next quarter, we're going to have something that we're incorporating into our, you know, day in the life our go to market, our etc. I mean, what might that do? If you could convince someone as a partnership leader, to go to the board or go to your leadership team to go hey, this quarter, I want to explore this and next quarter, I want to put up a commit with you all towards this.

Allan Adler  39:42
Yeah. Well, you know what, I think that would be the fastest way to create awareness of the problem so that people could stop arguing about influence being this nasty, ugly word and realizing that it is the path to the top of the top of funnel, how we get there, as the question is to start analyzing with data that's available, what our customers think About our relative level of influence and trust in relationship to the ecosystem. So the first thing you conclude if you are by yourself going to market is that your level of influence with your ICP is too low period, then you'd say, who has a lot of influence with my ICP, by the way, crossbeam is correlated with this, in other means, you know, saying, when crossbeam tells you about customer overlap, it's telling you that there's likely to be influenced currency of exchange value there, if you find it. Now, the key thing is, is going to your management, especially your CMO, you see, see it has sales, you had a customer success, you had a product and saying, Did you realize that we're going to market with one hand behind our back, because we have a relatively low influence level over our customer and these other people have massive influence currency? Guess who I think we should be partnering with? And what would happen if we did. So now, instead of going to market with 10%, with a dime of influence currency, I go to market with 60 cents. And if $1 is all there is I got 60% mindshare versus 10% mindshare. So measuring influence at the level of customer propensity to buy is a relatively straightforward way to analyze who you should be partnering with and how much value you would get if you did partner with him. And very few companies think this way, they do it on a very micro reactive basis. They don't take a holistic top down view. And if you were in market, the first thing you'd want to know is who has influence and on my partnering with them, and then How well am I agreeing with them? Those would be the questions you'd asked. Most people skip the first question, and then leave partnership leaders to run around. Like, I don't know, accidentally stumbling across someone because they showed up in a cross beam table.

Michele Albanese  41:41
There or they mentioned them on a customer call or a sales call customers talking about them. And you're like, oh, is this I need to find out what that is. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Allan Adler  41:48
So we think Matt macro influence attribution will proceed micro influence attribution. What I mean by that, it's very hard to do micro influence attribution at the level of a deal, because there's too many moving parts is like, how would you capture all the points of influence? Right, probably get a third of them if you were lucky. Right? Right. So doing a macro level starts to conversation.

Michele Albanese  42:12
I love that.

Jared Fuller  42:12
Yeah. Have you? Um, have you heard of Rahul Vora superhuman? fortive? Have you heard of his framework how to how to measure Product Market Fit Elon?

Allan Adler  42:25
I've seen 12 or 13 versions of product market fit but not his pursuit, per se?

Jared Fuller  42:29
Well, I think his the reason why I'm bringing this up is in the reason why I believe it was truly innovative is that he can measure it. He's the first CEO or founder I've ever seen the product lead that is like, No, I can definitively measure product market fit. And I was like, wait, what, how? And it's actually stupid, simple. It's novel. And I think the point you were just making we can do the same thing for market is he basically asked every single user, how disappointed they would be if they no longer have the product. And the stage at which 40% of users say they would be very disappointed. You have product market fit. Hmm. Anything below that? You're not there

Allan Adler  43:10
to do the same and influence percentage of your ICP. Bang go?

Jared Fuller  43:14
Exactly. So I think that's. So there's a unit of measurement. And then I think you can validate that, right? Like, how disappointed would you be, for example, if we did not have our partnership? Or if we were not doing these things together? If we were not doing these things, right? Like, how important is your influence? And then vice versa? What is the value of that currency by which you're trading? In some times all currencies equal? Not all partnerships are equal, right? So sometimes you're going to have a partner that's like, I would be extremely disappointed if I was no longer able to co market with you. And it's like, oh, but I could actually probably care less. So my currency is trading at a higher value right now than your currency is trading at. Yeah,

Allan Adler  43:59
it's fair. I think the fundamental question to ask of any partnership leader who's not getting the right support of marketing is, do you have enough influence currency to effectively move your ICP into the pipeline? By I want to say effectively, efficiently, like, because we're talking about the decrease in effective suspend. It's actually the store that will joke as salesy, you might have an impression, but you fail to impress. Right, you did a marketing impression, but the impression didn't get in the tent, while your influence currency is too low. You have to have a threshold of influence currency to get into the tent to get that customer to be impressed by your impression. So if you ask the question, do you have enough influence currency to get a customer into the pipeline? And the answer is, I'm not sure. No, there's only one answer to that problem. ecosystem. That's the only answer. There isn't another answer. I mean, I guess you could use violence, but that probably wouldn't scale.

Jared Fuller  44:57
We're not talking about taxes, Alan. Yes. Okay, there's over terian there's my libertarian.

Michele Albanese  45:04
I love I love what you're saying, Jared, I'm curious to from a customer or prospect standpoint to Could you ask them similar things? Like, how important is this integration to you? How important is this? Like, was solutions partner to you to like actually making this work for you? Like,

Jared Fuller  45:20
I think the the point of the whole was tapping into where he gets more accurate answers is loss aversion. That loss aversion is, is a more accurate indicator of the value of something. Whereas, you know, if you just ask what the value is, people tend to tend to miss price. People aren't inherently good at setting price. It's kind of his point. But people are very good at like, you know, setting the price on like, no, no, I need this thing. Like, don't take things away from me. Right. So like, it's inverting it and asking, How disappointed would you be right? If this integration was gone? And it's like, I don't even use it, I could care less. Right. Right, or this partnership, or whatever it is. And I think that that's a measurement that does start to play into understanding the value of the currency that you have. Yeah, that I think would make data driven, you know, marketers that are typically very reticent to lean into the things that Alan, you've been saying today, which I am KoolAid like, I completely agree. is perhaps that might give them a measure. Yeah, understand how it's working?

Allan Adler  46:23
Well, you said something important, Michelle, is that you know, customers value different of these, these five elements, they value them to certain degree like customers really value integrated solutions. We're seeing eight points, like customers will spend up to 20% more for a collection of software that's well integrated. Does interesting data point, right? But that's a solution synergy. Right? If you and I, together, we make something our same product, this cost the same amount of money gets 20% More ACV? Because the customers value the integration at the solution synergy, right? Our solution together is worth more. That's the definition of synergy, right? What was three. So this is this is back to this understanding that like across the entire journey, we have these opportunities to create these synergies, we just have to educate partnership leaders first need to know what they are, then they need to educate, measure them and educate their teams about how that's going to lift the boat. By the way, the other answer to influence measurement is first gaining recognition inside of the other functions of the business, that the influence the partner has is valuable. So in other words, go to Marketing and say, how much would it be worth to you? If I deliver you and EQL? And you go to Sales? How much would it be worth it to you? If I can deliver 20% more value on a joint solution? And you go to customer success? How much more value would it be for you if I could lower your churn by 5x? Because we all know that soon as you see an integration on a SaaS product turned those? Yeah, yeah, these binary relationships. So explaining to the functions, by the way, product, same thing, how much more is that worth for you? If I can show you how to build an integration roadmap and an ecosystem roadmap that will substantially increase your your, your product lead growth? So it's like convincing our internals in our company that this influence dimension, which to your point, Michelle, it's a great point across the entire lifecycle makes a difference? And then showing them how that how that manifested. I think that's the hardest job. biggest barrier of growth for ecosystems right now. Is the other functions in the business not getting it? Absolutely.

Jared Fuller  48:30
All day. Yeah. As my role, that's what that's why I'm here.

Michele Albanese  48:34
No, I want to I want to comment on one more thing. And it could be a good exercise for you know, anybody listening that that has an, an ecosystem, they're, they're trying to figure it out, they're trying to activate it. It's like, it's almost like a calibration exercise, right? It's like, okay, we partnered with this business, let's say two years ago, how often are you calibrating as your business change in their business change on what the value of this partnership is? And like? What would you do with it got taken away? Like, what is the what? How do we see the the influence currency? And how do they see it? And are we aligned? And it should be something that's happening? Like, on a recurring basis, not just the one time you sign that agreement? And then you're you're doing things and you're running the motion? You know?

Allan Adler  49:17
Yeah, if we only if we only follow the logic of you know, what is dirty, you call it what's in it. For me that little thing, if we were we just went on if we listen for each other, if instead of me coming along and saying, Michelle, what have you done for me? I say to you, hey, Michelle, how are the things that I've been doing helped you? And you did the same to me? Always partnership that all the boats go up when you do that, right?

Michele Albanese  49:41
Yep, that's true partnership.

Jared Fuller  49:45
That this was way too much fun. We should have been in a conference at a round table with like a happy hour afterwards, because you're suddenly out the markets. Alec should

Allan Adler  49:54
have been in your 76 truck with the windows rolled down

Jared Fuller  50:00
Some Bob Seger some ramblin, Gamblin man, that's that's what I was, uh, that's what I was jamming out to the entire time. I probably, you know, I'll get I'll get deep. Well, we don't we're not monetized on YouTube, so it doesn't matter, but I'll get it taken down from YouTube if I, if I play that song in the background. Alan, Michelle, that was a blast. Thank you so much. It's great. That was a blast partner up. Quick reminder, if you're listening on Apple podcasts, go to the main series page, scroll down to the bottom. That's where you can leave a review five stars on that's all in the show. And I accept and with a guest like Alan, who could ask for more. Subscribe, Like us on YouTube. And we'll see you all next time.

Allan Adler  50:39
Thank you, Alan. Thanks, everybody.

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