Today we have on Rob Brewster, CEO of Go Formz, and ex - Twilio, Eloqua, and Salesforce.
To succeed in this business, you need the right mindset, and Rob is a classic example of this.
Beginning as a “food and beverage salesman on a 20% commission structure,” aka a waiter, he stumbled into SaaS and made it a priority to exceed expectations.
You can’t just do what’s expected of you, you have to go above and beyond.
Never miss an episode by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you’re a visual person, sub to our YouTube, and see the full recording of the episode.
Share the episode with your commentary on LinkedIn and hash #partnerup #partnerhacker. We love to hear your thoughts on each episode, and would love to 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/
SUBSCRIBE & LISTEN ON:
- Or literally, anywhere you get your podcasts. Seriously. Ask Alexa: “Alexa, play "PartnerUp the Partnerships Podcast” and magic…
Jared Fuller 00:00
All right, all right. What is up, partner up? We're back. Happy Tuesday for those of you who aren't used to our regular actually regular schedule now. We record and we release on every single Tuesday. We've been doing that like clockwork pretty much since the beginning of the year. Isaac, how're you doing today,
Isaac Morehouse 00:27
man? Good. I just noticed our haircuts are like merging, like, similar to each other. My hair got shorter. Yours is getting longer. Now we look you know, it's, it's not intentional. Guys. This isn't like a weird sort of thing going on here.
Jared Fuller 00:44
I almost wore to this episode, the new partner hacker tees. So by the way, if you're not just subscribe to the partner hacker daily go check it out. We're giving away tees over the next kind of couple of weeks. It's got a sweet new tagline on it that we're going to unveil at one of the conferences coming up. Which that would have been funny
Isaac Morehouse 01:02
as well than a tagline. It's like a statement to the world. It's a mission statement. It's a bold thesis there. How's that Very Nice. A T shirt? Yeah.
Jared Fuller 01:12
It's gonna be the first chapter of the partner hacker handbook and the post that goes live for the site and the topic of my keynote for the crossbeam conference. So I'm very excited about it. But you mentioned our hair's kind of merging together. This is this is our plug, by the way to try and get people to come watch us on Youtube. The numbers have been going up on YouTube a little bit. So if you're just listening on Apple or Spotify, we do also got the YouTube channel. We do these all on video. And we're joined by someone who does not have the same haircut as us. But but has
Isaac Morehouse 01:44
like can you make that transition? Rob, can I make that transition? No,
Rob Brewster 01:49
I'm okay with it. I'm a very proud bald headed man. And I wish I was part of the cool HAIR CLUB. But you know, it's been many years since I've been sporting here.
Jared Fuller 01:57
Well, we have with us Rob Brewster CEO of go forums. And Rob, thanks so much for hopping on partner up today.
Rob Brewster 02:04
My pleasure, guys. Thank you for having me. Yeah.
Jared Fuller 02:08
So we were we were introduced, I believe, from Miss Jill Rowley, who is just always the title of the social selling queen. She's always connecting everyone and everything. We had an initial Convo and I loved our conversation because Isaac, you and me have been evangelizing for a little bit. This, our thesis that the next generation of company leaders might just be the generation of partner leaders today or just prior and, Rob, you fit this narrative. Amazing, because for those of you who don't know, Rob, Rob is ex BA. So I believe you that did you know Bobby Napal Tonio was my boss there. Yeah. So Bobby has been one of the handful of guests has been on partner up twice. So Bobby's a legend. You've been Salesforce, you've been Twilio. And you've been Eloqua, you know, as partnerships and alliances lead, and then you join, go forms kind of owning sales CES and partner, and they're now the CEO. So from partner leader, to company leader, let's unpack that story today, Rob, because I think, you know, hey, here's this thesis to the world. And like, look, Rob Brewster, here's a, here's a real life example. This is not just a theory. So I'd love to hear kind of like how you got into partnerships, maybe we kind of kick off there and tell that story of how you ended up being in being the company leader.
Rob Brewster 03:28
Yeah, I'll go back a little further on how I got into partnerships. I, I claim as I have on another podcast in the past, and I'm a waiter who got lucky. I never thought I'd have a high tech career, I literally was a waiter, I waited on a guy who ran a sales organization. And he always would say, you know, I manage a team of salespeople, and you're the best sales guy I know. And I finally had the guts to say, You know what, then why am I not working for you? And I eventually found myself there. But my what my first read him
Isaac Morehouse 03:55
what made what made him say that if you could stop there really quick, because I have a long history of working with people early in their careers. Yeah, especially people making this exact transition, like from the service industry to a startup. What were you doing as a waiter that was different?
Rob Brewster 04:10
Well, it's funny, you'll, you'll hopefully appreciate this. I never called myself a waiter. And if everybody said, you know, oh, you're a great waiter. I would, I would say, wait a minute, stop. I'm a food and beverage salesman, and I'm on a 20% commission structure. That's the way I eat. So I have a pride in being a salesperson. And, you know, frankly, we would you know, I worked at a restaurant for you old time Bay Area folks. It was called Burrell's restaurant in San Mateo, really beautiful place. It's actually the location where NetSuite sits today. But we used to have contests we, you know, who can sell the most, you know, have this, you know, wine for the month, or we'd have check average contests, things of that nature. And I crushed it every single chance I get it was just my mentality. I was a salesperson. And before I left the restaurant, I was actually the banquet Captain so I manage All parties have 12 or greater, and typically parties have 40 5200. So you had to be able to go in there and command a room and make stuff happen.
Isaac Morehouse 05:08
This is amazing. And, and it not to stretch too much on the point. But this is a great illustration of if you want to win in a certain environment or break into a certain environment, like immerse yourself in the ecosystem or that exists. So I've told young people before, hey, if you want to break into tech startups, let's say or venture capital, truly go, go be an Uber driver in San Francisco for like six months. And then just ask everybody that gets in the car, every question, you can be a waiter in a place where a lot of people from tech startups work and ask everyone, I have a buddy who was a waiter in Los Angeles, like many aspiring actors, but he used it as like a research project, right? So it's a bit of a stretch, but you were immersed in the ecosystem, right? You were literally at the literal watering hole of people in tech. And that's how you got into tech. I love it. Yeah,
Rob Brewster 05:55
I really wasn't that smart of being that strategic about it. It really was luck. But I will say this, and this will go back to the advice that you would give someone when I got the opportunity, I crushed it, you know, I didn't waste the opportunity. You know, they hired me in support. I was the employee of the month, my first month in support. They told me it would take me a year to get into sales. I was in sales in three months. I was managing a team by a year. So it didn't take long once I got into the building to figure it out.
Jared Fuller 06:23
That is that's I mean, what is the definition of leadership? It's it's it's not telling it's showing? Yeah, right. So like you were afforded those opportunities, because you showed one of the My Favorite Things to talk to people about I almost am having this conversation on a daily basis now is there's an X and Y axis. So think of a simple, you know, chart. And then you plot company growth. You need to plot your personal growth, right along that if it's beneath company growth, you will continually be hired over. Right, I have to hire over you. If it's just slightly ahead of company growth, then I have to promote you. Yeah. Right. So like, just think of it that way. It's really simple. If you can grow a little bit faster than your company's growing.
Rob Brewster 07:06
Yeah, that's where all the promotions like it's not always a straight line. It's probably a little squiggly throughout. But
Jared Fuller 07:11
right, of course, yeah, totally, totally. So that's how you got in, you started to manage a team. What's up next, like, what was the next opportunity that popped in front of Rob.
Rob Brewster 07:20
So this was a next opportunity. We were selling at the time this this tech company was called Data broadcasting. We sold stock quote devices, and this is pre internet. So we literally had this device that was a big, clunky cell phone looking device that broadcasts real time stock quotes over radio waves. When the internet came about, you know, it just crushed the business. I had been looking at other technologies. And there was this company called Intel Corp, which was an SAP development partner. So I went there as essentially an SDR. So my job was to make appointments for the people out in the field. I suited up every day, I sat right outside of the CEOs office, and I could hear him come out of his office like on the way to a meeting or on the way to the restroom or something. And he'd stopped at my cube. And I could sense His presence listening to me. So I always knew that he was listening to me and every now and then he'd come over and give me pointers, he would always comment on my appearance, you know, you're suited up everyday, we got to get you out in the field. So finally they put me out in the field. So now I go from SDR to Western Regional Sales Manager. And I'm in my first big deal. I'm at McKesson on Market Street. And I walk in, I've got my notepad out, I've got all the business cards lined up. All these people have SAP project in their title, and I'm selling McKesson, and there's a person there that I think I'm selling to. But every time I asked him a question, he kept leaning to his right and whispering in the ear of a person who had a title, IBM Global Services. And I'm like, Who's this dude, I didn't invite him to this meeting. And why is he here? I mean, I'm embarrassed telling the story because I was so stupid at the time. And so I pulled him aside at the end of the meeting, and I'm like, Hey, I don't mean to be rude. But why are you here? I thought I was meeting with McKesson today. I didn't know what his agenda was. And he's like, oh, yeah, Rob, because you know, McKesson paid, you know, a million dollars for the software. They're paying us, you know, 6 million to implement it. And we're gonna buy your cute little tool for 150k to model out the processes. And I'm like, oh, okay, so now it's starting to click, this guy is the decision maker, not the guy who I thought was, and once again being kind of stupid at the time, I said, Are there more people like you? But 80,000 of us not to mention Anderson, Deloitte and everybody else. So when I went home that evening, I did close my deal. And then I'm thinking, why am I calling on companies? I should be calling on these guys that can bring me into companies. Wow. So I just changed my whole sales approach of I'm going to sell to partners and partners are going to bring me into deals. And so I was at until a court for five years and by the time I left, I was running alliances, they had changed the title of what I did to allow me to go do that on a global basis.
Isaac Morehouse 09:57
Man sometimes sometimes be insulted. Stupid. As you put it, it can be an advantage. Like, I mean, I've heard this from company founders, for example, that if they knew everything they know, now 510 years after they started there, they wouldn't have started in the first place, they would have known too much. And they're glad they started, right? Their ignorance almost was and being not knowing that you just had to go get that answer, you had to ask that question? Versus if you were maybe a little smarter, you maybe wouldn't have known, but you would have known that you shouldn't ask because you'll look dumb, right? Like, that's actually a good place to if you don't know, just just ask be the beat it be the idiot in the room and know,
Rob Brewster 10:32
and I still behave that way. And I actually tell a lot of my younger employees, you know, my mantra is, look, a smart person acts as if they know something so that they look smart. And you know, are a stupid person does that actually, but but a smart person, just hey, if you don't know, just raise your hand. I'm sorry. I don't know what you're talking about. Or I don't know that acronym, or No, I don't know what this is. I think you're smart by just saying that nobody is going to criticize you for not knowing something that the smart person says, I don't know, go figure it out. Right?
Jared Fuller 10:59
Like, I mean, Amazon, the day zero mentality, right? Like, it's assuming nothing. I mean, that's why they they evolved those processes is documented in it's a great book, by the way, working backwards, you know, like the six pager the PR FAQ. So that's the press release and frequently asked questions document and that process they go through is like, if an entry level employee and senior management is subject to that same level of like curiosity, and that same level of it's a great quote, I love this one. It's from Emerson, a book both opens and closes the mind, right. So that knowledge that you have, sometimes prevents you from doing things that you otherwise would have, and that that's, it's very similar actually, to Peekapoo, to a story from HubSpot, who was like I'm selling to these agencies, it makes a lot more sense to not sell to the agency, but to sell with the agency, right? That if you would have known everything there was to know about channel you would have went, Oh, gosh, SMB agencies as a horrible business. You don't want them as partners never do that? Well, $50 billion company later, 50% of it through agency partnerships. It's hard to argue. I love that origin story. And that reminder to us all to have that Daisy row mentality.
Isaac Morehouse 12:16
So when you saw it, you saw that leverage, you had that moment where you said, Wait a second, instead of selling to all these individuals, I could sell to these guys who are selling to these guys and gals who are selling to being able to recognize where you're where the same input can generate many multiples more output. Yeah, it's such a key thing. And I think that's like, what, set down somebody who gets partner strategy. I think it gets that early on. So you go and you build up their partner program there. What Where did you take that next?
Rob Brewster 12:46
Well, from there, I was fortunate to get hired at epiphany. I don't know if you guys remember epiphany, this would have been 1999 epiphany was a rocket ship. The most successful IPO in the history of NASDAQ at the time, we acquired a lot of companies, it was a CRM play marketing software, they kind of should have focused on marketing and could have become the next Eloqua Marketo. Oddly enough, Phil Fernandez was the CTO there. And CMO. So I work so for people that don't know Phil, yeah. CEO of Marketo. Yeah, right. Oh, Founder CEO. And currently, I think he's a VC now, but I worked for Phil for a period of time. But you know, this would have been Roger Simoni, Karen Richardson, George Wright, some of the smartest people I've ever worked with, were at that company. And I was there for five years. And I came in to run a specific Alliance, I was running KPMG as a partnership, which became bearing point. And over time, I became the VP of global alliances. So that was another theme of getting in as an individual contributor, and then eventually becoming the boss of the team. I've done that a few places. And it kind of goes back to you know, what we were talking about earlier, which is, you know, just showing initiative, you know, walking in seeing things that are broken, instead of raising your hand or complaining about them, just go fix them, and people will start to see that. And that's been a nice career path for me. One of the thing I would say about people that are in partnerships that come from sales, one of the things I've fought for my whole career, and I'm sure you guys have seen this as well, is a lot of people have this perception that partner guys are like, Well, you're a sales guy who couldn't cut it. But everybody in the company really likes you. So we'll make you the partner guy. And I had the opposite approach. I was the sales guy who could cut it. That's why I became the partner guy. And I love fighting those battles. It's one of my favorite things to do.
Jared Fuller 14:27
Right? And then you got to you have to work with some cool people too. So like when did you transition epiphany was a great early success. And then you had 99 Two thousand.com That did they were they small victims of the.com? Oh, yeah,
Rob Brewster 14:41
without a doubt, yeah, we, we IP owed at 16 got as high as 325. And by the time I could do anything, we were at three, so it was a dot bomb for that for that but so from there, I had a quick set stent at B EA, which is where I worked with Bobby, then a very quick stint at Siebel, and then I went to Salesforce. So Bobby had left the EAA went to Salesforce, he calls me and says get off that sinking ship, come join me over here, once again, individual contributor, but eventually took over alliances for the Americas. So when I left Salesforce after three years, I was VP of global alliances. I'm sorry, alliances for the Americas. From there, I went to Eloqua. And let's pause
Jared Fuller 15:23
real quick on the Salesforce story. What did what did alliances mean back then? Did that mean the SI relationships?
Rob Brewster 15:29
Yeah, it was. That's what I manage. Now, there was another team that ran the app exchange. So App Exchange was being invented at that time, Bobby had APA change. NSI is but my job was to initially manage the regional size. This would have been the blue Wolf's the estadias of the world. And then I eventually took over the global si so the Deloitte the Accenture's, and the others but yeah, that was
Jared Fuller 15:52
the front of the building those first si relationships for Salesforce and stealing them from Siebel say that again, you're on the you're on the early front lines with Bobby at Salesforce stealing those regional s eyes from Salesforce Yeah.
Rob Brewster 16:07
I was actually hired to come in and manage the Global's because that was my specialty. And the day I arrived, we got a nasty gram from Siebel basically saying you can't manage the global size, you have to manage somebody else. So Bobby put me in charge of the regionals. And then after a year, because that was what the agreement said, I could take over the global so I had a one year period and at first I was like, wait a minute, and Bluewolf cool. Are these guys?
Jared Fuller 16:30
Yeah, blue. Moon, right. Like all of these weird colors and animals and right. I've never been
Rob Brewster 16:36
turned out to be fantastic partners for us.
Isaac Morehouse 16:39
I love that phrase. You just use you got a nasty gram.
Jared Fuller 16:44
Yeah, that's, uh, that would be the, I mean, wow. For those of you that don't know, the origins of Mar tech and sales tech, Rob just basically, like gave us so much insider baseball to like, you know, where Mar tech and sales tech originated. You're talking the CEO and founder of Marketo. You're talking about Siebel. And what you know, broke off from that was Benioff, you know, and then aliqua, and then Oracle and then Salesforce. There's there's just so much in this origination story. That's so cool. This will do a shout out in a call back to Bobby Napal. Tony is episode on partner up. Yeah, he talked to me about one of the ways that he was able, and I'm assuming Robbie, you were probably aware aware of this. So let's see how much Bobby story holds up from the executive to like actually doing the work. Let's see. He was telling us in that episode, so if y'all haven't watched it, it's fantastic about how y'all were able to go and partner with like the blue Wolf's and go and take down a client that was like an Accenture diamond client. 100%. Right. So like Accenture didn't want anything to have didn't want to have anything to do with y'all. Initially, of course, because who are you like you're not sitting?
Rob Brewster 17:54
Right? They were used to walking in and doing the big on premise install for like I said, in the SAP days of millions of dollars and living in the account for nine months adding no value. And
Jared Fuller 18:03
instead of going to Accenture, being like please partner with us. Please partner with us. Please partner with us. What you did is you partnered with blue Wolf and went and took down some of their biggest accounts.
Rob Brewster 18:12
Well, we called it the Pokemon the strategy and we very well call it that. I love it. You know the big deal that Salesforce is famous for of winning the deal at Merrill Lynch, that was a deal that was actually sourced and implemented by Oh, Curie, I can assure you Accenture would have liked to be in that deal. But we worked with a different partner that actually brought us in. And oh, Carrie was amazing. That used to be a Siebel implementation partner. But they got the religion very quickly and said, Wait a minute, I can go to my Siebel install base and show them there's a better way. And that's what they did. And they brought us a ton of business.
Jared Fuller 18:44
Amazing. So like that that story that Bobby told of like the Pokemon bi strategy. Yeah, I will now forever refer to that story, the bulk of the BI strategy. Like you got, you have to show that like you're a serious player. I'll actually do a quick shout out to mark Brigham of partner nomics. I just finished his strategic negotiations cohort, which was really fun was an eight week program with me and like, Chris Mila, actually, Isaac from partnerships, leaders and crossbeam. He was a part of that. And it was a great course because I've done a bunch of big strategic negotiations, but like, never really had a roadmap outside my own. Whatever. I can totally see how someone might look at that strategy and go, that'll never work. But in reality, whenever you think about this concept of power dynamics, when you're approaching Accenture as Salesforce at that time, the power dynamics are so inverted towards Accenture, you have nothing. We were the
Rob Brewster 19:42
$200 million company at the time. We were nothing. Yeah, in Accenture at
Jared Fuller 19:45
that time. What were they in comparison? Oh, what do you think?
Rob Brewster 19:49
4 billion. They probably had to be more even. Yeah, probably. Maybe. 10. Yeah, I mean, their CRM practice alone was 4 billion at the time.
Jared Fuller 19:59
Right. So like I mean, they're probably a molt, like dozens of billion total in the company, probably 40 billion company at that time. Maybe I don't have to go back and check. Yeah. But what you did is you, you change something with the power dynamics to say, oh, shoot, the cost of me walking away from this conversation is now priced. Yeah. Whereas before there was no price on not being a part of that conversation, the prices, we don't know what these guys are going to do in market with our best potential clients, they might take them with people that are then creating more competition. So the incentive to be a player and be at the table, you flip the power dynamics with that poke him in the eye strategy?
Rob Brewster 20:41
Well, I will say the only way that strategy can be implemented successfully is you do have to be with a winner, right? You have to be able to win the business in their account to poke them in the eye. And I was fortunate that you know, Salesforce Eloqua others that I've been at, I've been fortunate to be with the winner to where that strategy can be applied. Having met the leadership by winning is a failed strategy for sure.
Jared Fuller 21:04
Actually, this is a great follow up question to that. Because you might have seen some of this at Eloqua as well. At that time, whenever you're sourcing and winning the business with what was the name of the one where you won the Merrill Lynch business, what was their size? Again? Yeah, okay. How How did you work initially with sales leadership proper, on a deal like that? Was there channel conflict? Was there any misperception or at that time, had Benioff put partner on the, you know, sales kickoff deck and said, Hey, we are going to be friendly with partner,
Rob Brewster 21:34
you know, I did listen to the bobby podcast, and he did share some of this. So I'll reiterate it from my perspective. So one of the things we did in the way I aligned the team. So at the time, Salesforce had a inside sales team, you know, their SMB business, they had what they called Field Sales, and they had enterprise sales. And there were three sales leaders of those organizations. And then they had a regional department setup. So I hired an alliances professional to map to every one of the VPS that was in that region. So I had enterprise Alliance, people focused on the enterprise, mid market, and so on. So when those guys would do their regional meetings, when they would be having their sessions around strategy when they would be doing their cube ers, you know, with the sales team, I had one of my individuals at that meeting, and in many cases, I would be in that meeting. And so we would talk to them about what are the deals that you're trying to close? How are you vertical Ising? What partnerships do you need, and we would go recruit those partners to fill those vertical lysing is a very important word there. Yep. So we were part of their team, the alliances organization was in some living off to the side. And we might show up from time to time I was on every forecast call. I was at every regional meeting, I had team members in their offices doing that. And the way we compensated them is we didn't have reseller relationships. So there was no real channel conflict. Basically, partners were sourcing business, and our reps were getting deals from partners, and then they had an incentive to feed those partners. Because, you know, we wanted that reciprocity. So you had asked earlier, what was alliances and clearly it was s eyes for me. But when I walked into the building, the way Salesforce managed partners is it was about sponsorship dollars, I inherited a person on my team, and I was trying to manage her variable. And she said, Well, I hid my variable, because I sold all this sponsorship dollars. And I'm like, wait a minute, that's not what we do. So we immediately we changed it to No, we source business, we're here for revenue, right?
Jared Fuller 23:29
Rob, I loved it. Actually, it may be an off topic question as we transition through some more parts of your story. But when did you start to feel like you started to understand the business. So in throughout this, the work that you've been doing, you're getting exposed to more and more lines of business, whether that's the funnel, so marketing sales, product, CS, you know, typically the funnel that someone goes through to to understanding things like you know, more unit economics, cost of sales, like compensation forecasting, like, you know, acquisition, adoption activation, you're you're learning more and more as you're becoming a more senior partner leader. Yeah. And what's what's both funny and sad sometimes is that there's lots of people that are stuck just trying to get that buy in to be in the meetings you were just talking about. Yeah, right. Being in the forecast calls as a partner leader, having your team integrated into those deal reviews, right, like, hey, what verticals are you focused on? Okay, my alliance manager is now aligned to that. That's where I got to at Drift. Like I knew that's where we needed it to be. But when did it at what point in Salesforce or past? Did you start to go? I think I'm seeing the entire business, from my point of view, like you're in market, but then you're seeing it, how it affects your business.
Rob Brewster 24:43
Yeah, there's a couple of things that happen. I'll go back to epiphany for a moment. When I went from an individual contributor to the VP of global alliances. I was now invited to management meetings, and I got a chance to sit in the room with you know, Roger Simoni, who used to be the CEO of KPMG right you know, so We're now having discussions that were much higher than my paygrade. And what I had done in my career, and I paid attention. And then when I was at Salesforce, Salesforce was just a machine, as you guys know, right? So I got to participate in seeing that growth engine and how it worked. But I will say that the probably biggest influence in my career and that what probably has me in a CEO position, today was my time at Eloqua. I was at Salesforce for three years, I had a team, I was successful, everything was going well. And I had an opportunity to go to Eloqua. And I took it and everybody was like, Are you an idiot? Why on earth would you leave Salesforce like, that is the greatest place to be on the planet, you got a VP title, you're, you know, you're doing great. But Eloqua offered me a chance to be a senior vice president, a pre IPO company that was 20 million on its way, you know, Gil was there and others that I knew, and and now not only am I in the management meetings, I'm attending board meetings, I now have international global responsibility, truly. So now I'm in packaging conversations, pricing conversations, right, opening up new markets. I used to give this presentation to Eloqua new employees, whenever we'd have a new hire class, I would go in and say, Okay, this is alliances, and this is what we do. And I started every presentation by this this animation build that said, you know, you guys are probably wondering what is business development? What is it that we do, and all of a sudden it would start building it would say sales, marketing, product, finance, legal, and then all of a sudden it would go Mom, Dad, judge, jury, because those are the things you do as an Alliance's professional, you've got to be able to manage every aspect of the business. But then you also have to your point earlier, you got to manage channel conflict, you got to make decisions about who's going to lead this deal. You've got to be judge and jury in many cases, but I was involved in legal pricing, and product conversations that I never would have been involved in at another company that taught me so much more about other aspects of the business. So right,
Isaac Morehouse 26:57
that's a great teaser. For this episode, just how you explain you know, you, you are part of a really good thing at Salesforce, and you did it very well. But you gave that up for a chance to fill in some gaps, right level up on something a higher risk thing, but you saw, I have a chance to elevate who I am and add to my stack of skills. And those are usually the moves that are the defining ones.
Rob Brewster 27:21
Absolutely. No, it was game changing. For me. eliquid was a great experience, you know, across the board. Number one, I got to go back to my roots of marketing from epiphany, I really understood the space. But you know, learning from Joe Payne and Alex Schulman and you know, working with Jill, we affectionately referred to Jill as the EVP of business development because she was late every day asking about what we were doing with partners.
Jared Fuller 27:42
Right, right. That's amazing. So to recap a little bit of what you heard, like, if if you're a partner leader, because the title of this episode is already coming to me, it's from partner leader to company leader is some of the things that you said that, like I've participated in, but I'm not sure that every partner leaders, it's on their radar. So like, if you're not in packaging, and pricing conversations, you're not seeing the impact on the entire business, right? If you're not in forecast meetings, you're not understanding the sales pain, right? If you're not in operational planning and understanding CAC from a marketing perspective, you're not being seen from that perspective. So like, some of the things to do if you want to become a company leader is understand what those key objectives are of like, who typically on packaging and pricing, well, it's, it's kind of CO owned, but it's typically lead from like a unit economics ops perspective, right? Like we change this in the packaging and the pricing, what does this do the rest of our model, right? It can change everything about the model, right like that, that one little tiny conversation, like it ends up being a department that owns packaging and pricing, right, and typically under some and
Rob Brewster 28:46
and you may remember some of the maybe not but we did two things that were that I thought were pretty unique. We understood that our agency model wanted to buy differently than the way our customers wanted to buy. So we created another SKU, we called a liquid for agencies, it gave them the ability to manage multiple accounts in the same database. And it was a different pricing strategy. And that was something that we worked with the CFO and the head of product to build. And then we wanted to build a tighter Salesforce relationship. So we actually OEM chatter inside of Eloqua, the worst name ever, but it was actually called chatter inside of Eloqua. And it allowed marketers to collaborate about campaigns using chatter inside of our app. And those were pricing discussions that we were a part of that were game changing for the company.
Isaac Morehouse 29:32
You know, it's interesting curiosity. You seem like you've, you've been curious your whole career. Okay, why this? Why this? How is this done? And I think that's, it's not sufficient to get you into the room just being curious if you're just asking, Hey, I'm curious. I want to be a part of this. Maybe that's not enough. But it's the thing that leads you to do the thing that can earn your way into the room right. And and I'm always amazed how many times I've worked with people who are really good at what they do in their particular department, and they're just focused on delivering their KPI. Doing their thing, and not asking, Hey, why does this other department have these other incentives? What about this? What is how does the CEO think of this? How do these things all play together? Just that curiosity thinking as if you're a business owner, like, Okay, what's the overall model here? What are the pain points? What are the, you know, what, what's everybody else in the organization facing? What do they what do they think when they look at my department? Why do they think that just that relentless curiosity that will lead you to start to say, How can I be a part of those conversations? And I think that's, I think that's really awesome to watch how that's played out in your career, like the questions that I can almost like see forming in the back of your mind leading to these next steps.
Rob Brewster 30:38
Yeah, and it's one thing to get the seat at the table. But once you get the seat at the table, you need to add value, I think that would be the key takeaway here, as well as some people are going to have enough, you know, personality or enough, you know, relationship inside of a company to say, Okay, you deserve a seat here. But when you get in there, man, don't be shy, just you know, you got to step up, you got to add value. And if you add value, you'll stay in the seat.
Jared Fuller 31:00
It's Isaac, that's such a great recap, because curiosity is a superpower. That's typically something I put as a value in any company that I'm like, in a foundational, you know, rolling, I'm like, hey, that's one of our leadership principles, period is curiosity. If you're not curious, if you don't care, no one's gonna care enough about you. Right? Like, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care like these universal Maxim's and principles that like, I might over index on her Isaac might over index on, there's a reason why it matters. It truly matters. And Rob's like a great, great, great example of this, like, passion never fails. If you're as passionate as an executive that knows 10 times more than you in the same room. It's like, Look, I know, you know, way, way more I care about the same level though. Right? That curiosity is met with like, okay, like, I got someone on my team here, someone who cares as much as me. And I am therefore incentivized to help them bridge that knowledge gap. Right? Act like you care about other people's problems.
Rob Brewster 31:57
100% agree. And you know, we always use the term internally, and I always use it as my definition of sales. It's transfer of enthusiasm. You know, either you care or you don't Yeah, and when you have that transfer of enthusiasm, people see it not only externally, but internally.
Jared Fuller 32:11
So let's let's talk a Twilio now, a little bit. So you, you did your marketing automation run and then there was a little bit of, you know, advisor and some other stuff in between. And then you got to go do kind of you to drive for a little bit which drive Yeah.
Rob Brewster 32:28
Yeah, look, I saw a look with through an IPO and then the acquisition by Oracle, by the way, be EA, Siebel and Eloqua. I never have stepped in the foot and an Oracle building with an Oracle badge on my on my chest. I'm proud of that. So the acquisitions, but I never was a part of any of them. So I just
Jared Fuller 32:46
know, the Oracle listeners out there. There's a couple I
Rob Brewster 32:50
know I respect the company immensely, but I did not work there. Yeah, short stint at jive. And then when I went to jive Bobby had already started at Twilio as the CRO. So you know, here's Bobby and Apple Tonja. Another, you know, guy who's brought me three different places. And he's a great friend and a great mentor. And I love Bobby. Hello, Bobby. I'm sure he's listening.
Jared Fuller 33:11
I'm talking to him on Friday, by the way. So I'll send him I'll send him this in advance and say, Hey, Rob, Rob was on. Yeah, so good things about you.
Rob Brewster 33:17
He's a great guy. But he brought me over. So he's the CRO and he brought me over to run channel sales. So channel was really more of a direct sale. It was basically we were selling Twilio to ISVs, you know, that was so it was more of a direct model than it was your typical kind of alliances role. So I did that for four months. And then Bobby left the company and they
Jared Fuller 33:40
sold me, Rob, your team probably sold me because I had job hive in 2013 2014. And we did SMS with Twilio. So if you applied to a job and an employer liked it, you could get a text message response from that employer to record a video. And then you would be able to respond to like these application questions over SMS and we had like 10,000 people using it then we're
Isaac Morehouse 34:02
so you were too early Jericho. I was way too early. Like was amazing. In about two years. That will be the standard you were like 10 years too early.
Rob Brewster 34:11
Oh, yes. That's cool tech. No, I mean, I was there what 2014 Through the beginning of 16. So just two years, but I'll explain the volatility. So I'm there as the channel sales leader Bobby's running sales, Bobby leaves the company they make me the interim head of sales. I do that for about two months. They then bring in Jim Herbold from box now box. Now he's running sales. I go back to the channel seat. Jim leaves after a month. I go back to the head of sales seat. I'm doing that for now a year and a half. And then as I'm leaving the building, they they give me an Alliance's role and I was like not not not interested in that anymore. I've been running sales I'm doing a good job. So I then ended up going to go forums but it was a two year run at Twilio. And literally, you know you just heard the bouncing back and forth. It was a
Jared Fuller 34:57
little crazy. It was it was kind of crazy. Twilio but like now they're they're great business like there was there were some hard times like, there's the dip, you know, a great concept in the solid book of like, where you kind of crest that hill is like a public company. And it's like, wow, we're really onto something. And then you enter the valley. And it's like, oh, wow, this is gonna be really hard. But I mean, now, even after the public markets have corrected tremendously for the past 12 months, heis Twilio, still worth $30 billion company. Yeah, and whatever markets kind of like get back to where they were, it's a $50 billion company, right, the same size as HubSpot. It's a phenomenal, phenomenal business left, but led by Jeff, that had the head it's battle scars, like to become that size was a hard, hard company.
Rob Brewster 35:37
Yeah. And early sales, you know, was a little rough at a developer oriented culture. So that was that was part of the champion go,
Jared Fuller 35:44
right. Yeah, right. Right. It's not the same as the Salesforce playbook selling to engineers, and night and day, you know,
Isaac Morehouse 35:49
that what why go forums. Rob, what what call to you about? Yeah,
Rob Brewster 35:53
it's a great question. So, you know, I'll go, once again, going back to relationships, right. So there was a gentleman by the name of Matt hollerin, who ran the app exchange at Salesforce. When I was running sighs, Matt then left went to emergence capital, and then from emergency started cloud app Capital Partners. So he and I are having breakfast one morning, and we would always get together for a beer or a meal every now and then. And I was sharing my frustration at Twilio over breakfast and he goes, Oh, come on, man. He goes, I could really use your help come advise this company, come advise this company and come run sales at this company. And I'm like, tell me, tell me more about that last one. And he goes, Okay, go forms. And when he tells me the value prop, I'm kinda like, forms. Like, dude, I'm at Twilio, like I've at this hot company doing all this cool stuff forms, like, thing. And then, you know, he described it to me further. And I realized that it was so much more than the form, I met the team, I liked the team. I also was at a point in my career where it would feel good to be valued and respected again, you know, it was one of those like, I know, I'm going to have a great impact here. I'm going to show up there and turn this company around. So that was my reasoning for joining. So I joined as head of sales, after six months took over customer success. And about four and a half years ago, I was appointed CEO.
Isaac Morehouse 37:06
That's amazing. That's amazing, as as Jared said, when we started this idea that hey, the next generation of funders, founders, CEOs, very likely to come with partnership experience. Can you give me the value prop give me give me the elevator pitch on go forms.
Rob Brewster 37:23
Absolutely. So as the name still kind of implies, it's taking any paper based process and moving it to digital. And that's valuable in and of itself. So companies that are in like construction, or energy or some type of field service type use case, believe it or not, they're still fortune 500 companies running around with a clipboard, a piece of paper and a pin, inspecting million dollar pieces of equipment. So what we do very unique part of our value prop is we have six patents on the ability to take your form. So I take your form that you've been using for 20 years, I make that your editable digital form. So now though, field worker,
Isaac Morehouse 37:58
50 year old now learn anything new, any new Yeah,
Rob Brewster 38:02
he's like, wait a minute, there's my form all grown up. Now. It's got dropdowns, and pictures and calculations and fields coming from Procore and Salesforce, so it makes their life so much easier. And then the real benefit is, is once they hit complete on that form, all that data is coming back to their system of record. So now the back office gets all of that value. And then where we really see value and stickiness with our customers is once they've solved the paper problem, they then want to do something with the data. So if you think about a form all a form is is essentially a database table. So all the data that's being filled it in that form, that's all getting pulled back, whether it be in SQL Server, Excel, snowflake, we can then report on that data and make business decisions that were previously frankly living on a flat file PDF, or an attachment in an email dying. Now that data is real, and they can make decisions about it. So it's really an exciting business. And we work in every industry, every size company across the globe. So it's pretty that's
Isaac Morehouse 38:58
amazing. So you're Are you selling into like nationwide or regional franchises who are doing this kind of, you know, on the ground forms based stuff? Are you even selling to like, very small, you know, true small businesses have a local landscaping Yeah, it's
Rob Brewster 39:14
a pure plg model where we've got this incredible inbound funnel where someone will Google something like mobile inspection form and they'll find go forms and then they upload their doc and then they're off and running. So we have a, you know, two person garage door repair shop. We have GE, I've got Turner Construction. I've got you know, a landscaping company so it runs the gamut. We've got some of the largest companies on the planet, and we've got, you know, some some tiny little guys out there.
Isaac Morehouse 39:42
That's such an amazing like, where the rubber meets the road. I recently moved to kind of a small rural town outside of a larger city. And so every time I do anything, I just had guys come to open up my pool. It's so different. Like nobody has a website that's really serious. No, their paper forms right. And I'm thinking I wonder if someone can reach them right? This is where the the partnerships approach is the only way you can really do this you can't be doing direct sales to the, you know, to the local pool company here but the I'm thinking like the ability if this was just digitized and then imagine their their inventory planning about what how many chemicals do they need, because everything's just flowing into a database and you can do these queries, you know, and like, I love getting to that that final end of the market literally, like you said, that person garage door company connecting them to the software eaten world. That's like the last step that's just starting to happen and you're on the front lines. That's kind of I
Rob Brewster 40:37
love that you use the pool example. Pool management is actually one of our largest verticals. I mean, every pool company on the planet should be using us for exactly the use case that you've defined.
Jared Fuller 40:45
So fun fact, this is where I'm going to get the flex and partnerships knowledge. All right, who was HubSpot, CRM, HubSpot, marketing and sales, their number one partner globally.
Isaac Morehouse 40:55
We should add it we should add a trivia like a trivia question to the podcast where we have a little Yeah, and Jared asks a partner trivia question. I have no idea but Rob
Jared Fuller 41:06
is a gentleman by the name of Marcus Sheridan. Marcus Sheridan started he you know what he had at HubSpot. He was a customer. He was a customer of HubSpot. And what did he do? He cleaned pools Wow. I mean pools and then he was like I just made my business 10 times better by automating you know a lot of this stuff. And he's like instead of selling pool cleaning I'm going to sell my method to other pool cleaners Jean he became HubSpot number one partner global
Rob Brewster 41:39
need to meet this guy. I need to turn him on to go forums. That sounds wonderful. Yeah,
Jared Fuller 41:42
so now Marcus has a lot going on. I think he has like the marketing AI Institute is his biggest thing. But anyhow, that's just like you mentioned pools and it's so funny that like that's good for go forums. That was you know, there's all these industries that people don't look at is like being substantial. But Marcus Sheridan actually played a very formative role in HubSpot partner story like he was the most famous partner. That's prior to that a pool, a pool cleaning company. So drift. Yeah, you guys would never guess this. Guess what industry the number one partner globally came from drift. So they got Partner of the Year. What was this person doing prior to owning the number one drift agency globally? You would never guess he had a hot air ballooning company. Guess that right. So he had he used drift to automate the booking of hot air balloon appointments through chat. And then he was like this bots amazing. And then he started doing it for like bigger and bigger. And now he has the bot lab. Eliot Cohen. Yeah, he was dozens and dozens of drift implementations. Like that's a bigger company now now the the polluting companies
Isaac Morehouse 42:51
and seeing which way the wind was blowing, right. So
Jared Fuller 42:56
or, there's Isaac's dad joke jokes. Yeah.
Isaac Morehouse 43:00
So can you can you talk Rob about I know, we're coming to the end here. But I would love to know that transition, because this is one of the things that I expect to keep seeing the transition to CEO. How did that come about? And what would you say? What would you say gives you a unique advantage in that role, because of your deep partnerships, background?
Rob Brewster 43:21
Yeah, a couple of things there. So number one, I want to say I never had in my plans of I sure want to be CEO one day, or that I thought that was going to be the next progression. For me. I was very happy being the head of BD or the head of sales at great software companies. I, once again, I always felt fortunate to be in that position. I love doing it. I was good at it. And I thought I'll do this until I'm done. As it relates to being CEO, I think I'm the right CEO for go forms. I don't know that I was like, you know, I could be CEO somewhere else. You know, I've learned a lot. So why is
Jared Fuller 43:55
that? Rob? So well get from an advice perspective, why are you the right CEO for go forms?
Rob Brewster 43:59
Um, I think it goes back to just what took place at the company, I'll share a personal story. It's public information nowadays, but the prior CEO who was my boss, decided to embezzle from the company, he embezzled $1.5 million from the company. He essentially, you know, put us out of business. But I knew the thing is not spot. Geez, it was I mean, we literally were couldn't make payroll, and we're out of money. And I, you know, said, Hey, I know what to do. The thing that's so sad is he hasn't been running the business. Well, he, you know, isn't investing in the right areas. There's people that need to leave the building, that we're not being asked to leave the building. So I would, I raised my hand and I said, I know what to do. So the answer to your question is I was passionate about the business I cared. And I wanted to see it succeed. And I knew what needed to happen to have it succeed. And that kind of goes back to my partner boat program background. So I raised my hand and I said, Give me the company and I'll make it work. And so the first thing I did is I built a cashflow positive And because we needed to control our own destiny clearly, I unfortunately fired a lot of people some needed to go because they weren't the right people. Some were unfortunately caught up in the numbers game, but I had to build cashflow positive and they had to go.
Jared Fuller 45:14
Yeah, and you had 1.5 million less than the bank. Yeah. So so then
Rob Brewster 45:17
we had three initiatives. And this kind of goes back to my learnings through the years. Number one, protect the base, we needed to make sure that we were protecting our awesome install base, and that they would leave us number two eyeballs on us, when people know that we exist, we win. And lastly, build product our customers will pay for. I know that sounds incredibly simple. But we were building things that nobody cared about. And customers would go, man, if you guys put out another release, showing me some little bells and whistle that I could care less about and the system goes down, I'm going to wring your neck. So I'm like, Okay, I will solve this problem. So I hired a head of engineering. And I said, your job is stability, make this thing work every single time. That's all that matters. That's what our customers want. And we did that. And then we built the business back up. And last year, we were doing so well. We went to the board with our growth plans. And they're like, No, man, we're gonna double down on this thing. Let's raise some money. And let's go. So we raised money, we started now. So we proved that we could run an efficient cash flow company called Classical positive company. And now we're proving we can run a growth company. And now what's really exciting. So we went from last year 32 employees to 64. Today, I'm 74 employees, we're going to be 107 by the end of the year, and we are off to the races. So it feels
Isaac Morehouse 46:34
I love I love what you said about product that let's build things our customers not that our customers will want, but that they will pay for Hey, for you got it. So good.
Rob Brewster 46:46
So this is what so back to your ultimate question here. Right. I also got really tight on partnerships. We were partnering with everybody back in the day now it was about Procore Procore. Construction is our number one vertical, let's partner with those gases make it work now. Just partnerships, alliances. Yeah, that was the number one partner for us. And now we're expanding into Accu Matica, and Salesforce and others. But we just got really focused, and to your point of I really brought a sales mentality and a BD mentality to the company. And then I hired people that I trusted and gave them very clear direction. Like as an example, I'm not here for innovation, no one's going to beat you over lack of innovation. But it's got to be stable. You got to make this thing work. So we just made difficult decisions and stuck with him.
Jared Fuller 47:30
Rob, what a what a crazy story. We'll have to like unpack this more because like, coming into the reason why I asked you about Twilio is because I knew Twilio had a bunch of challenges. So you'd seen some rocket ships? Yeah. Right. And then you saw Twilio, which was like the messy middle. Right? Like that's a great book. And it's a great framework of like the ups and downs like so you got to see some messy middle, and then you come into go forums and you're like, oh, shoot, I'm in that mess, like you were in a mess, I was in a whole lot more than it messy. A whole lot of us and you emerge on the other side as the you know, the company leader, and just looking at the company growth. I mean, it's a phenomenal case study an example for people that you can take a situation that is not the best situation to walk into, you can use your past experiences and really build a great business with the experience and background of a tried and trued partner leader. Very very inspiring, Rob very inspiring.
Rob Brewster 48:28
Not really. And you know what I always tell you know, people that asked me the question of like, why are you still there because it's been six years longer than I've been anywhere and clearly you know go forms is not the brand that Salesforce and Twilio and others are. But it's my job to make that the case I need to make this a well known, you know, organization respected organization, but I live
Jared Fuller 48:47
locally now. I mean, yeah. 30 to 64 for one. I mean, come on. Like you're you're you're doing the job that you signed, you signed up for when you said hey, I'll take the reins and see.
Rob Brewster 48:56
Yeah, it's clearly got my dog inside it. Sorry about that.
Jared Fuller 48:59
No good. We had we had a baby on the last one. So we're no friends are no strangers to people, or pups hopping in and no worries at all. Isaac let's do the the quick plugs. We got April 27 and 28th. SAS connects Yep. So if you're not registered yet, partner up is the discount code, you get 50 bucks off. So come see Isaac and me in San Francisco. We'll have some swag in tow some secret surprises there. So really excited about that. And then for those of you who didn't see, we had a contest for supernode, which is crossbeams first ever annual conference may 17 and 18th Holy cow, Isaac that contest Were you expecting those results?
Isaac Morehouse 49:41
No, but let me just I gotta give a shout out to you Jared this is a this is a great idea. We were talking with supernode we're like hey, we need to do a little you know, partner hacker wants to Promo The supernova conference. Jared is gonna be involved there what what can we do you know, oh, well, we can just do a little mention it in our newsletter, blah blah blah. We get whatever a landing page that's cobranded Jarrods like, no, no, no, no, I don't, we're gonna do and I'm not even going to wait until crossbeam says gives us permission. I'm just gonna tell them, hey, here's what we're gonna do. If you don't like it, it's okay, I'll cover it. We're gonna go to LinkedIn. And we're gonna say we're doing a partnership with a crossbeam. And we're gonna give away flight, hotel, ticket, everything to somebody who's not an executive, and you just did that LinkedIn posts. And I just it was, I love it. I love it. It was brilliant. It was fun. And we had 10s of 1000s of impressions. 30 light because we did whoever you nominate somebody and whoever gets the most likes, wins it. The guy who won, his name is escaping me right now. Justin
Jared Fuller 50:36
Zimmerman, Justin Zimmerman, of course, shout
Isaac Morehouse 50:38
out Justin to unfriend me one law and this dude, because I was one of them. I liked it. I think I liked all of them. And I direct message from him saying, Hey, I saw that you liked my thing. Thanks so much for liking me, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like he did this to every single person didn't he
Jared Fuller 50:54
reached out to every single person and thanked every single person hundreds of times. Wow. Yeah. To win that.
Isaac Morehouse 51:02
Love, Robert. Anyway, you get to you get to meet the now celebrity Jason Zimmerman there.
Jared Fuller 51:08
So we're gonna have an out in May 17th 18th. Come meet us in Philly Philly for crossbeam supernode. It's gonna be a blast. I'm going to be interviewing people there have like the hot mic, kind of a special episode of partner up. So come hang out with us in Philly. If you're East Coast, West Coast SAS connect 27th 28th of April west coast. But otherwise partner up Be on the lookout for the official partner hacker.com launch coming. We're like t minus like a month right now. So very excited about that. If you're not sub sub sub to the partner hacker daily, it's the world's first and only daily partner newsletter. Thank you, Isaac for being the brainchild behind that. Rob, you said you were even
Rob Brewster 51:47
subbed. Absolutely, as I mentioned, we've got a new BD person and it is our tool for onboarding BD folks. It's awesome.
Jared Fuller 51:55
Thank you. Amazing Amazing. Well, Ron, thank you so much.
Isaac Morehouse 51:59
Alex, this is seriously awesome. Rob. Your story just I love it. You're such a grinder just starting as a waiter. I mean this this had everything you said.
Jared Fuller 52:09
What was the title? You said you were
Rob Brewster 52:12
food eater who got lucky. Yeah. Then
Jared Fuller 52:14
like that, but then you said you were a food and beverage? Oh, food and beverage salesman? Yeah, commission. Yeah. We have a new legend. Legends a partner up. We'll have to do that one time. Rob Brewster, everybody. Thank you so much, Rob, for coming out. We had an absolute blast. Partner up. We'll see you all next time and we'll see you in your inbox at partner hacker daily sign up at partner hacker.com Peace