We have Allan Adler back on the podcast, and it’s time to get PROVOCATIVE with predictions!
When it comes to making plans, it pays to think about the next 18 months, not the next decade. Today, Allan makes predictions about what 2023 might have in store for the partner and ecosystem worlds.
You WON’T want to miss this. Whether you’re a partner leader, an executive, or play a different part in your org, knowing what to look for might be the edge you need to ride this wave.
When it comes to catching a wave, you have to know when to hop on. If you jump on too early, you don’t hit the wave. If you jump on too late, you catch the end and it won’t take you as far.
The swell is what you’re waiting for — catch the swell, and allow it to carry you to the mainland. In this episode, Allan gives you all the signs to look out for so you don’t miss that swell.
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Jared Fuller 00:00
That's starting to tremble. What is up, partner up? We're back with one of our most popular guests that we've ever had who I definitely threw under the bus on the last two episodes after the peer pressure, and it worked. I mean, look, he's back, you know, he's worthy. justifying myself, right? Totally. We got, we got Alan Adler for round two, back on partner up. So Alan, what's up? Hey, it's so great to be with you. I can't wait to have you asked me all these tough questions and try to stay standing. Huh? Well, Isaac, you said on the last pod that we just released with Ashley Taylor about communities that were kind of learning out loud. So I'm not sure that the questions will be ones that knock you on your feet. But I think we might learn something today. Because the level of intellectual rigor and the debate that's kind of happening now in the ecosystems partnerships, community, this new world that matches the way people actually buy, and kind of the old world insular. GTM is, it's fun for once. Feel like this is fun, isn't it to work with you and geek out with you on some of that stuff? Ellen? Yeah, pleasure. Yeah, I can't wait. I really appreciate the way you guys like raised the bar in terms of the kinds of discussions that are happening. And it's not just, you know, yesterday's channel stuff, we're talking about where we are and where we're going. And it's a lot different than it's, it's a lot different now. And it's going to continue to become more and more different than it's been 100%. I think we were aligning on topic wise is like, we're gonna get a bit provocative today. And of course, if Alan's involved you're gonna have to be provocative. You know, so Jay talks about Jay McBain, a forester, if those of you who are new listeners had him on twice. last conversation, we have a J, two pods back was a great conversation around kind of the the decade of the ecosystem, so to speak. In Allen today, we wanted to talk about like, what about the next year and a half like the, you know, the next 18 months, like you might be able to think intellectually about a decade, but you really have to plan for 18 months as an executive as a partner leader as a whatever your title is, you got some hot takes on what's going to be true at the end of 2023. So let's have some fun and packing these things and some fun debate and learning out loud about it. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, my first one is that I think that by the end of 2023, we will no longer have communities and partners, be managed in these kind of disparate silos, that there will actually be communities and partners coming together in one organization, rather than communities being this thing that's happening on the side. And partners being something that's typically happening in the sales organization, we're going to see that coming together, organizationally, and coming together programmatically, because they are, they're really kissing cousins of each other. And any buddy watches the large vendors over decades see that, you know, you can't really imagine partnering without a community and community without partnering is an incomplete picture. So that's one, what do you guys think about that? Who is going?
Isaac Morehouse 03:08
Good, I would be most resistant to that. I want to know who would be most resistant to that change? What has to be overcome?
Allan Adler 03:16
Well, I think the first thing is that, you know, partnering has to stop being a sales function to start being a company function, as long as partnering is a sales function. And it's being run in sales. And and I think it's still by 2x, the most predominant reporting line for partnering is into sales. According to crossbeam, state of the partner report, that's one point of resistance, right? Because communities are most typically if you have to associate them, you associate them with either marketing, or customer support, not sales. So that's one big thing that I think has to move out of the way is partnering has to become more ubiquitous. And then when the ecosystem chief starts looking over partnering, he looks around the corner, he says there's community put some together and that's what the ecosystem is. So you're taking some territory from from sales? And maybe they don't like that. Yep, then maybe sales will realize they actually have a lot more to gain by being done that way than they do today. Yeah, that the typical debate that you that you see is like sales leader wants, you know, those qualified leads into their door, they want pipeline to grow. So you're typically associating that partner function that channel account manager, that alliance manager the whatever title you give them partner, account manager, toward some sort of source pipeline and influence number which we've talked about on the first episode with Alan, you know, kind of influence being
Jared Fuller 04:40
what needs to be ubiquitous. I feel like the common objection for that CRO is stuff around like channel conflict. Right? So you're working with cow A, B, or C and then all of a sudden you bring in a partner that messes up your deal, right and who gets credit is it the marketing team is the partner team? These are the in fighting around attribution, the sales and marketing debate rears its head very ugly for partner channel conflict. So for that to be the case, Alan, I think your thesis is that CEOs, either the early adopters and the innovators of the laggards, that finally change their ways are going to be have to be the ones that make that change.
Allan Adler 05:20
You will CEOs are gonna have to start in that my second prediction is that if you look at executive partner hires, by the end of 2023, the most common executive partner hire will not be a channel chief will not be a partner, Chief, it'll be an ecosystem chief. So in a way, I'm answering the second I'm answering your point with the second prediction. So that's that's
Jared Fuller 05:42
two things together, then that's how these two things together, because what you're saying is, hey, you know, at the big, big coasts, this is more normal, let's say in the ultra enterprise, the F 500 are the winners of ecosystem today, you know, Microsoft appointed to get rid of their channel chief appointed ecosystem chief, Cisco, same thing channel chief now and ecosystem, Google just did that. Google did the same thing. So in those, the hypergrowth, kind of b2b SaaS landed between from startup to you know, a later stage company, that's a prediction that we think might come true is that that that ecosystem chief will sit alongside the CRO and cmo and not report directly into hurt Exec.
Allan Adler 06:22
Yeah, that's the that's the other part is that ecosystem chief has to report has to be a C suite, cannot be a second to the suite, it has to be a C suite. Um, that's, that's a, that's kind of a correlated trend, which is that, you know, we're promulgating this concept of go to ecosystem, right, which is the elevation of of ecosystems out of the, let's call it the the downstream go to market and being this holistic business model meets new go to market motion, strategy and transformation. And who who would you need, if you got top level OKRs that are transformative, you need a C level individual actively supported by the CEO to make that happen. So if you have a person reporting into sales, that person is completely useless at driving cross functional alignment, at a C suite level, because it's a product marketing, sales, customer success, all those organizations have to lift their boats into the harbor for the ecosystem to work, you need a change agent to make that happen. And only an ecosystem chief reporting to the CEO has got the chops, he or she is the only person
Isaac Morehouse 07:25
you're pulling partnerships out of sales, you're pulling community out of marketing or customer success, you're putting them together under an ecosystems organization with a ecosystems chief that is the C suite, where where is that person most likely to come from? What are they doing right now? And we're gonna move
Allan Adler 07:44
right, before I answer that question, I want to put a slight parentheses around pulling them out. Because I think the one thing that we know about this role is the ultimate matrix role. You know, if you said for example, where where does the responsibility for partnering live, you say, okay, the ecosystem chief. But if the ecosystem chief needs that sales, the CRO, to drive partner attach, and it needs this, the CMO to drive ecosystem qualified leads as the new funnel, and it needs the product organization to create a platform strategy that's ecosystem Matic and needs the customer success organization to ensure that those integrations that they got built, get properly deployed in customers, are you really pulling the partner out? Or are you basically making that person the alignment function internally, and the orchestration function externally? So I think it's really important to understand like, what is that's that's a giant sea change for business, a giant sheet, it's almost like when people say, Well, is this another CEO? Chief ecosystem? Officer? I almost want to say yes, on the only reason I don't say that is because I think then we would know who the real resistance would come from. These because they no, no, no, you can be a second See, so let's make them ecosystem chief. But then you ask the question, where are they going to come from? There, it's an interesting one, because I would argue where they're going to go is to become the next CEO, CEO. So they're likely to come from the same pool of business development, sophisticated business, understanding CROs, general management. This is not a you know, organizational management, it's almost the same skill sets to be a CMO is to be as chief ecosystem officer. It's just you're taking a slightly different role.
Jared Fuller 09:34
What's what's interesting about this is I feel like a lot of my peers that are the directors and VPs of partnerships and b2b tech companies. One of the lenses by which they look at this kind of topic, like where does XY and Z fit so product marketing sales CS is through the lens of a business unit, or an overlay model. Right so like in a business unit, Let's take HubSpot for example. HubSpot channel program started as a separate business unit, meaning you had Channel account managers that sold with partners, and you had channel success managers that serviced with partners. Those accounts never crossed the direct sales team, or the direct success team. Right. So you had a separate business unit? Yeah. And why? And why is that? Well, because they were an SMB company, and the TAM is gargantuan. So you run into channel conflict less than less, obviously, as they grew to be the juggernaut that they are channel conflict starts to rear their head, and they make a transition from a business unit channel model, to an overlay channel model, those roles now blend, and the channel function sits over the top of sales and over the top of success. I feel like people look at would be evaluating that through this lens is like, Okay, if you're, if you're committing to an overlay model, we're saying the same thing, Allen, like if I if I went to a company, and I was doing strategic advising, I would say, Okay, what you need is an overlay model you sell into the enterprise, you can't segment it. The customer journey is too complex. So you need an overlay. The second that you identify that you need an overlay is exactly what you're talking about. Yeah. How does sales build competency with your co selling? How does success build competency with servicing? How does product build competency? With co innovating?
Allan Adler 11:25
Yeah, well, I think that you said the word right is the CEO dash cobuild cosell co market co routine, that whenever the CO is the common motion, as opposed to the independent historically, channels, independent sales, soar, strategy, new world co anything, influence marketing, co marketing, co innovation, everything's co right. So I think the overlay concept is right, I think it's also important to recognize that even though the ecosystem chief will have this overlay function as you point out, and we'll have this automatic call align in orchestrate out motion. Those are the Align into the organization orchestrate out to the ecosystem, they're still going to be these programs. So you and I talked about that a couple weeks ago, we could go Jared, right, because you're gonna have a tech program, you're going to have a channel program, you have a services program, you have community programs, these distinct programs are almost businesses in and of themselves, because they have p&l, they generate revenue, they have expectations. So it might actually be an overlay function across the strategic change management dynamics of the organization with separate p&l, which may or may not have overlay or independent business unit qualities to them, for example, like the channel program, may may well be more independent, whereas the tech partner program may be more of an overlay because it touches everything tech partners touch everything. Right, right. So, but I think that I think this brings me to another prediction, we're ready for another one. Keep the ball rolling. Okay, my next prediction is that when you look at job descriptions going forward, particularly job descriptions in product, sales and customer success. Today, if you look the average job description across any company that even if they had a ton of ecosystems, you won't see the comment, partner responsibility or community responsibility, you won't see competency demonstrated ability skill sets proven track record, I predict by the end of 2023, that more than a third of those job descriptions will actually have explicit call out for partner and community competency across those lines of business. And that will no longer be the case when a sales rep wants to become an A BDR or an A he can show up without being able to demonstrate where in the last job he had, he or she was able to retire quota 50% Because of partner cyst, or because of community engagement. So that's another prediction I have is you'll see all these ello B's just kind of raising their game with partnering. And that will become instead of it being now where it's like pulling teeth will be more like them asking for help. Come on, bring me in partner.
Jared Fuller 14:00
So that's that's like a lagging indicator, like, Okay, this shift is happening this moment, as I've been calling it is really coming to fruition as you start to see that proficiency propagate throughout these job descriptions. Maybe some early indicators, right. That's a lagging indicator. What's a leading indicator that I've seen that I think lead some credence to you being right, is I actually do see this right now in marketing roles. I see many a content marketing or demand generation ABM, specifically calling out the ability to work with partners and CO marketing. I think if you're talking to the audience that is a b2b tech company that isn't already gargantuan, you know, industry dominant. The best campaigns that they have are partner marketing. Why? Because you get to bring 2345 audiences together and share the benefit. Like it's just it's the most no brainer of no brainer things. So I have seen that even independent of my own partner aspirations where yeah, that is a competency for more and more marketers today than I saw a year ago, two years ago,
Allan Adler 15:03
I got another, I got another leading indicator for you. So, you know, I'm prolific. I write all the time about ecosystem stuff, right? So I wrote a lot.
Jared Fuller 15:10
No, I don't see your LinkedIn videos every single day. I don't at all. Yeah.
Allan Adler 15:13
My god. Yeah, how long that visit, there's a running debate as to whether that's going to stop or not. I'm still banging, I'm still thinking that it's gonna keep going. But here's the data point, here's the leading indicator. Okay, so I wrote a blog a couple months ago, talking about eco EQL, the new top of funnel, right, and how marketing organizations are going to stop thinking about MQL SQL close one is darkening. EQL and QL, close one in the ecosystem funnel surrounds the entire sales cycle. It's like this ubiquitous, you know, envelope that surrounds the entire go to market model. And that was a well received blog, you know, 8090, people check it out. Then then Joe Rowley decides that she thinks this is a good idea, because she's really been into it. And she writes something that says EQL is the next big thing. And she sent it out to her community. There were like 250 likes and 75 comments within like, 48 hours, same content, I'm pushing it out to the chat to the partner, people, because most people that listen to my stuff, our partner people, right, she's pushing it out to sales and marketing people immediately. Fire Hose. So what I'm seeing, what I'm seeing is that the appetite for these other ello bees to really grab onto this ecosystem is go to ecosystem trend may actually be even higher. Once the awareness level goes up. It's almost like there's need up there, there's need there. But it's not we haven't hit the tipping point yet where you see the lagging indicators. Another good data point of that is like look at sales, like I think the average b2b SaaS company, maybe five to 10% of the sales reps, really know how to use partners actively. And the rest are just kind of like Dialing for Dollars cold calling. sales organizations have historically been ignoring partners, not channel that's yesterday's news and talking about like CO selling with a brother and ISVs. So lately, what starts to happen is I'm starting to get calls from sales leaders to say, can you come present ecosystem stuff at the sales tech ed conference where I'm speaking in April, right? So this is starting to happen, where the sales and marketing leaders are starting to wake up and go, Oh, my God, this is really exciting. And I started to see the beginning of this fire, burning around, let's get this ecosystem concept into our organizations, and stop being laggards. I think
Jared Fuller 17:31
any CRO, cmo CTO that seen this story is going to have that same appetite for leveling up their organization. It's just of the top three priorities. Does that land in the top three? And I think what we're seeing is like, I don't know, I've had these conversations with countless CEOs and CMOS. And they always say the same thing that you're saying Allen, which is like, yeah, I would love to build that competency in my team. But I'm in the middle of force management training, we have this new messaging thing that we're doing, and we have this and we have this and we have this, I can't get this in right now. But they're not saying no, they're not saying I disagree with you, you're wrong partner is worthless. I actually have not been hearing that in the past couple years. Whereas five years ago, I kind of was in b2b Tech was like now that doesn't matter at all. That's old, it's outdated. Now I'm seeing where that becomes one of the top three bullets, which means enablement, actually pays attention to it, right? Like if you can't work it into the enablement schedule, how the heck you going to train these reps? Just doesn't I don't
Allan Adler 18:33
know what really makes it happen, too, is when you put numbers on it.
Jared Fuller 18:36
Oh, yeah, that's what you have to you have to close
Isaac Morehouse 18:38
the eyes. Yeah, what data is making is making that move into that top three? What are what are people looking at that makes them?
Allan Adler 18:46
Yes. So here's one, I was just talking, I won't, I won't name names, but I was talking to a darling tech company that we work with, and we're talking about the relationship between a 1% increase in partner assist, and arr. And they were talking about a client of theirs, you know, pretty good sized clients, not like a sap but you know, in the, in the Darling range in our little SAS space. And this is like, a 1% increase in partner attach rate resulted in at $600,000 increase in ARR. So when they're starting to look and go 1% 600,000 Arr. Do what I rather hire more sales reps, or what I rather have my sales reps, increase their partner tax rates. So when that when those numbers and then you have the ability to attribute and measure it at scale, which is another whole nother question is how do we attribute measure at scale versus flagging things in CRM, right, which doesn't really scale. But we're solving that problem.
Jared Fuller 19:45
It's interesting, because, I mean, anecdotally, so I've seen when rates go from standard win rates in the enterprise of 16 to 20%. To having partner attached be anywhere from 50 to 60%, on average, and this is not across like five deals this is across, let's say 100 Plus, you know, in pipeline in a b2b tech company. Where else do you get that kind of leverage? I think at the beginning of these debates in these conversations, it was almost unbelievable. And it was like just taking it. Well, of course, you know, the partners influencing it's in there, of course, the win rate is going to be higher, but what are we going to do about it? And it's like, Well, duh, go get more. I mean, why would why would anyone look at that a 2x, or a 3x increase in win rate, which is going to yield that efficiency allow you to have more headcount scale, more predictably. I mean, revenue is productivity, times number of people that the end of the day and b2b Like if you're any CRO, you can boil all of that finance, fancy financial forecasting down to how many people I got, and how much money can they make? If you're a CRO? And if you're not thinking about the levers on how to increase productivity? Or if you are thinking about them? I don't know how partner attach rate is not always a top three bullet point. Yeah. What is your current partner attach rate? And what is your win rate when a partner is involved? Like you're a partner leader, go get that data and go talk to your ops person. And then go talk to your CRO and start the conversation there. versus, you know, so I don't know, Alan, I feel like a lot of what you're doing right now is trying to facilitate more of those conversations.
Isaac Morehouse 21:28
How do you think the how do you think the trends in employment maybe contributed as it maybe this is a stupid noob question, but that's what I'm here for. But Jared, when you said, yeah, like you put that your number of people and productivity? Well, if you're having trouble on the number of team members front, if you're if you're having trouble competing and and if more and more people are becoming independent freelancers, starting their own companies, gig economy, whatever they want to go and be a consultant instead of an employee and all this stuff, then that means moving that variable gets harder and harder. So your per team member productivity, you know, has to increase? And how are you going to do that? By tapping partners, right? Maybe somebody who used to be an employee wants to go become a partner now and start doing, you know what I mean? So like, I just, I feel like, there has to be something with that trend as well, that is making the you know, just add more bodies, a less of an option, as hiring gets harder? Well,
Allan Adler 22:29
as as you like to say, Jared, coming back to first principles, right? You know, one of the first principles is nobody either like selling or wants to be sold to. And this has become if you read the sales rags right now, what you see a lot about is how selling is becoming verboten. It's all about adding value in is all about, you know, changing the conversation away from, you know, trying to get someone to separate from their wallet, some dollar bills and change the conversation to how can I help and in the process of adding value, being able to engage in commerce. And so when you think about partners, syst, right, what could be more attractive to you talking with your prospects, then bringing a conversation of a trusted advisor that's already in that account into the conversation and showing how your relationship with that trusted advisor makes your products better. So we're changing the equation for a sales organization from selling to adding value just by connecting to companies that are already in the ICPs sphere of influence, as we call them. But then this leads me to my fifth prediction, right? Which is that when you look at the customer going forward, increasingly, I don't know if I'll get to this by 2023. But I'm going to take a stretch, a non small number of customers will stop buying point products that are not part of holistically understood ecosystems.
Jared Fuller 23:51
So let's unpack this real quick. So when you when you're saying that you mean that during a evaluation, I will not be looking at that evaluation from the perspective as a buyer from does this solution solve my challenge or pain point? I will be looking at it from where am I placing my bet on this solution? And how it relates to the ecosystem that surrounds that and the one that I have?
Allan Adler 24:17
Well, sort of the the first question now still be concerned with the fundamental does this solve the pain point of this software? Which is time immemorial, right product market fit, right? Do I have I found a problem and am I is the customer really going to be very upset if they take it away from them, right? That's still going to be there. But it won't be enough. That'll be an anti, the raise will be when you can go to the customer and say, by virtue of the ecosystem that I am a part of, not only will my product work with your other products, thereby creating a higher value for you. But you won't have to take on the responsibility of having somebody come in and do all this kind of customization crap. Because I am going to be thinking with my eating ecosystem partners about a larger picture. And so the implications of that my prediction is that buyers will not check the yes box, until they're confident that the ecosystem that that company is a part of is relevant to them meaningful to them. And that that company fits an appropriate piece in that ecosystem, they'll start thinking they'll start buying ecosystem magically, versus buying based exclusively on feature and function. And this interesting part that relates to my last prediction, because, well, it's
Jared Fuller 25:32
gonna I'm gonna stop you there, because because I am aware of your last one, and I'm going to argue with you about your last one. Okay? I'm gonna stop you there. Because it seems to me like, if I think about sales, tech, so sales, loft outreach, Clary like you name it, I am already I am already doing that. I'm already evaluating that under the context of how it works with Salesforce. Right? I'm already I'm already doing that in martec, right? Like, if I'm using Marketo, as my Automation Engine for you know, glorified email cannon, shout out to my Marketo peeps that sell a great product. Just, it needs more, right? Like, it's the job of marketing is much bigger than email now, but I still need to be able to segment and build my smart lists. So maybe I'm using an ABM solution, like a sixth sense. Okay, great. How does that mess with the segments I have in Marketo, that needs to integrate and play? Well, I feel like that buyer behavior exists for b2b tech companies in the kind of sweet, you know, darling range where they're good companies, but they need to work very well with the dominant platforms in their space. Same thing with products and technology companies. How do you work with snowflake? Right? How do you work with, you know, containers, whatever that is, that feels like that might already be true? How did what I just say, differ from what you feel like? Is the buyer evaluation process? A couple years out?
Allan Adler 26:53
I think they're the same
Isaac Morehouse 26:55
tab. Can I think you fill in? At least one thing comes to my mind like, and I almost think of it, maybe there's an analogy. And if you're building a brand new product? How do you pick a, what programming language you're gonna use? You look at a lot of different factors, not just like, what can it do? Technically? How do they have a lot of conferences? Are there a lot of like message boards? Is there a whole community of people that share about is there a lot of people that have the skills? So if you're looking at that software, it's not just about what tech does it play with? You're thinking, Are there a lot of people who love this and use this? And who, if we run into issues, there's all sorts of forums. And there's all sorts of people that do this as contractors that can come in and fix my problem. There's a reputational quality to it. Does it have a good reputation? You see this in crypto actually, like, crypto projects? It's not so much about the hard tech, but like, what is the community? What is the reputation? What are people saying about it? Are there watering holes, where people hang out? I think those have to come into the equation versus Well, this tech looks really cool. But I never hear anybody talking about it. I don't know any developers that love it. I don't know any sales teams that are telling me that they love to work with it. And like when you just keep seeing it put in front of you, then you start to it wears you down? When you see everybody else raving about how good it is. You're like, Well, I'm sure it integrates. But that's secondary. Everybody must love it. It has a good reputation. I'm betting on its future. So would you just talk
Jared Fuller 28:24
about the e non versus are not are not of like viruses, like for every one person that infects one person, like what's the E not like, you know, Python or like, you know, front end language? Like, what's the ecosystem? Not for every one person that like, enters, there's like five or 10? More, you don't want to take a bet on that. Ie not of being like, zero to one, because then now you have tech debt built up? I think that's a fantastic analogy, Isaac Allen.
Allan Adler 28:47
Yeah. Yeah. That's brilliant. And what you just did, Isaac, cuz you just came back to my first prediction. And you just explained how communities are part of ecosystems. Because in discussing the partnering, like when I initially presented that it was no on the basis of integration partner partner, right? Like you said, Jared, or Elena, what you're saying is that if I'm in the tech stack for, say, sales tech, aren't I already evaluating what other technologies are working, because that's part of my end to end solution. And those guys better frickin have integrations because I'm not going to put this thing in place. If it doesn't talk to the other stuff. That's true. But you raise the bar higher Isaac, he said, Wait a minute, it's not just the tech detect part of the partner. It's the surrounding meal you around that product? Is it complementary? Is it copacetic? Does it work with what I already have? If I've got developers working on AWS, and here comes this application that's built on Google, does that create disharmony? For my, for the way I'm doing DevOps? Because that product is not part of a similar ecosystem? And that's a good example. Yeah, what I'm talking about, right? So like a
Jared Fuller 29:52
great example, like think about a company that's building a new product and they might already be a big company, and they're making the decision on AWS for Azure, those technical leads on where they're gonna hire on what tech, they're already familiar with. All those ecosystem like questions are going to dictate whether or not they use Azure or AWS, it doesn't matter how AWS or Azure markets to them at all. It's exactly what you just said.
Allan Adler 30:20
Yeah, yeah. So that's, that's the prediction that you'll and Now, what's interesting about that prediction in relationship to the sales prediction is, you're back to the CRO saying, Why should I bring this? Why should I make this a top three things should I really do partner says is it gonna make a difference. And now you start finding the second piece of headwind, the first piece of advice, nobody wants to sell anymore. Nobody wants to be sold to your sales reps better be smart enough to talk to the cabal of partners around the ICP before they walk in the door. So they a know what's on their mind, B know what problem they're trying to solve, see, know how their product integrates your way better sales rep when you do those three things. And if you just go in and just right, but the other one is their customers are actually going to say, Hold on a minute. Who do you guys work with, at a community level, at a technology level, at a platform level at an integration level, because I can't buy a product that's not integrated at that ecosystem, attic level. Now that poor CRO he's out to lunch? If he doesn't get that partner system number up, he's screwed. So now you've got him. And that's why back to my second prediction, where you're gonna start to see all these job wrecks across all these Ellerby starting to go partner, partner, partner, partner, community community committee, because they're gonna recognize that there's just too much headwind. You're not, it's not high enough.
Jared Fuller 31:35
You know, yeah, I don't know. I just threw that out there. But like, it feels somewhat similar, right like that? Are you making a bet on something where there is a rising tide? And that you will have more support? And more success from this investment later on? Like the ROI? Yeah, so like, I guess that's what I was unpacking there is that it feels like ROI was a part of the sell and buy process in b2b enterprise technology. Right? What is my return on this investment? Will I get more dollars in or more dollars out? It's that also feels like that's not working the same way that it did several years ago, right? Like, okay, I'll spend 150 grand and I'll make a million dollars, you know, over 12 months, you know, the payback period, right. payback periods often seemed like a very common part of the of the sales or buy process. Now, it feels a little bit different. Like whenever you're making that bet on AWS or Azure, you're not really thinking about payback period. You're not thinking about ROI.
Allan Adler 32:29
It's ROI. Yeah, return on ecosystem.
Jared Fuller 32:35
Because those because it's hard to measure the same way that like influence is hard to measure attribute. Like why is that our ROI and ROV that the difference? Just seems like roi i can put a number on it's a million bucks are we is like, who knows.
Allan Adler 32:50
But if you think about it, if you think of if you think of it, I'm just joking, because I'm not going to write a blog about ROI that's going to confuse people.
Jared Fuller 32:56
Okay, good. Good. I was like, don't throw another acronym and say like, this one's now more important.
Allan Adler 33:00
Oh, no, no, it's it's, it's more just a matter
Isaac Morehouse 33:02
of how many letters we replaced with the letter E, right?
Allan Adler 33:07
I think I think I took the Go twos off the table, I don't think I should go with another go to that will really cause problems. But I think that what we're summarizing is, is that you're no longer buying products and services. We're buying environments. You know, when I when I'm running, when I'm running a large enterprise, I'm looking at an environment that's composed of a lot of parts, you have better fit into that environment, if you want to win my dollars, because I can't afford a disconnected piece, disjointed, from community disjointed from other partners, I have to have a piece that fits in like it's a puzzle piece. And most SaaS companies do not go to market thinking, How do I fit into this puzzle? Which leads me to my last prediction, which is by the end of 2023, the concept of the product roadmap will be blown up and replaced by a product and ecosystem roadmap. And that no longer will we have product leaders just operating with product roadmaps all the way from before product market fit even before you've raised your first dollar VC. Before you've got your first customer before you've done one ounce of code, you should be thinking about your ecosystem roadmap, at least from the perspective of who you're going to partner with. And as soon as you make that choice, okay, would I be smart? If I partnered with AWS, Google? Azure, that might be like one of your first questions if you're writing a SAS app, right? What's it gonna run on? Who's gonna work with? You want to ask that question ecosystem roadmap from the beginning, and therefore there will no longer be something called a product roadmap, separate from an ecosystem roadmap and hence, by the end of 2023. Most product organizations will have product and ecosystem roadmaps and that will not only change the prioritization of partnering in the product team today is very episodic and reactive. And integrations are becoming more and more strategic. But you'll also even change make by decisions. Like, you might actually say, I would have made this feature. But instead, I'm going to platform and get someone to build on it, or I'm going to build it on someone else's platform. And that's what a ecosystem roadmap is about. So I thought we should end with that one, because it's, we're at the Holy Grail. Moment. Number six, right? We're product roadmap.
Isaac Morehouse 35:33
Yeah, one thing I love about that is that it, it also takes into account the future. So when Jared was sort of walking through the decision of picking a product and saying, Okay, I got to know what it integrates with today. And then we added on top, does it have a good reputation? And are there a lot of people that like to work with it is there, this sort of more nebulous, you know, community around it, or, you know, however you grow that, but I think there's an additional thing to two years from now, five years from now, if I'm picking between a couple SAS products, which one is the most likely if some hot new player comes on, and I want to add that to my stack, which one's the most likely to the most quickly, adapt it and play with it, right tip to be the most quick to say, yeah, we can work with that too. And sometimes it goes to your like build versus buy. There are platforms I've used in the past where you feel like they want to be your all in one solution. So bad that if a new player comes into town that you really want to use, they're not going to let you use it. And you and you're like, trying versus other platforms where you know, they're savvy enough to know a lot of people love using this for this one attribute. Okay, fine, we'll just integrate, we'll go ahead and pull it on. If the momentum is going there, we're not going to try to lock you in and trap you inside our product, we're going to let you connect to that other product and like, you can kind of there's like so you can know it with your nowhere you can sort of like feel is this the type of product like Stripe is a great example, I have so much confidence in stripe, that whatever new stuff comes on, they'll play nice with it, because they're smart enough to do that they have this reputation. Whereas other products, I mean, like back in the day, I worked with Infusionsoft and it was horrible. I'm not trying to be mean or anything. But it was like, I didn't feel like when a new you know, when a new product came out, they were going to integrate with it, they were going to try to keep me locked in and keep me from using it. So anyway, just sort of like predicting that future. The unknowns that you know are gonna pop up how quick how quick, is that products going to be to say yes to those?
Allan Adler 37:27
Yep. Yep. That's a good one. What do you think about the Jared, I think we're gonna have a product and ecosystem roadmaps by the end of next year?
Jared Fuller 37:35
Well, I was trying to, as you were talking, I was Googling a handful of things to like, tie these threads together, because there's something I want to pull up. I did this internally adrift a little bit, I was trying to look for one. The ecosystem roadmap has multiple components that are highly complex. It is how you interoperate with other companies. So how you interoperate with service providers, how you interoperate with technology companies, or platforms, data, workflow, AI, whatever it is, but then also how your company, when I say your company, I mean, your people, your headcount, your your your titles, your roles, going back to your other prediction about job descriptions, how does your company interoperate with those external, folks? So I built an eco system interoperation, like, I don't know what to call it. It's in Miro, with this gargantuan like overlay of how every single function needs to be responsible for something across product marketing, sales CS, for your service partners, for your technology partners. So I'm not aware of anyone that's necessarily doing that. Everyone I've shown this to is went, that's amazing. Who owns that, like, who else is doing it? I feel like there's a lot of power behind it too. Because how you interoperate does need to be roadmap, and it's it's no different than your financial planning. You're going okay, how many more CSAs product blah, blah, blah, like forecasting two years out? How does that interface with ecosystem? No one's answering that question right now?
Allan Adler 39:11
Yeah, yeah, we're actually we actually built a roadmap framework that essentially connected the ecosystem and product roadmap to commercial models. Go to Market motions, and programs. So you think of those four components, right? They usually disconnected. So if I'm, if I'm making an integration, perfect use case, right? Sales has been screaming customers say they want an integration, I develop an integration, I spend the money on it, but then I don't figure out the commercial model associated with how that integration is going to get deployed. I don't talk to the partner account manager to figure out what is that as a part of their partner accounting plan? I don't look at the go to market motions to say is sales going to grab this and CO sell with it? Is it going to go into a marketing campaign? What C is going to do if I don't do that stuff? Then I not only don't I monetize spend on the integration. But I make bad decisions about how deep the integration should be should I actually, actually this may be better as a UX, where I could actually go right into the application from my application and actually iterate interoperate with the data, maybe it's just a data pass. But if you don't have commercial models go to market motions and programs harmonized against the roadmap, you make dumb decisions. So that's why product has to be responsible for the monetization of its spend, right? That's what IP is, right? I have IP, I spend it, I monetize it. If I'm spending money in integrations, and I'm not getting return on investment, I'm probably not going to do a very good job building an ecosystem. And I'm going to continue to be the blocker products off often the blocker in the tech partner program, because they're there, they're obstinate, and they don't want to do the work. And they're very myopic about their products. And they don't think about this idea of like, yeah, go to the product person, say, Hey, would you platform that feature, and they said, We're gonna go take a hike, I'm not, my roadmaps are fixed, I'm not going to platform that thing, you know. So this is, again, back to that idea that that product will wake up from a micro perspective, because I realized they can make money on every integration and from a macro perspective, because they're gonna get pressure from management as the platform revolution continues to move into their face to start to figure out either working on a platform or becoming one or both. So that's my prediction on on the ecosystem roadmap,
Jared Fuller 41:23
I feel like there's, there's not that much resistance to that one, from my perspective, like, I've thought through that lens, and like, tried to bring the rest of the company into the into that fold. And I feel like now if I did the exact same thing that I tried to do a year ago, I'd probably have a different outcome in terms of getting that commitment and making that a part of the annual planning process. I mean, if you look at gosh, I was not driving this conversation, but I was a fly on the wall with Brett Quiner from Salesforce, and you know, the kind of annual planning process for Salesforce doing its annual planning. And like, it's January 1, they start working on next year. Now, there's 156 People at Salesforce that are working on next year's annual plan starting January 1 of the year, they're in 156 people. And you bet that they're looking at that through the lens of also ecosystem. That's right, like it's complex at that scale. And I feel like you can dumb it down to a much earlier stage to Yeah, I thought your final prediction, you were gonna throw some shade at partner people. Alan, oh, yeah, well, that wasn't such a good number seven, let's not end on number six, we got to make it number seven, let's I want to hear this one, because this is the one where I was gonna fight you.
Allan Adler 42:32
I don't know, you might, you might, you might give me some grief about this. My, my hypothesis is that ecosystems are no longer going to be defined by partnering. That is partnering are going to be a part of ecosystems. But ecosystems are much more than partnering. The first reason I think that's a given is because if communities are part of ecosystems and communities are not partners, they're not accounts, communities are made up of individuals. So you can no longer think ecosystem equals partner if you have communities and individuals. So that's, that's the first one and then I think about it is that when I think about ecosystems, think about this concept of like new way of doing business, new way of adding value. And it's, it will always have some element of partnering in it. But in many instances, it will be an internal affair, as much or more of it than it is an external affairs like externally partnering, like when I think about partnering, do I think about like go to the CX go to the CS people and talk partnering with them about how to get them to sell integrations. I think more that's more like alignment, right. I'm aligning internally, versus partnering. And so I when I think about ecosystems, having partnering, I'm thinking alignment, to create value and thinking communities to create individual stickiness and traction along the lines, this conversation and partnering. So it's like partnering is a finger ecosystems, the hand maybe partners to yours might be,
Jared Fuller 44:03
I don't know, this is where I, I might throw something back to you and go like, are we being a bit pedantic? Here's what I mean by that. To me, ecosystems are comprised of people and companies. All the all that we're doing in that, if you break it down that way, as we're saying, partner equals accounts, community equals people. ecosystem is the sum of the two. Right? So like, I cannot work with a company, absent some sort of partnership. Right? Like, how do you align with a company? It's through partnering? How do you align with a person through something else? It's not partnering, right, so any alignment between two companies that don't share the same cap table? I would define as partnering. Yeah, it doesn't need to change in the new world. It just says like, hey, how we used to generate demand, broke from marketing and sales and it's being replaced. Peer to Peer trust.
Allan Adler 45:01
I mean if you if you unpack partnering into a more existential or Gestalt perspective, it comes to relationship. Right? A partnership is a relationship, right? The problem is as you move away from this macro perspective down to a micro perspective, it ends a partner equals channel. And when people use the word partner ecosystem, its routes to market. Guaranteed if you the average assessment, what is a partner ecosystem is a route to market? Well, route to market is an incomplete definition of an ecosystems objective just as partnering is an incomplete description of what an ecosystem does. So for example, if I'm doing a lot of CO innovation work with a partner, which is probably the most important things ecosystems do, it has nothing to do with routes to market. It may ultimately manifest in a route to market but the actual activity of CO innovating is not route, it precedes routes to markets upstream of route to market. So the way I look at this is when we look at words they can misguide us. And when we use the word partner ecosystem, it miss guides us into thinking about ecosystems as being tactical, downstream route to market things. And that's not what we need. What we need is to elevate ecosystems to a strategic level to a business model level, to something that's beyond selling, and is involved in in the fundamental act of creating value in a macroeconomic environment in which we compete, that we got to use words that help us that's why I'm advocating ecosystems are about partners and community, I don't try to get the word partner out. But I don't want to limit it to the word partner. Because when we do that, we we automatically fall to rearview mirror thinking where we get oh, routes to market, give it to the sales guy, leave them alone. Yeah, know that.
Jared Fuller 46:47
Yep. So I won't fight you too much on this one. Any longer. I feel like we can do this. On another one. We're coming up on time. But I agree, I tend to agree with that. It's the kind of like product and engineering, right? Very similar, right? Like people say product. And they mean the totality of product managers and product people, designers, and engineering and DevOps in the entire org, that doesn't mean that these things are no longer valid, it's that you need to have that interoperability the same way. And that, you know, sales is target accounts sell to people ecosystem is partner with accounts, right? Influence People. Right, right. That's a great, very, very, very, very similar party sales target account, sell to people, that's sales one on one. ecosystems, partner with accounts influence people. That's ecospace. Right? That's the most simple definition I can come up with. Well, let's do some quick plugs, Alan, because we will be able to continue this debate in person. At the next two conferences, you're speaking at both cloud software Association, April 27, to 28th. Right. That's right. What's the talk on his go to ecosystem? But what do you what? Give us some more, you know, teaser stuff?
Allan Adler 47:58
Yeah, it's basically you know, it's basically going to be the you know, how other companies really crack the code on go to ecosystem, even though be that good ecosystem is still new. There's still evidence of companies have done large parts of it, what have they gotten? Right? And how can we learn from those examples, to basically pull off the go to ecosystem transformation and inside of our companies
Jared Fuller 48:19
love it. So we'll see you there for the folks listening in if you haven't committed to buying the ticket being it CSA, you might see me on stage two, which is going to be fun. I'm going to be making some surprise appearances throughout the conference. And then use the code partner up at checkout and you get 50 bucks.
Isaac Morehouse 48:36
Does the does the conference know that you're going to be making these surprise appearances Jared? Yeah, yeah.
Jared Fuller 48:45
They they do so Lindsey and Sunni are are aware that there is some fun stuff going on love a partner podcast booth there. We'll be interviewing some of you folks having a good time. And then definitely attending Alan's talk, and then we'll see it supernode as well. Right. Alan crossbeams
Allan Adler 48:59
there as well. Yeah, looking forward to that too. And feel tastic
Jared Fuller 49:03
so we'll see you live and in person. And excited to get this one out here. Appreciate all the love and feedback everyone for partner hacker daily. It's been coming out every single day. Maintaining ridiculously high open rates, fun engagement, Fridays and Saturdays from this past week, were just both so good. So gotta give some kudos to Isaac and Ella and the team working on that putting out daily content for y'all. So if you're not signed up, go check it out. Partner hacker.com. Drop in your email. And yeah, partner up squad. We'll see you all next time and Alan can't wait to unveil to the world what we've been working on what people don't know listening to this is that Alan and I on Friday what we were on a phone call for what? Three hours?
Allan Adler 49:46
It's crazy. Yeah,
Jared Fuller 49:48
it's gonna be big.
Isaac Morehouse 49:50
I had to break I had to beg for a little snack break in the middle these guys were just zone
Jared Fuller 49:57
it's gonna be big. I'm I'm very excited. We're about a month in Half out probably on this but stay tuned to the inbox and to the feeds. So with that Alan round to your what you joined the exclusive club. I think it's only three people that we've had on twice. So Bobby Napal Tonia, J. McBain and Alan Adler joins the round two club so we'll see you all next time. Peace out