077 - Partner Led Everything

What is up PartnerUp!?

No metaphors were harmed in the recording of this episode. Hunters, farmers, freeways, factories, X, Y, and Z axes, and a bunch more.

We set out to answer what the partner led future means for each and every department, why PartnerHacker almost died in our first few months, and how we adjusted to the shifting economy with a very (too?) early push for taking partnerships mainstream.

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Full Transcript:

Isaac Morehouse  00:00
Hey what is up partner up? I'm here with my co host, Jared fuller. He liked Ed Sheeran

Jared Fuller  00:20
dole it again stole it again.

Isaac Morehouse  00:22
You have been doing. It's been crazy. I feel like we need to take a minute and catch our breath here. So you have a new baby, you're hit by a hurricane. Like we're trying to pull off the, you know, the biggest b2b partnerships event ever. I feel like this. This is our podcast recording session, but I almost feel like we just need to kind of like, Ah, how are you feeling man?

Jared Fuller  00:48
Joint therapy session?

Isaac Morehouse  00:50
Yeah, it could be a joint therapy session.

Jared Fuller  00:51
Dear Abby, dear. We're dating ourselves for those columns. People were like, Dear Abby, what's that?

Isaac Morehouse  00:59
I had our colleague will. He I called him Bano. I said he looked like Bondo the other day. He said he wasn't sure who bought it was. That's it made me feel old. Do you gotta you gotta give me what what's your gut right now? What are you feeling? Because I want to talk about I want to talk about the future. And I want to get specific. I want to talk specifically about how, you know, we talked about how partnerships changing go to market. But I want to get into the nitty gritty of like, what that looks like. department by department.

Jared Fuller  01:36
You down? Yeah, let's do it. Okay. I noticed you have a nice t shirt on today, by the way. Yeah, I'll stand up. Look, practice. There we go. Shout out to we occasionally wear swag of each other's past companies. So yeah, discover praxis.com was I've placed a bunch of people through the program. So yeah, got a nice t shirt for friends, companies. I have a platform marketing hat on today. Tim Tim cermaq, a great, great business owner with a marketing agency.

Isaac Morehouse  02:04
No, but I want to dive into this. You know, this is obviously like the way that the structure of our upcoming pls Summit is each day focuses on a different part of the business. But that came about that came about for a reason. Like you had like a, I think you had like an all nighter, because the next morning you're like, I have this idea. Isaac, this is it. The PL X Summit. How did this come about? Like first let's just start there.

Jared Fuller  02:34
Yeah, so you have to choose your own hard. And like, I think some context actually telling the story a little bit of partner hacker is it's, it's a developing unfolding story. So like, why have this idea why now? It's amazing what happens when the world changes around you and you decide to change to it. What do I mean by that? Well, Isaac, we were sitting here looking at, you know, we were at my house, I think back in May, when we had this like, plan for the future, right? It was like, Hey, here's exactly what we're gonna go do. And I think like, literally the next day, or the next week, it was like the worst market day of our lifetimes. And we've been building partner hacker in an inflationary environment that you and I have never seen. In a world climate, that's undeniably, let's say, the temperatures are just higher, right? In terms of like, not the personal climate, like how we feel everything's a bit elevated and escalated. And basically, that plan, instead of like, okay, we got to execute this plan. It was like, wartime. So there's a great piece by Ben Horowitz, you know, about peacetime versus wartime CEOs. And I've read it enough times, over the past three, four years, or, you know, eight years since he probably originally wrote it, to where I just knew as a wartime moment, meaning, we were gonna go do a bunch of stuff around, like, life's too short to work for a CEO that doesn't care about partnerships. So career related. It's a really terrible business idea, right? Imagine if we went all in on careers, during like the worst market of our lifetime, it would have been probably a business ending decision, right? Even though we had a lot of traction and interest. And so we had to, like figure out what worked, what were what were we really good at. And that's where I kept that all nighter. And I was thinking about the journey from an aggregator to a platform. So like, we're not a platform for anybody. But there's moments where we kind of are in one of those moments, there are events. So we built this aggregator where we're like trying to pull everyone together. And what we can do is we can platform the people that are speaking to this partnerships moment right like you go back a few months earlier we not a month earlier we released you know the the manifesto. Trust is the new data. And people started to share it and talk about it and became lexicon On. And we had ecosystem week. Right? So that was a great event and a phenomenal event.

Isaac Morehouse  05:09
And shout out to partner stack.

Jared Fuller  05:11
Yeah, shout out to partners, DAC. Tyler called there, the whole team there. They were phenomenal to work with on ecosystem week. What we, what I realized was, in order for us to really get to the next phases of business, I want to talk about the strategic reason why it matters for the market, we can talk about that next. But as a business, why it became so important to realize we needed to establish a platform and highlight these other voices, was that the rest of the world was hurting. Right. So like the marketing department was hurting the sales department was hurting the success department product, like every single department was hurting. And we needed to provide a way for this partnerships, positive message to get into those swim lanes, and provide us clarity and focus. I mean, we've been I mean, we had no shortage of ideas, how many things we have in spreadsheets and stuff like that. It's really been a good forcing function. So I think, you know, coming up with the event from a business decision, was the right thing to do. Obviously, it was the right thing to do. Definitely hard. But perhaps a partner hacker.

Isaac Morehouse  06:16
Yeah, it's so interesting that you're, as you mentioned, just with the, with the economic changes, and all the sudden, people are shrinking their teams and hiring and laying off. And the every every one of those presents a challenge and an opportunity, right, the challenge is, Okay, everybody, everybody in our market is kind of playing defense. And they're in freakout mode. And the opportunity is, everybody's also getting hammered on their costs on their acquisition challenges on trying to do more, without hiring more teammates, you can't just throw more money and more salespeople at it in a market like that. So the conversations get realer, right? And this is this is one of those opportunities to say in in a market that's going great. And there's a lot of money flowing around. And people are just hiring and building big teams. And they can kind of not feel the pressure to show as immediate ROI. Trying to go to a product leader or a sales leader or marketing leader or a success leader or CEO, and say, Hey, we should talk about why partnerships should be a more integral part of your strategy. It's it's easier to say Yeah, right. In a tough market, it's like what new ideas, new ideas, give me ideas. What do you got? I'm all ears. Right? And so that's what I think is really interesting here. Because, you know, we we launched partner Hacker Not not long ago at all, as you mentioned, like, earlier this year, and talking to people in partnerships is phenomenal. Right? That's our, that's our core audience. It's our early adopter audience, if you will, to us this sort of Crossing the Chasm idea. But this is so much bigger of a conversation than that. And, and it's a huge challenge to take on to say I want to we want to bridge those gaps and start saying, Okay, where are all the people who are talking about what it's like to build a success team, or marketing or sales or product? We want to have conversations about partnerships with them, relevant to them, right, get them thinking this way. It's like, it's like trying to take on, you know, four or five new new verticals all at once. Well,

Jared Fuller  08:29
I think I want to use this to codify the point I was developing the you asked about originally, Isaac was like, how did this idea come about? Is we originally had a bunch of areas of the business we were gonna go invest in, they were all I would say at risk, right? They weren't, they were no longer I could no longer look through those opportunities through the lens of like growth opportunities, meaning we had to create growth opportunities in the midst of a down market. Right. So like, we're creating opportunity in the midst of contraction. And that means it's a stretch, it means it's hard, but there's an opportunity. And the opportunity was, well, this is premature, but we kind of have to do it. The partnerships moment is here. There's a partner community that is developing, there is a partnerships ecosystem, it exists. We live in it every day. Someone can't tell us that doesn't exist. fact that this podcast exists partner hacker daily partner hacker.com, all of this stuff that the handbook not to mention all the other great people partner nomics, Ferny, partnerships, leaders, like we could just go on and on to great tech companies. Is we had to stretch we had to go okay, so what are we going to do if it's not beefing up the department? And that's where there's so I love conversations with you is where we get to talk about things like first principles, business decisions, why and mental models. There's a mental model of invert. And if you go down to the basic thing that we were talking about as partnerships is the department was having a moment. Well, if you invert Well, what if partnerships is not a department All of a sudden everything changes. Like,

Isaac Morehouse  10:04
yeah, because partnerships department feels like it's having a moment. Because there's something more fundamental that's actually having them exactly.

Jared Fuller  10:12
Right. So what a partnership is not a department. Well, what other questions would be asked? Why is that even a valid? It just changes your frame of reference from something that is like, Hey, we're in a little growth sliver in a down market to, well, how does this affect everything else? This is a growth sliver amidst a down market. Doesn't that mean that there's wider opportunity? That of course it does. And I think that's been my biggest lesson in all of partner hacker was like, Okay, we made this business decision. And I was looking for some lexicon to, like, how do we tie this all together? And it was like, well, we just have to bring it to every department. And it started with like, Pl something like part partner lead. Yep. So anyway, it's gonna be partner led just because

Isaac Morehouse  10:57
partner led growth partner led companies partner led go to market something right.

Jared Fuller  11:03
In that was just to ride on the coattails of product lead, right? Like, another mental model, like something that I'll never forget, like, again, I say the same 20 things like 1000s of times versus trying to say 1000 Things is innovate, don't invent a famous Steve Jobs quote, right? Apple didn't need to be first to the phone. They just had to be best. Right? And in that regard, it was like, Okay, what if it's not partner lead growth? could enhance plg? That doesn't really work. What if it's partner led everything? Right. And the way that the I think I had like, by the time we started, like, really getting into it, I was like, I think it's PL x. And x is the variable. And I thought it was so important to tie together across like, Well, why could this thing be true? Why could this pls idea work? Well, we looked at what's been happening? What are the most popular news articles that we publish on partner hacker Isaac? They're about VCs about Yeah, exactly. The the venture capitalists, of which you've said this many times, founders are downstream of venture capitalists, typically, in terms of like, who are the founders kind of getting their thought leadership from? I don't even know if we've talked about that on the podcast. I think I've had just been on my PLN.

Isaac Morehouse  12:22
Yeah, we've Yeah, in like, okay, that's shaping the strategies and approaches, well, founders, and those founders, by the way of these early startups, they are the future leaders of big startups and of enterprise, as well, right. So you can see what's happening with VCs today, are just starting to talk about this. That's where companies as a whole are going. And this is what I want to ask you something about this is really interesting, because when it comes to the partnerships moment, as it relates to partnerships, professionals, we are right on time, we're in the right place at the right time, anybody working in partnerships is the moment among people in the partnerships department is here, when it comes to PL ex, partner lead, product sales, market cetera, we're a little early. And that can be a big challenge. We're early right like this, these conversations are not really starting to happen yet. We're kind of trying to make them happen a little early. And so that's why I want to like put ourselves into the future and say, What, what's going to be totally normal by the end of this decade, when it comes to each of these departments. And I'd love to kind of go one at a time. But but you I cut you off, you had a thought you should finish that thought first about about VCs,

Jared Fuller  13:40
around the VCs in the founders, it's the same train of thought is that why isn't? Or why aren't my colleagues that were CROs, CMOs, CCOs CEOs, and even founders that I would say, I mean, I could name some good people that I believe given my track record and what they've seen me do, they would say positive things of me. And they would even do favors for me. And yet, whatever the conversation would turn to partner, they were tuned out. Now all of a sudden, they're coming inbound and asking for help. Like, there's just a shift, like that's not the same I didn't. I've experienced and worked with partnerships long enough to know there's something different here. Where's it coming from? It's not coming from just themselves or just the pain. It's coming from? Come to find out. I started getting in conversations with a bunch of VCs and being invited to help them recruit their first VP of partner, Chief partnerships officer or being invited to a conversation on Hey, help us figure out our strategy for next year. Or hey, we just got off a board call. Our board said hey, next year's part strategy is partner LED. And I'm like that VC said that they said yes. Let's partner led I'm like oh, so what's your plan? And we don't have one. So like there, there are venture backed startups with a ton of money. Like we're talking, I mean, I've talked to VC backed startups that have 100 million plus cash on hand, that their boards got together and they said, Hey, we need a partner led strategy for next year. That's new.

Isaac Morehouse  15:22
You know, this, basically, they go. In any new frontier, if you look at history, usually have these two phases, you have the hunting and trapping phase first interest I write the pioneers go out there. And what do they do, they hunt and trap the resources, because there's a lot more resources than there are people seeking them. So you go you your hunt, and trap the furs and the meat. And once more and more people move to that frontier. And I got too many hunters for too few buffalo or whatever it is, what do you have to switch to? Farming? Gardening, right? An ecosystem where you're not chasing down a lead, targeting it, right? lobbing loving munitions, at something. You are tending to a garden, to a flock to an ecosystem, you're planting seeds and cultivating right. That's, that's partnerships. And that's the difference, right? The the hunters, you know, the target errs, the marketers and the salespeople. When, when the when that gets really saturated? Yeah, at least have to have a mixed a mixed strategy, you go out and you do some hunting for some big game, but then you also are raising some some chickens in a garden at the same time, right? Like, I think that's, that's a fairly natural progression. And I think people who are on the, on the edge of the market, and whose job it is to kind of spot these trends a little bit ahead of time. They're seeing that there's a reason those VCs are saying, Okay, we want to invest in people. There's there's a ton of hunters out here on the frontier, if your whole strategy is we're going to hunt for meat. We want to invest in people who know a thing or two about farming, and who have a strategy. That's at least a mixed strategy.

Jared Fuller  17:10
It's an interesting analogy. Like, I like the Pioneer analogy. I think the thing that that catches me a bit off guard is who's the pioneers.

Isaac Morehouse  17:18
It's any company entering a new field, right? We're still early in the software eaten world in the digital age, it's the digital frontier. It's software eating everything.

Jared Fuller  17:27
So software ate everything.

Isaac Morehouse  17:30
It's still doing it, though, look at how many functions most businesses operate, where it's like, there's still more it's happening. It's spreading. And it's it. That's what I'm saying it's getting saturated. Right. So in the

Jared Fuller  17:41
reaching this, this maturation phase? B, it's not a frontier anymore. Right? Like, I mean, we don't go into offices, right? Like everything inherently has to be a service, right? delivered via technology, because the heck else is there. Like yeah, there's no more office, like, there's no partner, of course. So like

Isaac Morehouse  18:00
in the in the firt, you know, the first time somebody said, we're gonna, we're gonna create a software platform that makes your automated makes your payroll and all this stuff super easy. And we're gonna sell it for 30 bucks a month to a bunch of small businesses. That was a frontier, right? And you could actually win by literally just selling directly to your customers, because then you could hunt them down, because there weren't any, any other hunters. Now, each of these fields, you've got 50.

Jared Fuller  18:25
So maybe was a frontier, right? Exactly. Frontier, the pioneers that came in with like, okay, you know, the first pioneers were data companies, right? Or like, I'd say, infrastructure companies. So like, databases, right? Oracle, right is a perfect example. I mean, there's telecom telco before, and then there was database companies. And then there became cloud companies and automation companies, right? There's like layers that are built on top of this, to that analogy,

Isaac Morehouse  18:49
and they extend to the smaller and smaller businesses until you're finally everybody's been hit. Everybody's bidding by software.

Jared Fuller  18:56
So here's my question to you though. This p LX. I, it's an interesting frame of reference. Is this a new frontier?

Isaac Morehouse  19:05
I think I think it's a I think it's a new strategy. It's saying, hey, look, you know, you're that you're the guy that loads the guns, and you're the one that goes out there and does the tracking and trapping and you're the one that shoots them and you're the one that skins the animal we got this whole process that involves all sorts of people based on hunting. Now the hunting is not so good. So we got to we got to farm Well, here's these people that have been farming all this time. They've been raising cattle and making gardening right? Yeah, those are the those are the partnerships people. And they can tell you how for each of each of the things that you do, you know, the person who's doing getting the meat in the person who's getting the fur and the how to do that in a farming first strategy, how to do that in a context, right. And I like this analogy for other reasons, too, because the thing that brings to your mind is like as a customer, do you want to be hunted down and like fired at or do you want to be tended you lovingly, like a Happy Sheep and a pasture. You know what I mean? And there's really about like living in your ecosystem caring about your ecosystem investing in it being a part of it. It's it's a way of thinking and it applies to all these different components of the business versus that kind of a there's, there's resources out there to go take, there's targets to go hit, you know.

Jared Fuller  20:25
It's interesting how it feels like a new frontier. And yet, it's not like we were connecting dots and establishing swim lanes.

Isaac Morehouse  20:37
It's how to sustainably grow a business. Now that the frontier is isn't new anymore.

Jared Fuller  20:43
It's no longer a frontier. It's from a frontier to a farmland. Yeah, right. Like, and then there's things getting built on top of it manufacturing distribution, like, I mean, what are we talking about right now, it's like, I like I'll roll with this analogy a little bit more.

Isaac Morehouse  21:00
I might be pushing the analogy,

Jared Fuller  21:03
analogy. But like, hey, you've said learning out loud enough to where people people don't do this, like people hate meetings, because they get that they're rife with I think lazy time sucking activities, you know, such as check ins, or status updates, or things like that, that are that it's not worth meeting. But like, for some people, their betas, their best creativity, and intellectual capacity is shared in a group setting. Like I learned the most, when I'm talking with you, I learn a lot when I'm talking with you. So like, let's extend this analogy, frontier to farmland to what I mean, there's probably manufacturing, right? There's there's some like higher level orders of production. And then there is what interconnected commerce. I mean, there's, it's woven into things like interstate commerce, like, what are we doing right now, as we're building roads. That's what we're doing is like we're connecting, you know, it's not one frontier, it's many frontiers. And all of these frontiers now have amassed populations. And I might even say that they have farmland, right. But these farms are corporate owned, walled gardens, right. They're not ecosystems, they're walled gardens. And then what we're doing is we're building inter, inter right, so influence we're building interstate commerce, right between these different systems of production in b2b. Like, if we were to think about the retail world, and we were to strip out roadways, there's not much Right. Right. Like, it's like, okay, well, roadway, the roadway is a path to a customer. Have you been to LA? Oh, yeah. Can you get anywhere?

Isaac Morehouse  22:44
Theoretically, you don't get anywhere, but it's just traffic.

Jared Fuller  22:49
It's a horrible method of transportation. Right. And I think what people are realizing there needs to be another pathway, right? Like, we're, we're developing something on top of it. So I like it. And I think there's definitely something there. To tie it all back. I mean, what we're doing is we're establishing the swim lanes, the, the pathways, the interstate commerce between working together in these previously siloed or walled garden departments that we should have given. Good. So So yeah, I would agree with that. I think that's a fine mental model. Like if we inverted the partnership should not be the department. It instead should be a pathway like it's, it's the, it's the net to the neural net, right? It's the nodes. It's not the nodes themselves. It's the pathways that exists between the nodes, and how wide is the road? How much traffic can it carry? What's the throughput? Right. That's how strong your partnerships are, like, a lot of people like to measure things in terms of x and y, they really hate the Z axis, the Z axis messes up everyone's mind, right? It's input output. Well, what about throughput? Yeah, what input output throughput is the measure of what you can put in and what you can get out, guess what your IO is lacking throughput, it's the XYZ partnerships is the Z. It's the throughput. It's how do you grow and build those interconnected things? In this new world, this ecosystem centric world so that was like a new analogy right there learning out loud I O throughput, that's what we're

Isaac Morehouse  24:17
talking about, ya know, that input out? Yeah. Everybody that kind of made me think of inbound outbound near bound the reveal? Who knows? Yeah, by the way, I'm gonna just issue a quick trigger warning to anyone who has a strong aversion to mixed metaphors. Where does layering them on top of each other swim lanes on the highway to the farm? Who knows? But hey, so. So what does this mean? These early conversations in these other departments about being partner lead? What does that look like? So like put yourself in the future? What does a partner lead product team look like?

Jared Fuller  25:00
I think it'd be very egotistical of me to say, I know what that looks like. What I think is so interesting about developing these watering holes, right? Where we're bringing these people together is that those conversations and that serendipity of collision. So lots of loaded words there. Collision, I believe, it was popularized to me by a gentleman named Tony Shea. Tony was the founder of Zappos, the most customer centric organization you've probably ever seen. If you ever or used to order shoes through Zappos, some people still do, you get all these moments of surprise and delight, like you place an order. And they'd be like, Oh, free shipping, and it's there the same day. But it wasn't prime. It was just a surprise, right? Or you could famously call Zappos support. And like, order a pizza. And they would, they would get it to you. Like they were they were they took it. It's so crazy. But what Tony said as he brought the collision conference to Las Vegas, and he talked about, you know, rebuilding downtown Vegas, that's where I started my first Sass company job hive was a part of this Downtown Project. He's like Vegas lacked collision that lacked serendipity for the startup community. Right? So we've tried to put all the startup founders and ecosystem people in one spot back in 2014. You know, maybe recipes, Tony, very sadly passed this past year. And I think that is what we're looking to do. If you truly want to be a, you know, a gardener, a market maker, a category creator, I think you need to pick an undeniable shift, and not control the conversation or the output. But you need to create more serendipity and collision, right? Like, why is everyone in the world talking about if there's two macro trends that are undeniable if I look at the most popular podcasts in the world, news, media coverage, everything and not just like CNBC business, the all in podcast, like, what are people talking about two things HubSpot, their keynotes, community? And media. Right, every company should be its own media company. Isaac, did you see this? This might be news to a lot of people on here. I was in a hotel in Miami this weekend. Prior to the hurricane and I drove into the hurricane. And I saw this advertisement on CNBC for a new television series called shift. Have you heard of this? No. It's a television series produced by Salesforce.

Isaac Morehouse  27:31
I see no way.

Jared Fuller  27:32
I'm not kidding. Not kidding. That wild. It's produced by Salesforce an entire television series. And I'm like, That's so right. I mean, like, we're trying to build a media company be able to produce quality content, like I have visions of getting there. Right, and just to see Salesforce, come out and do that, or HubSpot, right, the age of the connected customer community led growth, blah, blah, blah. We're all saying and speaking to the same thing, and that attention is an asset, right? And then what's the other measure of attention is trust, right, you might have been able to interrupt me and grab my attention, but you can't hold it. Right? You can't hold it at all. So it's not enough to be able to interrupt because interruptions are getting increasingly more expensive. That's advertising, right. interruptions are cheap. No problem, right, I can interrupt you enough times to where you're going to remember me. If interruptions are extremely expensive, and everyone's trying to interrupt me. Impossible. How do I hold your attention? It's that trust. So I think I kind of almost lost where I was going there with with that one. But those are the I want

Isaac Morehouse  28:37
to pin you. I want to pin you on. Because like, I feel like there's some pretty easy things to discuss related to housing product.

Jared Fuller  28:44
You were starting with Toronto teams.

Isaac Morehouse  28:45
Yeah, I want to pin you on product if you're a product leader. So how do you get ahead of this?

Jared Fuller  28:49
So that's my long way of saying that, what we're doing what I really want to do with partner hackers, like I don't want to tell people how to build their product organizations. Yeah, what I want to do is I want to build a system, where the mindshare is available. And it's prioritized and it's trustworthy, to think, in a partner lead way as a product company, right? So I want to bring the facts, the insights, the people the proof, the trust and aggregate all of that crap. So that way, if I'm a CPO, or I'm a VP of product, I just got hired into a, you know, seed stage or series, a company or an early company, or a big company, and it's a new division. I'm thinking, how the heck do I make sure I'm not feeling and thinking about my product, myopically through my own lens, you're not living in market, that that has to exist to where I can operate have 2030 40% of my bandwidth dedicated to that. So that's for the future of product. And that of course, goes across each day. So I think generally speaking, that's how I think about why we're so important to this and the community and everyone listening today, then I can maybe geek out a little bit on like what it actually means for each department. I think that macro trend of like establishing that mindshare is, it's so important for you to think about as a partnerships professional, to like, yeah, you have to make it easy for your counterpart to think about you.

Isaac Morehouse  30:15
Yes, yes, if you want to enlist someone in a cause and a point of view, in an approach, make it exciting and enticing doesn't have to be, it doesn't mean that you're pretending that they won't have any additional work or challenges, but you're enlisting them in a vision in something that they can believe in, they can sink their teeth in. And so to connect those dots, let's say to your product team, you've got to understand from a high level like, what, what does that mean? What is it what is a product roadmap that is crafted by the market that it lives in that is informed by that living in market, not just its customers, but it's like, the roadmap is not this thing that comes from your head from on high as a central planner, and you say, here's where we're going. It's something that should be constantly informed and reinforced from your customers, which I think startups are getting much, much better at this with the product, you know, product, lead growth type things. But also, the other companies and the other products out there, that your customers are using those partner like anyone you're partnering with, there's some percentage of that roadmap, that's got to be coming from them as well. Right? Like, because I think that's that's a conversation that, you know, partner, people will be like, well, you know, I can't, if I if I have something that's a feature or a product decision, there'll be a huge benefit to our partners, partner strategy, the product teams like yeah, that's, that gets lower down on my roadmap, right now, I'm not going to tell you where that should rank. Obviously, I'm not in a position to do that. But But I think realizing that you can't win if you're solely asking your customers, you need to be asking your customers, but you need to also be asking your partners, right, the people, the people that are also that your customers trust besides you? What is valuable to them and your product? And and how can you make your product one that they want to build with on top of in around, that's where that stickiness comes?

Jared Fuller  32:24
I actually want to approach it from a different vector. So you're you're not wrong, you're 100% Correct. In your analysis. I think there's something deeper here, there's phenomenal reads like Ego is the Enemy. Or I got it drilled into my head at drift with David cansail and aleus Torres. I think the job to be done for product orgs seeing a LEUs manage, and build, you know product teams that they were most excited when they solved a customer problem from a support call that they were on and shipped to fix the same day. I had never seen that before. Like I'd never seen a product team that was that had to be on support calls every day. So as like an engineer as a PM as a whatever you had to be on support calls every day. Why? Well, it's much easier, like if you if your frame of reference is your own view of the world, that's less information. It's less noisy, it's less complicated. It might be you know, simple, not easy, right? So to code, that thing that solves a massive problem. It's simple, not easy, very complex in terms of its execution. But the number of inputs or parameters are actually small. The second that you open that up to talking to customers every day and understanding their business, it becomes complex, not difficult. And you're like complex, not difficult. Well, maybe instead of solving that thing through some incredibly challenging, again, simple not easy. engineering challenge. You're solving it through this complex interconnectedness. Right. So what ends up happening is you end up seeing the world through an entirely different lens, which is not your own. I think that's the product orders of the future. Go back to first principles like what is Amazon's mission statement? Amazon's mission statement is not something that you might think it is if you've never heard it, it's to become the most customer centric company in the world. That's it. Pretty customer centric. I mean, experience is pretty phenomenal. And it operates with everything. I mean, it's just eaten everything because the experience is so interconnected to everything that I do every product I want. The speed the review, like it has everything. I mean, even my favorite new television series, right like the Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power, dude, it is so good. It is so it makes for the Game of Thrones fans out there. Oh, it just makes Game of Thrones look like oh man. That was just all shock that Whereas this, this, this stuff, this content is next level, but they're bringing that all together. It's this incredible approach. So I think the product orders of the future live in the customers, right, they almost have embedded support, and they understand their customers business and how it operates. Because the second that you do that, you go, Oh, I'm not fixing this, I'm not creating a net new solution. To solve for this problem, I need to help them which might mean, working with these other things, or interoperating, or opening up an endpoint. So your mindset,

Isaac Morehouse  35:35
your example of having the, you know, the product team engineers on calls with customers, here's where partnerships can take that to the next level, you get on a call with one individual customer, and you understand that individual customer or some challenge or problem they're having with your product, which informs your product roadmap, and you start to see, Ah, I see, this is something I thought was easy, but it's not the customers got it, or here's a feature they really want. But you only have so much time, as a person working in product, you can't be on the phone all day long, or on calls all day long with customers. Well, let's say you have a partner at agency partner, and they work with dozens or hundreds of customers, and you get on a call with them. And they can aggregate for you. And they can say, here's what all of my customers hate about your product. Here's what all of my customers want your product to do. Here's what I hate about helping them set up your product every time I have this problem because those are repeat. Those aren't those are people who are, we're using it on. So you kind of get the best of both worlds, right? You get that real, it's not aggregated data like you would get from a bunch of forms. It's that quality of feeling what people the pain they feel in a real call, but feeling it from someone who feels it over and over and over again, with multiple customers of your product instead of just one customer one time. So it's not an edge case, it's not a one off. I think that's a really interesting way to kind of tap into that partner angle,

Jared Fuller  36:59
you just tie that together really well for product teams. So like another model is the ability to zoom in and zoom out and to know which frame of reference you're in. Right? Are you zoomed into the problem? Are you zoomed out right and be able to go back and forth seamlessly? And I think for product orgs. A lot of people just want to be in their zoomed in frame of reference, which is their own challenges or problems, right, their own product, roadmap, whatever, like I'm against product roadmaps, I'm generally not not in favor of them at all. I don't think any company should have a product roadmap, you're living in a world that no longer exists, if you do mean That's its own opinion. And it's not just for me, like I learned this from like, ileus adrift. And we had no product roadmap, and I was like, That's stupid, how can we have no product roadmap, and then you live in it, and you're like, oh, that's why that makes a lot more sense. Now, because we ship shit every day. Right? We solve problems for customers every day. So what we're talking about zooming in zooming out, are these orders, you know, from pioneering, you know, and being on the frontier to farms to, you know, manufacturing to freeways, it's the same frame of reference for how you should think about living in market, it's like, okay, get out of your keyboard and your IDE, your independent development environment, or your product backlog and Asana or whatever Jira, and talk to customers. So now you've got one frame of reference, abstracted, like you're closer, and then get to the people that work with, you know, 100, or even just five, right five customers, then you have another layer of abstraction so that you can get more intelligent and how you do that. And I think those are the product orders of the future are going to be able to interoperate between, you know, the job to be done in their, you know, their code base, what their customers think, what their partners thinks, what the ecosystem feels, right? Like, it's an entirely different thing. And right now, we're just trying to push them up another layer, right?

Isaac Morehouse  38:45
What is your experience with,

Jared Fuller  38:48
but that's different than go to market though. So like product is I don't really consider product, go to market products, its own thing. We've talked about a product,

Isaac Morehouse  38:55
it is go to market these days with these product lead growth companies, right? Like, you can't, they can't they can't sit at that conversation. Right?

Jared Fuller  39:05
Um, I mean, it'd be hard for me to throw shade at companies like figma with the largest acquisition of all time, and say that that's anything other than a brilliant, brilliant outcome. What I would say is, here's what I've seen. plg has been an emergent phenomenon, I still don't know that it is a best practice that's being executed. I see much more go to market tomfoolery with spreadsheets and like trying to force the number than I do see plg brilliance in market. I mean, there's some shining examples that just outshine everything else. And maybe that's the same with ecosystems, right? You see these companies have ecosystems they kill everyone there. plg flawlessly executed pretty much will be a old school b2b SaaS company. Yeah, but it's more than just I think what plg does is like we're trying to To solve for the customer. And then if you're thinking about it the right way, how do we layer sales and success in these other things on top of it, it's still not abstracted far enough to the market like its product lead growth. It's about me. That's why I don't like it. God, why did plg pissed me off product lead growth? It starts with my product.

Isaac Morehouse  40:22
Well, that's what and the ones who do it well, what it actually what it actually is, is customer led growth, right? They call it plg. But the ones that are doing well that are winning at it. If I'm a customer, I'm like, I love it. I get to go use your product and play around with it. I don't get I don't have to go book a demo. First. I don't feel like I'm playing by your rules to use it the way I want to it feels like it's serving meet the ones who do it well. Right. So the, like web flow? We

Jared Fuller  40:49
talked about that in the last episode. Yeah, that idea. That approach?

Isaac Morehouse  40:53
I think is right. The that's interesting with the terminology, product. Yeah, that is interesting. Because it makes it it makes it about the product and not about the customer. The product is the star of the show, not the customer or not the community or ecosystem, the customer live, right?

Jared Fuller  41:08
The market, right? Like, yes, it's about you first. And that's my go to market pisses me off. It's about me, it's about you. It's it's not about the world in which we live in. And we started this episode off Isaac talking about, like the world changing and US shifting our business fundamentally, now we're a startup. So like that, does that parallel to everyone? No. But those are the businesses that are going to survive and thrive is that they respond and react to the market accordingly, not themselves, not their own problems. So the other days are of particular interest in like what's going to happen in the future, you know,

Isaac Morehouse  41:40
well, and that's where, you know, I feel like sales, marketing and startup are conversations that we have a lot of here. That's why I wanted to ask you specifically about product, I want to ask you specifically about success in our last few minutes here. Because I'm really curious what you see as success teams of the future that are partner led, I've talked to a few success managers recently. And some partner managers who are frustrated at success managers, and the partner manager I talked to was like, Look, our success team, we could so much better serve our customers, by handing a lot of them off to our partners to solve these problems that they're coming to our success team. But our success team doesn't want to lose territory, doesn't want to lose influence, right doesn't wanna lose headcount? I think, I think that's an interesting point, I think we talked with partner page about this idea of turning, you know, service requests into partner referrals. And this is awesome, this is great. But how do you how do you combat that tendency, you know, for for a success department to say, no, no, no, no, we got to solve all the problems, we can't pass them off. Right? Again, it's the same mindset, it's this idea of realizing you gotta let go of some things. Like our last episode with Jill, you can't control everything, you gotta let go of some things. You got to work with your partners, you're not going to be like oil. And so what do you see? Like, where do you see examples of people who are already living in the future success leaders are just people who are thinking about the success, you know, organization in a way that's going to survive the partner like future.

Jared Fuller  43:21
There's some interesting things to talk about here. One will be franchises like if I don't keep we don't get into that we should come back to franchises, franchising for franchisees, there's a lot to unpack there that I think has a lot of good analogies for like customer success, and how to think about that visa vie partnerships and ecosystems. But the way that I might start this as a little bit different customer success, like what what is customer success? I mean, so like, who are the thought leaders who are the people evangelizing and talking about it? I mean, a recent fan of like game grow retained by Jay Nathan, these like customer success as a company priority, not at department one completely agree, customer success is the only priority. That is the only priority. You might put partners in like ecosystem is like under that same umbrella, you might directly monetize partners in your ecosystem, but 10 it tends to be the like, we're talking about the same thing, right? Like, at the end of the day, that ultimate customer success has nothing to do with you. And it has more to do with them. Right? They're more important than you are. You don't exist without them. Okay, now we're starting at the right premise. Here's the problem with that. Who do you sell to? Okay, I don't care if you're listening, who do you sell to? Think about it, name that persona. Is it a VP of engineering? Is it a data warehouse manager? Is it head of sales? Is it freakin agricultural, you know, manufacturer, right? It doesn't matter who it is. Now, let me ask you the next question, who is servicing them who is delivering their success? Is this a 25 year old? Three years out of college with no professional work experience? It's in that field. Oh, it is interesting. So how is that person that has never done the job that they're advising and helping the customer with going to be that effective consultant to help them run their business better. They're not. They can't, and they aren't. So let's just take martec For an example, since I was at Drift, and I saw this a lot. The best CSMs in the world. And I saw some of them incredible CSMs like shout out Taylor from drift, like she was phenomenal. She got decent at Marketo, she got decent at some of these other things that we played with. But at the end of the day, when it came to like actually running a more effective marketing strategy. She's in her mid 20s. And she's talking to a VP of Marketing and a CMO that's been doing this for 20 years. Why would you not bring the people to the table that have that track record, who've walked a mile in those shoes who've done those things, and build, let's say a one plus one equals three, you know, like, you have the experience. And then let's say we have the process, the IP, right? The intellectual property, the software, to where you have the tacit knowledge. And we have the software knowledge to make our customers more successful. Those are the companies that clearly when I mean, just Microsoft, that's just one word. So it's always amazed me, Isaac, how much ego we have, whenever it comes to customer success. We think that we can hire low cost resources and scale a bunch of them. So we control the customer. And yet none of them are experts in our customers, businesses. Now you might say, oh, enterprise, we have solutions engineers, right? We have paid resources that are really good at doing what we our customers want them to do. Yeah, for your product. But you don't have VP level people doing work for VP level customers. You just don't but guess what you do as a consultancy, or an agency? Right? You do. You do have those people doing that work?

Isaac Morehouse  47:10
That's interesting. You said for your product. And you think about when you're when you're facing a a problem. And you're trying to get a product to do something for you. Someone who only knows every in and out of that product is very limited in what they can do to help you. Someone who knows, at a higher level, the type of problem you're trying to solve in general, even the parts of it that don't have to do with specific things your product can and can't do. Like that's, that's where that value comes in. And you're right. That's a great point that you can't, you can't expect that doesn't make economic sense to have a customer success team that has that level of knowledge and expertise, where you can absolutely get that in your network of partners. That's really interesting. Yeah, and Gangrel retain J. Nathan. He's gonna be he's gonna be speaking at the PX. Summit. Absolutely. So we're gonna we're gonna tap into some of the stuff. Hey, this is I appreciate this. I know, you were like, I was like, Jared, we got it. We got to talk about this partner, let everything stuff. And you're like, Yeah, but you know, we talked about this stuff. And I know, I have more like, I have so much more, this has already been really interesting for me, but there's so much more I need to I need to tease out. So we're gonna, we're gonna we're gonna get into all that, obviously, at the summit. But even in, you know, in future episodes leading up to that, like, I want to dive in even more to do I feel like we're just scratching the surface, what I'm trying to say in terms of the other departments outside of partnerships itself, what it means for them, what the future means for them.

Jared Fuller  48:45
Yeah. And that's, that's why partner led, what does that mean? It means that we're thinking about the people that have the trust, the relationships, the influence, but but really the expertise that surrounds the customer, and how we deliver value through these functions, right? Day one, capital, right startups, its founders and VCs, private equity, whatever, right? So if you're a founder, you can use capital through bootstrapping yourself or VCs, whatever. Day two product you're using that the same way all the way through the entire experience is that you have this expertise. As a product leader, you have this expertise as a marketing leader as a sales leader, not just on the function of your business. But what your customer is trying to do and I think that's, I'm excited it's it mark my words it will be the biggest event of next

Isaac Morehouse  49:39
year. Until next time, man, I saw your I saw your intro maybe you should just like do an outro then I think

Jared Fuller  49:45
I do PEACE OUT partner up every time so partner up we'll see you at PLF summit.com and the future of partner lead everything if you haven't downloaded the if you haven't got the Spotify playlist either. By the way, go get it pls on Spotify. I've just been listening to synthwave non stop And that's fire.

Isaac Morehouse  50:01
We're living in the future at least what the 80s thought the future was going to be so all right partner

Jared Fuller  50:07
up, peace out. We will see you all next time.

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