Friends With Benefits #8: Good Things Come to Good People with Mike Stocker

Mike Stocker, VP of Partnerships at CallRail, joins the show to discuss securing internal buy-in, Nearbound efforts, the importance of having a mission statement for the partnerships department, and more.

He shares about his recent layoff and his networking efforts that led to a new job that was a great fit for him.

He also gives advice for those seeking mentorship, including details about how to prepare for meetings with mentors.

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Full Transcript:

Jason Yarborough 0:09
do welcome to the Friends with Benefits podcast, a business podcast about revenue generating partnerships, not a podcast about business time with friends. We're your co hosting couple. I'm Jason.

Sam Yarborough 0:23
And I'm Sam. Welcome to the show Friends.

Jason Yarborough 0:26
All right, welcome back to the Friends with Benefits podcast. We are cruising here having so much fun doing this. Sam's great to Great to have you back in the house back in the other podcasts again. Oh, that's right. Yeah, forgot about that. Yeah, you're just not in the room anymore. It's weird when you're not in the room working with this. Man. I am particularly excited about today's episode. We've got the infamous Mike stalker on the show. No, no, no stranger to the partnership community. Probably mentor to many we've all learned from Mike probably got lots of playbooks of Mike's. Mike was actually one of the first people that I met in the partnership community, and has been a huge help to not only me, but I believe it to yourself. Been at places you know, some small places like Facebook now called meadow, whatever that is. Marketo vid yard roll words now. CallRail. Good Lord, the odd the who's who of partner program leaders. I'm going to stop talking now. So Mike, welcome to the friends and benefits podcast.

Mike Stocker 1:30
Hey, hey, thanks so much. Thanks so much. Jason. I always think of you as yarby though, so. So I may call you the RV, but I'm talking about Jason. Yeah, it's,

Jason Yarborough 1:41
it's fine. My own my own father wants to change my name to yarby So um, that works.

Sam Yarborough 1:47
I'm the only person that calls him Jason. I think so. You're good

Mike Stocker 1:50
at and, um, is that when he's in trouble? Or, you know, all the time all the time.

Jason Yarborough 1:56
refuses to use your RV just will not do it. I guess from the very beginning, like when we were dating and she was like, Nope, not gonna do it. I'm like, Okay, fair enough.

Mike Stocker 2:05
Great to be here.

Jason Yarborough 2:06
Yeah. Love it. Man. I'm so glad to have you on the show again, like, we go back probably like, I can remember getting noodles with you in San Francisco. I think in 2018. We sat down and Ben spent a couple hours together showed me around the roadworks office, I've So got a mug somewhere from there and just really appreciate the friendship over the years and the time you sit with the ARB family.

Mike Stocker 2:29
Hey, you too, are some of my favorite people in the industry. Not just saying that, because I'm here on the podcast. But seriously, I think you are awesome. I love all the interactions that we've had together over the years. Five plus years. That's you know, that's that's a long time that we've known each other and

Jason Yarborough 2:48
in software years, that's like 50 years, isn't it?

Mike Stocker 2:50
That's right. That's right. It's kind of like dog years. Right. You know, it's like, multiple years. Yeah, it

Jason Yarborough 2:55
exceeds that of dog years. The timeframe does

Mike Stocker 2:58
partnership years, it's even longer because you know, yeah,

Jason Yarborough 3:01
yeah. We were like the first two in the space, I think. No, I'm kidding.

Mike Stocker 3:05
That's right. That's right. And then Sam came along and like, showed us all how to do it. Right. So

Sam Yarborough 3:11
no, well, you know, I learned from you just as much as you were when the first people that showed me the way to So, Mike, we like to start the show a little bit with an odd question, but in theme with the show. So in the context of partnerships, what does Friends with Benefits mean to you?

Mike Stocker 3:29
Yeah, yeah. And I think that's a great question. I'm going to talk a little bit about it later, I think. But what it means to be friends with benefits is just like what we've talked about, we've known each other five years to you, too, are some of the people that I I enjoy working with the most, I consider you friends, right? We started off as like work colleagues. But now like, I have both of you, I can text both of you, I can slack, both of you. And we chat about all kinds of different things, right? We're not just we're colleagues, we can bounce ideas off each other, we can help each other when we need it. And so when I think of friends with benefits, it's really like, for five years, we've we've known each other like that you become friends, like you really become friends. And then the benefit is just like, you become part of this network of people that I trust and people that I can ask questions from that I could ask help from. And you can ask me for help. And we know each other, we build what what, you know, most people in the industry are now calling trust, like the equity of trust. Like, guess what, like, that's what it is. Right? And, and that's what I think of when I think of friends with benefits. So love it.

Jason Yarborough 4:35
Yeah, I think that's a great answer. And I can I can really appreciate that too. Because you and I have had, you know, multiple calls, you know, that exceed that have just worked you know, they've almost become like slight therapy sessions and just coach each other through different scenarios and help each other out how to do this and when to do that what to look for kind of thing so can appreciate that answer. So let's let's let's jump right into the good stuff. been seeing, you know, you on some podcasts lately some some articles, some speaking gigs, and you're talking about this, these four lenses for partners. So let's, let's quickly break those down and and get into it up to a few topics of those. Were those four lenses look like to you?

Mike Stocker 5:17
Yeah, thanks for asking, you know, I, I just joined a new job and you know, I was trying to think of a way that I could quickly talk about the impact of partnerships, I think we always get this question like, what's the impact of partnerships, I tried to like, boil it down, I actually went and like I was for a hike up in the Stanford hills, like there's the dish, if any of you have been in the Bay Area, there's a dish, you can hike up to it as think about this as like, okay, partners can impact a lot of ways. But like, a lot of times people miss these things. So for doing it the last 10 or 15 years, in my career, I said, there are four kind of main lenses that I landed on, which is the first one is showing up in market. So through partnerships, and through partner co marketing, you can show up more and market together. So it's through all the stuff that we can do blog posts, or webinars and case studies and all that good stuff, right? And who does that align with that aligns internally with your CMO? Right, like you can become a good friend of your CMO. And they should always be a good friend of the partnership team. So showing up more in market. The second one is product capabilities, right in improving the product capabilities. So through partner integrations, we actually add capabilities, right? Like, your tool can only do so lunch, you're not gonna be able to build everything, right. So if you build these integrations to other systems, it allows you to have a broader solution set. So improving your product capabilities, broader solution set, and who to that align with that aligns with your chief product officer, right, you can sell a broader solution, it gives them more capabilities. Right. The next one, the next lens, so second Lens Product capabilities and broader solution set. Third lens is source revenue. So this is, this is the hot one right now in the market, because it's all about like, how much source Revenues can can partners bring. But that's not the only one, I want people to realize that partner sources is really important. But it's not the only one. It's these other ones that are also important. The partner source aligns with your CRO. So I now report to the CRO, he comes to me and he's like, Mike, how are you going to get partners to drive source revenue? How are you going to help feed the sales team? Because those are better deals that are coming in? And they close faster? They're larger? I don't I think you all had, what was his name? Mike, David David. So previously, and he said, a lot of partner people say they feel things. I know for a fact, I've got the metrics. I am like the marketing team. So Mike, Mike Davis, I have liked the marketing team, I've got it down to a thing, I know that the close one rate for partner source deals is much higher, right? I know that they close faster, I've got the metrics and the real numbers to prove it. But that's that's the third lens is like partner sourced right. Lincoln aligns with your CRM. And then the last one is, is really around retention or renewal. So based on the number of integrations that a customer has in place, so partner integrations included, right, you actually see more sticky customers that renew at higher rates, so the retention rates go up. And for any SaaS company, that's gold, every single percentage point increase, and retention is potentially hundreds of 1000s millions of dollars for a company, right depending on your revenue scale. So who does that align with that aligns with your customer success, your CRO, Chief Customer Officer those roles. So four lenses showing up in market product capabilities being improved and expanded sourced revenue and improve retention renewal rates, if you think about all four of those, and you look at those lenses for each partnership, that's who how you go to your company, and you get alignment, and you show the impact of partnerships. And I think those encompass most, most of our impact.

Jason Yarborough 9:01
That's a I think that's a really great way to articulate it. And as you can imagine, Sam and I was really nerdy conversations. And we were talking about this topic last night, about sitting in the middle of all these have all the BTUs right, all the business units and a that's that's that's the fun part of the job, right getting to sit in but really like you know, having to sit in the middle of those and and understand exactly why you sit there and how you're influencing and impacting those business units is more important. Or I think the, the, some people don't, don't understand the value they bring to all those organizations, they're thinking just revenue because to your point, that's the it's the hot topic. It's the it's the gold nugget right now. But really, if you think about it, what most SaaS companies are focused on really, you know, coming from, you know, some of the work we've been in is, is retention data. And so we often overlook how to work with the CEOs in some of the hottest opportunities, especially in large rollovers in the biggest impact on made was bringing partners into marketing. You know, so you have a lot of opportunity to influence.

Sam Yarborough 10:05
Mike, I remember one of the very first things, okay, maybe it was like the 10th thing that we talked about. But you at the time, were really rallying for partnerships to report to the CEO. And it's for all these reasons we just talked about, because if you do sit under, say the CRO, then your metrics are more aligned to source revenue influenced revenue, etc. So, I find it interesting that you're now reporting to the CRO, but you're still so focused on the holistic approach that a partner can bring to the organization. I have a lot of questions, and we are kind of going on a tangent here. But do your metrics only revolve around source metric source revenue now? Or are you still working with marketing metrics, product metrics? How are you really validating that?

Mike Stocker 10:53
That's a really great question. I still believe that partnerships, the best home for partnerships is still directly into a CEO or a president, because of the cross functional nature of it. But here at CallRail, I am very fortunate that I have a CRO name is Mario Smith, he actually was previously the CRO over at ad roll is now the CRO here at CallRail. He's what I call a modern CRO, so he actually understands that he you know, the modern approach to growing a business and to to drive growth. And that is not just to add a salespeople, or that he understands that partnerships is a really important and efficient lever for growth, right. But he also understands that it's not just about partner source revenue. So I think it does vary in the CRO types that you get, because, you know, so just, we'll probably get to this later. But I also just interviewed a bunch of companies and I did meet with several CROs that don't get it. Right. And and that those were tough conversations, right. And so I really think it's, it's who you get in terms of that in that CRO role can make a difference. But I would say that there is always a focus on, you know, how do you drive partner source revenue? Like, how can that be a meaningful pillar in the overall picture, right? So you are a contributor, you are a slice of the pie. But there's also knowledge that you contribute across the different areas. I hope that kind of answers your question there.

Sam Yarborough 12:30
Totally. And I do think that this all comes together, because it's building alignment internally. But truly, partners are an integral part of the go to market team, which includes market, or marketing includes sales. So building those partnerships, and full stop, if your sales leader and your marketing leader aren't aligned, there's a big problem. So, you know, I think you really do talk about it here. And we can get into later. But in your interviews, making sure you're really understanding there is alignment, or there's at least appetite for it. So as a leader who clearly understands the value of internal partnerships, we've talked about this here, and the alignment between these organizations, say somebody, a new partner leader comes from sales. How do they lean across the aisle and talk to product to start building that relationship? If that's like, they don't understand this language? This is a new venue for them. How do you? How do you build those relationships?

Mike Stocker 13:27
Yeah, it's a great question. So So I think that the four lenses I just talked about actually give you a framework. So if you're coming from sales, you're going to be really good at the partner source angle, like you're gonna get down, it's a natural motion for you, right? But you're probably not going to be as familiar with during cold marketing exercises, or bringing those opportunities and the metrics of why they're important or the impact on retention, renewal, those are not going to be your forte, they're just not the areas that you have the great experience on. So what I always recommend is that you actually go and you meet with the leaders of each of those different functions. So meet your CMO, meet your, your chief customer officer, meet, you know, with the various teams meet with your part partner, marketing leader, like meet with a couple of the folks to go across the aisle really understand what are their goals? And then start to say, okay, how can I help you hit those goals? Like what is my ability to impact your metrics and your goals? And then incorporate that into what you do? And that's why I talked about the lenses because you can say, alright, what aligns with your CMO? Well, maybe they have MQLs and Sal cells and all the things that come to marketing events, and activities. So okay, me as a partner leader, I'm going to work to try and initiate or get new partner marketing opportunities. Yeah, you can turn it over to the partner marketing team. But like you're going to try and start the was conversations because you know, it will help your marketing team. So what I think it is, is it's really like being collaborative, going in meeting with them understanding their goals, what their priorities are, and then seeing how you can actually serve them, and like, integrate into what they're doing. And I think that that's the important piece, right? You can't just be in a silo. I think that's the biggest takeaway here is you can't be in a silo, you have to be collaborative, you have to understand the goals of these other teams, otherwise, you're not going to get their support when you need it. Right. Yeah,

Sam Yarborough 15:33
totally. I love what you said too, about integrating with what they're doing. And I think that's crucial. Because a lot of times partner professionals can come in and it's seen, it's met with a little bit of tension, because it looks like another thing to do. But if you can really integrate, then you become as we talked about a value add, and then you can make your ask after you've built that trust. So I think that's really great.

Jason Yarborough 15:57
And I mean, that that kind of ties in to to like what our friends Jared and Isaac are pushing and myself as well as like near bound being fully embedded into your go to market strategies, the really the only way, I think, in my experience and look at your yours, and how you can actually scale a program. Right goes in most of my cases, I've had, you know, one, two or three people on the team, they can only do so much. But if you really embed into these business units, like you can scale in a hurry.

Mike Stocker 16:25
Yeah, I mean, I think if I can touch on that really briefly, like, please, I think Jared talks about this, I think, you know, I think Asher Matthew and partnership leaders, I think a lot of folks talked about this, which is partnership should not be a silo should not be a team off on its own, it should be integrated into everything that all the other teams are doing. And I think I don't know if I've heard it phrased this way. But that's what near bound is, in many ways to me is that partnerships are embedded and in everything, and partner data is being able to be leveraged across everything, to help drive the outcomes that all the teams are looking for. Right? Not just the partnership team, or not just the sales team or not just the marketing team. It's all of the teams.

Jason Yarborough 17:08
That's it, it's 100% it's how does you know product, utilize the partner data, ces marketing, sales everyone and drive the company forward, you know, as a result. So last question on these lenses. And we'll we'll move on. You're coming into New org, where do you have a? Is it prioritizing where you store? Do you find yourself typically, you know, kind of infiltrating one camp more versus another? Or where do you start?

Mike Stocker 17:36
Yeah, yeah, so I just started a new role. I am a three and a half, four months in. So I joined in March. And you know, that first 90 days, I kind of I'll share kind of what I've done. There's some tactical items that I did starting in a new role. I think if I can boil it down to six is kind of what I would say. So the first one is meet your team. So really meet the team here, whatever they want to share. Sometimes they want to talk to you about a whatever the history of a certain partner, they don't like a partner there. Yeah, whatever, sit and listen to them, meet them, be a sponge and absorb everything, right. Because you'll pick up things it'll help you kind of get up to speed, right. So first one is just meet your team here, whatever they want to share, be that sponge and absorb everything. Second one is meet each leader. So go and I mentioned this earlier, meet your CRO meet your CMO, meet your CFO believer, not your product leader, Customer Success leader, rev ops leader, like go through your EA team, your executive team, and understand what they care most about. Because that'll help you align and then you can speak their language right. Third one is understand each partner partner category, the history that the each of the partners have the pros and cons of each partner. So a lot of times there's like partners, hey, this one's really great at doing co marketing but man, they're really terrible at follow up or the person there is difficult to work with, like, you know, like that kind of stuff. Understand the pros and cons of each of each partner.

Jason Yarborough 19:10
Do you have like a set of questions that you'd like to run through and you come in? And so we're gonna new partners

Mike Stocker 19:18
can ask a question I do I mean, I have a whole template for when we when we evaluate a new partner, we go through each so each like first call you go through and you see like, what are the potential use cases? What's our ICP that we asked between the partners? How many total customers do they have? We look typically connect with Crosby where we'll see what the I call it the partnership Pam, what's the addressable market of the partnership right? What's the overlap counts and that like what do they like doing what is their go to market process look like? Right so so I have a typical wine you know, you you launch an integration your press release, you do a blog post you do a case study you do All that kind of stuff? Like, are they willing to do all of those cold marketing things that are so important for a partnership? So there's a whole bunch of stuff. I've got to kind of templatized out that in that first call you try and suss out. Are they willing to do some of these things? Right.

Jason Yarborough 20:17
Beautiful. Love it. Sorry, I didn't number four.

Mike Stocker 20:19
Yeah, no. Yeah, number like so. So the third one that is just understanding each partner, the partner categories, pros and cons, the impact that they bring some partners, remember the four lenses, some partners are good at driving, improved product capabilities, and maybe co marketing, but they're not good at partner source revenue. It's good to know that, right? Because then you will go to them about things like, Hey, bring me some referrals or whatever, right. All right, so the fourth one that I do, again, I said six here. So get close to your metrics and be friends with Reb. Ops. Amen. So yes. So best, your best friends with DevOps? Right? So I spoke at crossbeam superhard, conference, whatever, a few weeks ago, on the 10 metrics that partner executives should know. And I'd say add me on LinkedIn. By the way, if anyone's interested, when those get published, you'll see it I'll post it, but the 10 metrics, yeah, 1010 metrics, the partner exact should no, really like, think about what those metrics are, and, and have. So the fifth fifth tip. So fourth tip is have a meeting, as fourth tip is get close to the metrics and get close to robots. fifth one is have a meeting on the metrics that you want to track. So what can you track now? And what do you need to track in order to run the business? So I came in here to call rail call where I had a lot I was very thankful call rail had a lot established. So we could track partner influence partner source, all that kind of good stuff. We have great metrics here. But maybe there are other metrics. Things around retention renewal, like what does it look like? If it's a partner source lead or partner influence lead? What's the retention renewal rates for those customers? There's some that like, you may want to look at that maybe your your company doesn't have so go through that exercise?

Jason Yarborough 22:02
No, that's, that's where we come in friends with the Reb ops team is really gonna pay excited. Just exactly, hey, I need some more stuff to my dashboard.

Mike Stocker 22:12
Can you help? Exactly? That's right. That's right. And Go Sam, tell, I was just

Sam Yarborough 22:16
gonna say, Hey, you can also learn to run your own reports.

Mike Stocker 22:21
You don't want me running?

Jason Yarborough 22:23
We were just talking about this before the shows were throwing, throwing throwing daggers out

Mike Stocker 22:29
I tend to break things. They always tell me Mike, make a copy, make a copy, please. say so. So thank you to all the DevOps professionals that I worked with in my career for dealing with me, God, I love all these years. Okay, the sixth one is really align on the metrics, right? So in the impact of partnerships, so again, along the lines of those lenses, like align on those metrics. And so I added to that is like have a mission statement for your partnerships. So this is something that's super important. I were going to pry chat about this, I think but like I was an entrepreneur, so I started everything with like, what's Why am I here? Why do I have a team in general, and what I said like call rail, I'll share ours. So call rail is overall company mission is to help companies market with confidence, right? That's our overall mission. So our partner team mission is we help businesses market with confidence. So you hear that same as our corporate one, by providing a best in class ecosystem of agency strategic and tech partners to help them better leverage CallRail to grow their business. Now see how that ties in. So and it also gives the partner team like we all go, yeah, that's our mission. That's what we do. We help with that.

Jason Yarborough 23:42
That's so smart, too, because then you can establish goals that align to that mission, and the thing you're working towards, you know, supports that mission. That's right. I love that. It's something that's not often talked about.

Mike Stocker 23:53
Yeah. And when you go out and you talk to other teams, so I presented to our engineering teams, you tell them, This is what we do. This is how we impact businesses, we we do we build a best in class ecosystem follow law, right?

Sam Yarborough 24:04
I love that too. Because it helps us I mean, one of the biggest parts of partnership, and we have talked about this, but as evangelizing internally what you do, and so if you can articulate it clearly, not only for yourselves, but in a way that others can understand. It removes the gray area a little bit.

Mike Stocker 24:20
Yep. Sam, you nailed it. That's where those four lenses have made it very handy. Just to say, this is how we impact. Yeah, so So I think I think you all get a you've been doing this a long time. But you got to make it simple for the other teams in the company to understand how partnerships are important for that. Also.

Jason Yarborough 24:37
Yeah, so it hasn't been done before. It requires a lot of change management. And if you're gonna, you know, clearly in simply articulate like what you're trying to accomplish with them and surround it with a mission and some goals like that makes that change management that much easier to get behind. And because most times they don't want to get behind it.

Sam Yarborough 24:54
I mean, I think that was so helpful. So for anybody who's starting a new role or who has been in a role for a while, like go He listened to that, because what a great like framework to start. And the other thing I loved about what you just said there is, first of all, you start with listen. So you don't come in and say, here's what we're going to do. But you also start to own these relationships as your own. You get to know the partners, you understand what makes them tick, what their goals are, and how you it's exactly what we talked about with the internal partners. I think that's crucial. So a lot of people just hit the ground running before they do the groundwork of getting to know and own these relationships. So you did mention it, and I do kind of want to go here, but you were an entrepreneur, earlier in your career, and you've also been a CES leader, and I feel like this experience is has to have an impact. In your opinion, how does this impact the way you approach partnerships?

Mike Stocker 25:52
Yeah, yeah, it's a great question. So I was an entrepreneur, I founded and sold actually three companies. I had one back in 2008, to 2010, we had the 11 or 12 employees, it was a SASS company way back then that was pretty early for SAS, we had a successful outcome, right. And then also at Marketo, I ran Customer Success teams. So we had a good, pretty good sized customer success team. Pretty early on. So 2012 2013, I ran customer success. I had a great leader who left the company and I was kind of tapped to head up the team for a short amount of time. And I do think that that really impacted how I think of partnerships. And so let me talk about entrepreneur first. And I'll get into customer success. And that so as an entrepreneur, you really learned to wear many hats. So I my title was CEO, I had a fancy card business card that said CEO, it was kind of cool. I was like 2027 28, it was very cool. Business cards are still a thing. But so I've SEO but I also was the only salesperson only front facing person. So only customer success. Even product, we didn't have product people it was me and engineers basically. And and everything. That's right, that's right. And what happens is you have to, you have to wear those many hats, you have to think of all the different constituents, you have to think all these different things. So I think a good partnership exec needs to almost act like a mini CEO. So Jen Spencer, she's the awesome CEO over at smartbug, one of hub spots, top agency partners. She's great. Yeah, when I was out looking for a role, Jen introduced me to a CRO at a company she knew. And she described me as Mike is like a mini CEO. And that's really what you need as a partner leader. Because you have to drive each partnership forward, almost like it's a business or product line, right? Like each partnership is its own little business that you're trying to drive and grow. Right. And so I think a good partner, partnership exact needs to act like that and take ownership. Think about driving and doing that

Jason Yarborough 27:57
100%. And it goes back to this four lenses as well. I can't wait to be able to, you know, speak to product marketing, CES and sales, you've got to understand product marketing, CES and sales. And, you know, as such, you've got to think like a CEO, entrepreneur and kind of starting up your own business within a business. Like we talked about that quite a bit.

Mike Stocker 28:17
That's right. And, you know, partnerships, now we're being looked at as driving revenue. So we have to think about ways that like you're almost starting a business and you're looking at a partnership p&l, and you're like, okay, is this gonna drive 200k, this quarter, and next quarter, it's going to drive 400k And then it's going to be a million dollars. So you got to look at that and your contribution, almost drive it like a business. And you just got to look at the growth of it and these kinds of things. As a customer success leader at Marketo, I was always intrigued by the impact of integrations, partner integrations on retention renewals. So back in 2012, and 2013. I've been talking about this for maybe 10 years now. But now, look, so when I first talked about it, people were like, like, You're crazy. There's no way that we can get that data like no, go away. That's gonna be too hard. Seriously, I got had people tell me go away. That's way too hard. Maybe in a few years, someone told me that once, maybe in a few years, you get there. Well, now fast forward 10 years we are and I'd say there's a lot of real data from many different companies. Stan, mysterious, had some stuff on this. A bunch of others have talked about this. That there is a correlated increase in retention renewal rates, based on each integration that's in place, right. I just joined call rail. And I was interviewing and the CEO Won me he won me over out of his mouth. He said, Mike, we know that for every integration partner integration that's set up for renewal and retention rates increase. I was like, alright, so done. Where do I sign?

Sam Yarborough 29:48
We know the way to Mike's heart. Now you hear it first.

Mike Stocker 29:52
Where do I sign? That's it. Like I don't have to convince him of this. He already understood it because The data. This is now something that's becoming more accepted and understood, right. And so, for example, here at CallRail, we actually see that customers using our HubSpot integration, have a churn rate that's 1/3. Of that, that those that don't have it. Wow. So like, that's great. Oh, by the way, our churn rates are very, very like low, like we have great retention. But imagine if they're using just that HubSpot integration, it's a third last of our baseline, which is just one nominal, just the one Yeah, and now, if you start to layer on additional ones, it's kind of a step function, right? Totally, to it goes up a bit, three. And if you get the Nirvana where someone's using four or five integrations, by the way, they're never gonna leave you your ARPU is gonna be really high, your retention renewal rates are gonna be really high. Your your net recurring revenue, NRR is gonna be really high. So yeah, so that's, that's kind of two ways. So entrepreneur, and then customer success, how it's impacted, kind of my thinking in terms of partnerships. And the last thing I'd say is, in customer success, you really got to think about the value that you're driving for customers. So how are they using your own product? To get value so that way they retain, retain and renew. So what you bring to two partnerships is, what does each partner integration? What value does that bring? You didn't build that integration? If it doesn't bring any value? It's worthless, right? Like, it's just a connector or something. It's not providing real business value. So I always try and bring that lens of like, what kind of value? Is the end customer going to get through this partnership and this integration?

Jason Yarborough 31:36
And what are you looking forward to define that value?

Mike Stocker 31:39
Yeah, there's all kinds of things like, is it saving the customer? The End Customer time? Is it saving them time? Is it helping them do their job better? Are they able to get better insights from it? Are they able to move faster? Are they able to grow their business, more, drive more business, all those different things that an integration can help someone do, right? You just got to look at those lenses and have that mindset.

Sam Yarborough 32:04
I love that approach, too. Because it's more of an outcome. Here's what you will see, as a result of this integration, not like this fills our product hole. So it makes perfect sense. And the TAM for this integration is large, but it brings it a step further of why it really matters to the end user.

Mike Stocker 32:22
Yeah, 100%. And that's why that's why I always say like, when you release an integration, you should always take like, you have a product roadmap slot, maybe six months later, to take the feedback that you get from your customers, your early adopters, take that early feedback, and then do a v2, a very quick, fast follow of a v2 with that feedback from the first six months to have a much better integration, and then you probably won't have to touch it for a couple of years, right. But you got to take those first six months and pull a lot of feedback and get the case studies, where are they seeing value? What needs to be tweaked within the integrations to give more value? Right. Great. And do that? Yeah.

Jason Yarborough 33:02
How have you effectively communicated the value of these integrations and these partners that matter to the CS org? And I'm sure like your experience, and Cs can better help you, you know, translate that to them and how it matters to them. But what have you seen work?

Mike Stocker 33:19
It's a really good question. I often find that the relationship between a partner team and a customer success team is one of the most difficult to crack. So I'm asking the question,

Sam Yarborough 33:29
selfishly, or asking,

Mike Stocker 33:33
I seriously it is one of the most difficult to crack. And I'll tell you why. Customer Success, people are bogged down with day to day management of customers, there's always someone that has a challenge or problem or an issue that they need to solve. They're there. They're constantly I still this way, but there's constantly in firefighting mode. And that what I think is partnerships really allows a customer success person to be proactive and become a trusted adviser. And here's how. So when you come up with a new partner integration, oftentimes, those are not charged for right, those are just additional value adds. And so what I've tried to do with with customer success is a couple of things. I've tried to tell them that they can become a trusted advisor by sharing new integrations with their end customers, they become a trusted adviser, there's, hey, let me share this really cool new thing with you, that doesn't cost you anything more in most cases, and it's going to help you do your job better. So you become a trusted advisor. The second way you get to customer success is you explain this dynamic that I just talked about, which is for each integration that's in place, your retention renewal goes up, you really just have to hammer that into the their minds that the work that they do and how they help you by engaging with partners and telling customers about integrations and that kind of thing will benefit them. Right. Yeah, it's a little it does take a little bit of time and they've got to invest a little bit. But I have seen it time and time again where I've had Customer Success leaders as well as individuals come to me and say wow, like We were going to lose this customer, they were not going to renew with us. But once they started using that integration, and they started seeing more value, like they decided that they're going to renew with us for another year, and that buys time that then you can get them into a more successful spot. So really, it's around those two things, right? Help them be a trusted advisor by giving them tools that they can share with the customer. And then also, like, help them with their their main goal, which is retention Renewal by getting those integrations set up, they will see NRR and that recurring revenue and retention renewal rates go up. And that's what they're gold and bonused on, right. In most cases.

Jason Yarborough 35:39
Yeah. Okay, if I like that, how long do you think you can expect to see change coming from from Dr. Glory? Because you know, to your point is hard to get their trust at times, especially when it comes to partners button or you look at it? Six months, 18 months?

Mike Stocker 35:56
Yeah, I think it takes time it takes about a year, to be honest. But I think you can get in and you can find champions early on. This is what I like to do across all the different words, by the way, not just customer success. You find this in sales as well, you find this in marketing, find your people that are willing, and they're eager, and they think partnerships are cool. And they understand that value, prop that how partnerships can help them, find those people, set them up for success, make examples out of them and be like, look at how awesome so and so is doing. Because they did this, right. So those those pockets are resist examples. And then those champions are the people that you want to do quickly, right before the full change might happen. But that that is organizational change, because you start to get these early people to show success. And then the rest of the org decide, hey, I want to be like that. Yep. And then you'll start to see the change that you're looking for.

Sam Yarborough 36:53
So I think that's great. Let's shift gears a little bit here. Many listeners probably can relate to this, but it's a bit of a crazy time into the tech space. You personally were just affected by this. Can you talk about your layoff, how that relationships you've built over your career have helped you get through that and kind of what that journey looks like for you, as you've now very successfully landed at call rail. So congrats.

Mike Stocker 37:20
Thank you. Thank you. So So Yes, unfortunately, I was caught up in a riff back in February, like many of us, and when I was at Woolworths so it was actually the first time in my career that it actually happened to me, it was really kind of surprising, because I felt that I was delivering real meaningful impact revenue, I was driving revenue, a lot of revenue. And I noticed a real numbers and and, you know, I, I had just been promoted to SVP of partnerships only a few months before. And I built a solid team, I had really great people on the team. So those are typically the things that you'd look at and be like, Whoa, okay, check, check, check, ride bills, great team driving revenue, all these things. So it was a little bit of a shock. It had never happened in my career. And I was a little bummed, but my grandma actually always taught me that when one door closes, another opens for a reason. Right? And so I grandma's got wisdom, right? She's turning nine knows what, January January 1, so so she knows what's up. She's she's lived a great life. And she said, when one door closes, another door opens for a reason. And so I celebrate my time that I had at roadworks and I learned a lot got to meet great folks like yourselves, got to work with you closely. But, you know, there's another opportunity. So talk about like another door opening, right? I've been so excited to join call rail. I told you our CEO, and the interviewer wowed me knowing retention, the impact of partnerships, I was like, Oh, wow, call rail has securitizations over 7000 agency partners, the cup, right, like crazy. The company is super successful. And we have exceptional leadership's our CEO, CRO CMO, product leadership, all of that is great. And they're super supportive of partnerships. In fact, the CTO slack me this morning, not I'm not joking, Slack me this morning, and said, We have a huge partnership Slack channel that must make you really happy like everyone's in there and engaged in all of this, right? So I couldn't be happier. But that's an example of when one one door closes, another door opens. And so tying it back to friends with benefits and I talked about this right at the beginning. The relationships built throughout my career were so instrumental in finding a role. So I had dozens of discussions of CEO CROs I had a couple of offers pretty quickly after leaving. So that was through really diligent and intentional reached out to people within my network people that I trusted people that I cared about. I actually create a spreadsheet this is kind of crazy, but I create a spreadsheet, put each company name put my Last Contact Date with them, what were the notes? What's the next step? And I like I'm very diligent about updating that my days when I was not working. When I was out of a job. Were as full as a day of when I'm actually working. Like, every half hour, there was something happening. I think, Jason, you just went through something very similar.

Jason Yarborough 40:18
As always kept saying it was a full time job looking for a full time job.

Mike Stocker 40:22
That's right. But you have to be diligent about it. But then, you know, the friends with benefit, things come in that I had so many intros, I had so many referrals as so many recommendations that I was so extremely thankful and appreciative for, right? I mentioned Jen Spencer, smartbug CEO, she's a very busy woman. She's an exceptional CEO, she took time to actually introduce me, I think, to to a couple different folks. She didn't have to do that. But she did it. And I was so appreciative that that, like people like that, that I had known and build trust with and built a relationship with, we're willing to take a little bit of time out of the day and did that. Right. So. So that's, that's something that I would say is like the Friends with Benefits and like, what can you do your network is your most valuable thing as a partnership exec and stop that absolutely,

Sam Yarborough 41:10
yeah, I do think just really quickly to comment on that. And then I'll pass it to Jay. But that goes to you to Mike. I mean, you care about your network, as being a part of your network. I know that and so, you know, for somebody who is listening, that's not just like a show up on LinkedIn one day and ask a bunch of people, these things have to be nurtured. And you have to show up time and time again. And you do that, Mike, so good on you. And congrats, again, on the new role. So sorry to cut you off, Jay.

Jason Yarborough 41:40
You know, you're fun. I'll add to those. I've unfortunately been part of this twice. Now. The first one. But to bring this phrase of benefits for circle, you're the reason I landed my last job to like, reach out to the network network. He either got word got busy. You made introduction. I landed that job as a result, so that it comes full circle example

Sam Yarborough 42:04

Jason Yarborough 42:08
There what what advice? What advice do you have to someone who who's going through this is like, you know, like, if it can happen to you, you were one that was like, holy shit. Wow. Vigan happened to Mike Hagen happens anybody and so like, you went through it, obviously, hopefully, you've learned some things as a result, and you got to solve, you know, how, how window closing window opens? Like, what advice do you have to others that are might be listening are going through the same thing to do?

Mike Stocker 42:37
Yeah, you know, I think it starts with your own mindset. So remember that layoffs often don't have anything to do with you, or your performance. Okay, I worked at meta meta just went through huge rounds of its their year efficiency, they've let go a lot of people, it was not due to performance, some of their top performers that have been there a long time that got exceeds expectations, which is their highest rating for many years, were let go. And it had nothing to do with them. It was just that they had to go through and find people, this happens a lot recently. It's unfortunate. So what I want to tell people is like, don't let it get to you don't let it impact your personal confidence or your own self worth. If you do, you'll spiral down, I've seen it. I've seen people get into this where they will lose months, because they're just like off track. And they're like, mindset is not good. Don't let it get to you. It really, in most cases has nothing to do with you, right. Also remember that your relationships with your your partners, your network is that most valuable asset in finding a new role. Most of us I think the last several roles that I've had have been to my network I like barely, like I don't think I did any kind of cold, reach out type stuff. It was more through the network what you find. So don't be afraid to politely ask for help. You know, don't be afraid. And then the other thing is post on LinkedIn. Yeah. People are afraid to post on LinkedIn, they don't want to seem vulnerable. But you know what, like, that's how you let people know that, hey, I'm looking I could use some help. And you will see that your network rally is for you. In fact, percent those posts that people do get hundreds of engagements and hundreds of comments and you know what someone might take the moment to introduce you into a role that you're, you're looking for, right? So and then you land?

Jason Yarborough 44:23
Absolutely. One of us, one of us on this podcast, had to convince me to put up the post for myself because that's kind of the same goes like I don't want to put that post out. But it was Sam Sam's one who encouraged me to do it. Maybe put the post out and like once once I did like it was it blew my mind man it really like it was humbling to see how the the network and the community got to work and started helping and the amount of intros that I got out of it was great and, you know, to your point wouldn't have happened without like the relationships that have you know, worked hard to build and maintain and they all they will come to your side to help out.

Sam Yarborough 44:59
Let's speak about specific types of relationships here first, I can't, I have to assume the answer is yes. But coming up through Marketo, Facebook, etc. Did you have mentors? And one question that I always am curious about mentors is, did you formalize that? Like, did they did you actually go and say, Hey, will you be my mentor? What did that look like if you did have them?

Mike Stocker 45:24
Yeah. So I recommend that everyone identify a mentor type figure that you can learn from who can push you to learn and grow. And really, that's their role is to push you to learn and grow. So they push you out of the nest and get better, right? So at Facebook, so I had people like ilish Patel, who's now a leader at LinkedIn lashes great if anyone has mad lash at Marketo. And people like Amir lindo. It big friends consulting, everyone knows Amir. That's great guy. The best right? One of the best people out there. Robin Bardoli, who was my actual formal mentor at Marketo. Robin and I actually did a somewhat formal setup where I tried to bring topics or discussion points and that I'd ask advice on right. So it could be here's something I'm struggling with, or here's something I'd like to get better at. Can you help me with this? And that's how you make it productive? What I what I struggle with is like when people say they want to have a mentor, and then they just come in, they show up. Yeah, right. You got to put the effort in you got to put some some pre thought into it.

Jason Yarborough 46:27
That's that's that's a huge piece. It's so often overlooked. And night to to come prepared. Come with a list of questions come what do you what do you want to learn from this person? Every time you meet, I be ready to lead and guide the conversation.

Sam Yarborough 46:43
And I'll just say that's not only for mentorships that's for everything,

Mike Stocker 46:47
everything. I'm prepares fit. Yes, sir. Yeah. And, and, and yeah, come with a point of view, come prepared, show that you've done your homework, people will appreciate that. And there'll be more willing to give up their time and their effort and their thought for you if you come and actually put up your side of the equation. Robin was was awesome, because he actually pushed me outside of my comfort zone. So this is the thing I think a lot of us get into our comfort zones. We're comfortable. This is where a mentor can really help which is pushing you outside of the comfort zone. To help you grow in your career. He did something where Marketo we were trying to figure out b2c Could Marketo get into b2c? There's a question of how well we actually did that. But he actually encouraged me to bring in b2c speakers to Marketo. So bringing in b2c speakers so that the rest of the company could learn more, and hear those outside perspectives and that kind of thing. So that exercise of like running a program of finding a speaker, bringing them in having a panel and session and having an audience and getting people to attend all that was way above and beyond my standard role. Right? It was something that was like extra credit, right, like, but what it did is it got me to be more comfortable with doing stuff like this, like speaking and getting in front of people. It raised my visibility in the company. And, you know, it was tough at the time. But I'm super thankful. And I reflect back like, Wow, thank you, Robin for pushing me to do that. Because people saw me as more of a leader because I was willing to take on something a little bit bigger, more than what my standard role was. So I would highly encourage anyone to think about a mentor come prepared. Think of what you want to ask for how you want to grow and work with them on something like that.

Jason Yarborough 48:34
Do you find at this stage in your career years, you're still working with mentors or still have mentors?

Mike Stocker 48:39
It's a really good question. It has been harder now that I am so many years into my career 20 Plus you see the white and my beard. So it has been much harder. I would love to find people that are you no further, you know, into the they've maybe done things that I haven't done that I'd like to learn from. It's a little hard, though at once you're kind of at this level to find that. And so where I find it is is through like groups like partnership leaders, where there's a lot of people that are at the executive level, and they have different expertise. And so I may be strong in one area and have a good set of experience here. But they they may have others right. And the example I'll give is Astra Matthew and Shawn Lee and I we all go get pizza lunch, maybe some people have seen we post on this on LinkedIn,

Jason Yarborough 49:29
very jealous of those LinkedIn posts. I'm tempted to fly out just for pizza one to

Mike Stocker 49:33
fly out for pizza. I mean, it's great. But we sit there and we nerd out on partnership stuff and I learned something every time we go we try and do it monthly, right. So like, I don't quite have a mentor figure per se but I have a group of people that are now at a similar level. That it's like a sounding board or a forum that like we can exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Sam Yarborough 49:58
I also think we're in a real Really awesome position being in partnerships because if you're in another track, call it marketing, then your your leaders or your mentors or marketing leaders. But within partnerships, as we talked about, you can go outside of our lane and find mentors in marketing in product in the C suite across those. So encouraging people to look broader than just partner leaders trip. Yeah, good point.

Jason Yarborough 50:24
I do have one one question that kind of factors into this, like as far as having a mentor and when we haven't discussed before, but where do you think we go from here as partner executives like what's what's next? Glad you asked within the the chain within the chain of command, Mike stocker has been around for ages in this partnership world.

Mike Stocker 50:46
So what do you mean? What's next, like in terms of from a partnership leader? Where do we go or

Jason Yarborough 50:53
as as partner as the partner? function, we'll call it gets more of a seat at the table. What does that seat look like? Are we moving? As does the VP of partnerships become a sea level? I know there's like talking to the chief ecosystem officer. That's cool. But like, really? Where does the the VP partner exec function? What does it become as it mature into?

Mike Stocker 51:15
Yeah, you know, I think I think it's interesting. I think partner execs are like your utility baseball player, like they could do second base, they could do third base, they could be a center fielder, right, whatever. Love that, I think that we will see more chief ecosystem officers, I think that that will be a more common role that will have a seat at the sea level. It's because it is distinct enough that it's, it's it's enough of a role to have alongside the CRO and CMO. I could also see a lot of partnership leaders moving into a CRO role. And I think we're starting to see some of that as well, which is you've mastered one of the pillars of revenue. Yep. Right. You are a important contributor revenue. So for example, CallRail, 40 to 45% of our revenue comes through the partner channel. That's a lot that I actually have. Right? Yeah, awesome, primarily through our agency efforts, but that's a big chunk of revenue. So if in the future, I wanted to pursue a path into the CRO world, and potentially I could head in that direction, because I have that experience that, you know, I have commanded a, you know, bad, terrible term. But I have been over and leading a team that's driving a large chunk of the revenue, right. And so I could have that power. So I think it's something like that. It's like a potentially a chief ecosystem officer would be ideal. And or I think there's a graduation path that you could become a CRO or if that's something that you want. And then thirdly, like a COO, and partnerships are across a lot of different things. Yeah. So I would not be surprised if there are some partners exit move into like a COO.

Jason Yarborough 52:55
Yeah, Sam, and I've had this conversation as well. And like, I completely agree, I also think there's a this little unique role in the chief growth officer has become a thing that we could also begin to grow into as well and how it achieved that Cgo really kind of impacts and affects multiple organizations within the company. So it's something that I'm very curious about. Let's bring this in for a landing. There's one last piece that I've heard you talk about a bit that I wanted to hear from you. And that your, your perspective on on giftee get like I've heard you talk about it a few times, like you need to give to get right because it removes the transactional view of partnerships. Can you talk about the just second recipe closes down?

Mike Stocker 53:41
Yeah, sure. Great, great way to wrap up. So look, not everything can be transactional. Be kind to people help people. I think I tried to talk about that several times throughout our discussion today. Whether you believe in this or not, the world has a way to have karma. Good things come to good people, good things come to good people see it again. Good things come to good people.

Jason Yarborough 54:04
Good things come to good people. Thank you.

Sam Yarborough 54:07
I think that's our title.

Mike Stocker 54:08
Alright. So a few few weeks ago, I heard from three different people. Basically, within one week, I heard from three different people that I had made introductions for. They had all landed new jobs via those introductions, so I didn't get them the job like I can't take credit. I did not get them to a job. What I did was I did a simple kayaked and took a moment to introduce them or recommend them. I gave them a LinkedIn review or recommendation. There's little things right. It didn't cost me much took me a few minutes, right at most nice, no more than a few minutes. And it helped those people so much. They landed a job, they had an income, they find a purpose. They feel much more valued in their life. So the world needs more of that, like, be generous, be kind, it doesn't cost you much. We need more of that. So it's not all transactional. Give to get be generous. And that's a great way to kind of wrap this up with friends that with benefits. I love that.

Jason Yarborough 55:08
That's fantastic. So, you've, we're going to end with the fun question. You have you have a little dog, who's whose name is Ewok? Correct? Yes. Star Wars reference. So I'm going to going to pose this question to you. Who, who makes the better partner executive, Yoda or Han Solo? To keep it relevant to the Star Wars theme?

Mike Stocker 55:35
I think it's Yoda. Because you know that you got to have the force. Yeah, bring the first with you. I love it.

Jason Yarborough 55:42
Nice question. I was I was looking at it more the grid from Han Solo who can just go through any wall and get anything done, but the fours can just basically take care of all of it for his like, four lenses.

Sam Yarborough 55:52
You can't deny that.

Jason Yarborough 55:54
That's awesome. Excellent answer. Mike. This has been a lot of fun man. I appreciate it.

Mike Stocker 55:59
Hey, Jason. Sam yarby Sam, it's so nice. Spending time with you today.

Sam Yarborough 56:03
Mike, we appreciate you so much as does the rest of the partnership community. If if by the off chance you don't know Mike, like he said follow him on LinkedIn. You won't regret it. Mike, you truly are a friend to the Garvey family. So appreciate your time today. And that's it for today. Friends, we'll see you next time.

Mike Stocker 56:21
Thank you see ya. Adios.

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