Episode - 007 - Elliot Smith - Challenges Partner Teams MUST Overcome

This is a JAM packed episode with Elliot Smith who ran a 20 person partner team at Infor and now is the newly minted Head of Partnerships at 6sense.  

Where should the partner team sit within the org chart? Should this change over time depending on the maturity of the company and/or the maturity of the program?   What areas of the business should the partner program impact? Sales? Product? Customer Success? What factors determine which areas to prioritize?  How do you measure the impact of the partner program? How scientific should you get?  

SO MANY of these questions and more were posed as challenges that partner teams MUST overcome.  You're going to love it.

Don't forget to like and subscribe on Youtube and leave a review on Apple Pods or tune in wherever you get your pods.  

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  00:21
All right, all right, Mr. Elliott Smith. I don't know that I should do this but today's guest I should have just said Ilan musk because he bears a striking resemblance to Ilan musk and I can't help but say it. He is that kind of smart guy. We have Elliott Smith here from 6sense who I've been working on some partnership stuff with. So this is, this is kind of fun. Elliot, thank you so much for joining us on partner up.

Elliot Smith  00:44
It's great to be here. Jared. Thanks for the invite. I only have an Audi in my driveway. I don't have any Falcon rockets ready to go. I wish I did a rocket you know, the only similarity between me and Eon is the face like his bank account of mine, Ben no resemblance whatsoever. So like, besides Jared, do you get that reference all the time, Kevin? Oh, all the time. I love it. So you know things fail in my partnering career, then I think I've got a doppelganger career.

Jared Fuller  01:13
For sure, for sure as well. We're so excited to be here. And to hop into the topic of today's episode. Before we dive in quick 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 and prospects with your partners while keeping the rest of your data private, insecure. So you can sign up for free at cross beam.com. Elliot, you, uh, you had an idea of where we wanted to kick things off today. And I love the topic that you suggested. And it's really around, not how you show success, but like the challenges that partner teams have to overcome in order to really fully be appreciated for their efforts. You want to start unpacking that?

Elliot Smith  01:57
Yeah, that's right. I mean, I thought I'd bring that up. Because I think this is common, at least in my experience. So I've been in partnering for around 10 years. And I think a common theme that pops up is just the polar teams. Yeah, depending on the company, that with the maturity, how mature the program is, maybe don't always feel fully appreciated for their efforts. And I wanted to just kind of unpack that with you, Jared, and just talk through some of the challenges that face the teams, because I firmly believe this is really, really great work going on out there in the ecosystem, with partner programs that sometimes just aren't fully appreciated.

Jared Fuller  02:34
So where do you think that typically starts at? Do you think that that starts as a, as a result of, you know, maturity of the business? Do you think that's stems from, you know, where the organization kind of reports to? What do you think is the lowest common denominator for a partner program being like, yeah, we have this thing over there. But it's, we have to do it, but it's not core to what we do.

Elliot Smith  02:56
Yeah. And I think in some ways, we can draw some parallels between the space that you and I are in with drift and 6sense, right, where the market there is all about aligning sales and marketing. And we know that those two functions inside the group inside the organization are not always fully aligned. One thing setting a great job, the other one doesn't, and we've got some great technology to bring them together. I think in many ways, it's because of a where the group sits inside the org. But more importantly, I think there's a lack of direction, guidance, strategy, vision, whatever you want to call it, in terms of what that company, at times wants from its partner program. I think it's as simple as that. Jerry, I think there's this idea that we're a software firm, let's say we shouldn't have a partner program. And then we therefore should get amazing, tremendous value from that partner program, versus really the leaders of the company taking a few steps back and thinking, Well, what do I really want? From my ecosystem play? Do I want more sales? Do I want to improve customer success? Do I want product innovation? I mean, there's a number of different benefits that you can get from having a world class partner program, but it really has to start with a vision from the top of what they want.

Kevin Raheja  04:03
Yeah, so just to be clear, with a with a sales team or a channel team, there are kind of like direct revenue attributions that can be made. Are we are we talking about technology alliances? Or what type of partner program? Are you talking about where there's a little bit more ambiguity?

Elliot Smith  04:19
Yeah, great point that Kevin, I think it's really important to understand that my background is much more from the Cosell side of things. So more from the Alliance, and tech and integration partner side than it is from the channel side. I think, any channel program where you're leveraging partners to sell or resell your stuff on their paper, I think that's just a given that you just look at the revenue that's coming in, and now you're either getting a bunch of pipeline, you're getting a bunch of books revenue, and it's pretty easy to say whether that program is performing well or not. I'm thinking more on the CO sale side of things. So that makes sense,

Kevin Raheja  04:54
that I think we can all relate to this challenge. So what for this team? What are the KPIs that you are measured on? And what do you think like the internal the internal metrics of success are for this team that that can be attributed to the team?

Elliot Smith  05:14
Yeah. And that's I mean that you bring up a really interesting topic around attribution. Right. So for me, you know, when I look at, and Jared, I'm sure you're the same way, when you're looking at is your partner program and your opponent team doing a good job, it really all does have to come back to sales. I mean, let's face it, right? We are, at times well paid. And we need to demonstrate clear impact on the business. I think, where we get stuck at times, Kevin, Jared, is around how do you attribute all of the good work from a partner program directly to sales? It's Akin, I think, to the marketing attribution problem that marketers have out there is how do you? How do you say that that last touch from a marketing campaign or an activity really drove that opportunity to the next stage, you know, through the buying process is similar here is, you know, the KPIs that we're measuring our team on is how much pipeline are we influencing? How much pipeline? Are we sourcing? And ultimately, how happy are our customers at the end of the day, those customers that are serviced by our partners, and I think it's as simple as that, for me, I think those three metrics really should encapsulate everything, I think, where things maybe break down a little bit is, depending on where the partner program sits inside the organization, ideally, it should be with the CEO, I think, where possible, especially for a growing scaling company, because I think it should be up to the CEO to really drive direction because the partner program can so many different directions. I think, as the partner program matures, it should sit inside of sales, ideally with the CRM, you know, but I've seen programs sit with operations, I've seen programs sick with customer success. I've seen programs even sit inside the product org. And that's where those KPIs I think, get a little misty get a little bit lost. And then there's that not real clear vision of what do I want as an exec for this company out of this program? So Jared, what are your thoughts around that? I mean, similar experience, or what's your what's your view?

Jared Fuller  07:15
I think that the program in terms of where it sits, it needs to sit with someone who's seen the story before. So if you have a CRM, for example, that's leveraged, you know, alliances on the tech side and channel on the, on the service side for driving great customer outcomes, both from an acquisition and retention standpoint, then I think the CRM should on it. And right now I report to the CIO at drift Todd Barnett, and he's fantastic. He knows he knows what great looks like. And he's challenging our, you know, our program to get there. Um, you know, David seen it, haven't been the Chief Product officer at HubSpot. And I'm still aligned with our CTO and our CEO on a number of different key initiatives that impact more than just the bottom line. So I think you bring up an interesting point around attribution. And this one is painfully close to my heart, because it's something that you end up fighting every time. And it's one of the going back to like, the kind of the general theme of this episode is like, what are the challenges that stand in the way? So I'm going to give, I'm going to give away a big tip that we just implemented here at drift. And it's stolen completely from Salesforce. But it's called the Salesforce calls it the the four horsemen, we call it the Fantastic Four here at drift. And the Fantastic Four really is its inbound outbound expansion, and its partner. So let me give you an example. And this isn't like exclusive, something could be in all four. I'll give you a perfect example. So we had an account sync with someone at Adobe, and Adobe account manager, we have a great partnership with Adobe. And they gave us all this detail about this account. We're like, Okay, awesome. This is how we're gonna engage. Thanks for giving us the answers to the test. This is awesome. She She says, Hey, but if they come inbound in the interim, they're going to come inbound through their channel partner, who is also a drift partner. Because they do all their tech purchases and evaluation. In the meantime, they've downloaded like three books they recently know showed for a webinar, and another business unit is already a customer. So is that inbound outbound expansion or partner? It's all four. And that's actually the goal in the enterprise. So I think you have to answer the question is it enterprise or small business because if it's small business the TAM is so big, that you do want to segment your channels. But I think in the when you get mid to enterprise, then it's about in circling the wagons around your the customers in the accounts that matter. And attribution isn't about like last touch attribution. It's about qualification right? Did inbound do their thing, right? Like, oh, they took the calls to action. They got awareness. Did outbound do their thing? Yeah, the BDR got the answers to the test and started going out after this account. You know, did Partner do their thing. Yes, they were able to book you know, an opera view. So you just have to have the qualification criteria to who gets credit. And everyone can get credit, I think is the way to do it.

Elliot Smith  10:12
Yeah, it's definitely a team sport. And I think it all comes down to me for the different thing being getting scientific around this versus an emotional response. And for me, the teams that I've built in the past, I've always tried to push this notion that we as upon a program must be and must feel like a must seem like an extension to the sales team. And if we don't achieve that, then we are failing. Meaning we can produce all the reports and the dashboards and all the attribution that we want to say we did this and we attach to this much pipeline. But at the end of the day, if the sales leaders are not willing to stand up a QPR, an annual review, or a kickoff, and say we felt tremendous impact from our partner team this year, then you're not achieving the goals, I think that you probably have the vision that that exact probably has for the partner program. So I think in some ways, because the attribution problem can be so difficult, I think it needs to be that sentiment that you are really an extension of the sales team and your driving sales impact is really what I strive for, as a program manager.

Jared Fuller  11:21
You mentioned getting sales leadership buy in there. One of the things pika Pooja has rammed into my head over the last five years is make your partners famous, and I always I'm never good enough at that. Trying to fix it right now. But the next thing though, that brings up is like make the sellers who work with partners famous. So you mentioned like the QPR, like that's the other thing is that it's so easy to overlook, like, okay, here's the big number like that we put up on the board. And at that cube er, at that kickoff, whatever, like you need to bring Sara in who just closed that big deal with a, you know, tech partner channel partner, I don't care and have her tell her story to the rest of the sales org, because the challenge sometimes the face in partnerships, is that unanswered challenge of like, maybe ambivalence or concern or, like they need to hear from their peers.

Elliot Smith  12:12
Right. And but at the same time, balance that with the best sales people that I've encountered in the software industry, where I've spent most of my time of very much the team players, but they are very much the star, those A's have taken down those multiple million dollar ACV deals. They're very much the individual star. And I think part of their personality, which drives them to be so successful, holds them back from maybe giving credit to other teams along the way. So something I found in my career is a partner can do everything right, or several opponents can everything right, to help that he get that deal done. But when it comes to that the review, they don't always mention that because they feel like maybe that would be perceived as a weakness that they got some outside help to get that deal done. Which I think is the complete opposite to how they should be looking at this. I think sales leaders should really encourage that teams to leverage their ecosystem as best they can in many different ways. As you described, with the inbound outbound the four horsemen, you know, you can leverage multiple partners during the sales cycle, I think it's really a cultural shift that needs to happen on both the sales side and the partnering side to really get full benefit and appreciation for what we can do.

Jared Fuller  13:23

Kevin Raheja  13:25
great. At 6sense, Elliot, you manage the kind of like the certified partner channel and the technology alliances? How do you tap into your certified partner network to guide your technology partner strategy and prioritize according to the needs of your certified partners?

Elliot Smith  13:47
For us, we're really at the beginning of that, Kevin. So, you know, 6sense has piloting strategy has been quite technology and integration focused up until now. And we're really just expanding into the service partner relationships, the Alliance partner relationships, you know, think of your agencies, your typical revenue, and sales and marketing consulting companies. And really, I think our strategy is focused, interestingly enough, quite an innovative way because we offer a platform for those Alliance partners, those agencies that they have never typically used for their own sales and marketing purposes. So our strategy is to work with agencies, bring them on board, offer them our platform, which can help really amp up their sales and Mach developers themselves, get them to see some benefit from better marketing and sales on their side. And then we reap the benefits of more inbound opportunities from them as a result of them being better users of success. And that then creates this flywheel effect as the stronger the platform is, the more adopted it is, the more need there is for technical technology and integration partners. And then you get that you get that really goodness that comes along. So hopefully that answers your question, but That's really a strategy.

Jared Fuller  15:01
Are you charging agencies or no? We? Oh, yes. Okay. Just wanted to confirm you said get them. I was like, some people give it away for free some people charge. So I was just curious if you were also having a partner's pay, I think

Elliot Smith  15:16
you know your skin and I think some skin in the game helps. But you don't necessarily have to take an arm and a leg from the opponent to make that happen. Right? So it needs to be a very symbiotic bi directional relationship, they get a benefit, we get a benefit. Everybody's happy. Right,

Jared Fuller  15:31
right. One of the other things you kind of called out prior to this was, okay, so we're, we're talking about the impact of the partner program and some of the challenges that we face around, you know, sales and dollars. I think we all agree there that if you can't demonstrate revenue performance, you're gonna have a hard time getting, you know, the eyes and ears. I mean, at the end of the day, you're asking to spend money to so your CFO is not going to be happy, much less your, you know, CR o CEO. But how do you start think about making impact in product, because, you know, that's something that is always so difficult to put into a KPI per se. I mean, you can do things like you know, retention rates and try to loosely tie them back, you can do things like activation. There's a lot of ambiguous stuff like, for example, innovation. What what for example, drift and 6sense do is very innovative. And this wasn't driven by like just some product overlords, it was really driven by frontline partnership work kind of crafting what the future could look like in the PMS listening to joint customers. Like that's very loose at what KPI from, like, the capabilities that we have together? Are we impacting it's like,

Elliot Smith  16:42
I think that's impossible to KPI, right? I think product innovation, you know how you extend the product, you know, unless you can turn that into direct revenue, and directly attribute it. And I think you're chasing your tail trying to KPI that. And I think that has to come back to a sentiment to Jared, I think you need to have the CTO and the product leaders, again, feel that sense of Yes, we're getting impact from the product team, from the partner team that the partner team is not just sitting there trying to drive, you know, meeting coordination between sales teams on either side that they're actually really getting under the hood, they're trying to understand the product. What does it do today? What could it do? What can the ecosystem bring in terms of innovation, and present that to the product teams in a way that they can easily consume? Because every product team out there is, is faced with some bandwidth and resourcing issues, you know, your fight for prioritization, you got to come up with something compelling and innovative. It's tough to KPI that, right. But at the end of the day, you know, shout outs overall and tapas from our team, you know, the end of the year? If the saying yeah, we really felt an impact of benefit from our ecosystem that they provided x and key inputs to drive our product to places it couldn't get to before then, then you're winning. Right? And then you're winning the hearts and minds, which, you know, to come back to that sentiment feeling that's, that's what you've got to win, I think to be successful.

Jared Fuller  17:59
What other factors do you think you need to prioritize, you know, outside of product sales, to kind of get these these obstacles start hurtling them?

Elliot Smith  18:08
Yeah, I think I think we're the last at the trough when it comes to investment in technology. On the partner team side, would you agree, Jared, that you know, the part of the tech stack isn't as solid as maybe it could be right? I look at finance, HR, sales and marketing, you know, other areas of the business, get to play with these cool shiny toys that we sell you and I. But the partner teams in general, I think struggle with having the right technology at their fingertips, I think the cloud native SAS companies like drift, 6sense, I think, really have the luxury of some forward thinking along those lines. But I've got some experience in some more of the legacy software firms out there that haven't quite made that pivot. And I look back to some of the text technology that I've used to do this job in the past. And it's it's pretty woeful, I mean, it's basically Excel and Word. And, you know, scotch tape and baling wire, trying to put it together. And there are some really cool tools out in the market. You know, this podcast is sponsored by cross beam shout out to those guys, you know, game changing in just simply being able to match countless and prospect lists and target lists with partners to throw up an overlap that says, hey, there's a mutual customer, we haven't talked to them together. And there's a better together story here. Let's go present that so that we can secure that renewal for both of us and maybe drive some expansion. That's great, or finding, you know, a prospector as a client of theirs and vice versa and leveraging each other for for intros, I mean that I've seen that take six months to crank other places. Whereas, you know, tools like cross beam can really help you get started along those lines in 10 or 15 minutes. So, yeah, long, long winded answer, but I think technology is a big obstacle.

Jared Fuller  19:57
There's there's a bunch of unpack here. I mean, Kevin used to I, my take on that would be a little bit different. Because I've tried most PRMS on the market, like I've pretty much every PRM I've tried. And the problem with PRMS is that you don't need a PRM crossbeam I love it, there's some great value propositions, I would actually argue that you need partner ops Yes, really quickly. Um, and I have someone on our team that's been like a half kind of like part time resource over the past four months. And it's been oh my gosh, so, so amazing. And I think you have to get your Salesforce right, you have to start to get your product data into your Salesforce, you need a an ops person that's handy with you know, SQL with databases with Salesforce, that can help kind of set up those systems, but also the reporting structures and everything else, you need to see what the rest of the business and a lot of times what I've found is that it's just not going to come out of the box. Right, like, because partner programs are so very different. Like HubSpot. Kevin, like you guys had an incredibly complex and custom built partner. I don't know ecosystem it was its own software, wasn't it? Like you had the ISV side? You had the partner side, you had the directory, you had discovery? You have login authentication. Yeah, yeah. What it What? It a whole team dedicated to it. Right?

Kevin Raheja  21:27
A massive team dedicated to it. And yeah, that we had folks just dedicated to ops on that team as well.

Elliot Smith  21:35
That's it, you bring up a really interesting topic chair. And I think OPERATIONS SUPPORT FOR partner teams is pretty lacking in my experience. And that's great to know that you've got that kind of support, I would, I would challenge us and say, Well, we've seen sales and marketing operations come together and through revenue operations. Why have separate partner operations from revenue operations? Shouldn't they be all owned by the same leader and managed as one? Yeah, maybe that's a topic maybe that's a topic for a broader conversation with some folks who are experts in that area.

Jared Fuller  22:07
I definitely have to get some work have we definitely got to get a partner ops person in here. So that would be a geeky, amazing conversation. I could geek out on partner ops stuff I'd like, man, I think I could learn a lot.

Kevin Raheja  22:20
We go into the weeds with partner Ops, though that would be a fascinating conversation. Definitely.

Jared Fuller  22:28
I wonder if anyone's doing any consulting around that either. Like, is there our who's the partner ops expert? Like I know there's lots of like sales ops gurus, there's lots of marketing ops gurus like Sarah McNamara, she's awesome. But I don't know I've never heard of a partner that's up

Elliot Smith  22:43
on mission. That's fine. Let's find a partner ops hero out there. If you're out there. You're out there. Call him.

Jared Fuller  22:50
Comment on him in the video on YouTube on this one Mike's, like call him out because we want to talk

Elliot Smith  22:55
who isn't? Yeah, because usually, in my experience, poner ops is just an adjunct to sales ops, and it's a night job, right. And it's unless it's a channel Ops, I mean, let's separate channel ops from you know, the more Alliance kind of Cosell ops because I think channel ops is well defined. And it's a it's a meaning meaningful role that has impact and is exists today. But kind of Cosell Ops, right partner ops and technology and integration partner ops doesn't exist, you know, you really kind of you're tapping into a bank borrowing and CEO from sales ops or from marketing Ops, or, you know, you're constantly going to the product team being you know, for their, their focus and their attention. I think the operations layer could can help us all.

Kevin Raheja  23:36
Yeah, what's the biggest challenge right now?

Elliot Smith  23:41
We don't really have a channel Kevin. So we sell direct, you know, 100% we have like our relationship with drift, we have an embedded powered by OEM relationship, but everything else is a is a reseller is sorry, Cosell motion. We don't have. We don't have a channel slash reseller program.

Jared Fuller  24:04
Yeah, so the the more of Alliance tech partnerships, data exchange kind of kind of relationships there. Whenever you're looking at kind of like the next phase of these challenges that you overcome, like, You're, you're starting to make these bigger investments like success has been growing. I think I saw a post today like 100%. year over year. So solid

Elliot Smith  24:24
three is running. Yeah. Yeah, three years, right. We're doing okay, over here. Sorry. What's that? We're doing okay. Right here. It's all right.

Jared Fuller  24:33
Um, but what what's Jason starting to, you know, come to expect from you now versus, you know, when I was working with, you know, top us and Raul a little over a year ago, his top has kind of been like, Hey, you know, what's changing in here and what Where is his focus as it relates to partnerships?

Elliot Smith  24:52
nothing's really changed here. I think what we're doing is we're just up leveling out of game in terms of putting a programmatic layer around our ecos system, right? I mentioned before that it's nascent. So we're growing love these partnerships have come from grass roots, just, you know, bumping into each other recognizing opportunity, product team, recognizing we can extend the product in certain areas, all that good stuff that you get in the startup world as the company's trying to find its own business model. And now to take it to the next level, it's really just that programmatic piece is okay, we've got some meaningful partnerships. Now, how do we get the most out of them? You know, that's take some blocking and tackling and some kind of hand to hand combat right on the CO sell side. And so really, what we're doing is is bringing a programmatic approach to that. And that gives us the opportunity to look at partnerships across multiple angles, not just Cosell, but what are we doing from a co branding and marketing standpoint? What are we doing from product integration, that innovation, and then you can have a much more meaningful conversation with the leaders on either side about, hey, there's an opportunity for us to do a lot more here together if we think about things differently. And that's, I think, Jared answer your question is what what Jason's really looking for from this investment that he's making in the program?

Jared Fuller  26:06
What did we go up? Go ahead. Um, I was

Kevin Raheja  26:11
just gonna ask, what does your coastal motion look like, with partners? I know like, you know, everyone has a different approach there. I'm wondering what, what 6sense, Cosell motion kind of looks like no real secret

Elliot Smith  26:23
sauce. You know, I'm a firm believer that this is a hustle game. And it certainly helps with cross beam to find the overlaps, right? And then it's a question of prioritization. So the way we're piloting this now, because really just a few weeks into this, is to identify the overlaps. In other words, what's the opportunity for us to align at either mutual customers or prospects for either or, and then work with our sales teams and have them nominate, you know, let's say we got a list of 500 that we could potentially do tomorrow, work with AES, and have them nominate their priorities, show them what that overlap looks like, for their territory. And then have them tell you based on what they know, and what they're comfortable about with those accounts, how they want to go about sequencing and prioritizing, have them nominate five or 10 at a time, and then simply get that hand hand combat with the partners team, trying to get the connection into the ease on their side. And so today, it's a bit, it's a bit, it could be a lot better in the sense that because we're a small team, and there's high volume, we find ourselves making connections. And then moving on to the next one, making connections. Moving on to the next one, a really good coastal motion, if you've got the right support the right bandwidth, the right resources, should go a lot deeper than that you should be looking, I think, to the partner team to do a lot of the research about what is the potential Better Together story and play there for that particular client or prospect, and then arming the sales teams on both sides with that information so that you avoid that awkward first call, where we've all been there where everybody gets on the line for both sides and say, well, who do you know? Well, I'm not going to tell you until you until you tell me who you know, and you get that awkward kind of, oh, Crikey, this is going nowhere. Fast, right? There's a lot of legwork that could be done as should be done to prep for those kind of calls that we're not there yet, because we're just not mature enough. But that's where I want to get to Kevin. So I'm curious if you guys see the same thing or tips and tricks that you may have seen work in along those lines.

Jared Fuller  28:16
We spent, we spent a good amount of time there, we don't have a giant alliances team. We have one alliances manager now and bringing on some other folks. Where Yeah, you know, you have to start with a plan. Whenever you sign into Alliance kind of identifying your Tam in your market. Even I think you should go so far as to have an account based strategy. And then you need to have a contact based strategy inside of not just the accounts, but inside of your partner, like who are you talking to? How does that align to, you know, verticals or gios? Or territories? And, you know, whenever you're working with, you know, companies like the size of us, you know, on this call have a few hundred employees, that doesn't typically work so well. What you have to do is you have to line that against the bigger codes, which I feel like we've over indexed on your, you know, coming over to 6sense, but like maybe go back to in for I mean, that's how many employees were in for when you left? 15,000 16,000?

Elliot Smith  29:10
Yeah. 12 to 15.

Jared Fuller  29:14
I mean, so, and you were heading a big part of the partner program there,

Elliot Smith  29:18
right. 2122 people? So yeah, the decent investment. You know, that was across multiple different partnerships, multiple different partnership types, but with a very clear vision of aligning sales teams to partner people with that layer in the middle. Doing that all I call the interlock process, which is prepping to make sure that first core goes as well as possible.

Jared Fuller  29:41
We call it the value hypothesis, right? So it's I think your CEO calls it getting the answers to the test. Right? It's like you Why do you talk to a partner? They already have the answers to the test. They already have a relationship with that customer get the answers to the test before you show up with the customer call, right to take the test. I love it the interlock process What do you think it's been that biggest, you know, learning for you kind of going from Oracle, you know, giant company, you know, top five tech company in four, to a very quickly growing, you know, b2b martec kind of company.

Elliot Smith  30:17
I think the biggest learning for me is that this is where my heart is. So, you know, I was in law tech for a while, up until around 2016. And now I'm back and just feel like this is the place to be. And I think the learning is just that partner programs, the, the heart of, you know, whether it's a massive enterprise like Oracle, you know, medium company, like in four or 6sense. At the end of the day, I think the core tenants are the same. In terms of, you know, what are you trying to achieve, you're trying to impact sales, you're trying to impact retention rates, and the way you do it might be slightly different. But at the heart, you got to take the same steps to make sure you've got that right alignment, you know, across sales, marketing, and you're trying to drive the right kind of motion that's going to impact ultimately, reps, reps, pocketbooks.

Jared Fuller  31:06
So what about the people? So, you know, challenges the partner people face is that you typically look at a resume, if you're hiring an account executive, you know, there's some SDR experience or entry level sales in, you know, maybe Telecom, right contact center, like you have some phone time. And then you moved into a closing role. And then you succeeded in that closing role. So you, you have this profile, that you can then map to stages of companies, they've done this at a small company had a big company. But for partner, it's it's the pool isn't the same. And it's certainly different at an early stage, where you probably need, you know, Jill, or jack of all trades, versus the later stages where you need someone who's more of a specialist, who do you think is like, Who have you seen it in for be an incredible partner person?

Elliot Smith  31:59
I think, you know, I felt really strongly that that a good partner person should have a really good strong mix of skills. I think you're looking for pop seller, pop marketer, part psychologist,

Jared Fuller  32:16
because at the end of the day, are Alaskan crab fishermen.

Elliot Smith  32:19
All right, yeah. Like Kevin, you need to fish the Bering Sea. That brings some interesting experiences to bear. And I think I think one bit that's really lost right now is you need to be quite analytical and comfortable with data. And I'm not sure the perfect person exists there. But what I have found in my experience, is people who have a consulting background, in other words, maybe started their career, spent a few years understanding, customer's real pain points from a delivery standpoint, and trying to help a customer transform their business. I think that is brings really good foundational skills that are essential to this role, because I just look at my own experience. That's how I started. And I think I always had a passion for sales, but it was maybe just hidden the layer or two below. I got that core kind of analytical, technical data background, and then added sales experience on top of that in a perfect way, which was basically bringing consulting expertise together with selling expertise in an alliance. So that for me, you know, I'm not saying I'm the perfect partner person out there, because I'm not. But I like to look for elements of experiences from different areas, because I think there's this perception that Alliance programs or partner programs are staffed with sales, bad sales, people that are looking to retire at times, right, that there's this it's a it's a place for bad salespeople to go for a downhill slide into the end of their career. Not in martech, Jared, and Kevin not in the space that we're in. But in other areas of software partner programs, I've seen that that there's that perception is that someone's not hitting their quota. They're going to be put on a pip and the sales manager calls the Alliance program and says, Hey, before we eject this person from the company, would you be willing to take that? I've seen that motion a lot. And I think that that's really unfair to the partner program, but it comes from this belief that, you know, partner, people are just sales people that couldn't meet that quota. And we still want to keep and so let's give them a job in pondering. So, you know, I'm going through a hiring process at the moment. And it's hard to find people with the right skills, you need somebody who's thick skinned enough to be able to come in and know that not everything is going to be on a plate for them. They've got to go figure it out themselves. And the best people that I've seen are the ones that can craft the role for themselves, that the way they partner might be different to how somebody else does partnering. But at the end of the day, they all have a passion for sales. They all have a passion for marketing, and they have a data and analytic analytical background. And that's that to me, I think is the ideal profile.

Kevin Raheja  34:59
Yeah. I think you'd be perfectly the the ideal profile for a team that has a kind of like a primary goal of acquisition, I think I might be the only one in this room who would argue for the primary goal of a partner program and an ecosystem, an app ecosystem as a retention and a product play. And the only thing I would add there is that, you know, the folks that I've worked with that have been the best from that angle have been the one that had that come with a strong sense of product understand, like how to build quality partnerships, in addition to like, a quantity and a, you know, a quantity of partnerships from the from the lens of acquisition. But then there's also like, the, the unicorn with would also have like, you know, a product background and a firm understanding of product and API's and endpoints and what, what, what, like, the best partnerships are from a customer centric centricity perspective is,

Elliot Smith  36:08
yeah, it makes perfect sense. Kevin, I echo that, you know, as we think about the evolution of the ecosystem at 6sense, you know, at some point, a step in our future will be marketplace ecosystem, you know, one click integration model. And I'll definitely be looking for someone, like you just described, versus someone more on the Cosell side where I was thinking and I, I like to draw an analogy to sports here, because I'm a sports nut. And I grew up playing a number of different sports. And I think I'd love for you guys just to weigh in here. I'm just I'm seeing a correlation between the best people that I've worked with in this program are more of the assist player, than they are the score, if that makes sense. You know, I think of a ees out there direct sales reps really being about scoring the goal, the boss get, where is the best partner, people are comfortable in that role of providing the assist, and not necessarily getting the full Limelight and glory that goes along with scoring the goal? I'm not sure if you guys seen that, or

Jared Fuller  37:09
I feel like Kevin, based on what you just said. Elliott, what you just said, Kevin, I feel like we have to qualify this based on is this a SMB go to market motion? Is this an enterprise go to market motion? Right, so like, Kevin, when it's SMB go to market, I completely agree with you product lead growth, right, like lots of partners, you know, build an ecosystem. It's the Intuit, the HubSpot, the, you know, that that SMB play on the more mid to enterprise where Elliot I've been for the past, I came from the SMB side, but I've been more on that side recently. It's, it is very different. Um, and I would actually say that the assist person is great on the SMB side, I would argue, though, that on the enterprise side, I have seen those folks that are tried and true, amazing, you know, account executive translate very well into a, you know, revenue owning role that's contributing to a wider team. But it has to align with what they want, right? Like, for example, if you are that good as an account executive, your earning potential is probably pretty good. You're making good money, right? So why go do the partner thing? You You go do the partner thing, because you're trying to diversify your set of experiences. And perhaps one day, you want to be a better sales leader understand, you know, more of the business and be more curious. Or perhaps you're, you know, trying to, I've seen some folks go to the path of starting their own company, right, and partnerships is about is, it's not the CEO, it's not the C suite. But you're, it's about as closest to running a company as you're going to get as an employee, because there's so many aspects to it, product sales, marketing, customer success. So I think people do it for different reasons. So I think you can have both, it's just you got to align with the stage of the company. It's both it's the stage and the go to market. Right. So are you SMB or enterprise? Are you early stage? are you late stage? Are you, you know, Microsoft? Right, established?

Kevin Raheja  39:05
Yeah, that's a really important clarification. And you know, I've seen a lot of top account executives at the firms that I've worked for come to me and say that they want to be on the partnerships team, because they're used to having these like monthly or quarterly quotas. And then at the end of those months or quarters, they reset and they go back to zero. And they're they're just kind of tired of that grind. But they want to they still want to contribute they need to go work for your partner teams.

Jared Fuller  39:35
Yeah, my mind reset every quarter to Yeah, but Elliott's due to zero actions are like

yeah, we'd like that.

Jared Fuller  39:46
Kevin's gonna have a flood of applicants after this big like.

Kevin Raheja  39:51
And again, I think that's a key difference between SMB and enterprise partnership teams.

Elliot Smith  39:56
Yeah, no, I agree. And quick plug for me. I am hiring. Right now, so if there are any good candidates out there by all means, you know,

Jared Fuller  40:03
pick up your hot again, shameless plug me in this podcast. Yeah.

Kevin Raheja  40:06
Are you? Are you guys hiring remote or just in San Francisco or you're in Atlanta. So,

Elliot Smith  40:12
Atlanta? Yeah, so we're all remote right now, I don't think we'll be back in the office until q1, I think next year at the earliest. So the whole company's remote right now. Take anybody with a Wi Fi connection and a passion. And if you've got all the skills that we listed out before, then you're in.

Jared Fuller  40:31
I did agree with your consulting background, too. I'm a big fan of hiring people from consulting backgrounds. That's that that is a vastly missed, like, that's probably as close as you're gonna get to a channel executive and any kind of role as someone that's in consulting, because that's pretty much what you're doing. You're, what do I say it's like, You're, you're building your own sales, marketing Customer Success function inside of your company, and then you're going and building it inside of someone else's company that's not on your payroll, right. And you kind of need to be consulted to do it, you just can't sell that. If people are like how you got it, you can't, you can't just tell me, you got to show me you got to show up to the calls, you got to build the methodology with me, help me build a service model helped me build the delivery model, you can't just, you know, sell it, you got to be able to consult it. And I love that analogy.

Elliot Smith  41:19
I think just as important there is the consulting, the consultative selling nature is really important. But I think the program management skills that you get from starting out and consulting, cannot be cannot be taught in many ways. I think you have to live and breathe that Monday through Friday, client delivery expectations, constant pressure, you learn a lot about program management, at least in my experience that I've been able to use in this role that I don't think I would have got otherwise I've often thought what would have happened if I've gone directly into sales say, yeah, out of college. And I don't think I would have ended up as well rounded, let's say, as I have, yeah,

Kevin Raheja  41:57
there's a there's also a commonality between like MBA students and coming out of a consulting background that just has like, a super emphasis on like, quantitative, like data. And sometimes those are good skill sets to have in a partner team.

Elliot Smith  42:13
Yeah, if I can think someone from Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, namely a big GSA, you know, what they've been through early stages of their career, and you know, that they were very qualitative in their approach. Kevin, you're absolutely right.

Jared Fuller  42:26
And I even like the, you know, the smaller boutiques, right, like, I often say, I'm a fan of people that know how to fight above their weight class. So if you're in a boutique, and you're, you're driving, you know, client implementations, and you're fighting for every dollar, and Accenture is knocking on your clients door. Like you got to be pretty good to fend off, you know, the the big five. So that's, that's definitely a talent pool, that I'm a big fan of compare, in comparison with just you know, hiring look alikes, you can also you also get a much more diverse, you know, a range of backgrounds and experiences versus, you know, like the typical New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, you know, backgrounds that you can get in that in the in the tech community. Elliot, what are we missed on challenges that partner programs face?

Elliot Smith  43:24
I think we've hit them all. I mean, the last one for me is, you know, I think, you know, a lot of pressure and expectation on us to drive inbound opportunities as much as we can from the ecosystem. And a good way to do that is to launch co branded campaigns, marketing campaigns and activities. And the maybe this is just the floor and me and how I approach things. But I've seen those things take much longer to pull together than I think they really should. And I'm curious for you guys, on your experiences that what might be some of the challenges of getting those campaigns out of the door? Typically, what happens in my experiences, we get marketing teams, partner team sales teams on the lines to get everybody's like, yeah, we should go tell this better together story, we should do this, we should go to this part of the market. And everybody genuinely needs that first call excited wanting to do it. And then it tends to get the prioritize, because I think behind the scenes, it takes lots of there's also moving parts, and there's lots of things you can align on budget resources, timing, schedule, plan execution. And I just see things break down there a little bit. I'm just curious if you guys ad see that yourselves. And if not, then what are you doing that I need to be doing with my team to be better at that? And because shout out the lat nail CMOS is leaned in and ready to do this. And I think I've need to show the way on how we do this. So

Kevin Raheja  44:45
yeah, I definitely like to try to quantify the opportunity as much as possible. I lean on cross beam for this. Sometimes and really just like addressing What the total addressable market is within our ecosystems, you know, doing like an ideal customer profile match. And as long as that aligns all of these kind of, you know, what, what does our joint customer base look like? And can we expand beyond that? And trying to quantify those things out as best as possible. It's hard to do that in partnerships. And so as best you can put out like a business plan for why we're doing this, and quantified as best as possible, I've seen those ones typically come to fruition, more so than the ones that are harder to quantify. And if you can really sell that plan over to the partner, they tend to happen more often than not.

Elliot Smith  45:43
That's great advice, Kevin, I'll take that to heart. Do you see things break down at the content creation stage at all? Because I think that's another area that I think and maybe it's just simply getting that business case strong enough that hey, this is gonna happen. And then it just becomes natural that the content teams on both sides lean in and help help get it out the door.

Kevin Raheja  46:04
Yet, to be honest, I think there's if there's an alignment on opportunity, there shouldn't be a breakdown on the content creation stage that should quote that. Yeah. Did you say that, folks?

Jared Fuller  46:18
What do you say Tara? saying, quote that, like the folks need to quote Kevin, Kevin rahasia. On that, I love it. Yeah, there's alignment on the opportunity, there's not going to be a breakdown on the on the content. I love it.

Kevin Raheja  46:29
There really, because this should be a business development, slash partnerships driven initiative. So as long as you can, you know, prove the opportunity, the content creation, there shouldn't be a breakdown there.

Elliot Smith  46:42
Yeah. That's good. Good advice, guys.

Jared Fuller  46:46
One thing that I would say is, you, you kind of when you ask that question, and Elliott, do you mean campaigns? And I mean, like pillar campaigns, like, these are quarter long, multiple assets driving traffic from multiple sources? Or is this like a webinar and ebook? Like a one off?

Elliot Smith  47:06
I think the webinar and ebooks I mean, they're easy to pull off. I'm talking about the former. Right, the right to true like most of the campaign, which is this quarter, I think we can all agree that's what we should be aspiring to, as Paul in the leaders, right, is to be driving campaigns that have long term impact. Yeah, because anybody could do a webinar, right?

Jared Fuller  47:26
Yeah. Luckily for me, my drift team is amazing. They do partner stuff all the time. And we're trying to get better at doing campaign centric things where we're kind of zooming out and aligning the calendars. And that's going to be the topic of another episode, we had peekapoo to talk about partner enablement side of marketing, we're gonna find that amazing partner marketer that knows how to do demand Gen and campaigns with partners at scale. So if you know someone, there's gonna be LinkedIn posts about this episode, tag them in the comments, we want to talk to them post in the YouTube.

Elliot Smith  47:56
I might know if you've talked to I might know a few people, I can help you that. But definitely listening to that episode, because it's an area that I truly need to learn and improve what I did.

Jared Fuller  48:08
Absolutely, Elliot, this has been fantastic. Before we go, everyone. Just a quick reminder, 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 This has been great. It's fun to be doing a deal with Elliott right now we're like negotiating back and forth, and we do a podcast. It's all secret, so we can't tell you what it's about. But the fun thing is, what I really love about this more than anything is that you just advertised a role for 6sense on here. And like, I have an open role to I'm hiring for head of strategic alliances in this podcast. Kevin, who do we report to? This podcast? No one I mean, do whatever you want. So Kevin, you hired anyone who would? Anything else you got going on? Oh Pawn Stars. That's what happened. We can talk. We'll wrap with that. Why were you on Pawn Stars yesterday?

Kevin Raheja  49:00
Oh, man. Um, oh, God, I didn't think we're gonna get into this. Yeah. So I collected starkel letters from people like signed by Albert Einstein, Thomas, and Booker T. Washington. Credit Scott King. I've got a I've got a bunch of them. And I brought in 26 letters to Pawn Stars who we filmed yesterday, and it'll air soon. Nobody should watch this. It probably won't be interesting to anyone. I don't even know why we're talking about this.

Jared Fuller  49:32
I grew up in a pawn shop. I am actually super interested. I call every price that comes up on that show. I think I've seen like most of the episodes I love it.

Kevin Raheja  49:40
Jerry will dedicate a full episode of this show to just talking about why and how you grew up in a pawn store. Oh, so what pawn shops and partnerships have in common where what by Pawn Shop top experienced how many about being in partnerships are easy. We got it. We got to close this one down. Eliot like 57 minutes. We You and my god i have to say there is an uncanny like a, an eerily growing uncanny resemblance to Ilan musk. I totally

he's a lucky guy. That's all I'll say.

Jared Fuller  50:13
He's a lucky guy. He's a lucky guy. Thank

Elliot Smith  50:15
you guys listen to me on this has been tons of fun. I can learn a lot from you guys and looking forward to the other episodes. Jarrod didn't come here.

Jared Fuller  50:22
Good thing you've done here, Joe. It's all about the smart people we bring on Kevin and I are just friends. So we're just trying to learn ourselves. So appreciate everyone. Y'all lot. Don't forget, like subscribe, leave us a review all that fun stuff, leave a comment and I will see you next time.

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