Episode - 002 - Bobby Napiltonia - Building Enterprise Channel

Bobby Napiltonia created Salesforce's Enterprise Channel Partnerships and ALSO oversaw the creation of the AppExchange. He's one of the best in the business and you are NOT going to want to miss this one.  

In this episode, Bobby unpacks the lessons for building Enterprise Channel Partnerships and some of the key lessons at SalesForce.  Learn how he craftily landed one of the biggest channel partnerships ever known with Accenture, and much, much more.  

Think we're giving you a valuable resource? Then please like and subscribe and rate the show on your favorite podcast channel.  

This episode is sponsored by Crossbeam. Crossbeam is a partner ecosystem platform. It acts as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers and prospects with your partners while keeping the rest of your data private and secure. Sign up for free at Crossbeam.com.


Jared Fuller  00:20
We're all set. So we're, we're up and running now. So thanks, everyone for tuning in to partner up partnerships podcast. And today we're joined by a very special guest. Someone I've known for the past couple years has given me some very appropriate advice here there. So Bobby napal Tonia got it right. There, you got it. Got it. Right. I think I butchered that rare asked. And before we hop in, just wanna remind everyone This episode is sponsored by cross beam cross beam is a partner ecosystem platform that acts as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers and prospects with your partners, while keeping the rest of your data private and secure. So you can sign up for free at cross beam.com Kevin's a customer, and I'm currently in a pilot right now. So thanks. And shout out to cross beam. But Bobby, appreciate you coming here.

Bobby Napiltonia  01:09
So for those of you that wouldn't be here without cross beam, right?

Jared Fuller  01:12
Well, this whole thing is a big partner stuff. Like I reached out to Kevin to be like, hey, do you want to be my first guest? And then Kevin's like, why don't we do it together? So we partnered up and then reached out to crossbeam. And it was like, Hey, why don't we partner up on the sponsorship? And that's, that's BD, right? That's what we're gonna be talking about today. So Bobby, you've, um, you've, you've seen a lot of different stories, you know, you've built channels and alliances that be a, you've done it at Salesforce, you've been CRM, you've sold companies. But I want you to take me back to April of 2015. April of 2015, you just joined Salesforce, you know, they've gone public just recently, right? Yeah. So 1505, sorry, 2005. I say

Bobby Napiltonia  01:55

Jared Fuller  01:57
Next, sorry, 2000 2005. Salesforce has just gone public, really in the same calendar year, right. And you had two major tasks, you had the app exchange task. And then you had building salesforce.com practices. And I feel like we could have many episodes just on the app exchange. But what I wanted to dive into was, you know, you have these conversations with Benioff and the team around building salesforce.com practices. Obviously, that was successful. Look at how many there are today? How did you do it?

Bobby Napiltonia  02:30
You know, first of all, it's a great question. And you can unpack that for days. And eventually, maybe we'll have like a series that people would want to know and write in questions to find out about, we can

Jared Fuller  02:39
go live with this, too. So we might actually do that. The next one, we're gonna have Bobby good already, I can tell

Bobby Napiltonia  02:44
a good I, I landed a BA, we had a start up in 2001, which would have been one of the first downturns I lived through that was clearly one of the worst in my 32 years doing this. And my sponsor would be a because they were going to buy my company at that time, said, Hey, he, we're not going to buy you. But I'd like to introduce my friend Marc Benioff. And my wife's like, Look, you just came off startups, we're starting a family take the real job, take a real role. And so I passed and Mark and I remained friends. And two and half years later, he called me and said, Look, your name keeps coming up, let's do a deal. And four months later, I started. And it was a much more of a task than they ever thought, you know, to your point for let's just take the app exchange because that was the there's two components. And the first was we had a business and we had to figure out who could be these people to do it. And when you look at any big paradigm shift, which we haven't had many of that magnitude in, since we've been here to the most recent will be clicks, no code, which really, that will disrupt an ecosystem, which is these no code platforms. But you're taking what I would say as the essence of a channel model, which is their lifeblood, how do they make money and grow dependencies so that their families don't eat, don't go on vacation unless they take and sell your stuff and make people successful with it at the time. And so we had a lot of names you and I never heard a blue Wolf, Red Sky purple moon, like, I thought, what did I get myself into. But these were really great people that believed in the religion Mark was preaching. And so we had two choices, make the small ones get bigger, which you can only grow so fast, or get the big ones to pay attention to us. And for them, I was a heretic, a lunatic and a lot of dirty words casino software means I'm serious. No software means no services means no ecosystem. And we turned it around and we thought, you know, there's no money in installing hardware and software. We could do that all for you. And so we proved but it wasn't an easy task. We we literally picked one Si, Accenture, and we went after and we sold three of their customers and these were diamond customers, which means it's more than $50 million a year, which is the big four.

Jared Fuller  04:47
When you say stolen, Bobby, I have to ask, Do you mean stolen that you landed them absent Accenture? Or do you mean stolen that you we've landed them with another Salesforce partner.

Bobby Napiltonia  04:58
S.I. - we land them with another we took in blue Wolf, Eric Barrett will tell you the story of a lot of great times together. And we knocked down three of their diamond accounts. And then yeah, so we we wedged ourself into the go. And then we set up a meeting with with Benioff and a guy named Bill green at the time, who was their CEO. And we said, this is going to happen every day until you come work with us. That's a true story. And we had already worked in the background, don't think it was like a flip of a coin. And we had Cindy broad, who still runs the cloud practice was the first guy in and then they every guest, Eric and I were just communicating last week, he's fishing in Alaska right now speaking of Alaska, Kevin. Yeah. And, and we we really build out. But here's the dirty secret. Every si needs qualifications to go into account. So we took 100 of their bodies at cost, we sprinkled them across all these projects. And the next thing you know, Accenture had a logo slide. Now, those were our logos that they had people work on. And those people might have done some admin work, some screen scrubbing work, but we could go in front of an eccentric partner who owns the account and say, here's our logo list. And then when you show Citibank Home Depot, Coca Cola, whoa, those are all our accounts. How did you do? Where did you get it? Well, we had there people subbed our services group. And that was the that was the genesis and the core, what became our first global si ecosystem partner, which God I could go on and on remember selling the first million dollar sponsorship to dreamforce talk about the sale, and they weren't allowed to show anything but the Tiger Woods golf things so that people could come meet them. And so we methodically got them what they needed to be successful, so that they too could go in front of their client partners, that then would give them the assurance that when they took it to the customer, they had the qualifications and capabilities to make it work. No one wants to be first and no one wants to be last.

Jared Fuller  06:48
So whenever you talked about bringing people in, that you had 100 people that were like, dedicated to your accounts, were you embedding this their services, components, their client services, into your accounts? Under what kind of program or Deal?

Bobby Napiltonia  07:04
Great question. So we did a at caused deal to get the hundred bodies actually is below cost, because that was their investment to to learn the cloud, how did you get the best cloud? We had Benioff sit with Bill green and say, Look, if you don't do this, we're gonna keep doing this all day long. Nobody wants to have their customers taken away from a no name. And there was a big paradigm shift. At that time, you have to remember, there were so many failed Siebel projects. And most of them had actually been done by Accenture. And whether it was right or wrong, or what was going on. And we were going after those customers, because we knew it look perfect storm. When's the last time a VP of sale had a budget? How about like never, that that person was the first time enterprise software was ever sold to someone other than an enterprise user. And that's when we call it on a person that had the problem. They could go to their boss and say, You're beating me up for a forecast. If you give me this tool, I'm going to get it right. And of course, therefore you started on we called it the book ends, high tech and financial services, fast adopters, laggards and cheap. And once you get those pillars, you fill in the middle and the rest of the industry start collapsing. And that was our thesis and it truly played out. So we get these bodies for the next year we sprint gum, we had no training. I just talked to Scott Eamon who built our training just last week, and he did dumpster diving to create these materials. And we took three of our regional sides. It was blue wolf model metrics and a stadia. And we built training. And that was because you asked the question mark called me on fire all the partners, they're screwing up our projects, we've never trained them, what would they know how to do, there's no good, there's no authorization certification compliance, they're just like, that's run amok. So we quickly put an authorization and we put together these training programs and tearing of level links that you could actually grow into. And we allowed the three partners that helped build it to co revenue share with us, one thing that you you'll hear me always say is the only way you get partners to love us and share the money, share the wealth, and then you're in it together. And so we then had them build it, we cross license the IP. So now they could go sell the software and just pay me a royalty, sell the training, and just pay me a royalty for every button seat. And what we did kind of like quick cross beam, we went and told everyone you need training. And then these three regional partners was the beginning of our atcs authorized training centers. And and that was built out and the rest of the training was kind of the kind of history in terms of during my tenure that we grew there. But that allowed us to then say to ntsi, here's your learning paths. Here's how you can get caught up to speed. And then ultimately those credentials as you see today are probably more important than being a Microsoft CNA or a Cisco blah, blah, blah, because while those are important, those aren't the forward facing skills that we look at. I'm sure every salesperson they hire at drift is Salesforce required like you have now to use it right? Just like for you Do you for an engineer you go you have to know these languages, Python, Java Scrap whatever.

Kevin Raheja  10:02
Bobby, what was your on day one? What was your goal? And did that mission change over time? And how long did it take you to get to this? What you considered success?

Bobby Napiltonia  10:13
Yeah, day one was figured out, which was somewhat of a daunting task is a good question. Day one week one turned out to be a crazy week my father passed away that week. And I remember going into Jim Steel's office, and he looked at me, he's like, what's wrong? Go, man, I just need a hug. And he did. And Tim, still my friend today. And we got through that week, and we exited my day one first week going All right, now I got to get my act together. And these are the things that we're going to focus on. And it was, how do we become relevant? period. And that relevancy started with an ecosystem that could start creeping up. So we didn't have to do all the heavy lifting ourselves. And then how do we take our regional size and either help them get bigger? In which case we did we started methodically calculating with them, hey, we're hiring salespeople to call in Texas? Would you like to open an office in Texas? If not, I'm going to go find someone that will? Well, the good news is they'd say, yes, very rarely did they say no. So we could have calculated growth. So we didn't over saturate the ecosystem too early. Yet, we could trust those certain group of partners. And I brought a gentleman that worked with me at three different custom companies, Rob Brewster and Rob came and join me and he owned that regional OSI, which was truly the lifeblood To be honest, it wasn't for three years that the global size really started picking up and getting in the knack of it. And that was when force.com came into play in the platform of what what they could really do in that space. So we were set out become relevant. And that was for the SI component, we really quickly put together training, how we were going to recruit them what we were going to do. And now this is a very important part, when you think of the pyramid, meaning the big, big, big customers up top and the long tail at the bottom. Could you imagine 20 years ago calling and saying, hey, I'd like to sell your service in the cloud from California to Florida. They go, are you crazy? So we then looked and said, how will we have si partners in each of the states and the cities that we want to go after so that we could have them go meet in person, they set up the demo salesperson called from Salesforce, they were in the office. So it was like a true extension of of our reach. And they had local legs, we call it with a tie back to corporate. So it was a best of a tethered world. So we can also keep eye on who was doing what work. And then we ended up putting in processes that allowed to say, You're really going to be up and running in 30 days. And these were the methodologies and these were can packages that you could go in and do so that for tagaytay, Derek for 10 K, I'm going to come in and get you set up and this way you're going to be delivered. And that way you didn't have scope creep, there was no ambiguity. So we truly package these quickstart guides. And then we were very prescriptive.

Jared Fuller  12:54
So this is a really interesting topic to a lot of channel leaders is like, to what degree do you help your partners craft their business around your business? What I mean by that is kind of like, it's a bunch of ways of going about it productizing a service, most agencies, consultants, size, whatever I mean, I've always said it's fancy ways of billing for time. Right? So you can do points, you can do packages, you can do retainers, but when oftentimes if you have a right service that's really helping one of your partners, customers, and they see the value. They're like, Yeah, let's do this. This is great. Well, how does my client services team, right actually deliver this solution? Where you coming up with predetermine packages that were was completely scoped out that they then you were then training and they were selling against in the field?

Bobby Napiltonia  13:41
Yes, yes. What we had to do was come up with a repeatable pattern model. Otherwise, to the point everyone got to do what they want, because they were never trained. Well, well, it was a relatively easy tool and and to use, there were different ways you could go about achieving the end result. So we thought the only way to do that was to be very prescriptive, like a line dance. if everybody's not doing the line dance the same way. It looks pretty funny. But when everyone does it in unison, you go, Wow, that's pretty remarkable. Like the haka. Never seen that. Yeah. What's that? That's

Jared Fuller  14:13
really relax.

Bobby Napiltonia  14:15
Yeah. And so so our goal was to create a repeatable model, we also lived off we came off the back of the years, where the large enterprise apps had gone stir crazy with system integration work. And that was probably one of the real first times that we you had people had consultant fatigue. And they were just done paying the millions of dollars for shelfware. And that did that also our model came in, which is if you don't get use out of it in the subscription space, you're not going to renew and so it was important for adoption. And then we knew what it would take for you to to to gain adoption. And then ultimately, you ask a question, we'll pack it. When you were a system integrator, all you sold your services and people and we were the first company to allow you to blend and blur that where you could create Your own IP, that was repeatable. And this is important. The reason sis system integrators could never do their own IP building software requires an entire company to think of that methodology. And that is release cycles, support models, engagement models, when you're a services company, you're screwed glue and go. And so we really had to change management the size themselves to understand that this is way, way different. It's about adoption training, not going in and configuring as your database tables correct, and are you doing it like, there's no value in that, especially now today, but back then we got to prove that for the first time. And so you had system integrators that knew a vertical or a space, and then they would start pre packaging it. So bluewolf, we went after the media space, it was ripe. And we created media packages, and you could go in and have Salesforce for media. And then we ended up with it became a big vertical for us. And so you allow them to have residual revenue streams that they never had before. And less and less, they sold a managed services contract, which at that time, just the big guys did. So

Jared Fuller  16:07
Salesforce for media, did you prioritize these relationships based on verticals, then in terms of like, let's, let's extend this conversation out of you and your team working just with the channel ecosystem, but you know, this lot of companies start to actually get some traction with channel, the head of Ops, sales ops starts looking in and going, Hey, let's do our forecast planning for next year. Wait, how his partner impacting that model? And then a lot of that time that's broken down by geo right region or territory or vertical? Did you start to how did you start to work with the internal team around like, you know, Salesforce for media? Like how does our partners and great question,

Bobby Napiltonia  16:47
it was product lead and product was really Product Marketing was really strong on positioning as you know, doing? We did really good job at that. And we started looking at what verticals we could be ripe, and hence high tech, our backyard early adopters of technology. We know who they are. They probably had seaborne, already been struggling, what were the things we could go in and rescue them. And sometimes when we rescued them, I remember the day we throw a party and Symantec and their CEO called ours got a look, we don't operate like this. The teams did it. Your team said we're celebrating we're ripping out we had nothing to do with it. We just showed up at the party and provided the cake

Jared Fuller  17:22
for ripping out evil. Yeah.

Bobby Napiltonia  17:26
But but but but to your point, then then it was financial services. And what made us go after financial services was that compliance came and if you remember, Sarbanes Oxley required that you couldn't have that black book. If you were at the time, your financial advisor would take your book with his book with all of our names and information and get on the train to go home and he might leave it there. And they realized that people were taking this act aquas big and I had everyone act on my system. So it was all dispersed and fragmented, and there was no compliance. And so they shut it down. And we went after Merrill Lynch to be the first financial advisor platform to go after because they had 25,000. And a partner brought us that deal. JOHN Auric, from Oh Kiri systems. And I remembered the day we called them to say, Hey, we have a publishers house clearing check for you. And it was a $543,000. It's 10% of the $5 million deal. And we were all happy because I get to show every other partner, guess what, you too, can get half million dollar checks from us. And

Jared Fuller  18:31
did you actually build like, did you print the big check?

Bobby Napiltonia  18:35
Oh, for sure. Oh, yeah, we were theatrical loving. JOHN, john and I are friends. Now still, to this day. He's retired living in the Philippines sold his company to Fujitsu and the rest is history. Cool.

Kevin Raheja  18:51
So a lot of our listeners are working on SMB and mid market software, myself included, is this channel relevant only to the enterprise or should SMB mid market software, be looking at gsis. And this particular channel that that you found success in?

Bobby Napiltonia  19:12
Yeah. So I would, I would argue that that was just one of the channels that we went through and after the SMB channel in a big way that more than half of Salesforce customers for the longest time. And so it was a different partner type. I actually think there are channels for everything, and you have to dissect who you'd go to. One of the ones that I've respected. Out of all of them is the Intuit channel with CPAs 28,000 CPAs tell you what software you should use. Okay, guess what, none of us are tax accounts. We're going to go We'll use QuickBooks. And all of a sudden, they can introduce a trusted advisor and I always thought that was probably the most under tapped channel. Because if I can trust you with my books, I could probably trust you with just about anything. And so I think you know, back to it, too. For everything you have to define what's in it for them? How's it a win win? And can you actually enable them to be successful?

Kevin Raheja  20:09
So Salesforce was ready to go public, when they hired you. And when they kind of, you know, invested in these channels. Is that the right? I mean, what at what stage? Should a company be thinking about making these big investments and channel?

Bobby Napiltonia  20:26
That's a great question. So they had channel partners that were smaller regional size, we before they went public, yeah. You have to remember, we entered at a point in time where we were doing something so new that no one would have done it regardless. And so there was a lot of convincing, we could have never gone after the big guys at the time, regardless of public if we have a billion in cash at one have mattered. Because there had been no one that pioneered that way. I used to tell people were like you hope you don't get one more arrow in your back, being that far ahead on the frontier? And look, think about the companies that detested us at the time, small companies, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, I mean, do I need to keep going down the list to go I joke today someone asked me this question. If you knew what you knew, and you were Larry Ellison, what would you have done that would have crippled Salesforce at a point in time, I would have bought all their system integrators, which for all those names I gave you, I could afford to spend 50 million to buy them all. And we would have been crippled immediately. And that could have been the downward spiral. But no one knew that that was our secret weapon that propelled us. And today, as you guys probably know, it's going to be a trillion dollar ecosystem, which I'm pretty proud of given that it hadn't even existed.

Jared Fuller  21:41
That's part of the listeners that I hope we continue to attract. For this is not just the the partnership leaders, but the actual executives, because like that's an insight that like a head of partnerships at a company like Salesforce might have like our biggest weakness, which should be shared at the executive level. But oftentimes the executives, I feel like there's this misalignment or this second class citizen vibe of like their partner programs or channel ecosystem, etc. The great companies embrace it, the sales forces, the hub spots, the intuits. But how do you get those insights up to the executives in turn an executive that's like we have a partner channel, we have a partner ecosystem into really being that advocate, that frontline person that is out there, really making it happen?

Bobby Napiltonia  22:28
Yeah, it's a good question. You know, because there's you all sales, people always point to somebody to making their deal, go slow, or go sideways, or get lost in his various sale those channel, people did it, look what they did to my deal, yada, yada, yada. And so that happened for us, of course, the gentleman that ran the mid market business, Frank van veenendaal, I remember we'd have a lot of conversations, and Frank and are still good friends today. And it was you have to prove what you're doing. Well, his team knew they would never win those deals without the system integrators going locally in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, like Chicago, pick a city. But we quickly turned it into how do we make the reward system even better, and that's when we amped up the referral program. And our referral program was truly the cornerstone of what most people base this off today. And so we build a poor man's reseller program. I grew up in the reseller world and distribution world, so that was not foreign. And the because you can imagine selling a service is not easy, unless you've built it to be resold by somebody else. Right? And so right. And so what we said is just give us the leads. And then we started attracting and measuring the leads and the ecosystem, that si ecosystem had the highest quality leads, fastest close rates, and we're three times bigger, in most segments, sometimes up to five times bigger initial deal in any marketing lead. Now, why is that?

Jared Fuller  23:59
Why is that? There's a bunch of reasons because I've seen I've seen similar stats on ours, right? Like two X, close rate 2.5 X, you know, Mr. win rate, whenever you're working with an alliance or a channel partner. Really, to me, the answer is trust. It's trust, like that would

Bobby Napiltonia  24:18
be the answer. Everything in this industry is about trust, trust, local relationship, and they're maturing the deal before they bring it to you like marketing brings you a deal. That's a suspect. A partner brings you a deal that's qualified, because they're not going to spend their cycles, investing any of their cycles, unless they think that they can actually win it. So in most cases, they were serving up deals that would close in a week, eight days, nine days. And I remember George who and I always would talk about it looking at the metrics going, Okay, just need more of that. Well, you need more partners, because it's a theory of they can only do so much. Because those partners couldn't go source more deals because they were busy delivering the ones they just sourced and they weren't big enough to continue sourcing. So you either had this organic growth, or you had to hire more partners. And then you had to train them, manage them and hold them accountable care, love and feeding. I have to I have

Jared Fuller  25:10
to go deeper on that because you just went down another rabbit hole. So you say you have to go hire more partners. I want to talk about the model for hiring. There's a bunch of different titles like partner sales managers, channel, account managers, whatever they are, and like, so you say, Hey, we have to go hire more partners who's responsible for partner recruitment? What does that role look like? And how do you plan it?

Bobby Napiltonia  25:31
It's a really good question. So by this time, it would probably have been an after my first year, so we were able to do some modeling. So we would say, look, last year 28. This is tape I don't remember. And I could think for a moment, let's say 20% of our business had been brought to us by partners. What does that mean? You have to remember where rocketship so how do I get to grow that along with it? So we then start Rob would sit down with the groups and understand where are you hiring salespeople so that I can go look to recruit. And by the way, we tried to recruit traditional partners. And it was way too early. They weren't getting it. They tried the methodologies that just didn't work for the traditional partner. We nailed bars, a bottle that had been local bars, traditional industry partners, and it was the the dish didn't get it. And it was early that maybe they shouldn't have gotten it. And and also, they couldn't make enough money just to live on us. And this is where the appexchange came into play. Real quick. Before we jump over, you ask one question. So when we looked at these verticals, pharma was one we went after. Really quickly, we realized we're not going to succeed in pharma. Peter Gassner was at our company we spun peter out and Viva systems was born. They've been around

Jared Fuller  26:43
Yeah, they doing quite well.

Bobby Napiltonia  26:45
Yeah. We we gave, we gave up pharma because of offline signature, and all of the things that are requirements from compliance, the word that you mentioned that we weren't ready for yet. And the rest is history, they own pharma.

Jared Fuller  26:59
So when it comes to building those roles, then you're saying, okay, we're gonna look at, you know, territory planning, but let's go one layer deeper and beyond that for like capacity planning. So like, Did you have any magic rules? Like, I remember, I'm sure you've heard this the Benioff number in terms of calling a forecast, right? Like, what was that magic number? It's like the number of reps times, whatever it says $2 million

Bobby Napiltonia  27:22
ahead, is $2 million ahead. You get a bell curve. You want to be a billion dollar company, you need 600 reps. 70%? What 100%? Like, yeah, it's a true methodology. Right? Right. So what's that

Jared Fuller  27:32
the Benny offer? Dare I say, you know, the bobby number for like channel? Like, how do you start to understand how many channel account managers partner sales managers do I need to have based on that headcount?

Bobby Napiltonia  27:46
So I think you're really looking at it the wrong way. Don't think of it as a one to one which the scale of an ecosystem is one to many. And that's where we spend a lot of time on the enablement and then the tools. And we, I was customer zero for PRM for us. And so Eli Cohen, build it out. And what we built was, if you Bobby have to build this infinitely scalable ecosystem for partners, we don't even know the types of partners that would exist, what it would look like. And that allowed us to build a PRM product that could scale and be multilingual and go global. And so we we drink our own champagne. And that allowed us to say, hey, what you might end up doing is just having one person responsible for four states. And in those four states, their goal was have capacity to deliver 100,000 seats across 200 customers, well, now you can do the math, you know how long it takes? And it would allow you to sort of say, can I have an equilibrium? If you didn't have the ecosystem, you'd have to forecast this on your direct services side, because you'd have to actually say, I need headcount to roll out the product. And so it was an easy model to say, you know, 60 weeks for deployment, what does it look like? How many partners do we need? You, depending on the product in the market, you can never have enough. And that was sort of the situation that we were in that we were so horizontal of an app. Hence, the media comments, we could pick up subject matter expert size, that that had domain expertise and talk tracks that we of course, didn't have not not selling into those verticals. And then we would hunt for the partners that would go into those verticals that were locally that could give us that kind of like hyper localization.

Jared Fuller  29:31
Right, right. And you mentioned services as well. So like you were kind of forecasting services required, based on what was going to happen there were Salesforce rep selling services at that time.

Bobby Napiltonia  29:43
They were this was a big rub, they were paid on and this was that this small services partner at the time would come crying to me, I'm competing against you, you want me to invest you want me to give you my wife and my kids and my family and let you give me nothing and your sales people and so on. How'd you get over? It was a, it was a battle royale internal look, you either can have Dean Robeson didn't who ran services for the mid market accounts, build an army which I was fine with and he knew he couldn't. And so Dean took one of his great lieutenants and paired him with Rob on my team. And together, they actually went and said, what do we need by territory's? And then we could sell expert services, who we don't want to sell the grunt work, you want to sell the expert services. And that allowed us to even charge more and become the definitive experts because we should be for our product.

Jared Fuller  30:33
Were those distributed to partners then when you say expert services were those partner led implementations, so they were experts in lead, outsourced it, but they needed help, we'd perish we'd parachute in and help them and you took a cut off that?

Bobby Napiltonia  30:47
Oh, well, we charge for the people to go in to do the work they did. But it was at a reduced amount was really about success of the user, the customer that we as Mark calls him today. The the shareholder, the stakeholder? Yeah, that's not even a customer. We're all yeah, that language. We're all that this this decades language?

Jared Fuller  31:04
Well, I don't know. I mean, there was the ohana. Promise, there was the 90 days this is you know, topical. And then we had to recalibrate sales forces workforce to accommodate, you know, more global. I don't know how they phrased it was very political, but they just had that big round of layoffs to after a killer q2, mind you, but

Bobby Napiltonia  31:25
yeah, I'm not an expert to comment on that. I would call it big. Yeah. Well, and I also would say, if you go and you purchase a bunch of companies, your digestion happens over a period of time. And at some point in time, you've got to pass through the digestion, and unfortunately, sometimes it is people.

Kevin Raheja  31:42
Yeah. Well, when you're doing all this fermenting and building this channel out, what did you get wrong? Bobby? Like, what? What was something that you've learned? That was a misstep? Perhaps?

Bobby Napiltonia  31:57
Yeah. Nothing?

Jared Fuller  31:59
No. gonna actually answer that, are you?

Bobby Napiltonia  32:04
Yeah, um, what did we get wrong? Early on, we probably didn't have the most fluid communications internally, which is why we ended up having embedding the, my team into the sales teams. So that way, like back to Rob's team, he would go to their meetings, understand what their needs were so that they saw him as an asset, not those partner people, slowing my deals down, taking my business, blah, blah, blah, but I couldn't close that without them. And then what we did was, because you always had that rep we just talked about, then we had the six reps who had quote, a go, I could not have done that, without his help, and the help of the partners, and I want to thank you for sending me to club and they would go like the like the announcement Do you see when you win an award? Thanks, Mom, Dad, dadada. Thank you, and they'd named the partners and then everyone be like, Don't you want to be like that. So we created poster children, because we all want to emulate success, as opposed to try to create how it can be replicated.

Jared Fuller  33:03
That's been such a big learning for me in the past year, is there's particular reps on our team today that were enemies of channel, I mean, our use of channel and there's been some deals closed in the past couple months, were in the slack, because everything's public now, which is, I think it's such a missed opportunity, you know, the deal closes, and then without me asking, or the partner rep or the manager, Hey, I just want to give a shout out to the partner rep this for getting me into this account, such a massive value, add blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, that was the guy that was, you know, gonna die on his horse, say how bad channel partners were. So you really do have to inculcate that culture.

Bobby Napiltonia  33:44
You have to infiltrate. And you know, you asked the question that we didn't win. When did we get when did we know we showed up on the stage, it was probably my eighth or ninth quarter there. And we were doing our v2 mom, and you had 3333 values. And I fought, I fought hard. One of the values was partner success. And when it made that, and the entire company heard mark, say, its partner success. And if Bobby comes to me, and I hear something, otherwise, you'll have to answer to me and I thought, God manna from heaven. This is unbelievable. That was the super greenlight, that, that really did it.

Jared Fuller  34:26
That's that's the door that every week that everyone could strive for is like how to get that executive alignment. Maybe let's go down one layer beneath that. What I've found is that, you know, the sales leadership that the VPS of sales across segments or territories, what they tend to care about is the social proof from the reps, right? Is it that same answer, like it's probably different from an executive like a C level, but that VP of sales in that director of sales or the regional manager, it's all about what their team is doing in the field and their successes that they're having being surfaced back to them.

Bobby Napiltonia  35:01
Yeah. So I think to your point it, leadership plays a role regardless of level of leadership. And I think that to your same point, we had a couple of our VPS that we made poster children of, and they became our assets amongst their peers that we didn't have to be that, that that group. And also, by the way, data doesn't lie. When we show you the group's engaged partners that that higher closed rates and hit their numbers, everyone's like, we need more. More cowbell, we need more partner

Jared Fuller  35:30
100% 100%.

Bobby Napiltonia  35:34
Whenever you're now most of most of these scenarios, though, you're talking about bolting on a partner ecosystem. And I think that comes when you start a company not knowing where you want to go, and you stumble into it. If you say I want ubiquity. And you say the only way I get ubiquity is if I've got religion, religions ubiquitous, I would say depending on terms of where you go, they got these disciples. And within that infrastructure of disciples, you have a hierarchy of people that carry them do those roles. And so this ecosystem is much like that. So if you get religion in a company, and you say, I want to be 99% of the market, which I've been fortunate enough, once or twice in my career that we've had, that you only get that through an ecosystem, and you only get that when the only way that you can be successful to go to market is that channel and then you augment it through direct sales. The problem with technology is, no one's willing to take a new bet, especially those partners that you have to go in direct, and you have to carry all the water, and then you don't want people to quit drinking the water you carried up the hill. So if you go into designing your technology, what you want to build and how you want to go after knowing you want ubiquity, you will have a channel of friendly model internally to begin with,

Jared Fuller  36:42
whenever you talk about building that, you know, buy in at the you know, RVP level and having their you know, having they're the poster children so to speak. And you're you're working with operations to create kind of like that go to market plan where partners involved in it. There's there's two really interesting words that it's funny that people that have never interacted with channel, they start to, they start to like attach to everything was that sourced or influenced? Was that sourced or influenced? Tell me how you started to work through that and divine, you know, source verse influence?

Bobby Napiltonia  37:18
Well, this is a really good question. And it there were there were battles, there's a lot of shenanigans that we discovered along because the quality of the leads that we were bringing in is that it was pretty easy. It was empirical, we created a referral program, which is net new, it wasn't in Salesforce, and you create the opportunity. And all of a sudden we'd have our pipelines have these whipsaws or knows go like What the hell's happening? How did you lose 10 million in pipe in a week? Well, somebody was taking credit for those deals. And so quickly, it was easy to backtrack, who deleted that opportunity. When did it fall off? Oh, it was that one region's group that all of a sudden they decided that they were going to move it from a source to an influence. So we really rather quickly put together the the process that said, you register your deal once. And if there's nothing in Salesforce, guess what, it's a net new deal. And if you can have the empirical evidence, it came in December went to September 2 at 348. Today timestamp the lead coming in, because our first leads came in via fax, by the way. Fax the old deal

Jared Fuller  38:27
that happened on paper, two racks.

Bobby Napiltonia  38:29
Yeah. And so you'd submit your referral on fax, and we'd accept it and send you a communication back. But that's the easiest way to do it. You timestamp the dollar in the door, and then the rep can never say it was theirs because it didn't exist prior to that. And then they would say, Well, I don't I don't want to pay on influence, I don't think so I said, here's a preview of my note going out to our community tomorrow. And I showed it to the president of the group, and I go, if you don't believe in anything from, from the influence, I'm going to tell them, if you didn't bring the deal, do not work on it, do not assist please, let's go find a net new opportunity. So you can be rewarded for that. And the response was, if you do that will die. And will you just told me there's no value in it? Well, who's going to nurture that deal in Florida or Louisiana or Michigan, if your rep can do it, you don't need my people to help you let them go do something they do well, and no one ever wants to walk along that line of fear that if you tell them to stop influencing it, something will happen. You know there were those bad partners that tried to I call it Yellow Page clippings where they take the Yellow Pages and here's all my deals so then we started tightening up yet to have decision maker and the criteria for accepting the deal. And then once you get that fluid it's it's it's an easy process to manage. But you know what I would say is anyone that says it's a good I'm telling my my partner ecosystem are no more influencing deals. If you didn't source it, don't touch it. And I guarantee you every executor, we're like, wait, wait, wait. Yeah. We see you guys out there, you should try it.

Jared Fuller  40:03
Absolutely. Pull that email up, hey, this is the email I'm about to send, or, hey, we have our monthly partner meeting next month, this is going to be one of the slides. Yeah. No one wants that. How would that go over it? And it's it.

Bobby Napiltonia  40:16
Look, it's an ego for the direct sales team. I can do it all myself and look at some fortunate if you have the right leadership, though, ensure that, by the way, when I say great leadership, two of the most successful companies in our industry, our partner industries, Microsoft, and Cisco, Adobe, even Adobe. Yes. So look, let's get exactly let's go down that list. You have billion dollar companies that have successful Autodesk and let's go on and on.

Jared Fuller  40:43
Massive ecosystem there, Kevin, how would that go over a type form? If you said that, that email out to everyone? Hey, sorry, like you can only work on net new customers now.

Kevin Raheja  40:55
I mean, it wouldn't go well. wouldn't go well. But we don't run into a lot of channel conflict. Type four, we I built the sales team and the channel team at the same time. So they were birthed at the same time, which was very helpful to have that kind of like philosophical alignment.

Jared Fuller  41:20
Whenever you're, you got to see a different version of this like kind of contrasting HubSpot and Salesforce, so like the two of my favorites is, you know, Bobby at Salesforce and Pete over at HubSpot, right. Like, I've seen a lot of commonalities here that have been interesting, like Pete drilled into my head drilled, like every time I talked to him make your best partners famous. Right. And I think that what I've learned from you versus Pete is like, you need to make your best partners famous against other partners or like to your customers. And then what I've kind of learned from you is like, you better make them famous against your sellers, because an SMB, like Intuit, or HubSpot models that you kind of saw Kevin right there. They're the direct team and the channel team were separate because the TAM was so big, right? There's hundreds of thousands of customers. But as you move into the enterprise, right, then that starts to condense a little bit and your Tam becomes more known. And you don't have this Greenfield of net new accounts.

Kevin Raheja  42:17
Yeah. Have you?

Jared Fuller  42:18
Like you're sitting here listening to Bobby, like, how does that how did you see that different at HubSpot?

Kevin Raheja  42:25
Well, I mean, you're exactly right. So I mean, at typeform we get hundreds of leads coming in a month that are, you know, direct to our sales team. And is the same at HubSpot. I mean, they just cast a wider, lower ACV. net. And they get tons of leads. They get tons of mq ELLs SQL. And so they don't you know, the channel conflict certainly exists at HubSpot, but they took a they definitely took a playbook from Boppy. in Salesforce, a lot of what HubSpot built was kind of ingenuity that they crafted themselves mixed with Salesforce, this playbook. I remember spending some time with Dharmesh and Brian early on.

Bobby Napiltonia  43:18
So I can see us sitting outside of Salesforce at the cafe having lunch actually right now on God, the street, one parallel to market, but yes, and I'm more than happy to share wisdom with anyone because if you can't share it, then don't do it. And at least that's my philosophy. And the more that we do this together, the bigger it is for all of us to be successful, we then it becomes a jump ball, who has the best technology.

Jared Fuller  43:39
Right? Well, that's why we started this. And that's why we're so happy to have you and glad that you could have joined us today, Bobby is that, you know, hey, let's say someone gets promoted. I don't know who said this. You know, Matt Cameron, of course, who is like, yeah, my first sales mentor, Matt, one of the things he told me was like, hey, the old saying at Salesforce was don't put the turkeys in alliances. And what really what that means is I've had slides where I've, you know, what is BD? What do I do? And it's like, no, it's not we're failed sales people go to retire. But that's that's often the the perception. But here's the problem. How many sales books are there? How many marketing books are there? Can you tell our listeners where to go to find out how to be the best partnerships professional? Wow.

Bobby Napiltonia  44:27
No, no, no, I can't. So let's create a series together and teach them we even touched on the app exchange and how that was the paradigm shifter for the entire industry, which maybe was subsequent call on Oh, we have that within itself.

Kevin Raheja  44:40
For before we started, and I was like, I have all these questions to ask.

Jared Fuller  44:44
Yeah, I actually stopped you from asking about the app exchange. I said do not that's it. That's going to be another episode that we'll tease out about. Because that's a whole other thing like platform revolution and like how Salesforce like that was required reading from Sequoia to HubSpot. And there's a lot of Lessons from there that, you know, the appexchange shape the future of b2b. So that's why we're doing this today. And we're so excited to you to join us. Because we got to share this stuff.

Bobby Napiltonia  45:12
Right, exactly. Look, why do it if you can't share it.

Jared Fuller  45:15
Yeah, and we finally have the format to so we're gonna wrap this one up, Bobby. It's been amazing. I got to tell everyone, we're going to Spotify, Apple podcasts, YouTube, we go through a lot of effort to like get these videos on YouTube and have guests join on camera. So subscribe, follow, and Bobby will send your CEO bad emails about you if you don't rate five stars. So rate five stars. And before we part just reminder that this episode is sponsored by cross beam cross beam is a partner ecosystem platform that acts as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers prospects with your partners while keeping the rest of your data private and secure. So you can sign up for free at cross beam.com Bobby, any parting thoughts wisdom, we want to draw?

Bobby Napiltonia  46:01
No thanks. Thanks for giving me a platform to share some of this I often think there's not a vehicle because for being an extrovert in life, I'm an introvert and the sharing component. And so I this is a thrill for me to participate with you guys. And by the way, you're the future of what we pioneered. So that's the younger generation that's going to think of models I didn't even think of yet.

Kevin Raheja  46:20
I was just gonna say Bobby thank you for succeeding because if you didn't Jared and I might not have jobs in this field. Much appreciation to you are good.

Bobby Napiltonia  46:31
Well, next time we can talk there's a big met guy Charlie ill would be a Charlie came from IBM, which was a big partner. There's those folks that influence and, you know, he spent a fair amount of time in terms you know, the only thing that matters in a partnership is the trust and sacrificed. You got it and it's a love continuum. You gotta love them all. Somebody love a lot

Jared Fuller  46:51
that we're gonna end on that that's too good.

Bobby Napiltonia  46:52
Thanks, everyone. Good night. Thank you guys.

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