072 - F*ck the Funnel - The Beginning of the End, with Allan Adler

What is up PartnerUp!?

Wow. This one was pretty awesome. Allan Adler became the first ever three-peat PartnerUp guest, and this was our best convo yet.

We unpacked the challenge of visualizing an ecosystem approach, talked about Allan’s Commitment/Influence model, and somehow wound up in a full-on anti-funnel dialogue that took us all kinds of unexpected places.

Consider this the initial salvo to kick-off the discovery of replacements for the funnel as a mental map of our markets and processes.

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Full Transcript:

Jared Fuller  0:11

Well, let's roll right in. Who knows? Who knows? This is one of those episodes where you just don't know what's going to happen. What's up Isaac? The best kind man? Would I come here for the adventure for the mystery? Yeah, yeah. So what's up partner up? We're back. And I think this is our first ever three peat on a guest. Am I not mistaken? I know I'm not mistaken because the the Triple Crown? Yeah, the hat trick. Even J McBain nearly not even him. Yeah, yeah, he beat he beat j which I'm not going to stoke those fires Alan No, thank you.

Allan Adler  0:46

Man, I got the trouble. So

Jared Fuller  0:47

we got Alan Adler back on the podcast people this is gonna be a fun one. Because I'm super excited about this topic that like there's been some conversations happening behind the scenes and some publication of content that's happened on partner hacker. And Alan's been prototyping on what the heck is happening like in the world with? How do we move past the funnel? And then Isaac wrote a great article. And then like, we're all trying to wrap our minds around all this. And Alan was like, we need to do a podcast on this. And I'm like, I completely agree. Well, like we have to. So that's where we're gonna start from that general premise today. But I don't want to just jump right in. That's too fast for partner up. Isaac, I'm gonna kick it over to you.

Well, yeah, so let me this is kind of how I'm thinking about this topic is this, the concept of an ecosystem is phenomenal. It works. It's kind of it's hitting its landing, even though there's still question around what is it it's kind of a big phrase, a big concept. And maybe it's easy to get away with like being nebulous and not being specific enough. But generally speaking, that concept using the ecosystem idea is superior to sort of the previous like, Okay, go to market right and Alan you go to ecosystem is your is your baby is your thing that seems to work when it comes to translating that into a visualization of some kind. That's what I'm really interested in is like, why, why is it so hard to visualize in a way that's useful? And what happens if you can't, what tends to happen is, we revert to things that are easy to visualize, and easy to measure and attribute. And so like, you end up kind of talking about ecosystems, but when you go into your organizational meetings and planning, you end up just reverting back to a picture of a funnel with data that can be easily measured in it. And so you're like, what you're doing in the day to day isn't matching up to what you're aspiring to, with all this funnel talk. And I want to like figure out how we fix that.

Allan Adler  2:52

And when I would actually add as a as a, as a front book book, and for this one is you've got relationships on one side, with partners, customers and communities, and you have transactions on another side. And I think what you just said, translates into this thing over here, this transaction thing, we can actually put metrics on that. Because we know what it is we know how to count it, it's observable. It's like the difference between dark social, and, and content capture, right? Content, capture dark social, all the values created in dark social, and then we capture the demand. And we say that's the important thing is the same problem that is everywhere, right relationship, transaction. And that's why I sort of iterated on, you know, a funnel, the new relationship first engagement model as a way to replace the funnel because the funnel has gotten about a zero relationship. And it's, it's relationship plus, it's like,

Jared Fuller  3:44

it's funny. It's funny, I'm thinking out loud here. And that's what we're doing here. We're prototyping, we're playing around with these ideas. So don't don't hold me to anything.

That's what I want to applaud to, there needs to be more of these combos, because we don't get to the future state by fighting the same battle battle in the funnel of like, here's the go to market operating model in the funnel in the spreadsheet. Partner, tell me how you fit into this world. And it's like, what if that world I don't fit into so we have to do this? And that's why I wanted to do this. Yeah. Yeah.

Allan Adler  4:15

Another another metaphor. And the metaphor I love, the metaphor I love is like, the funnel is clearly looking through the rearview mirror with perfect clarity. Like if I were rearview mirror, it's glass. It's just like, you know, my, my, my BMW just got clean windows and the back and clean reflections, I can see perfectly and then the front wheel mirror is like, littered with all this crap. And I can kind of see the future out there. But it's very murky. If people say, Well, I can really see the rearview mirror really terrifically Well, I'm gonna keep driving that way as opposed to like, oh, no, we have to experiment with the murky window. That's the front front facing view. The puck is going this way. They're not going back.

Jared Fuller  4:54

It's almost like Okay, so I've had this experience before where I am a big Detroit Lions. fan, which is a really depressing thing in and of itself. But where if I can't watch a game, I'm on this little sports app, and I'm watching the what the app does is, besides just show you the statistics, it will say in text format, the play that just happened, and it shows you this little picture of a field, and it will show, you know, little little where the ball is supposed to be. And then we'll say like, you know, 10 yards past the ball moves. And you could sort of visualize an entire football game Hey, guys, look, we can see every step how we move the ball down the field, and how we got into the endzone and where we struggled. And, you know, oh, look on third down, we kept getting stuck at midfield, you could see that and say, well, let's learn everything we can about how to win the next football game by looking at this. Now, if you're a fan of football, and you watch it, you know that like, Yeah, that's true, that tells you some usable things about the game. But if you're actually watching it on TV, what happens in that two minute gap between one play and the next, when it shows the ball move is like a guy on the sideline got in a fight with another guy on the sideline and the coach called timeout. And somebody gave an impassioned speech. And all of a sudden, they went out there and completely changed what they were doing based on some emotional connection, or there's a momentum swing in the game, like a turnover changes, and all of a sudden, the team feels like they're losing. And you can almost just feel that things are not going their way for this next quarter. And they're going to have to somehow survive. Like, it's almost like bad luck. It's like a thing, right? And if you're watching the game, you know that those were the turning points in the game. The x's and o's were like the last step, the result of something that was happening that can't really be measured or expressed in a diagram. And like, that's what keeps popping in my mind.

Allan Adler  6:43

That's brilliant. I mean, you could actually apply a lagging, leading lagging indicator analysis to that same analysis, right? The little X's and O's are lagging indicators, they tell you nothing about what's going to happen. They just told you what happened, somewhat like closed one. Those are lagging indicators, anybody who's managing their businesses closed one is already out of business, they just haven't been received the memo. Right? It's like, no, they gotta be in the moment, the leading indicators are what you saw, that's going to influence the lagging indicators. And they'll show up in the X's and O's in the next screen or the next screen after that. Which is one of the reasons the funnel is so fucked. Excuse me, my French because it's focusing on transactions, your experience was relational. When you went to the X's and O's, it was transactional. So it's, I don't know if that metaphor if that is used frame.

Jared Fuller  7:32

I mean, the tagline for partner hacker is trust is the new data. And what I meant by that, is that not that data doesn't matter. What I meant by that, is that the data points, there is like almost data that connects those data points. Like there's an n, right, there's a there's a variable that is not currently measured. That is like, what is the strength between x and y, which is this new delta of z, right? There's this strength between A and B, which is this new delta of C? What the hell is that? Yeah. And that's the relationship like it is the strength of that node. It's not that the node exists, right? It's an X, Y, and Z axis is a new way of thinking about things. Because the way that go to market teams typically, I mean, actually, here's a perfect analogy. It's actually if you think about the go to market old funnel, used to think in terms of like the waterfall of, you know, awareness, you know, interest decision action, or like whatever framework for marketing to sales, you would have targeted accounts, you would have these people that then enter your website. And then there was some decision where they downloaded an ebook, or they sign up for a demo, they enter your sales pipeline, then all of a sudden, b2b got obsessed with what intent data. Now, intent data wasn't any new data, to anything that existed, it was accounts, and it was contacts, and it was related to your company and your category. But there was this new variable of like, interest intent. That was mildly disruptive to b2b, this new thing that we're talking about the strength of those relationships. That's extremely disruptive, because not all data is equal at that point. And I think that's what you're unpacking Allen really well. And Isaac is like, there is this new variable that sits between the data points, that isn't relational, it's almost like graph data. Like if you think about all data is being living in a sequel table. Right? So sequel is just like variables, it's tables and datasets. A graph data blows that all apart. Right? Like if you know sequel, that doesn't mean you know, graph. In this world, we're almost dealing with a graph.

Allan Adler  9:46

Yeah, you also think you can also look at the funnel in terms of its limitations as being when does something become a marketing qualified lead in relationship to the customer's intent, so let's put intent and SQL SQL closed one into a context. And I would argue that the big one of the big problems with the funnel is it doesn't really capture the customer at the right place. So an example would be like, let's say that like an S, a system integrator is talking to an enterprise customer, six months before, there's even an RFP for said, software product, right? That six month that preceded it will determine who will win that RFP, which of the vendors will win it. But that doesn't even show up in the fucking funnel. Because it's too early. It's not properly qualified. It doesn't the intent data doesn't say I'm about to buy ERP, right? It says, I'm about to buy a big project from Accenture. And so we could even look at this context of like the funnel without the ecosystem is kind of like breakfast with no juice, or eggs. It's like, you got to have everything in there, you got to have the ecosystem that preceded the qualification of your deal in your funnel. Otherwise, your funnel is broken, because the intent data is too late. You're almost like, way too past the point of, of intent. Yeah, it's

Jared Fuller  11:05

like how do you generate intent or influence? Right? Like, if you're thinking about, Oh, I want to listen to intent, but I'm not in control of it. Right? Like, if you're an intent marketing, like intent data is amazing. But you're not interested in controlling intent. You don't get it. Right, like the intent exists out there. It's like rearview mirror, right. It's like, oh, there's intent out there. So I want to market to that intent. Well, No shit, Sherlock. Like, of course, you would want to market to that intent. But how do you create it? How do you manifest that influence? That's, that's an entirely different thing. Right? Exactly. Oh, we got Alan pulling up the screenshare right now. But remember, I

Allan Adler  11:43

wrote this cool article in this really great. Have you checked? Have you subscribed for partner hacker yet? Because awesome. I was

Jared Fuller  11:49

literally just looking at this picture as you were talking, and I was gonna bring it up. So I'm glad you did.

Allan Adler  11:55

Awesome. Awesome. So you know, there's there's two dimensions that when we looked at the the continuum of the customer communion partner, by the way, one of the first things we need to fix in the funnel is stop treating the funnel is just for customers. That's mistake, right? If there is going to be any kind of replace the funnel, you should replace the funnel with all the things that you need to try and drive commitment with, you need to drive commit with customers, commit with community commit with partners, as you say, accounts, individuals and customers, right? All of these people need to get committed to you. Because if they don't, you're not gonna get any kind of flywheel right. One of the ways that you get flywheels is you get many different kinds of people committed to you. And then you start having these interactions. The partner loves you. And then the customers come because the partners are there, and the community comes because the partner, the community, customer there, that's commitment. So that's number one is like, let's stop talking about the funnel with just customers.

Jared Fuller  12:41

Let's pause right there. Alan, let's pause right there. Because I think you might have, maybe this is the answer. Maybe it's not. When I was saying, you know, what is this new variable, this n, you know, the a, b to the C or the x, y to the Z? Do you think commitment is that ordinal? Meaning it's hard to measure? What scale of one to 10? But it's like, less than greater than Right? Like it moves in one direction? Or the other? Do you think that commitment? You know, like trust, like, is, in this image right here? Are you saying that's the variable that we need to try and measure? That's the lagging indicator? That's the lagging indicator, not a leading indicator?

Allan Adler  13:17

It's a close one. That's the closed one. Commitment is the new closed one. If you really think about it, right? When a customer buys a piece of software, they're not done. They're just committed to a certain level. It's just it's a stage. It's not. It's the beginning and rather than the middle, certainly not the beginning or the end. And then after that you move to advocacy,

Jared Fuller  13:36

or cure, right? If the commitment goes down, then you might be like, I'm not I'm not sure this

Allan Adler  13:41

directly. Right. But if you go from you go from I'm interested, I'm going to check it out to get committed to start driving adoption, that that part of the funnel actually isn't broken, because it's looking. If we look at it, instead of at transactional level relationship level, How committed is this relationship to my company? Full stop? That's the question we want to be asking, right? How committed is this relationship with the customer with a partner with an ecosystem. And then once we achieve some level of commitment, then we can start driving adoption, joint value creation advocacy. So that part of the funnel is not broken. But that's only one dimension. The other dimension is all the dark social stuff that happens around that commitment that we actually can orchestrate. So on one side, we have ecosystems that create influence for us. And the other side, we have our created influence, which brings us really early in the funnel well before an MQL in a traditional sense. So that's why this somewhat, you know, conceptual model was intended to sort of depict these two dimensions. One is how committed am I and the other is, how am I driving that influence across the entire cycle, recognizing that customers don't want to buy products they want to

Jared Fuller  14:45

buy Ellen I'm really curious as I'm looking at this influence continuum, and I'm imagining some way to plot influence versus attribute ability and how those are sometimes at odds, right, some of the most influential activities are the least attributable and I'm thinking about, like, as Derek was, Jared was talking about the, you know, okay, we got to, you know, get people to debt, let's say download a PDF, okay, we gotta get people to download it, because then we have their lead, that's a lead, it's measurable, I can look at that. And I can say my marketing team drove this lead. Versus, hey, we have a podcast. We have, we have listeners, we can kind of get data on that. But we don't know what that means. Because we don't capture anything about them. We just know it was listened to. So that's devalued. And what's interesting is, once you hit a certain size, like the long end, the fat end of the tail, everyone can kind of note like, if I said to you, what's more important that, you know, your podcast has a million people listening, or millions of people that you're up at, you know, the top podcast or level, or that you have some PDF that gets, you know, 1000s of leads, they're gonna say, Oh, well, obviously having that podcast, but anything below those absolute top tier levels of influence that are like obvious household name, tend to I think get undervalued tremendously, because people don't know what to do with them. They're like, so what you have a podcast, where are the reasons, you know?

Allan Adler  16:21

But let's, let's let's let's ground ourselves on some realities that have nothing to do with ecosystem number one reality is that a vast proportion of all demand generation happens in Dark Social, I'm not making that up. Everybody agrees with that, right. And we know that we should turn up difficulty tracking it, we know it. And that which we track is usually what's called demand capture, which happens after demand generation. So if 95% of the activity is already happening in dark social, we're inheriting a broken system from day one, from day one, that this canonical funnel is seriously messed up from an attribution perspective. And anybody wants to argue that is like, I don't know why they're doing it. So there's one argument to be made that this influence dimension of having an ecosystem could influence actually improves on that, because although it's very difficult to track dark social, it's less difficult to track direct, dark social, when it's happening in an ecosystem, especially if one of those ecosystems is is a partner with with whom you already have attribution. So an example that is like if we have if we partnered together, Jared, you and I partner go to which software companies and you create demand through your influence channel, right, I can at least attribute that to my integrated partner and tie it to a better together story that we created. That's a lot easier than if some community member floating around, does something and I have zero attribution. So we can actually improve on this through the system.

Jared Fuller  17:41

I think so. And I think there's this is where we can like shout out to our own, like partner tech world and community. Like there's some cool companies out there that are solving this and this isn't sponsored or anything like I was just taking a look@everflo.io today, Alan, I don't know if you've taken a look at the product. What was so interesting to me was all of the different parameters and ways that you could associate activity back to some partner just not for saying this is the reason this person signed up like why affiliate world channel world old world is so backwards, is that they try to approach every now and then where's Chris Walker? So you're saying dark social, Alan, and then there's the old world of affiliate like one link, one click one purchase. Okay, there's dark social on one spectrum. And then there's this other one link, one click one purchase on the other dark socials, like this amorphous thing that you know, Chris Walker on LinkedIn. God bless him because I actually love his content. But he's also mystifying and shrouding in like all of this mystery by calling it dark social, it's not that there is some in between where there's like everflo where if someone you know, you refer into your partner's funnel, or you influence into your partner's funnel, some contact, but it's not for a transaction, it's for awareness. Like, I bring someone to you through a virtual event, and they become a subscriber to your communications. And then you influence them for 90 days through your communications and then they become a customer. Wait, you're going to tell me that I didn't have anything to do with that screw you. They didn't even care about you at all. Prior to me putting them in you're not saying that I deserve 100% Commission, but how can we ignore the fact that they came to you through our communication?

Allan Adler  19:31

That's an EQL dude. That's an that was the first funnel that the first one like created before going off the reservation and doing this ridiculous conceptual model was just putting EQL on top of MQL and colonic

Jared Fuller  19:45

but yes, that was baling wire and duct tape.

This is really interesting to me because I'm so many things that I've been, you know, learning being immersed in the partnerships world have me looking back on previous experiences through different lenses. So The first company that I that I found in practice, it was like a boot camp for young people, right. And so they're, they're making a commitment for a year long program, they're paying like 12 grand is a really big deal. It's a big lifestyle thing. Many of them are doing it instead of college. So they have all this social pressure. So we would find this weird thing. We're like, influencers podcasters, especially newsletter people that our audience listened to were really influential. But we didn't have a way a lot of them didn't even have very big audiences. They were niche. So we didn't have an easy way to work with them. Because they would say, well, let's do an affiliate thing where we would, okay, great, we'll pay you $1,000. For every one of these that becomes a student, it almost never worked, because they would listen to the podcast, then they would go talk about it with their friends or parents, maybe they would come on our site and do some stuff. This would last for like a year, they'd be thinking about us for a year before they've made the decision. And when they made the decision, we often wouldn't find out until after they were in the program where they'd be talking and saying, I think the first time I heard about this was Isaac was on this podcast one time. And we would have no way the lag was so long, there were so many other touchpoints. So doing like direct referral payments didn't work. But paying just for like, okay, here, let's pay for an ad spot. That seems too nebulous to us because we don't know the return we're gonna get and figuring out something in between there to say I want to capture some level of influence that short of a transaction, but that's more than just an impression. Like, that's to me the missing the magic sauce.

Allan Adler  21:39

Yeah, that's good point. It, there's definitely a there's definitely a whether you call it dark social or any form of sort of, you know, harder to attribute aspect, you can almost look at it from the standpoint of like, a transaction, like you mentioned, how much value came from that webcast from that from that one webcast, versus a campaign. And maybe the way to do it is to think is to move more to a campaign model to say, if we campaign on a topic, and then we look at the value of that campaigning period. And we look at the activities, and we compare and contrast the value of that, because there's a certain amount of mass influence that you need to create value if you just influence, like, think of it from a social media perspective, like if I wrote one time every month, I would have no influence. But I write every single day. So I've loaded in finance. So hopefully, I don't say dumb things. Right? It'll tell you every single time. And then I'll say, and then I'll say, Yeah, but what you said was done, too. And then we get people to laugh. Jay and I did one of those. That was crazy. But anyways, the the where I'm going with that is that is that as we think about influences, rolling in the funnel, bringing this back to the top right. And we think about the ecosystems influencing the funnel, I think we have to get to something more than a transactional influence event like I did a webcast. And something more than we've been partnering for four years together, we've done 78 webcasts, there needs to be some measurable period or zone, maybe call it campaigning, influence campaigning, that we can actually use as a as a as a way to measure, you know, real true significant change. I don't know if that's a good way to think about it. But we do need to solve for the attribution and measurement issue, or will just continue to look in the rearview mirror.

Jared Fuller  23:21

Well, what's so interesting, too, though, like, Isaac, you've said this before, and I'm forgetting where the model came from, but like the map is not the territory. Now. Tying this all together, like where does the rubber meets the road? The rubber meets the road in that this is my opinion, my opinion is that we like to treat the world as machines as humans, machines, we're in control of systems, we're less in control of machines have a finite number of ways to reach the outcome systems have an innumerate, its equity, finality, right and enumerate number of ways to reach the end outcome. So whenever we're sitting down and planning for our business, we treat it like a machine. There's an operating model, there's inputs, and there's outputs. Right? And what do we do? In business? Whenever we're building that operating plan, we create scenarios. Right? The the board plan, the team plan, the best case and the worst, the worst case, whereas in a systems thinking approach is like everything's a scenario. Everything is like it's probabilistic thinking versus outcome thinking. And if you think about the map is not the territory. It's like, okay, here's what we generally think of our business. That's the operating model. And a funnel is a permutation of that. A flywheel if we're to call out our buddy often Isha high and HubSpot, and what Brian Halligan and Mark killings and they rolled out to the world, the customer flywheel versus the funnel, no matter what we do, maybe it's imperfect because it's not a machine that we control. It's these interdependent and independent actors. You But as the more that they collaborate, the more the outcome changes, perhaps, in our favor, perhaps not in our favor. So is this, you know, like part of me is like, this seems so in vain to try and define this new world through like the lens of something that's like, it's not apples and oranges. It's kind of my point apples and oranges. Those are both fruit. We're not even talking about the same category of stuff. We're talking about noon. It's like, as if there was a new food group being entered into the pyramid as the food pyramid still work? Well, it's kind of like an apple. It's kind of like a sugar. It's kind of like a starch. It's kind of like that. No, it's none of those things. The pyramid needs to be exploded.

Allan Adler  25:46

Yeah, well, you could also we could also relate this to parts and a whole, like, if I'm a technology company, I'm a part I'm a part of a whole solution. Very few technology companies. Even I would argue Salesforce, HubSpot. Atlassian, the big giants, right, could really call themselves the complete tech stack of company. They're not right, they're part of a hole. And if you're a small or medium sized tech stack, you're probably part of one of those are a part of that hole that caused it HubSpot University, the Salesforce universe, is whenever we look at a funnel, increasingly, as we become interdependent, and have all these tech partnerships and all these channel partnerships, we're looking at a complete incomplete part of the whole, it would literally be like, like trying to calculate the value of the wheels on the car that got sold, without considering how the wheels got on the car. Well, if the dealership well before they got there. So if we think systematically, I mean, maybe even kind of to keep the concept of an ecosystem funnel, just kind of a more interesting analysis than an individual purchase funnel, then we might be able to deal with some of those complexities in a more elegant way. Because then we can at least look at the interdependencies systematically, rather than looking at our little piece of the puzzle. Because this is the biggest problem, I think of the funnel is the funnel looks at things inside four walls that are no longer gated. Okay, so those walls are

Jared Fuller  27:05

too much of a stretch to equate the funnel and go to market to like a SQL table, or inputs, outputs or a machine versus an ecosystem approach to a graph. And here's what I mean by it's like,

it's like a network graph. You know, right? It

is it a network graph. Like for example, Alan, whenever Dave Gerhart posts on LinkedIn, or Chris Walker, or our good buddy, Joe rally, and their posts go viral, why do their posts go viral? And not? You know, yours or mine? Why not yours? I mean, are ours go viral? In that we hit you know, 30,000 40,000 50,000 views like, okay, cool. We went viral, but like, there's get half a million 1,000,005 billion, you know, like,

Allan Adler  27:56

it's it's Network Graphics, actually, what I said exactly what he said

Jared Fuller  28:00

the strength of their relationship with their viewers is stronger than ours. True or false? And it's like, well, we want to think that ours is like, of course ours is. But then you look at Chris Walker's track record, or Jill rallys track record of Dave Gearhart track record, no, they've been working their network for frickin 10 years, putting out beautifully consistent, amazing content, challenging the status quo in a novel way. That simple. It's like, the trust that they have with their audience is extremely high. And so they're not, they're super, super good, right? But what they're what they're doing, though, is they're not like LinkedIn is not placing a bet and being like, okay, so Joe rally is going to post X amount of times, or Chris Walker is gonna post X amount of times, and then y is going to happen, then z is going to happen. And then guess what, here's our revenue output by people posting on LinkedIn,

Allan Adler  28:52

like totally organic. Exactly. So

Jared Fuller  28:55

the the network graph is like, they're committed to the, to the graph. And it's like, all of our bets are on the graph. And then we know that net net, the emergent properties from that graph will be out anything that we could design, which is the funnel, a funnel is a design or an orchestrated are, I'm in control, I'm in my ivory tower, I'm waving my orchestra wand, and voila, $40 million $400 million, versus, hey, you have no idea but we're committed to this, Hey, look, what happened?

Well, you can, it helps you start to think maybe more long term about your play. So if you imagine that, you know, network graph and or like synapses in the brain, whatever. You are a node, right? And all you have control over is what your node what's in your node and what you put out to other nodes, right? And so you can send something across that connection to those other nodes. And if you're sending them shit, they're going to fall off the network. They're going to disk Connect, and when and when they do, you don't just lose them, you lose all the other nodes they're connected to, and then and then and then right? So you need to think about that. But um, conversely, if you're sending stuff to a dead node, that's never sending anything back to you, right? Like in biology, what would happen, you would want to cut that one off, because they're going to siphon a lot of energy away, right? They're taking, you don't, you don't keep sending stuff down a pathway that just keeps that ending. So like, thinking about, it sounds like this weird karma type thing, right? Like, I just gotta like, keep putting out good. And then it will make its way back to me somehow, but truly, in like a biological sense, or a network graph sense. That is true. That is how social media works. That is how many elements biology work, like, you have the ability to send across these channels, things to these nodes into the to the extent that you are strengthening those nodes strengthening those connections, they are going to now bring in the notes that they're connected with, and expand your overall influence over the ecosystem. But that's just being really deliberate about what you put out there even when there's not a transaction involved.

Allan Adler  31:11

Exactly. So you know, on the left side of my model, I had an ecosystem influence. And I think that one of the key questions I would ask to anybody that's challenging the funnel is, what is the power and value of the ecosystem influence that I have? Because I take it as a given that if I get Joe rally, to want to promote me, I am going to get some of the benefits of her network effect of her network graph, right? That's this whole idea. But like, we connect ourselves to people who have more influence than us, we become friends with them, we do we do kindness as we we care about them, then they in turn care about us and our network graphing, because that's how it works. That's how you get broader network effects, right, or broader network graphs. So I don't think that anybody looking at the funnel is measuring the relationship between the size and influence of their ecosystem influence, like how much ecosystem influence by the way, which ecosystem the one your customer cares about? give a shit about your ecosystem, right? How much influence over my customers ecosystem do I have? Thereby how much is my customers ecosystem, helping me, there's probably no greater data point. In any universe that contributes to whatever funnel you want to talk about, then that variable alone. And although that's a little hard to measure, it's an off plate thing to go cultivate. And anybody if you look at anybody who's coming up, you know, you're you're the master of of doing ninja numbers on big giant Partners is a little tiny, squat company, and getting them to treat you as Partner of the Year. This is a perfect example of that. Right? You turned HubSpot when you were panda Doc, I don't know if that's the right combo, but one of those two into a giant influencer for you and then you became Partner of the Year. This is exactly what I'm talking about. Right? How do you get the influencer of your customer to influence on your behalf period? That's the big input to the funnel. And any CRO who doesn't know that is not talking to customers. Talking to the ecosystem?

Jared Fuller  33:11

I I think I completely agree. I think the we were we were this is how much we're getting out right now folks, for y'all listening in and like following this Convo? Because if you are if you're on a run right now, and you're following Alan Adler and Isaac geeking out like kudos to you, you are a, you're a heck of a human being. Because this is, this is like some mind bending topics that like we need to be able to go to the boardroom and influence our investors in our executives on because, you know, asking the question, Alan, that you started with the beginning of your combo, like what is the power of your ecosystem influence? This is where b2b and the operating model and the funnel tries to reduce the answer to that question to a digit. Right? A number, a numeric value, and a numeric value goes, Okay. Well, can I measure that on a one to 10? And what I would say is no, you cannot, you cannot measure that on a one to 10 or a one to 100 or a one to 1000 scale. I think you could measure, like my answer to that question would be like, Okay, let's get the right scale. In the scale isn't Isaac, like we're literally chatting about this while we're talking live. Alan, Isaac and me, like I have multiple chasseurs go. I was like, is it ordinal versus decimal? And then Isaac's like, no, it's an ordinal versus Cardinal. And what I would pose back to the audience into you, Alan and Isaac is I'm not sure the answer that question. But here's what I would say. To me. It's on the scale of horrible to incredible. So what's the value of my power of my ecosystem influence? Horrible to incredible to me, that's ordinal like, it's somewhere in this worldview, and I can't put a number on it, but Like whatever the heck the Supreme Court said, on whatever ruling, you know, you know, when you see it, when it's incredible, you know it. When it's horrible, you know it. The second you try to put a digit on it, everything breaks.

This is the big insight. I think in economics, yes, like really early on, made me like reject most sort of utilitarian attempts to do economics. It's the difference between ordinal and Cardinal that in when it comes to economic value, people obviously value things to varying degrees, and their value is subjective to them. And it's not Cardinal. So like, if I say to you, here's a KitKat. Here's a Snickers. Which one do you like? More? You can answer that easily. You prefer one? It's, it's like better than is sort of when you're thinking ordinal? This one's better than this one. If I say to you, how many utiles does each one bring? You know, how, how much better than you can't put it, you can't say it's 1.5. Better, you could say? Well, I would in order to give me in order to make me choose the KitKat over the Snickers, you would have to also throw in a cup of coffee. Okay, we're still not talking about quantifiable cardinal numbers, we're still talking rank order preferences. And like, that's how many of these things in economic exchanges work we try to give them and dollars help make it appear? They trick us into thinking they're Cardinal, but they're still not Cardinal. It's like, I'm willing to part with this many dollars for this thing, given this certain circumstances. But really, it's a rank order preference in this. I prefer this to the dollars, I can't even tell you an exact quantifiable amount. It's just based on you know, compared to my alternatives.

Okay, there's going to be maybe dozens of you listening right now, the dozens. The understand what Isaac just talked about is what's called the subjective theory of value. Right, Isaac? Was that, is that fair? Enough statement? Yeah. Okay, so subjective theory of value, the subjective theory of value states in another frame. If you're an economist, and you're in this new world, or if you're in go to market and you're in this new world, you try to sit back and state, you try to answer questions like, for this consumer, how much more does she want a watch than a pair of shoes? As the consumer, please tell me how you would quantify that? Okay, the A, you can't, you can't like I have no, if you ask me that question, and I am in the middle of a purchase decision, I cannot. Okay, now, let's abstract that to millions of people. That is proof, undeniable that the subjective theory of value range true everywhere, and it's this Ordinal Scale of preference, that at some points, I'm preferring something over something else. And assigning a digit is not how I make my decision. So why would you model it from the perspective of a digit? It's inherently flawed,

Allan Adler  38:01

I want to bring this back to a real world example. Because probably, we might get a few more lessons if they Oh, they're going to talk about something I can relate to. Because it's not as complicated. So the real example is my own personal consulting trajectory. Okay, so for the longest time I was management consulting, the way you make money in management consulting is you you met you work your network, knock on the door, he's, hey, I help you last month and help you this month, got really tired of that business. And I said, like, there's got to be a better way. So someone really smart, I think it was some guy on a podcast, like I know, Jared, somebody, he was talking about the power of influence, I was paying attention like, oh, like, what if I become like a really key thought leader? What if I do that, so I dedicate myself to like putting hours and hours of time into creating frameworks and models and putting them out for free and give them away to everybody. And something magical happened, my business flipped. And it went from me having to do outbound to everything being inbound. What happened was, is that because I gave everything away for free gift, gifting, people started to trust me, then I build relationships with people where they felt like he's not trying to get money from me, he just wants to help me out. And then they call me and ask for help. And something along that line is exactly what we're talking about here. Right? From give from get to give from transaction to relationship from Show Me, you know, the classic model for go to market has always been tried to extract dollars, squeeze people through a funnel, at the other end will squirt out their money and then toss the body. You know, some things happen where we don't care about them, they don't even gonna get into our funnel. If we don't, if they don't trust us, they don't even get into our funnel. So, somewhere along the lines, we need to bring into this conversation, what is the impact of giving? What is the impact of not worrying about the transaction? What is the impact of building deep, incisive relationships from which then they request for your product versus you having to push it? If this is not just a funnel conversation? This is a complete Zeitgeist change the conversation you have with show rally. This is what we're we have to start with this because if we Don't start with this we a model that's no longer relevant because we got the wrong assumptions.

Jared Fuller  40:03

I love Alan something you said at the near the very beginning of the conversation that the funnel, it's not just for customers, it's also it's also internal, like when you when you understand, you've got to orient your team around a different framework as well, I remember, at the previous company I was talking about before, we would observe some times all the time, customers or potential customers not following the way our funnel was set up is like, Okay, you're supposed to have a pre qualifying call with this person. And then once you're that interested, you'll download some guide, or you'll apply and then we'll do like an application review call, you know, and then blah, blah, blah. And so we had these roles segmented out based on this pattern of behavior, like this person doesn't need to be as qualified to take this phone call, as this person further down, the funnel does, they just need to do the minimum, the customers weren't following this pattern. So we kept trying to figure out how to get them to do what we wanted them to do, because that's how our team was structured, we don't want you to talk to the expensive employee first, their time is worth more, we want you to talk to the chief employee first, how can we force you to do what you don't want to do, which is all wrong, right. And we finally just blew it up. And we're like, this isn't working. We're removing any distinction between a employee who takes the entry level calls and the neck, we're just everybody on the team, you talk to any customer that wants to talk to you. And we don't care if you call it an application interview or a pre quote, We don't care what you call it, you get on the phone with them, when you

Allan Adler  41:34

blew up your you blew up your

Jared Fuller  41:36

phone, we completely we completely got rid of it and said, Look, here's what's always worked, we put out content into the world, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of articles, podcasts, books, speaking at events, like we just put it out all the time, we're always doing that. People love it. And somehow they end up wanting to talk to us or apply to our program. So we'll just take whatever, sometimes they come on the site and download something if we want to put it on there. But what works best is if we just make everything 100% free, and then have two options, you can apply. Or you can click that I want to talk to somebody. And people would do both people would do one of them people would do, they'd get on the phone, and then they'd walk through the application while they're on the phone. Great. Let's do it that way. They would apply without ever wanting to talk to somebody, sometimes that's fine, too. It was like, we just had to stop trying to fit them into a funnel. We literally actually ended up getting rid of our marketing automation software. We were so extreme also because we lost the 90% first year discount that HubSpot offered but but it was like we are trying to adapt our team, to our tools and to our mental models, rather than just responding to what our customers are telling us.

Allan Adler  42:44

Wow. Yeah, but you said something really important. You said long lines of my little story, you gave away a lot. You showed you cared you put energy into the stuff that was free. Because you recognize that that was going to be the basis for relationship building that was going to be the basis for trust building that was going to be the basis for inbounds that really matter. You know, an inbound is not a BS, little MQL. If it's based on having someone digested hundreds of hours of your hard work that was given to them for free. That should be written down somewhere because it means that all marketing that's based on ads is BS. Because who cares about your damn ad? Because I don't care about you. Until you make me care about you care. You care about me first, then I'll care about you and that inbound is I'll bet you your inbound conversion rates were super high.

Jared Fuller  43:35

Oh, I mean, literally, it was like when people came to us and booked a call or booked whatever the conversion rate was off the charts when we tried to create a a broader, higher part of the funnel. Those people were almost always worthless. But when we were just like we're removing the whole top, there is no top of the funnel. There's just free stuff. And then there's you're applying to the program. That's it, then it was like it just worked better. It just worked better.

Allan Adler  44:05

You know, it's interesting, back some of the you said, Jared, I think it was really important you were talking about machines and how machines are difficult metaphor to apply. Because ecosystems are much more heuristic. They're less about algorithms, and they're all about intra dynamics. And if you think about it from that context, the funnel is based on what I would call a fragmented view of the world. The world lives in ecosystems, and those ecosystems are integrated. And all the funnels that we work in, are fragmented, and that fragmentation leads to a really incomplete picture, your funnel that you talked about Isaac was an incomplete picture, the way that your customers wanted to operate, your content was a complete picture. So you're actually putting out really integrated stuff, relationship caring, and then try to put people into a fragmented box. And all funnels especially in interconnected into dynamic, you know, world are fragments of of completeness. And they're if they're machines, they're, they're, they're components of machines, and never the whole machine. And so it's like, this is why I think we need to bring the ecosystem influence in, we need to bring in an ecosystem funnel because the world doesn't exist in these fragmented silos. And file and, and, and funnels are fragmented silos.

Jared Fuller  45:22

I love I love the idea real quick there. I love the idea of just thinking in terms of surrounding things, rather than funneling things, right. Like I want to, I want to surround my ecosystem or my company. And I almost think in concentric circles I love I'm huge on narratives, because I think everything starts there for people. So like, I think in three concentric circles, and each one has a narrative, the company circle, your your internal organization, the company story is the narrative that draw that's, that's your why that's your founding myth. That's the, this is the thing that we all believe we, we all hold on to our company's story, right? The next concentric circle is your users. And that's your customer story. That's the story of how that's that's see. That's customer success. That's content. That's enablement content that's telling the narrative and reinforcing to them how to succeed as customers and and making them famous promoting them when they do. And then the third concentric circle is for your total addressable market. And that's the category story. That's where you're telling the story of the category as a whole. And when you mess those around, when you try to tell you're a total market, your company story, you sound like a narcissist, they don't care, right? It's like that's for the team to rally around. And then you got your customer story. And then you got your category story. And you're thinking of like, surrounding in these larger and larger circles, this whole ecosystem with a unifying story, you know,

I love it. I love it. I like that. Alan, I love you.

Allan Adler  46:55

I might challenge it might challenge me challenge the second circle.

Jared Fuller  46:58

Yeah, and that could be wrong. That's that's very crude. Actually might

Allan Adler  47:01

be it might be customer comedian partner circle, because increasingly, it's very difficult to discern where a really close partner and a Work customer are. It's kind of like a Jared, like, you know, when Benioff stood up and said, partner, love partners, customers, and communities, employees, that these are the three circles. And that customer circle almost has Centricity all the time. And maybe we need to balance it with something that's a little bit more, you know, customer community partner. And then the category.

Jared Fuller  47:31

I'm going to end this episode with the title that I just came up with. I just like in this with Isaac, Allen. This was amazing. I geeked out and had so much fun here, Isaac, thank you. The title of this episode is going to be fuck the funnel, the beginning of the end with Alan Adler

Allan Adler  47:53

sounds very nice. I'll put the link sounds like Yeah. And Mordor and like, no,

Jared Fuller  47:59

no, no, no, no, it's the beginning of the beginning of the end. Which means we know that what happens in these moments of rebirth is something greater comes a new, right? Like, I'm sorry to my friend song Grom from terminus, who's a big friend of Gil rally, I think Joe was like a whole big section of his book, where he said, flip my funnel. And I just don't want to flip the funnel, I think it's fucked. It's over. It's done. It's dead. And like Salesforce did to software with the big whoop, and the cross through software. I think you're gonna see some more fun, Park partner hacker that has the funnel with a big X through it. And it's not flip my funnel, it's fuck the funnel. So

no, it's gonna be it's gonna be the middle finger emoji

over a picture of your middle finger. No, I'm not kidding. And I'm sorry for being speaking you know, the way that I feel. But I don't know any of you that's been doing this for a decade like we have, you know, like in living in this world. You're just tired of fighting this fight to no avail. And I want to stop operating from the old world paradigm. And I want to thank my friend Alan Adler, for joining us today on partner up and challenging that paradigm and prototyping out loud. Alan is one of the biggest figures in ecosystem movement and his framework and all of that, but there's also your like Socrates should keep in mind Alan, they did kill Socrates.

Geez, Jared, what a way to end it.

No, no, I what I'm saying is you're controversial, like you're poking the bear in bares a 10,000 pound gorilla. Like, you're, you're attacking something that needs to be attacked, and it is at the end. And what I want to do is I want to thank you because it's not a hard thing, meaning for every 100 advocates that you're creating, you do also have 1020 people that hate you. Right? And I've seen it I've seen people come out and attack you and it's like, in one go back to the funnel like just listen to the old world. So, Alan, thank you so much for coming on and geeking out with us and prototyping out loud and like what get your name out there. Thank you chair. This is a blasting.

Allan Adler  50:03

Pleasure you guys. Take care

Jared Fuller  50:05

Alan. Thank you for crowning the first ever third the three peat guests on partner up Alan Adler, everybody. We'll see you all next time peace out partner up!

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