045 - First Principles of Partner Ecosystems - Ecology and Stability of Systems

Isaac and Jared are back after a wild week with Jay McBain. This time, Isaac turns the mic on Jared to go way beyond the perfunctory partner tactics, and dive deep into philosophy...

Why does Jared believe that ecology and ecosystems play according to the same laws?

What first principles of partnering apply all the way from public companies, down to starting a brand new biz?

How early is too early for partnering? How late is too late?!

All this and more as we recognize the moment we're in and think outside the box.

Oh and hey, remember to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you get your pods on the go. And if you’re on Youtube, smash the subscribe and notify button.

For the Apple Podcast fans, leave a FIVE STAR rating.

And If you liked the show, share the episode with your commentary on LinkedIn and hash #partnerup #partnerhacker . 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 subscribe NOW to our new newsletter at https://partnerhacker.com/


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


Jared Fuller  00:10
Alright, what is up partner up? We're back. Got Isaac in the chair we just released today so we record on Tuesdays and we release on Tuesdays so we're on this week cycle you can expect that consistency from us moving forward. We just released Jay McBain round to much fanfare was great. Saw some people from across the aisle on the marketing side. So CMO of Tradeshift that was fun to on the sales side Joe rally sharing some awesome stuff about the J McBain episode. So if you've not checked that one out, go check it out. It's a previous one before this. Isaac we also launched partner hacker comm

Isaac Morehouse  00:49
Yeah, man, it's been pretty awesome. Just getting those the Parker the partner hacker daily emails the PhD getting those out there. And it's been awesome. I mean with with like a mentioned in the podcast and a single post on LinkedIn. We've had hundreds of people signing up and I'll go look through, you know, the email addresses that are signing up and it's it's some heavy hitters, the companies and stuff on there. It's pretty awesome. It's pretty awesome to see.

Jared Fuller  01:16
Yeah, totally. So like I just saw Katrina sign up from live ramp. So what's up Katrina? So, you know, people that I know, too, it's pretty cool. And where's our guests?

Isaac Morehouse  01:31
You know, I don't know they got scared

Jared Fuller  01:33
the J episode scam. I feel like that's the thing. So we had a guest scheduled it was Alan Adler. So I've had on the podcast before, and I'm, you know, friends with Alan or so. So I thought we post the J episode. And this guy goes running for the hills. He's like, oh, shoot, I can't follow that. So he ditches us on tonight's recording. So it's it's Isaac and I but we have a ton of fun stuff to talk about. And we're just giving Alan some crap. He'll we reschedule for later date.

Isaac Morehouse  02:00
Maybe he's trying to do that. Maybe he's trying to do that whole, like build anticipation thing. Or he's just too busy posting on LinkedIn. So Jared, I want to use the opportunity of being guestlist. Today, I want to interview you a little bit. With just some questions that I've had building and kind of get a little, I don't know, get a master class on on partnering from one of the masters you game?

Jared Fuller  02:25
Well, I I'm pretty decent at regurgitating things that people much smarter than me told me. And if if I happen to know something, it's because I was lucky enough to try it. But it doesn't mean it was anything that was original. So like, what was Steve Jobs? You know, Apple, we got the phones, the laptops or whatever. Most famously said, innovate, don't invent. Right. So most of these things that I could talk about, I've certainly not invented but happy happy to chat. And then I think it's kind of fun to to have. I said Isaac, one of the reasons I love just talking and working with you is that curiosity as a superpower and I just love how much curiosity is like bubbling right now. In partner ecosystems and partnerships. It seems like the intellectual rigor is kicked up a notch from just b2b Kind of like trice marketing, sales terms and lingo into more like cause effect implication, you know that we're thinking a little bit deeper and challenging our counterparts at a level at which I think they have to engage for the first time. So I think new people coming in, that are smart and smarter than even like, smarter than this partner guy. Because I love the way your brain works. makes everyone raise the bar. So I've got good comments. I think the co host thing with Isaac, I don't know you let us know if you like Isaac. Well, we'll see more after this episode.

Isaac Morehouse  03:47
Yeah, let let us know if you don't like me, but just go ahead. And yeah, so it's interesting. The I think starting to realize that something broader than just like internal debates between departments is going on here that there's more fundamental shift I think that is really that's what's captured my imagination. So So I want to ask you out to kind of go back to like, some of the basics in terms of you know, your own cuz you come from both sales and marketing, as you call them, that is like to fight with each other. And then you went into you know, partnerships, and you've been with you've started companies. So you've been with very early stage startups. You've been with sort of mid stage startups so to speak, or maybe not mid stage, but like not not super early series, a stage etc.

Jared Fuller  04:43
Yeah, million dollar valuation is as high as I've got. Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse  04:47
Okay. Yeah. So like, how what do you think like how, how should really early stage companies think about a partner strategy? Because this is where the I kind of have this thing that I've experienced myself, where if you're really early stage, so you've got your you've got like 10 or fewer employees, you're like a seed stage company or something. And anyone brings up partnerships, your VCs will say, Well, what about what about partner channels for distribution? Like, right away, I see a lot of founders and myself, I've been in this position as well. I'm like, A, because I'm thinking of every time I've tried partnerships in the past, I have a, it's like this huge long sales cycle that goes nowhere. It's like, I have a ton of phone calls at some company, and they and some company that could absolutely blow us up overnight. And they're like, Yes, I love this. This sounds great. Let me run it up the flagpole. And then it just dies. And so the thinking is always like, okay, great partnerships is great for a company that can afford a whole department to spend time on super long sales cycles, whatever. But if you're a really early stage company, and you got 18 months of runway, you can't be thinking about partnership strategy, those take way too long to spin up, there's, you know, if you put all your eggs in one basket, last minute, they put it in fact, I talked to a founder that had distribution through I think it was, um, it was like Roku is like Smart TV platform. And literally, they just kept needing bridge rounds. Because it was like, as soon as this deal goes through, we're going to be huge, but it just won't go through over and over and over again. So like, I'm curious, how do you balance that? How early? Is there a too early? Or what's what's your take on that?

Jared Fuller  06:29
No, just no one's talked about this. But the here's the reality, this is what I've done. And it doesn't mean that it's innovative. It's just, I don't know, beat my head against the wall with a bunch of different things. So I figured it out in early stage companies, so that I have multiple thoughts on this. And even if you're not early stage, I still think you're gonna have fun with this, because it's a new way of thinking about how values created in this decade of the ecosystem. So the lines between partner, vendor and platform are currently blurring. Anyway, what the heck does that mean? Right? So like the way that you think about going out and partnering is through a very, I'm overusing this word lately. So I've been asked to stop calling me out through a myopic lens, right? Whenever you think about partner, you're thinking about, what can you give me? So let's, let's take the worst case scenario, let's say it's a founder of one, you don't even have a technical co founder, union content co founder, it's just you, you're a solopreneur. And maybe you have aspirations of building a business, right? That seems like a pretty dire situation for partnerships. No, that's the only opportunity that you have, it's the only one, you're going to do something that is inherently, like your only option, you are going to do what you're going to go to your peer group to potentially acquire your first customers. If you're smart, you will have identified an audience by which you want to serve, you know, a solopreneur that doesn't know the audience that they want to build for is a dead company. So like, I can't even say that that's the fault of partnerships. It's just, it's a bad decision. You need to know who you're building for us. Okay, where did they live? I bet they use technology, you know, so let's say it's ecommerce companies, Shopify, or if it's martec, or sales, tech or infrastructure, I bet there's something related to technology, or the global supply chain, there is something that is surrounds that customer that they already use. So if I'm thinking about my peer group, and not maybe it's my friends to start, so maybe you go that's not quite partner, maybe I'm going to think about their nodes and their connections. And I'm going to find out where they live, what they build on what they work, and they use. And I'm going to start there. And why wouldn't you? I mean, it's, it's ubiquitous. And that's what I mean, by the lines between partner, vendor and platform are somewhat blurring is that you're not thinking about that from the perspective of building a platform, but you're going to go find one to attach yourself to. And in that situation, it might, it may very well be that the same company that you're buying some tech to use, like, let's say a vendor, might actually be your partner, which might also be the platform by which you're building on. Right? So like, you could buy someone's tech, let's say, to do outbound sequences, or ads or whatever, but then they have an API that you're building a solution on, or you're servicing could also be a service. So then you're a partner, and then you're distributing it on their platform. So that that assumes, you know, a couple things, but I'd say is relatively easy. Like you can go do that today. That's how most of the stuff I've launched with even related to this podcast or the newsletter, you know, has been kind of partner related whether people have not people have seen that or not. It's fun. And then one other point that I think is worth calling out. Is he said so how early is too early? How do we get there? I think the partner of any Your platform and there was another point I was gonna make, but it is escaped me. I think those are three things they are like it's,

Isaac Morehouse  10:05
it's alright, I, I love the first thing you opened up with was your you okay? You're thinking about who's that initial customer, right? And if you don't have that person in mind, you're already screwed. But yeah, you're thinking about

Jared Fuller  10:15
oh, I got it real quick, bring it back together. Yeah, the point is that the partner strategy itself could simply be based on the stuff that you need to buy, in order to serve as your customer. Right? That's what I mean, by pulling that all together, it can be multiple things. And that is your initial ecosystem, your initial ecosystem is I am using these things, or I'm combining these services. And it doesn't mean that you have to go out and build an ecosystem strategy. The point is, is that that is your immediate, the thing that's most tangential to you that's closest to you that you can influence. And the next thing I'll say is, you might go well, I'm not going to get anything out of that Jared. Like, you know, I use these things, but what am I going to get out of it? I think that's where everyone makes the mistake. So like, the things I just talked about are tactical, you could probably replicate. But are you really going to kick kick butt? I think that's the next layer that we could go to.

Isaac Morehouse  11:13
So I heard two really interesting things in there. One was, Okay, start by asking what am I a customer of, and I think that's really interesting. In fact, it's funny, there's a parallel here, you know, with with crash, the job hunting platform that that we built over the years. One thing that we've always told job seekers, when they're like, I want to find a cool company to work for, I want a company that's really interesting to me. I often say start by making a list of all the companies that you are a customer of, like, okay, right, I use Spotify, I think it's great. Why don't you pitch Spotify and try to work there. And it's amazing what happens, like, okay, list all the things you're a customer of, and then like, write a blog post about what you love about them, and then take that to them and say, Hey, I wrote this post, are you I would love to come work for you. And it's amazing how often people sort of think, Oh, well, I couldn't, I couldn't approach them. I'm just a little old customer. And it's like, no, that's the best, because you already have at least you can genuinely tell them. I love your company, right, which is something that most people don't have. So I think there's something interesting there in partnership to like, Okay, I'm a customer of this company. That's, that's a great starting point for being a partner with that company. And then the second thing you mentioned, was starting with what your customer already uses. So whoever you're trying to sell to, where do they already live? And that sounds so obvious. But I think it's easy to think, Okay, if we're going to grow with partnerships, the first thing I'm going to think about is who would be the ideal partner in terms of who would give us the biggest distribution, who would be the biggest fish for us to land a deal with, instead of let me start with my customer, and just start making a list of what are all the products and services that they use already, and that they trust, and let's start with them, and identify partners that way instead of starting with who would be the biggest, you know, the biggest sexiest partner that I could land? I think that's I think that's really interesting. Just those those small little shifts in frame. Yeah, important.

Jared Fuller  13:18
I think it's, I think it's a valuable conversation for anyone to think through both of those things we just talked about, because it's boiling it down to first principles. Right? Like, I know, we are both philosophical in our free time, and I'm not as brave as you to talk that way on podcasts, the other stuff content that you put out, put out there. But studying mental models, and I like to study something that I can say, you know, where there's a principle that I can really understand maybe 10, and I can teach 1000 times, right? And you have to be able to boil these things down to like, Can I can I use this? Is it useful to me? And what's, what's funny is that the same thing that I was just talking about, hey, I'm a solopreneur, I'm going to go try and have a partner strategy because I don't have the money for the ads. I don't want to do the cold calls. My Network for the market I'm stopped stepping into is small, there could be a bunch of reasons. You're gonna have to partner you have to and that's the same thing for job seekers. Right. It's just like that line between, you know, everything is sort of blurring in terms of how you might utilize the service, how it might become important to you. And I think the reason where people start to slip up and kind of like the next phase Isaac is that all partnerships are steeped in the baseline of like power, power dynamics. right like so you're that nobody literal nobody to someone and mean we can go all the way to you know, you're fresh out of any kind of program. You've never had a professional job before and your example and you're approaching a fortune You know, your top tier tech company, the power dynamics are not in your favor at all, at all, pretty much the only thing that you have to operate off of because they can just stack an infinite list of things that they have. And then your power dynamics list is like, man, the only thing that you have is FOMO. That's it, you just have FOMO, because they have to hire, they have to grow. They're a big company, they have to grow, like their share price is directly correlated to their growth rate, etc. So everyone's you know, hiring, they're doing things. And well, you just might be that next best candidate than that other entry level candidate. So like the power dynamic, you shift there, because what you demonstrated value. So that's the next thing. By writing that blog post up, you seem more valuable than the next candidate. And I happen to believe in this philosophy.

Isaac Morehouse  15:54
Yeah, that that value, value above replacement, as I say, in sports, it's like, you're not you're not competing against the whole field, you're competing against the next best alternative for that same role. So sure, they're a fortune 500 company or whatever. But if you're but you know, you're going after an entry level role, you're only competing against those candidates in the partnerships world, you're only competing against who else is attempting to solve this particular part of this company's problem. In a partnership capacity. That's who you're competing against. By the way, I feel like we need like if this were like a morning radio show, we'd have like the soundboard with sound effects. And that thing that you just did when you said, you know, they've got all these things, and you've got that little that little sound, man, we got to use that in the future. This makes me wonder, Jared, and I know I'm I'm talking to heavily right now on super early stage companies, because I don't know it's first Prince. I know that area. I'm really passionate about it. Yeah, I agree. I think it applies. But I wonder, maybe you already have examples of this. But I wonder if we'll begin to see some pre product partnerships. So in other words, yes. You know, you know, some people will go raise money pre product, okay, here, it's an idea. Are you willing to invest as an angel, you go, you go land a partnership. And then you build the product that you just sold?

Jared Fuller  17:08
You probably don't even know this? You don't even know this origin story side of it. I don't even know if I've told it on the podcast. Actually. If you look at the if you listen to the first 10 episodes of the podcast, when I was doing it with Kevin rahasia, you'll notice that there's a sponsor. There's not really a sponsor, I didn't make any money. How am I gonna make money? off a podcast? With zero listeners? Right? Like day one, there are no listeners. So how did I sign? How did I sign a deal beforehand? No, I mean, I went across beam. And I said, Hey, I love your content, you're amazing. There's not much out there that I think is up to the quality standards or the what we need. Like it's fun, bringing the best people but also make it something where, I don't know, it seems like this is a moment in time. So I pitched Shawn from crossbeam on this, and I said, I know you're not going to pay me for it. I wouldn't ask you to pay me for it. I firstly don't want to make money off this at the beginning. So what if you sponsor and then you highlight episodes, so that ask for? Right? I was also a customer, like becoming a customer, etc, of crossbeam. But that that's pre product. I mean, now we got a daily newsletter, we got some staff, there's some big things going. So before I ever had any product that existed with this, I did a partnership. So I mean, that's like, it's not fair. You partnered with the partnerships company doing the partnerships podcast.

Isaac Morehouse  18:35
Yeah, but I mean, think about that. Like if like if I'm an investor, and somebody comes to me and says, Hey, I don't have a product yet. I don't even have a product team to build it yet. But I just inked this deal, where I, I have agreed to provide a solution for x for this company, in this partnership deal, versus a company that said, Hey, we've got a product, and then we're going to go out and start trying to get partners for it. I would take the first one, because they write that like, okay, you can build you can build the solution. You've already got the distribution. Let's go there. So anyway, I just think it's really interesting to me, because it ties into something our guests that we were going to have today will have later Elena. Yes, I just saw him post today, a LinkedIn article about like the reluctant CEO who's like

Jared Fuller  19:25
pause right there. I'm gonna bring you back. Remember that thought? I'm gonna go look at LinkedIn right now and see if he has any activity while we're recording this call. I actually want to know if you have any activity on his LinkedIn feed while we're recording this podcast and if so, I'm going to text him it's like

Isaac Morehouse  19:41
when someone gives you a doctor's note says that they're sick and then you you know you drive to their house to see if they're, you know what I mean? Yeah, just a video game

Jared Fuller  19:49
is fun, though. Because Alan likes to stir the pot so I'm just gonna start right back at him. Okay is an hour ago. So maybe it's an outbound flight and he's on his phone. I'll I'll believe in this time, Alan. We believe you, Alec Back Back to the thought.

Isaac Morehouse  20:01
But it was an article about, you know, the reluctant CEO who's sort of like, you know, giving lip service to partnership strategy but not not really willing to fundamentally change the the strategy of the business around partnerships. And it makes me wonder if this decade of ecosystem, this this revolution in you know, go to ecosystem instead of go to market, it's more likely to be led by companies that are very early now or that don't even exist yet companies that have partnership in their DNA, that from day one, were built around an ecosystem strategy for go to market go to ecosystem, instead of some of the players that we currently know in love making a big shift to go that direction. I'm just I'm curious how you think that will that will play out because you know, better than I, what is it like inside a company that's got an existing sales marketing team, and then they got this sort of perfect partnerships team that's like, from what I understand. Nobody's favorite or, or at least they feel that way. Feel the partnership, it feel that way

Jared Fuller  21:04
there. I'd say that dynamics changing, but I think for a long time, it felt like it wasn't right, like for a long time. It was like status quo, beat your head against the wall. Really hard, unless you're in one of those exceptional breakout companies. That just happens to have the right pieces come together the right people, and actually a belligerent crazy person like Pete Buddha. You know, first 20 People at HubSpot in the CEO Brian Halligan tells Pete You cannot sell any more marketing agencies. CEO told an AE, you cannot and this is like Halligan wasn't a first time like business person at that point. Like he he knows how to hire and fire people like this. He that's deliberately going against his orders. He just fired and replace. Pete wasn't you know, the CEO of data box like he is today. He went completely against him behind his back, quote, like doubled his quota convinced Dan his boss to like Mia culpa with, you know, Halligan and go through that process.

Isaac Morehouse  22:11
What Why did I? Why did that kind of said that, by the way?

Jared Fuller  22:15
Why? Because agencies turned really bad. And he didn't, he didn't understand that it wasn't about the revenue from the agency. It was about building a business around the agency. And that's what P sock, right. But that's your second order effects, right? So it wasn't immediately visible. But my point is, like, you know, hey, that's a 20 person company, right? Like you might be able to affect that change. The reality is, is that Dharmesh in Halligan respected and deservedly so is two of the best b2b entrepreneurs around right. Fourth place company $50 billion outcome. But they're still free baby like they didn't sell, right, like, they're the only public Mar tech company from that decade. So that happened to them with someone like outside, that's a black swan moment. A lot of companies don't know or have this deliberate strategy. But then as you add layers and you add layers, that momentum becomes more, right. Not only do you have Halligan, then you have the manager, then you have CSX, often you have sales ops, and like you just get fired before you could influence that CEO. So like, you just end up with all of this stuff on top and momentum as a principle, like we just talked physics, right, like, an object in motion will continue to stay in motion. And as that gets bigger, it becomes harder to change. And the only way to change it is phenomenal leadership. So I think that the debate that CEOs need to pick this up. That's the only way that the mid tech, the mid cap, you know, hyper growth startups, it's going to come from them. And I really looking forward to getting into some of these debates with some of my friends that are more like venture funded. people up there, I think that that'll be a lot of fun to bring CEOs into this of companies that we we know and love and be like, hey, wait a second. You know what's going on here, like? So that's one thing that has to happen at the CEO level. By other point is it's going to happen. And I've talked about this in the past. I mentioned Pete, he's the CEO of data box. His business is inherently pretty partner centric. They integrate with everything. I just became a customer. I've already integrated like, I don't know, 25 things. They have their own services and service partners and Data Box certified agencies. And it's just a very ecosystem centric business. I believe they're like in the top five apps on all of HubSpot right now. Right like in terms of leveraging an ecosystem, so a couple 100 plus employees, Bobby Napal. Tony CRO at Twilio is sold to companies since then. And that's just the old wave. I'm aware of a bunch of people that have done that stint as a head of partnerships banging their head against the wall and went why are we doing it this way? I actually do believe that there is going to be a, a wave of entrepreneurship, not for serving us, the partner person has a persona, a wave of entrepreneurship for serving everything else. Everything else

Isaac Morehouse  25:12
from people who, who are steeped in the, because they were working in partnerships, they see and understand the opportunity, and they're gonna go start founding companies is that your is that your take,

Jared Fuller  25:24
I think the ones that figure it out the ones that are able to affect the change, and lead alongside that momentum and pull it their direction. Those are some interesting people. Those are very interesting people, if you go talk to them, and they really shifted an organization is not the executive. And not only not the executive, if you're talking 400 500 employees, there's a C suite. So you don't just have a senior leadership team, you have an executive leadership team. It's very rare right now that there is a executive leadership position for partner at that level. So the people that are figuring it out that are listening and diving in and geeking out this much that are collaborating, taking part in community, and they actually affect the trajectory of their company. Hi, all of you. I think you're starting I think I think you're starting companies in the next two to three years. I think the people listening to this right now that are doing that, they're not going to go do it again. They're gonna say, I can go take you all on in market,

Isaac Morehouse  26:24
it's, it's fair to say the partner up podcast listenership just might be the most investable demographic when it comes to the the next companies.

Jared Fuller  26:36
I mean, there's a fund dedicated to it. That's super, super interesting seed, investing in seed stage, partnerships, leaders and partnerships, tech and companies. So

Isaac Morehouse  26:45
So what would you say I want to throw out some of the objections that I hear to this approach the partnerships or ecosystems approach, kind of the idea that like, no, no, no, you're going to, you're going to lose control, it'd be too vulnerable. You're going to lose the ability to, you know, own the whole customer journey. You don't get to own your funnel anymore. You're beholden to what other what other companies decide to do and not do with, you know, having you listed on their marketplace, or the way that they present you or whatever? What, what is your risk by me, because I don't want to, I don't want to wave it away, like there is there is genuine red, there is a risk to like every partnership, especially if you're really dependent on one big partnership, they make a policy change if they decided to nix it, or downplay the way that you're placed in their, you know, in front of their customers in their process. How do you deal with those objections that the people that say, well, we just want complete control of the funnel, we want to own the whole thing and not be reliant on on other people.

Jared Fuller  27:46
So I think I'm gonna tie the previous question back to this one. And try to use some first principles. I think that's the underlying theme of like this conversation that because I want us all to start thinking that way versus through that lens of like, the department that they're in the stage of your company, the market, the vertical, the role, like, I think ecosystem in partnering principles is something more fundamental to that. So from early stage to late stage, there's an inverse, you know, kind of distribution curve, where in the beginning, you can have partner centric everything, or no partner centric everything. But as you get through that middle curve, everything falls off. And then the winners, the big giant winners are pretty much all I mean, name, name, a public tech company, that is a category winner, that is not predominantly where they are because of their ecosystem moat. Now, it's the very same reason that they're more stable at scale, as a company would be more stable at the beginning. And that's what is, I feel like this is a course that everyone should have to take, like, just a throwaway course, liberal arts college, San Juan College in New Mexico that I took, but I was like, it stuck with me ever since which is ecology, the stability of systems, right? And there's also that's also a reason why there is this kind of like decentralization movement and web three and crypto there, there is more fundamental principles than the tech that underpins that, which is anytime you introduce some variable to a system that is dominant, right? That system inherently by definition becomes more unstable. So if you are a monopoly company, not by government, you know, let's say capture regulation, etc, right, like enforceable by law. And you have clear ownership of a supply lane and a customer base. You're not stable. That's not a stable system. Same way, if you're completely dependent on one big giant alliance partner, like we're going all in with this company, and we're betting the we're betting the ship on this and they ship a feature. You're not very stable. So I think the principle of partnerships And the lens to think through, which is a much more interesting debate and like, challenge to yourself in your leader, like whoever you're around? Is the stability of systems like, are we more stable? With this? Are we less stable? Not? are we partnering? Are we not partnering? Because I think the answer is always partnering, it's just some partner deals will be worse than others, some overly dependent partner things worse than others, you know,

Isaac Morehouse  30:26
it's really interesting, it's almost, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go way out of left field with a with a concept from architecture. Because if what you're saying is, it's almost like, you need to recognize the way the world already operates, the patterns that are already in play in the way that your customers behave, the way that your competitors behave, whether you like it or not, they behave in this way. And so you can either work with that are work against that, it makes me think of one of my absolute favorite thinkers, Christopher Alexander, who was an architect, but he but he essentially developed an entire philosophy on life itself, just from studying architecture. And his famous book is called a pattern language, he has several books, but um, but he basically sort of like, came to this conclusion that, you know, you can look at a built structure, any kind of built environment, and and you can sort of tell when, when a structure feels more alive, or when it feels more dead. And he did all these surveys where he'd show people pictures of this building in this building, and like, every single person agrees this one's more alive than this one, right, some like cold brutalist building, versus like a warm cottage or whatever. And he's like, he spent his whole career trying to like break down the various principles. And essentially, he came to this very, very simplified this idea that there are just natural patterns in life and in nature, and if architecture attempts to work against them, it will cause this tension in people. And so like a very simple example is humans are photo tropic, they're drawn to light. And they also if they're in, you know, if they're in it gonna be in an environment for any length of time, they want to sit down, that makes them feel more restful, and they can actually enjoy themselves. So if you have a room with a window, people are going to be drawn to the window. But if it's a room where you're supposed to be for any length of time, they're also going to be drawn to a place to sit. So if you have a window on one side and a chair facing away from the window, that room is working against the natural patterns, and you'll feel it subconsciously, you'll feel this weird tension, you won't know where to go in the room, it'll feel awkward. It just it like doesn't, it's like not a very well designed space. Whereas if you have like the window and the chair, and it kind of naturally draws you in, you don't even notice. But you're like, Wow, this is such a comfortable place. And so the whole idea of like, whether you like it or not, there are these complex systems that interplay, the way that the indoors and the outdoors interplay, people want a gradual transition between those are the way that water and land. And you have to understand these patterns and work with them. If you want to win if you want to build a sustainable, an environment that's going to last over the long term, instead of something that's like built as some social experiment, and it's just this like building in the middle of a stark landscaping, and then nobody wants to live there. Right. And so I think that's similar, like, where do your customers live? What are the patterns that they do? What are the types of behaviors and like, working with that means you understand they're engaging with lots of different companies and lots of different types of technology, and they want to buy in lots of different ways. You can be grumpy about that and say, No, I want them to come into my funnel, and qualify themselves as an MQL. And then an SQL and I want to write but that's not how

Jared Fuller  33:33
was that partner sourced? Or was that just partner influence? Or influence?

Isaac Morehouse  33:38
Excuse me, sir? Would you consider yourself partner sourced or partner influenced?

Jared Fuller  33:44
Yeah, literally, I was like debating with Isaac over slack earlier, like, do you just survey people at the end of the buying experience? Like you can't, right? That's not gonna work. Either. There's, there's no, it doesn't work. Like, it doesn't matter. It matters, but you can't measure it. I think that's, there's all sorts of these things. And I think I love the architecture example. And drawing from these other experiences that just are true, because I write again, I see the same stuff over and over again, because I don't know small mind. The thing that is really interesting to me, is how complex if you look at biodiversity in an ecologically stable system, so you go into the ocean, and then you realize, like, before you've ever even stepped in, like you're going to the coral reef. And you take a sip of water. There are more bacteria, and viruses in that cup of water than there are people on the planet. They're protozoa, like the complexity of these systems is impossible for us to understand. Right? And then you go down into the ocean, and then you go down, you see sharks and fish and the big stuff and then corals and these, these micro organisms, and all of these things interoperating interoperability is not just a buzzword, it's natural. And no one really understands all of it. But if we think about from first principles, stability of systems, and we go through a bunch of cyanide in that part of the bay, it's going to be no surprise that we introduced a new variable that was bigger than every other variable, and that system became unstable. And these types of things is I think, how

Isaac Morehouse  35:28
we literally generate to death, right? Yeah, you can literally simplify it to that. Yeah, it's

Jared Fuller  35:35
it's so interesting that like, this is similar to those types of things. Because, again, I don't understand how all the pieces work at the bottom of the sea, in that coral reef, I really don't. And I could study it for a long time. I could probably study it for the rest of my life. And guess what, there's a person next to me doing the same thing, and they're only studying one thing, sharks. That's all they're studying. And they still don't know everything that there is to know about sharks. How interesting is that? How does that feel similar to? I don't know, maybe some of my good friends that I like that I mentor to me, they've been studying sales. Their whole life kind of feels the same, but they're missing the bigger picture. There's an ecosystem around them.

Isaac Morehouse  36:19
Now, why did you have to equate sales and shark did I do this?

Jared Fuller  36:23
I don't even know they did that on purpose. I love sales. I love selling like I love sales. Sales is part of everything. I sell this. You know, Daniel Pink's Phil's human.

Isaac Morehouse  36:30
Yeah, we got, we got Shark Week.

Jared Fuller  36:32
I love sharks too. So like, I just, I think there's there's more universal principles that apply here. Like, I mean, Isaac will do a throwback. That's both of us. Let's go do you know, let's go to economics? eyepencil. Right. I mean, what a fantastic read. And it's just such an easy challenge to throw that to someone. How's the pencil made? Yeah. Go through that. Yeah, the interoperability of that system is more complex than even the person that creates it.

Isaac Morehouse  37:03
Yeah, the mutual interdependence, would it be better, you know, you've seen those experiments where someone's like, I'm going to try to make a suit or a hamburger, completely on my own using only things within a 50 mile radius, right. It's like not even possible, at least not in the modern sense of what those things represent. And so you could see that and be scared by it and say, Oh, my gosh, all this mutual interdependence is scary. Because there's all these different players that are strangers to me that I'm relying on for all this complex. But as you said, when you zoom out that this stability is if any one of those components breaks down, there's all kinds of replacements that can come in it gives it it gives it a resilience versus being entirely dependent on your own what you can muster. Yeah, so maybe it's funny, I just remembered a startup founder who built a great company and then sold a great SAS company. And he he might have been, I think, somehow we got to talking about Christopher Alexander, that architect that I mentioned, he's really interested in design and stuff. And he said, he said something like, I think, I think company founders should, or people who are doing like, you know, study in business and how it works, whatever. They should study the city of Jericho, instead of studying companies all the time. And I said, why is that? He said, Jericho is the longest, continuously inhabited city on Earth. It's been inhabited for, I don't know, several 1000 years, at least the city that still inhabited the longest continuously inhabited. And he's like, a city is like just such a dynamic ecosystem. But that that, like, what are the patterns at play there that make this work? How could it be around? Can you think of like all the technological changes that have happened for 1000s of years? What would I mean, you know, how many cities disappear when when one industry disappears? Right? Like, I'm finished? I mean, look at the past 50 years, yeah, like Detroit, right? years, like half the Fortune 500 replaced its highest per capita income in the country in Detroit in 1950. And, you know, it's not that case anymore. So just, you know, trying to understand like that, how to how to recognize and work with, you know, a complex system, but without, with at the same time without just sort of saying, Oh, well, we can never fully understand it. So we'll just leave it to chance. And that and that gives me this sort of maybe this would be the final thing, I want to ask you about the the trouble with influence. Because because I feel like it'd be easy for somebody running a partnership, you know, strategy at a company to be like, well, you just can't quantify it. It's just like influence. We're just like putting good vibes out there into the ecosystem. And then good things will come back to us. And even though there is some truth to that, like we're just giving value to our partners, and then they'll, they'll somehow make it up for us. How do you how do you deal with that? Because it is really hard to measure.

Jared Fuller  39:45
I think I'm I think I've probably given if I've given advice on this topic, I've probably given bad advice on the topic of influence, because I think if you are at a company and you're trying to win the influence debate. It's a very hard debate to win. Because it's so true in your eyes. And it's so not true in the other person's eyes. And it's not just the other person, it's you're outnumbered. Right? Like, it's something that you're studying and asking questions and like how to measure partner add, you know, influence and how to pay out. And there's a whole bunch of tactics that we could talk about, right? pay out a different rate on partner influence, right. So pay different rate out on a sourced opportunity versus an influence, one, have different incentives, you can do all of these things to like, try and manipulate that into the business model world. And I think the reality is that the model needs refactoring. I say the model needs refactoring. This comes from the unit economics, of running a business and doing a model centric, like company, meaning, hey, we have to put together the inputs and outputs productivity per rep. Right? So what's the quota per person, you know, what's the cost CPLC. All of these things, there is no like influence line item, especially one that is that gets more complex as you get successful. So the more customers you have, the more your ecosystem grows, even if everyone has an ecosystem, by the way, like everyone has one for the year, one person or your 10,000 100,000. There are more touch points in the buyers journey, right? Because they start to talk to each other. And then there's also more tech companies growing, I mean, this, if you're not in tech, and you're listening to this, I'm sorry, most of the references are going to fall flat. But like there are more tech companies, right, that's going to 10x, the number of tech companies over the next decade. So there's more Centers of Influence growing all the time around these buyers. And the point is you just can never measure it, you can never track it. It's just not going to work. So I think what I want to say to everyone is that, I don't know, I'm like, I feel like I have a bullhorn right now to shining like it's, it's a moment in time. And I don't want to get too crazy about it. But I feel like it is buckle up. I think the next couple years are going to be really hard for the people that aren't thinking the way that you're thinking. I think when I say the model needs to be re factored, I don't know that we'll ever figure out how to measure influence, I just think we'll stop having that conversation. Because it's tired. I'm not interested in it. It's intellectually lazy to try and like argue with someone about this. So just buckle up, like the companies of tomorrow, the earlier stage companies, the CEOs, the finally get it, they're going to go it doesn't matter. And I've seen glimpses of this in the modern era era. That's a famous ones I've worked directly for them. David Earhart and David cancel, you know, fantastic CEO, and probably the best what you give Digi, you know, best, best brand marketer and b2b have definitely at least a year, like, I mean, maybe, maybe the last five, like he really definitely changed it all, for a lot of companies. And the biggest thing for marketing tech at that point was measurement and attribution. And it was famous inside of drift. Hey, DG, what's the ROI of that? Oh, let me go put it in my ROI. tabulator. Like they did things that they couldn't measure. Yeah. And they invested in brand, not these other stuff that everyone else was doing. So it was it was refreshing to see that like, Hey, you can do things and when, and you don't have to measure it. And but that took David cancel saying that to Dave Gearhart for Dave to be the marketer that he was born to be. But because of DC said, Tell me the budget, give me the outputs. We would have never had DG, I wouldn't be on this podcast. Right? We wouldn't be talking right now. So like the next company, is gonna take the CEO being like, I don't care about influence influences everywhere. Yeah, it's gonna get more of it.

Isaac Morehouse  44:03
It's funny. Yeah, this reminds me of the Harvard Business Review article that was shared in the partner hacker daily, earlier this week. It's a good one. Right? And and they just mentioned that this edtech company from Canada, and they basically and I don't even know the article doesn't get in depth of what prompted this necessarily, but the company just said, Okay, instead of, instead of sort of our traditional sales, marketing Customer Success product, let's like dive really deep, and just understand the heck out of our customer. What do they do? How did it what is the purchase process, like? What is their behavior? Again, let's understand those patterns, those natural patterns that they engage in, and then they rebuilt their whole departmental structure around it. They created five new departments based around the kind of five steps that they observed their customers going through, and they redeployed everyone that was previously in sales or marketing goes He says around that. And I think it's it's sort of the the takeaway and how this ties into this unified commercial engine. Right.

Jared Fuller  45:06
That's what they called it.

Isaac Morehouse  45:07
You see, yeah, that's right. That's right. Yeah. So the takeaway is like, tie it into this, this influencer thing. First, just understand how your customers live and operate, build a

structure that supports that rather than works against it or begs them to do something that's easier for you. And then once you have that in place, I bet over time, it will start to get easier to measure some of those things. But under the current

Isaac Morehouse  45:30
sort of setup, like it's like, first, just do the things that your customers like, and then figure out how to quantify you know what I mean, what that what the ROI is on that, but just listen to them first or observe them. Maybe Maybe that's the Yeah, go

Jared Fuller  45:45
go back to like the first principles, things, dollars in dollars out dummy. Like, why are we spending, you know, six months of financial planning for the next year, dollars in dollars out? Like that's the answer is, can we not do that calculation? How much are we spending? How much are we making? Oh, you're worried about the forecast? Oh, that's the problem. You want to look good to yourself like that. It's trying to placate egos. But what I have to call this out. So like, if you're not subscribed to partner hacker daily, this is the amazing stuff that we're putting out there and researching. So this wasn't just at Harvard Business Review article, Isaac, this is someone that's very important. Brent, Corporate Executive Board and the author of the Challenger sale. This is the Bible. I mean, I made every person at Panda doc, like go listen to or go read. Brent's book, the challenger sale people. This is Go ask your CRO promise, they forced people to read this book. Brent says, this month, traditional b2b sales and marketing are becoming obsolete. And his solution is nothing to do with sales and marketing has everything to do with how the world really works. And I'm very excited for the stuff that people like Brent is talking about this stuff like Gil they weren't talking about this just go read the book. So I don't know maybe we'll inspire some will bring some of these economic principles these things to to the debate and i don't know i My stretch goal is to get Brent on and that would be a fun way

Isaac Morehouse  47:17
we can make it happen. Maybe we can make it happen. I think we it's a moment, Jared it's a moment. Well, hey, I have a lot and I got I definitely got educated I got a I got partner pills even more today. So I appreciate it.

Jared Fuller  47:33
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed it. So friendly reminder, if you're not subscribed, subscribe. What are you doing? Listen, where are you listening to this where you're not subscribe on Apple podcast if you want to, and you really love it. Go to the page, the listing page, scroll up, and then you'll see to leave a review. Really appreciate that. If you want to look at our mugs, see my studio and Isaac in the forest on his little farm in Tennessee. You can subscribe on YouTube. It's by far our worst performing channel. I don't know why we still do it but I'm going to keep on doing it one of these days. And we'll see all SAS connect as a Software Association partnership conference and partner hacker daily. Next week, we'll be back at it with a guest so we'll see you all next time. Peace out partner


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.