057 - What Your Agency Partners Won’t Tell You with Josh Wagner

What's up PartnerUp?!

On today's episode, Josh Wagner from Love Selling Hate Sales comes on to talk about co-selling and agencies.

Co-selling is one of the most difficult things to do well, and it has to be treated that way.

Listen to the episode as Josh gives his advice for creating long-lasting partnerships.

Josh is an Enterprise Account Executive at Shift Paradigm.

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Jared Fuller  00:00
All right, all right. What is up partner up? We're back. Got Isaac in the chair guest today. Coming up the past couple of weeks. Isaac, I feel like site's been rolling. Yesterday we had four new articles on partner hacker saw post. So

Isaac Morehouse  00:23
yeah, trying to try to keep there's there's something new every day if you haven't been to partner hacker.com You definitely need to if you've been a longtime listener, you probably know by now that what started as Jared doing a simple podcast is now partner hacker it's a lot bigger. So go check out partner hacker comm we got we have articles up there. Daily, We've got weekly column from alamat Allen Adler, we've got guest op eds. You know, on a regular basis, we've got obviously the partner hacker daily, our daily email newsletter, these podcasts go there and a whole lot more we get some featured featured stories, all kinds of stuff. So make sure to check it out. If you haven't yet

Jared Fuller  00:59
there. See, I just couldn't get it sales. I was even trying to sell I was just I was just happy that like the rhythm of the businesses is getting established. You know, it's like nice to see that content engine start to start to come to fruition and no feedback from the community and the listeners and the audience and all that it's been about I'm just proud

Isaac Morehouse  01:15
of the content we're putting out there. I don't you know, I'm not trying to hard sell anybody. But it's good to it's good to see it go out

Jared Fuller  01:20
there. Totally. Well, speaking of hard selling, we got the legend himself. Mr. Josh Wagner, the host of the love selling hate sales podcast on partner up. What's up, Josh?

Josh Wagner  01:31
Hey guys, how's it going? It's good to hear from you. Yes, I'm

Jared Fuller  01:34
all decked out in the Josh Wagner gear. So I got my lead MD shirt shirt on for those of you who are listening remote, and then my ship paradigm hat, which I'll wear backwards because I can't wear a flat brim like I used to. So lead MD you were acquired and then rebranded as shift paradigm, the parent work, I believe that's

correct. Yeah, we were acquired in February of 2021. And then later that year, once we realized that we needed to fly our flag under a unified banner, we rebranded under shift paradigm.

Jared Fuller  02:03
Amazing, amazing. And, Josh, you and I had the opportunity to work together kind of in the early days of the kind of conversational, you know, chatbot AI space. We partnered early on with lead MD and drift. Gosh, I remember. Cup Justin coming into the office, and then I think Seamus, and you want a cooler full of beer or something. Is there some story like that?

You mean, Seamus got really hung over and couldn't hand normally handle our meetings the next day? Yeah.

Jared Fuller  02:35
Yeah, so there are some of those stories. right in? Yeah, totally. So um, I got to see your work, Josh in the field. And I think why this is going to be so interesting for all the listeners today is that Josh, you've led some partner functions inside of lead MD, which now shift paradigm which is like a top marketing agency. And I actually want to establish some credence here. Normally, I don't do like backstory. But I think in this case, it's really justified. Dress partner program is launched, like tears and all that. So you're one of two, I think you're the top current platinum partners, which is awesome. So we went from how the heck do we work together to, you know, shift paradigm being, you know, top partner with drift. And then also, I mean, 1000s and 1000s, maybe 4000 Plus accounts that shift paradigm lead MD, y'all have touched, implemented and basically done Marketo services for which is by far the largest, there's not even a close second, based on what I know, in the Marketo ecosystem.

Correct? Yeah, it you know, it's interesting, I, I spent the last eight years or so selling to and through, you know, technology companies and their account execs and their partner folks and things like that. And like you said, in the early days of drift, it was one of those things where you're trying to get your footings. And I think you were trying to figure out what the partner program was going to be what it was intended to be. And oftentimes, when a partner function is spun up in a, in a tech company, you see that they come in with this like playbook that is the the methodology that they either read in a book somewhere, or someone handed to them, their former boss, whatever, they're getting their play, and it's so company centric, it's not partner centric at all, it doesn't think about what's in it for them, why would they want to do this? It's just like, we're awesome. We're gonna give you a referral fee. And it almost starts and stops there half the time, right. So like, right, making it more right and thinking about the people on the other end, who might want to partner with you. And I think recognizing that technology partners and services partners are not the same thing.

Jared Fuller  04:29
No, definitely not. I mean, let's look at LTV. Let's look at margin. Let's look at cost per se, like none of the unit economics are the same. So for a CFO or an ops leader or whoever's doing that, you know, annual plan to treat it the same. It's just not it's not true. I'll never forget David Pilgrim. He was on the podcast once he told me the story about how he was trying to sell this internally at I believe it was at Adobe even and his sales leader at the time was very upset. they're like, Hey, why did why does the service partner get, you know, four to one leads over us? And he's like, do you want to operate on that margin? That's why, right, like, that's why they get four leads forever us getting one because for them to make as much money as we do over a lifetime, it takes for customers.

Yeah, and not only lifetime value, but even think about how services organizations are structured. So we are a little odd. And we always have been, and that we have a direct sales team. And our job is to either build relationships with AES or customer success people at our software partners. But most agencies, especially they don't have sales, right? Like there's a principal or a managing director or a founder and owner or someone who's selling for the agency, we are an oddity, and that we have a sales team like that is responsible for going into the market and finding business. So think about now even where the margins are for that services company, right? Like our margins are gonna be even thinner at the ownership level, because we have a sales channel. But at the other end of that, you think about the four to one ratio that you talked about. Most people aren't they don't have a army of BDRs and AES covering, you know, 15 A's in California, and then one per state after that, right? Like, these don't have that they don't have those resources. So where are those leads going to come from? They're coming from their book of business, but those are trusted relationships that they can then curate for you and hopefully, expand your deals. Before you get in

Jared Fuller  06:27
there. The offer Josh,

Isaac Morehouse  06:28
I want to go back to something you said about people have their punch board, they have this playbook. And it's just like, they come to you with something that's very unattractive, because it's all about them. I immediately go to analogy from my my previous life for the past 10 years been working mostly in the early career space and writing something that we always tell job seekers, is they all want to send somebody something that says, Dear sir, or Medan, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, give me a paycheck, right? And I always tell them, imagine if you're trying to get a date this way, if you went to a bar, and you're like handing out one pagers here are 10 reasons I'm highly dateable. Right? No, it doesn't work that way. You find someone you're interested in. And you go and you ask that you talk about them. Hey, you're really interesting. You're really fascinating. I'd like to learn more about you. You talk about them. Right? So do that on the job market. So I'm curious, the analogy in your space? What is a good version of that? What somebody who's not just like, here's us, here's how great we are, here's why you should work with us? What's the good version of that playbook look like? What are they coming to you with? That makes you say, Yeah, I want to work with you.

Well, a good version of that is one who are your customers? Why are they your customers? And what is the gap and servicing those customers? Right? Like either servicing them or acquiring more of them

Isaac Morehouse  07:42
what it starts with, with questions for you rather than bullet points, right? Like,

listen, we're solving if you're especially if you're a new tech company, right? You're establishing product market fit and things like that. Come to us with your thesis on product market fit, because that we can help validate that one. But if you're a more established player, still help us understand product market fit. So we can say oh, yeah, that is a gap in our portfolio. That is something we can wrap some services around. And I think that's that's the biggest thing with, you know, tech and solution services partners is the 20% referral, potentially, again, let's not confuse a referral program with a partner program. I think that gets that happens a lot. But that could be a whole nother tangent, we go down and go. Your your 20% referral fee to SAS rep who's making 200k a year might sound pretty attractive. Great. But when you're thinking about building a professional services organization, you want to know how can I sell more services going back to Jarrett's comment around LTV, we want to keep them around longer, we don't want them to turn we don't want to implement something and then for them to never be a customer again, we want to implement something we want to wrap managed services around it. We want to be implementing something else. You know what I mean? If your solution helps inject new ideas and more stickiness into that customer. Well, then yeah, that's something worth talking about. So just having conversations around how we acquire our customers, how we keep them around, what kind of solutions where gaps in our solutions, where do we see the future of the market going? Because oftentimes you have folks that are kind of like analysts, right? They have a perspective on the market. Talk about that talk about that perspective. How can we inject that into your you know, I'm there's so many different paths you could go down that just gets turns into a missed opportunity.

Jared Fuller  09:28
Right. I feel like most of the time what ends up happening is because there's this you know, it's IT startups at SAS, it's whatever, there's this focus on growth, growth, growth, and the conversation ends up becoming very one sided in that. Hey, Josh, you know, the book of business that you have, right, the current roster. Let's talk about the accounts that would be the right fit. So it's like it's put on you to identify the council would be the right fit for drift. And there might be some qualification criteria that that rep even gives you but it The same time, you know, going into that conversation, you're like, they're just trying to source deals from our current book. And the cost of the SAS company losing that deal is nowhere near the cost of the agency losing that deal. Because if they're an existing customer, right, I mean, what's the median? Was it eight times more expensive to get $1 from a new customer than an existing customers? Like the last stats I saw? How could How can we say that that's even one to one? That's a big problem? I'm sure you've, you've seen plenty of that. And I'm sure I've been guilty of that, too. You?

Yeah, I mean, you're definitely trying to be protective of those relationships as anybody is right. But oftentimes, again, to your point around difference between software and agency, I stay with that customer forever, right? If you're a SAS rep, you probably sell it and want to get out of there as fast as you can. And you don't want to hear from them ever again. Because if you do you know, it's going to be a problem. Right? Like, that's a little bit of a difference in mentality. So to your point. If you're interjecting something that has a high margin for risk, then as an agency or services business, you're probably going to back off a little bit and say, I don't know, that's, that might not be worth it. Totally.

Isaac Morehouse  11:16
How relevant, how relevant is the commission to you like the potential part, I'm just curious in terms of, you know, percentage of percentage of earnings or revenue, or just how much of the factors that play because I heard some debates at SAS connect with people kind of, you know, people will run partner programs debating, some of them say, we're not going to do it at all, because that's not relevant enough to most of these, you know, agencies and others saying no, are you kidding me? That's, that's all we've got to offer. I'm just curious how you look at that.

So our organization is somewhat interesting. The way we do it is if, let's say I make a referral to drift, and drift pays a referral fee, the company shift paradigm splits that referral fee between the company and between me, so the way that that's the way that should be done? Yeah, so it incentivizes people to refer to their partners. Now, where I think there's value to me, I mean, it's nice, sure, well, I take an extra whatever it is, yeah, I'll take it. But it's not like changing my life. Whereas one of the consultants on our team, if they're understanding that program, and they're referring it into drift and drift pays a $10,000 commission, and they get 5000 of it. Yeah, that's pretty frickin awesome. Right? So I do think that goes into something I've said for a long time. And I'm gonna stick by it until someone actually believes me. I think in early days of a partnership, don't connect AES with AES, I think it's a waste of time, because there's no trust built there. Right? They both think they're better than the other one. Screw up their sales cycle, that like, it's just, it's just useless, right? So in the early days, maybe you'll get there and you get to this CO selling motion. But Jared, you know, co selling is not easy. Like there's a lot of trust that goes into that. There's it

Jared Fuller  13:14
took us, it took us almost three years, Josh, for us to start co selling six figure deals. It's super hard. It was it was just literally three years, I think, on the nose when we started getting into those AI six figure deals where like we actually had good reps that weren't partner reps, and Josh Wagner, and like accounts that were interested in buying both services and software at the same time. Like, I think that was three years of like trial and error and a bunch of other stuff which we can get into unlike package services and how we use that correctly and incorrectly. But yeah, to your point, it's you doesn't start there.

Yeah, so that's because it's not because you're bad, or I'm bad, or the reps are bad or anything like that. It's just the trust isn't built there. It's like anything in sales, right? You're building trust with somebody else. And in this partner world, it's hard enough to sell my stuff, it's hard enough to sell your stuff now you're saying we have to sell it together. Like this whole dream of CO selling man as a starting point is really rough. So I stand by this like, okay, my,

Isaac Morehouse  14:08
you'd almost say like CO selling is like the the outcome of good relationships that's been established. That's like the final stage that that starts to happen once you've got everything else lined out if you're

thinking of these tiers, right? Like the actual ability to co sell like a proven ability to co sell that should be your platinum or diamond or whatever the hell you call them. Like, those are the only ones that are there because you're proven that you can bring teams of people together and build a solution. It's not about drift. It's not about shift paradigm. It's about this problem that we've identified in the market for this customer that just happens to have our stuff wrapped together. That's different than I mean, implementing drift because, frankly, you know, as a service company, there's really no inherent value and implementation. Numbers. It's nice, it's money. The customer sees it as something we have to do the sales rep at the software companies like oh shit, our internal PSTN can do it for nothing or for $5,000. It's just like this. It just never feels good, right? Like implementation is just something that has to happen. So you have to get to a point where you're beyond implementation, and you're in, you're truly building solutions.

Jared Fuller  15:20
So if it's not, let's go back to your point that you make that I love that. What's What's ironic is, this makes perfect sense. But I don't think I've heard someone else say exactly what you said before in partnerships, you should never have an AE start with an AE. Yes, completely agree. So where do you think it starts? From your point of view, Josh, was that like who else in the org needs to be have their stuff figured out in order for you to have, you know, a much more productive first conversation with your counterpart at a tech company?

Yep, totally. So that's, that's we, before we got on a tangent, that's where we're gonna go. So I want my sales team, at this agency, only talking to a select number of really good customer success people. Right?

Jared Fuller  16:03
Or services. Was that or services of the POS teams? Friendly?

Correct? Correct. So their customer success team that's basically owns a book of your drift customers, let's say, right, and there, you know, maybe it's a segment that we do well in, I don't care if it's industry vertical, or if it's a revenue band, or spend or whatever, but you identify something, right? And you identify a an existing customer that has a problem that this agency can help them solve, right. And then on the flip side, you talk to one of our we call them principals or managing directors, right? Who owns a book of business, for get connected with your AE that either runs a vertical or has a target or whatever it may be. And they work together on collaborating one of our customers, right, so now we get out of this hole. Let's share our lists of targets, which if I ever see another target list sharing thing in my life, I will be fine. It's the most worthless exercise I've ever seen.

Jared Fuller  17:02
It's like perfunctory it's like needed once there's partner value, but like to get to partner value. That's not really a step, right? Oh, let's hear lists. Why? Well, it's like it's a checkbox if we if there is something here, right?

So if you can make it very tangible and say, Okay, great. Josh, you're the you're the salesperson at shift, I'm going to connect you with my top Customer Success person adrift. And we're going to really get into where we can align you with one of our customers and solve a problem that's not implementation related, right? It's something else, it's something that can make you look as a high value partner bringing in somebody that's trusted and can help them expand their, you know, their playbook strategy, or maybe their I don't know, they have a lead conversion problem. Who knows? And then on the other side, good, good.

Jared Fuller  17:48
Well, I was just gonna say, the partner manager in this function, right? So partner manager, let's assume that they have an overlay sales model, right? So like, the actual ad owns the account partner manager is playing quarterback, if you will, partner managers job is to make sure that conversation takes place. And then there's some output of that, like, Hey, here's a hate to call it a joint value proposition because it's not quite that but that like, Hey, here's the value hypothesis, so to speak, between, you know, agency X, and, you know, tech company y and customer Z, like, here's how, okay, we actually learned something on where we fit really well together based on these customer combos. So partner manager produces something like that. That's step one. And then step two is connecting the other direction.

Yeah, so we want to get one frictionless conversations going, meaning, instead of sales rep fighting for the same business, we want to have now sales reps, customer says sales, growth, customer success, we'll call them the same thing for simplicity. And two things, right, if we each refer each other a customer, we all we both feel good about it, right? Ever, like, oh, this partnerships got some inherent high level partner value. But to your point, what we really should be doing is figuring out what holes we can fill for each other. What are the problems? What are things so that we can start wrapping more tangible solutions around it in the early days, it's not going to be tangible? It's just going to be I almost I almost call it objection handling as a part of your objection handling playbook. What are the three things that you should listen for? That says, oh, shift paradigm, that's my partner that helps me with those things, right? Because we've talked to a handful of customers, they were able to come in and make them successful with that thing. And that goes both ways. Right?

Jared Fuller  19:31
And, to that point, actually, what, what I found is human brain threes and fives. Like, if you're not in a top three objection, that like, Hey, give me your top three objections, your top five objections what most sellers do or most CSMs do is they CSMs are better at this sellers tend to be a little bit worse, is like they'll give you the objections that they know they can handle. No, no, I want the actual objections. The ones were like, oh shoot, that might be a turning customer, right like that's a sign of distrust of like Bad usage or this customer is going sideways? What are those top three that are really bad? And can I align to that if I can't, you probably don't have the makings of a great partnership. I mean, you only hold so much information in your head at once. So you need to be able to align to one of those top three biggest problems in either company.

Yeah, and that's another reason why you start with not aligning AES, you align A's and CS on both sides. So that, you know, because those customer success, people are usually really good, like you said, of making sure that they have a pulse on their book of business, especially if they're running strategic accounts. And they may have like to write, they're always needed to bring new bring new value, like what, like, they can uncover some of that stuff. And then we can start to help solution around that, right. And then once you've identified those things, and like the real the real deal, you could flip it and take it to the AES and say, Hey, here's what we uncovered, right? You flip the equation. And now when you hear this, this, this, here's where we can inject a solution that's a little bit different than you may have used before.

Jared Fuller  21:03
And to polish this all off, like, let's say, we accept those couple first couple of conversations that, like, Hey, we got some value hypotheses here, things are looking pretty good. There are those partner manager rockstars out there that can actually put a you know, joint deck together in a joint little thing where it's like, hey, at least it's consolidated on, you know, one place, typically, do you feel like that? I feel like that conversation that that point being led by that partner manager, and, you know, whoever the counterpart is at the agency could go to like, hey, let's make this prettified into some, like basic partner marketing, you know, a one pager that no one reads a deck that no one reads, but it looks good. It could go to the services, or, Hey, let's productize something into more of like a, you know, standardized deliverable that we can kind of take both directions that can move into, you know, account mapping and sales, like, where do you think post like, hey, we have some value hypotheses on both sides? Where do you feel like the best next step is?

Yeah, I think it is. For in my experience for the tech sales reps to care about it, you've got to be getting into something beyond implementation, right? Because then you're starting, if you don't, you're getting into some sort of commoditized conversation, and especially in the enterprise. So I guess that's a little bit of a caveat to, if it's lower market, the implementation might actually be a thing worth something. If and only if it's faster and lower cost, right, there has to be a volume there. Right. So to that I know for like the what's in it for me if I'm if I'm the market, the drip, drip. Why would I outsource implementation to you know, why would I include these people, if my PS team can do it quicker and cheaper?

Jared Fuller  22:48
Right? Yeah. I mean, no, it especially whenever you're comped on it, and like you get some like retirement or something like, right? You SaaS companies screw that up all the time. And they go, Hey, we grew really quickly, oh, shoot, we have a customer health problem, we're going to start forcing the reps to start selling services. And when it's like you had this partner program that's been, you know, struggling with 1/10 or 120 of the resources for two years, and then it's all of a sudden, it's like, wait a second, I just got my partners to finally trust me. Now all the A's are incentivized to go sell my internal PST, we're gonna piss off all my agencies and my consultants, it's like, you need to know that that's coming. Like any CRO is going to do that. Any CFO is going to do that any CCO is going to do that and be like, hey, there's some simple wins here. A, you know, like, you could do partner attach rate. So for example, AES have to have like, 50% partner attach in order to meet presidents club or something? Like, okay, cool. You can comp them the same for internal versus external services. At the end of the day, this SAS company is not making any margin anyways. So your way? Yeah, who cares? So there's some tactical things you can get in front of just know that if you're like, hey, I think my company's about to launch internal services, or like, we're gonna start charging for it. Get ahead of what that means for the comp plan. Don't wait for the comp plan to come out.

I've seen it derail so many things. Yeah. When the rep just simply looks at it as well, I get paid on this. And I don't get paid on yours. It can be a non starter really quick

Jared Fuller  24:12
in that simple calculation. Like they're not even thinking about like, oh, yeah, actually, shift paradigm is very strategic to my book of business, and they count like all that stuff goes out the window and like a Complan. change that behavior in two seconds.

Yeah. So I think one of the things you need to consider when you're thinking about your partner program is where are you in your evolution? And what are your sales teams look like? Right? Like Jeff started super downmarket, right, like very transactional, unlike any SaaS company, you start to grow and you start to go up market, you build an enterprise team and you have a different sales motion. So you have to look at your partner ecosystem, like where do these people fit like the early partners for drift are different than the partners today? Because they were like maybe these one two shop agencies that did a lot of volume delivery of a

Jared Fuller  24:57
firm might have flown hot air balloons.

They could have done a lot of things. Yeah, I mean, right. They could be mines in their in their downtime.

Isaac Morehouse  25:05
I feel like there's a lot of contexts that I'm missing. Well, you've

Jared Fuller  25:09
met Ellie All right, Josh. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah. So he was another agency that had to was a hot air ballooning dude before he became a drift agency and like to Josh's point was a onesie twosie threes, he built a great business around drift. But I mean, whenever we're doing enterprise sales, selling AI, quarter million dollar deals and quarter million half million dollar services, like it's, you just need that larger institution. And like, it's a different thing. Right? We were closing a deal a day at Drift per rap, you know, at that stage, so it wasn't quite the same thing, as you know, going after half a million million dollar deals.

Yeah, those high volume, low ASP deals, your partner ecosystem is likely made up of lifestyle businesses, to your point, right? Like, the guy still might have a bartending gig at night, because he's still trying to get it off the ground. Right. Whereas as you go up market, you're going to start to look at more established players who are in the enterprise, they're going to market differently, even if they don't have a sales channel like we do. They're thinking about things a little bit differently. They're protecting their time. They're protecting how they build solutions. They're protecting how they do things with their clients. So they need people that have a different mindset. And that's where, to your point as we grew and start to figure out where we can cosell. I worked with Derek on an enterprise to Yeah, with s&p global, we were similar. We were like minded, right? We were both working in the enterprise. We understood how sales cycles work, nothing was gonna happen overnight. We had value props, we had to build out we had business cases we need to build, we need to get very specific on roles and responsibilities on timelines. Like we needed to quarterback our teams internally, like it wasn't just me and DK going out and gunslinging, right, like we had to bring in people from both sides, get it all together, get like very explicit about things and figure out how we're going to make this deal work. And that's why it was successful. So oftentimes, you see, especially with services and tech companies in the commercial space, where there is a lot more expectation on volume and velocity and things like that. I don't want these guys slowing my deal down. Right, right. Like, that's a big objection for SAS, especially in the commercial space. You know, if I'm dealing with that, I'm like, I'm fine, then. Don't work with me. I, I'm gonna do what's right, not what's slowing your

Jared Fuller  27:28
deals like I can 5x your close rate. But yeah, sorry, for slowing your deal down. Exactly.

Isaac Morehouse  27:34
Josh, something that, you know, we talk about a lot with a lot of guests, and a lot of the content on partner hacker as well is that we're sort of in this era of ecosystems, where you're kind of, you know, you've sort of seen these historical trends of, you know, sales and marketing automation. And now we're kind of moving into as like, CAC is rising, and DirectX is getting harder. I'm curious, from your perspective. Like, what do you see changes? What have you seen over the last sounds like you've been in this for decade? Plus? Do you feel like there is a shift that's happening in terms of, you know, the companies that you partner with? Are they are they suddenly more interested than they used to be in partnering with you? Are there changes in the way that they're handling those partnerships? What do you see in on the ground from your side of the table?

What I tend to see from people that partner with us is, it's almost like, I use actually an analogy in our sales cycle, right? So there's a certain type of customer that we might get an inbound for. And everything we can say everything we say to them sounds like magic. Like, oh my God, I need all of that. You guys are great. This is amazing. I'm like, and we'll call it out early on and say listen, everything I say is gonna sound like a freaking inventing fire. And then you get to the end of that call, and I'm like, Oh my God, you're right. You guys are inventing fire. You can't afford it. Like, it's just not gonna happen, I'm gonna put something in front of you. And there's no way you're gonna be able to afford this. And that's what happens and like some of the early stages of you say, Alright, we're gonna start building out partner. Let's go talk to the top five agencies in this space. And they're more mature at that point, right? Like, they know what they need from their customers, they know what they look like if they're gonna partner they know what they want out of the partnership. And let's be honest, this the tech company just wants referrals. So where you start to see it grow is when they decide we want to grow intentionally here. Right and this type of agent it's almost like building an ICP for your your go to market strategy. ideal customer profile. If I'm acronym ng people it's almost like building out your ideal customer profile for your for your marketing and sales teams. You start To profile, the types of agencies or types of services, partners, types of consultancies that are going to help you grow in specific niches, right. So that's what happens when we start to see a fit is the types of companies that we want to sell to, and that we have in our book of business. And the way we want to sell meets where they are with a specific niche, right? We're not trying to be all things to all people, we get very specific about where the partnerships going to work. Like, you know, we're not Deloitte and we're not Accenture, digital, right, if there's certain things you want to do there, go partner with them. And

Jared Fuller  30:35
you might talk to 300 people before you find the person that actually manages the account to

correct. Correct. And maybe maybe maybe more than that. But

Jared Fuller  30:43
there might be 300 people on

the account. Yeah, exactly. Right. So you know, it is I think, just being more intentional, right. And when folks build out partner ecosystems, if it's brand new, it might be and you say to anybody, I say if you're trying to be all things, all people, you're nothing to nobody. So let's niche down and find out where in the partner ecosystem, we can have some success first, and then figure out how to scale it out.

Jared Fuller  31:08
So I'm gonna follow up on Isaac's question, maybe with some more context, I feel like things changed for us whenever we made the commitment to invest in services, right. So we won't open up the package services, conversation and implementation is like a productized line item. But the point was, we were investing from our side to help build some baseline expertise. And like, sending our deals over right, like, dedicated to lead MD, and then shift paradigm, right? Because we needed that expertise and that support. And you frankly, y'all needed more at bats in order to get good, too. And like, it's like, how great can we be if like, we've just done some Passover referrals where we haven't touched the services, you know, we've done that two or three times. Like, that's where it started to change for us. It took us a long time to get there. So maybe as a follow on to Isaac's question like now that I believe the relationship is probably more two sided. There's like deal flow going both ways, as are kind of more collaborating. You got obviously Shareen over there, who's knows how to do this? Are you seeing any tech companies that are coming to that realization sooner? Like Isaac was asking, Hey, is anything changed? Our company is now coming and talking about services and the opportunity for you earlier than, you know, three, four years ago, it was strictly about deals like it was account Mappy account mapping now are people trying to be like, Hey, how can I help you build a line of business? For this vertical for this territory? You know, Mark for the segment, like here's SMB, here's enterprise. Oh, wait, here's the GAO. Okay, wait, here's the vertical. Are people coming to that realization any sooner that you've seen yet, Josh? Or is it still, hey, this is gonna be a long and hard fought battle? You're gonna waste my time for a year, but maybe in year two, we'll figure it out.

Yeah, I think it's a lot of the same. Still, I would say there are some outliers, right? I think Aaron, at Bizible did a great job. And, you know, they were trying to figure out how to scale out professional services. And it was hit with a very real conversation with a customer that was in the upper mid market enterprise. And they're just and they asked him the question like, yeah, this all sounds great. How am I going to be enabled? And he said, Oh, well, we'll put our top flight implementation package on you. And he's like, Well, what does that cost and he was like, I don't know, three grand. And this executive just laughed at him. And he was like, that's not going to work. It should be three to, you know, two to five times whatever your subscription prices, if you're going to enable us the right way,

Jared Fuller  33:34
and right, enabling an organization versus like, clicking some buttons. And he's like,

he's like, No deal. And that was like this lightbulb moment of, oh, professional services isn't just an onboarding, play, right. It's just, hey, walk a few people through this thing. It was a very real like punch in the face that real companies need to be enabled in very specific ways. And they need to know you have a plan. So we collaborated with them to build out what professional services was going to look like it visible, right, and mapped out that function for them. We started taking on some of them, but then enabled that team to take it on. And they built out their own POS function that still managed while we still took on a portion of it. Right? So I do think there are those founders that no, they don't want to be in the services business, or they get hit in the face with I am not enabled to take on big companies yet. And if they're trying to go up market, then you're gonna have to figure that out.

Jared Fuller  34:29
It's interesting. How do we how do we make that less like luck based, right? Like, it feels like a lot of organizations or partner managers or heads of partners would might hear that advice and go, Hey, I need to build really close partnership with my VP of CES early on before she goes and hires like a VP of PS, right? Like I really need to get close on how we deliver services and work with the ops team. The strategy like there's really no owner of services In an organization that doesn't have services, which is kind of crazy, and like as a partner leader, what I realized, like, I started onboarding partners. I'm like, I gotta teach these people conversational marketing, what the heck is conversational marketing? And I had to I had to write the conversational marketing blueprint like thank God for Mark killings, helping me out there, because I'm like, Hey, I'm building a maturity model, which we did with LEED nd, like, I was building all of this more deeper in depth material. But a lot of partner people haven't done that yet. Where do you feel like in either the agency org, or in the tech org, should that partner leader or partner manager go to to go, Hey, I really want to focus on helping my agency win some big bucks when services if there's VP is everywhere, but no one doesn't own services? Do you think that's finance ops, CS sales CEO? Like where do you think that conversation best takes place? Well,

I think it's, it's, it should be easier than ever, right? When you look at what at Forrester just launched the new info scape martec info scape, right? And it's quadrupled over the past few years. It's what some 9000 technologies, this is what companies are dealing with. And if you're saying I've got a new technology, or a technology, that's a part of that info scape, and you're looking at your buyer on the other end and say this is what they're dealing with. And you internally are looking at it through the lens of your project and product and how magic your product is. How are you fitting into that ecosystem and making your buyers life easier, that that's what you're, that's what the conversation you should be having with your CEO, your head of success, your your head of sales, those types of things, right? Like, you're not going to sell this into this complicated ecosystem unless you can look at it more broadly. And that's where your partner channel can help a lot, right?

Jared Fuller  36:46
What's interesting is Isaac. I'm kind of like looking towards like a framework from the past, I feel like SAS and marketing technology, I actually don't think it's going to slow down, like the number of tech companies growing and martec. I mean, they went from 8000 to roughly 10,000. And, you know, two years, according to Scott Brinker and Chief martec, I mean, and then 150 to 10,000. And, you know, 10 years, I feel like there's going to be a commoditization of technologies where the value of consulting and services is going to disproportionately rise. Whereas the value of the technology is going to get proportionally like lowered. So if you think about this, think about website development, like you could build a website since 1995 96. But by the time it was 2012 2013, website development agencies, there's hundreds of 1000s of them fully commoditized. So as we approach 1520 30,000 50,000, I mean, there's some estimates, there's gonna be a million SAS companies by the end of the decade. Yeah. Mind blowing. So that mean, there's probably six figures of martech sales tech solutions in there, for sure. I feel like the value is going to be in how the heck do I make sense of all of this mess? And maybe less so in the proprietary way that your data stored and retrieved and pops an email?

Yeah, I mean, the pendulum is swinging, right? Like, frankly, Salesforce fucked us. All. Right, they come out with this no SAS logo thing and 20 rows at 11 ish, 12 ish. timeframe, right. And we're taking all your money up front. It's SAS, it's easy. There's no implementation. But if you think of the of life before that, if you bought software, it was a minimum three to one. Services on your on your software sale. Right. So if you sold a million dollars in sophomore year, it was $3 million in services, right. Salesforce then came in said, No, it's easy. Right. And then marketing automation came I was like, oh, yeah, easy. Great. So um,

Jared Fuller  38:47
yeah, Benioff. But counterpoint, Benioff still says, Hey, for every $5, for every dollar spent on Salesforce $5 are spent, you know, on services surrounding that, that that implementation, like they actually got it compared to, you know, the 9000 other followers,

they have, the rest of the ecosystem didn't, right. Look at, if you look at like, I sold my Marketo ecosystem for a long time. And, you know, I would fight for maybe like a quarter, if I was lucky, right. And slowly, it's starting to move where people are understanding at least one to one, oftentimes, now those deals are turning in two to one just because of what you said is they've gotten so burned by technology, the stack keeps growing, it keeps not being integrated. It's creating disjointed customer experiences, and it's making their life harder. So someone needs to come in and figure that out. So as that continues to go, and you need to create better connected experiences for your customers, the companies like us that can do that are going to get the you know, a better share of that solution.

Jared Fuller  39:52
That's a shift and that's a shift in value for sure. It's

Isaac Morehouse  39:56
It's interesting from like a, you know, like a very very high level watching the role that agency or consultancy plays like, it's not so much as software gets easier and easier for people to go and use and cheaper and set up, you know, I can set up my stuff myself, I can onboard myself. But whatever. The role isn't so much solving a technical problem. And once upon a time, it was like, you literally need to come and set up this stuff for me, because it's too technical. It's too complex for me. Now, it's more of a, okay, there's 10,000, plug and play options, I need you to make, it's more of a strategic level, right? I mean, this is the pattern you see in economies as a whole as the structure of production deepens. And instead of digging with the hand, you dig with the tools, and then you have tools that make the tools and factory that makes the metal that makes the tools. Now the the human brains get to do more human stuff, right? You get to do more strategic stuff, you get to do more creative stuff. So it's kind of it's interesting, but it doesn't, it doesn't get rid of that services, right? Like software as a service. It's really software with a service, right? You need, like, Okay, I got, I need somebody to help me pick these tools, optimize these tools to think how they fit into my broader strategy, to keep abreast of all the new stuff that's constantly getting coming out on the market that I could be upgrading to and help like. So it's just it's interesting to see the, I don't know, I get excited by that. Because to me, it represents like, it's a challenge, because you gotta adapt to it. But it like frees you up as a as an agency or a consultant. To do what to me is more interesting, sort of strategic level stuff.

Totally. Like I said, there's no value in implementation, right? If I never was, yeah, if we're just selling implementations, are we that valuable in the first place? So we have to think about it from our perspective, right. And I think we were bad at that for a while, right? Like, let's get that implementation, right. So if we flip it the other way, and say, where did we suck? I think for too long. We're just like, Well, yeah, let me get that implementation. And there was no inherent value being built into that, because there is none. Right? So how can we partner better with you? Drift, Marketo, Bizible, whoever it is, to build some value around, whatever that isn't a create more connected experiences. So if you bring it back to the partner thing you were talking about things get even more commoditized in the in the landscape just getting bigger? Well, how does that happen? Well, typically, there's a software company, the software company, grows, they build a platform and this and that, and one of the engineers realizes there's a gap, that engineer spins off, he creates, he creates a point solution to fill that gap that their previous employer didn't have in the marketplace. Right. So now we've got company B, that is scratching this itch, right? They're scratching this itch, they're crushing, crushing, they go back with all those customers that said, this was a problem with your solution, they get them all on board, all of a sudden, they're on this rocket ship, and they realize, oh, shit, we can only grow so fast scratching this itch. So let's start plugging in other things so that we can grow up market expand and get more wallet share. Well, then you start building and cross functionality for things that already exist in the MAR tech stack. So the MAR tech stack gets messier. And Salesforce goes, You know what that is kind of interesting, we should scratch that itch, we're gonna bite you, right? So they get bought up on the Salesforce, they go die, because Salesforce doesn't innovate on it. And they just kind of move on and keep working. So that's how the, like the consolidation cycle goes. And if you tie that back to the partnership ecosystem, if you come in as a partner person into this SAS company, that you're the first one, first, what what itch, are we scratching in the marketplace? Right? And can we find a partner partner in the ecosystem that can help us really bubble that up and make it stickier, right, so that we're not just relying on adding more product roadmap to expand with our customers, but we can, we can be a part of a broader ecosystem. And I think that's where if you can find partnerships that help you do that organically, you might be able to get a little bit stickier and build lifetime value into those into those partnerships.

Jared Fuller  43:53
I couldn't agree more. It's like the, the automation in the data is the new noise in a lot of ways, right? Like it's, it's really hard to synthesize, like one of the I'm on the board of advisors to a company called notably.ai. And they're in the research space. Right? And like, why find is such a fascinating company is that all of a sudden, it's like, Well, anyone can build anything. But the insight like why to build what to build based on actual customer conversations are far more valuable than just being a competent pm or a competent, you know, engineer, right? Like the Insight is way more powerful than the same way. It's like, yeah, you can go to G to crowd gt.com. And you can go look at the best, you know, attribution software, the best ABM platform or whatever and get the best reviews and you can go talk to a rep and you can buy it but that's not even half the job, like executing with it really well cross functionally across everything is way harder, especially as that evolution happens over time. And sixth sense adds 30 more layers to their platform, like what you just said is like, I think it's actually a great idea. Yeah, like it's a different perspective on the same trend that like trust is the new data. Like, that's what I've been saying is like, that's by far the most important thing. Versus, hey, I have an innovative thing. Right? And that's Well,

Isaac Morehouse  45:13
I mean, like, you know, and I have not been on the, you know, the enterprise size company, but I have run some SMBs and been on that side. I don't care about any of these tools, right? I mean, it's just the classic thing you didn't, you don't want to buy a drill, you want a two inch hole or whatever. I don't, I don't care. Like you said, you talk to customers. And they're like, oh, my gosh, it sounds like magic. I literally am like, yes, I want someone who just does something that that the outcome is feels magical to me, I don't even care what they use behind the scenes, I don't care what stack they need to sign me up for here, take the take the credit card that I spun up for you sign it up, just tell me how much it's gonna cost. I just want that outcome that result once upon a time, when there were fewer options I did, I thought it was really interesting. I wanted to know and get into the tech stack. And I thought it was kind of cool to be hands on. And I was just overwhelming. So I'm like, I don't care. I don't want that. I want someone who knows who's done it over and over again. And they know for my business's use case, here's the stack they're going to use. I don't even have to like share put the logins and one password in case I need it. But I hope I don't you know, I want you to manage it for me, you know?

Yeah, you know, that's an executive mentality. You know, there's still executives who think that way, whether you're in SMB or in the enterprise. The challenge with that is where the the mahr tech ecosystem especially has done such a great job is their marketing is awesome, right? They make people believe they have to have these things. And they've created careers for people. I mean, look at marketing, automation, marketing ops was not a thing 15 years ago, right? Because of marketing automation. It's a high, well paid career path. Right? So these people have this job of evaluating technology in the enterprise that Isaac, you don't have as an SMB, or the CEO of an SMB, I don't give a shit, what technology you use, I want the outcome, right? So now you see, right, your your big enterprise sellers, they are selling those big outcomes at a higher level, but they have to orchestrate all these players, they have to orchestrate marketing ops, and sales, ops, and finance and all these different things to come to a solution that oftentimes requires a partner to come to that solution, because this, the software on its own isn't going to get that outcome. Right. So we're saying the same thing. But in the enterprise. It's

Isaac Morehouse  47:35
interesting, though, that that you added that because that's a layer that I think sometimes gets under appreciate that that ops person there, they're not bringing the executive, I don't give a shit. I just want to maximize the the outcome. Who cares? They have, they have loyalties,

their careers to Marketo. And a lot of cases, their career was defined by HubSpot there. You know what I mean? Like,

Isaac Morehouse  48:00
right? They have buddies that work on certain Oh, I only, you know, I'm really partial to whatever this CMS versus this one, oh, I hate those ones, because they did me wrong in a previous job. Oh, I always go to the conference with these guys. So there's like this whole, and they they're a big part of that role. And so that's what I think when people talk about ecosystems and building trust and community. That's one of those roles where I think all those things kind of intersect.

The marchex done a great job of that, like a really great job.

Jared Fuller  48:29
A fantastic job, almost almost to good job was to go green to 10,000 ads a day like, wow, we know how to serve up, serve up a funnel anytime, anyplace anywhere. That's fine. Josh, I think this is going to be an episode that's on repeat for some partner managers and agency leaders out there. I think you laid it down very honestly, transparently, like you do. In in sales, right? Or selling I should say, love, hate sales. So go check out Josh, this podcast if you want to learn from the other side of the table. I own a small agency for a little bit of time, but Josh has seen the good, the bad and the ugly across 1000s of accounts and martec and the explosive growth there. And from a boutique agency up into you know, an industry leader was shift paradigm. So Josh, that was that was a blast, man. That was tons of great knowledge. Thank you so much for coming

on. You are welcome. Appreciate you both having me. Absolutely. Isaac any last minute

Jared Fuller  49:25
plugs before we bounce?

Isaac Morehouse  49:27
No, I was just gonna say if if you heard Josh talking and you're like, you know what? I need to I need to learn how to work with agencies. I need to I need to get better at this. Maybe you're new to it. We still we got a little bit of time left to register for the course that we put together with sassy sales, the partner manager accelerator so you can find that a partner hacker.com right on the homepage, we got a big ad for a partner manager accelerator. It's a two day cohort based course to help you get your feet wet and hopefully if you go through that, you won't be sending Josh annoying, you know,

Jared Fuller  49:59
account mapping requests. Unlike Revealer, crossbite, give me your account. Let's give me your account. Let's just cold cold account mapping.

Use cross Greenbrook.

Jared Fuller  50:08
Hardly Oh my gosh. Yeah. So sign up or get your folks are frontlines in the partner manager accelerator course. Next week, we'll see when this airs I'll be in Philly at Supernote. So we'll we'll do the best of SAS connects next week while I'm out part two, and we'll see y'all next time. So peace out. Thanks, Josh. Thanks. Thanks, Josh.

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