Howdy Partners #31: The Salesforce Ecosystem - Tech vs. Service Partner Perspectives with Michael Jed Lantis

Michael Jed Lantis, Sr. Alliances Manager at Delegate, shares why the things tech partners think service partners care about are not that important.

Formerly the Channel Partnerships Manager for the Salesforce ecosystem at Chili Piper, Michael knows the ins and outs of the Salesforce app exchange from both the tech and services partners’ perspectives.

Michael unpacks how service partners choose partners and the challenges presented by enablement requirements. He shares that service partners often aren’t incentivized greatly by rev share or commissions and would rather have co-marketing assistance for customer success stories, webinar hosting, and other initiatives. We discuss the importance of having separate ecosystem managers to address the nuances of large ecosystems like Salesforce and Hubspot.

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Tom Burgess  00:03

Howdy Partners. Welcome back. Well, we got will Taylor and a special guests who we'll get to in a second. Well, how are you doing?

Will Taylor  00:10

I'm feeling refreshed and I'm ready for like conferences going to SAS connect in. When this comes out, it'll be in a week. So I'm excited for that. For anyone who didn't see it yet, we're going to be in some silly outfits from partner hacker or we still see us with our tracksuits on with the partner hacker logo. So take a look out for that. And hey, maybe we'll put you on the podcast next time. And then we've got Michael, on the call today. So just to set the tone, we're going to be talking about the Salesforce ecosystem. And super powerful and super exciting topic, but I'm gonna hand it over to Michael Michael, welcome to the show. Give us a quick intro of who you are, what you do, and we'll kick right into it. Yeah, thanks for thanks for having me. It's real, Tom. Super excited to be here. Yeah. Again, my name is Michael. I worked at a delegate as lead our partnerships and alliances team here.

Michael Jed Lantis  01:09

Yeah, so anything Salesforce partnerships, technology, partnerships, as well, as you know, diving into affiliates, so yeah, excited to be here and happy to happy to chat. Yeah. And Michael, when you and I last chatted.

Will Taylor  01:21

We were talking about your your journey into this role. You're at chili Piper before and you were at another company before that. Tell us a bit about your journey into partnerships and where you're at now and some of the like, background on you know, what you'll be sharing with us?

Michael Jed Lantis 01:38

Yeah, interesting, right. I don't think anyone kind of graduates college and falls in the can like partnerships is the place I want to be or like I don't yet know that. This Yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. We're slowly we're slowly breaking the surface. But ya know, I mean, I started off as an AE, right? Naturally just selling at Robert Half. From there. Someone, one of my buddies, Zack Parker was like, Hey, man, do you want to jump over to DocuSign there's this SDR role is like, well, we're not really closing, you just know, you're just actually setting up meeting. What does that be? Like? What does that mean? So yeah, jumped over to DocuSign. And there was was there for about two and a half years, starting off as, as an MDR. And then graduated to you know, it was you know, three paths you can go you can go be an SC, you can go being a E, you know, which and a great handle B, or, like we're trying to build a partner team here at Docusign. The whole goal was DocuSign was you know, trying to go from a billion in revenue to five and like, the whole idea is like, great, you know, you don't do it through hiring a bunch of STRS and AES you do it through partnerships. So I was able to kind of pioneer the space shout out to Andre writer just chillin said, you know, my managers that helped me on the partner side, but I think there was we were maybe like a team of 10 Right, from a company ad 7000 individuals, but to AIPAC, right, and it Mia and then the rest of us here in the US. So yeah, started last started off as just Salesforce, you know, working with Salesforce AES like CO selling DocuSign for Salesforce opportunities, join opportunities, how do we increase ACV MRR and then from there actually switch to resellers. So, Ingram micro Shi, a real true channel reseller motion and working with like, the big reseller channels with how to sell software and hardware together, then yeah, Fast forward to about a year and a half ago, I got to help pioneer Julie Piper's partner program which I learned a bunch from working with many partners recruiting partners, Anthony, my previous managers amazing person to work with super knowledgeable in this space and obviously with chilli Pipers loud brand. I got to like experience a list almost like just a dream I just to think of as his where he traveled and everything. Other cool stuff that they're doing over the year. But yeah, fast forward now. And you know, it's interesting to be on the services side, right? I'm not selling a product, it's gotta get in there and really understand the market and business systems. And yeah, and you hear a delegate where Salesforce consultancy partner, or US base primarily focused on b2b SaaS, a little bit of finance as well. So we our approach is a little bit different. So we don't work off Sol W's, or Bill hours we actually work off tactical weekly spreads with our customers. So what do you need to get done today? On as quickly as possible and your technology roadmap so you can be successful for not only coming in for the next month, but tomorrow? The next week? Right? What What can we fix today?

Will Taylor  04:52

That's so cool. And that's why like all of that experience got me excited about talking to you today and really diving into this because You've had three roles in the Salesforce ecosystem, doing, you know, partner development and some management and then, you know, true channel management chili Piper. And now you're on the other side, where you are, you know, the partner of the tech partner. And so like, it's it's so robust, like your understanding of the ecosystem. And so how was it when you were first starting to work with the Salesforce ecosystem? On the tech side? What was like, your initial like reaction to entering into that world? Probably some excitement, but I bet some people kind of, like, they get maybe a little bit scared, because it's so big, but what was your reaction? And how do you feel about working in that ecosystem?

Michael Jed Lantis  05:43

I mean, I everything from recruiting the partners, you know, to partner enablement to on a signing your contract was, you know, really everything from the beginning to the end, actually, Piper. So what I learned really quickly is like, you're not going to do it to work with the partners that you want to work with, which is interesting. Oh, yeah, they're definitely going to reach back out to me. And you know, this is a perfect self worth partner. And you realize, I think every Salesforce partner is a little bit different, right? Everyone kind of play their strengths. But I will say that the most successful partners that we had in the ecosystem are the ones that want to try one new initiatives. Right? What are what are you going to kind of provide what are the training needed? Provide, but also, you know, how can you help them? I've also, you know, when I was down that rabbit hole found that if you were able to find a joint customer quickly, you that's a pretty solid relationship right there, hey, we actually have common customers, right? That's why our cross beam exists today. But yeah, I mean, it's Salesforce is definitely a beast. I think originally, when I was recruiting shelf partners, I was living in Salesforce AppExchange. Right, there's a consulting tab right there that you can actually click it, read reviews, you know, see where their work is done. And then I can work backwards as well. I kind of have a big network. Let's see who's working with whatever whoever Salesforce partners today, one you can do your customers what what Salesforce partners are your customers using today on a chilly microsite then you can kind of agree it doesn't make sense to have a partnership with you. You really have some of our customers today. Those are the easiest conversations to have.

Tom Burgess  07:16

That's cool. I think one of the one of the items that stuck out to me because it it's so broad, it doesn't matter whether you're working Salesforce in HubSpot, and just like SAS in general, when you think about the partner that's ready, or like the the mature organization, whether it's an agency ISV doesn't doesn't matter. It's they are they're adaptable, like they're approaching new avenues that scale and grow because you know, for one thing or another like in their current ecosystem, so it's take a HubSpot agency. You know, if you've got an early enough as a HubSpot agency, and you've scaled out, you know that that inbound funnel is very fruitful. But in the same vein, you're if you're you're too one sided, if you're like No, we only do things within HubSpot, like the enhancing technologies and the tech partnerships that that allow HubSpot or Salesforce to scale better means that you need to adapt and look outside of that to be able to focus on other tech environments that allow you to be stronger and just maybe more fail proof, I guess, for lack of better term,

Will Taylor  08:25

you know, the ecosystem looks big. But if you go to that specific tab, have the type of partner that you're looking for in that ecosystem. And then like you said, find the customers that are, you know, in that tab, and then reaching out and trying to partner with them, the translation of you know, your solution in their mind, and the value that it can bring, they're already using it. So I think that's a really good way to focus your efforts, and then kind of go from there versus trying to just spray and pray to all of them even in that one specific time and then it just probably doesn't land as well. Your messaging can be much more targeted. So that's, that's a really good point. Yeah, and

Michael Jed Lantis 09:03

I think I learned really quickly is like to work with our CSM team, and our SES actually Piper as a K count management team. If you are onboarding a new customer, and they are using a Salesforce partner or a HubSpot partner only please ask this in your onboarding. There's been many times where Brian brendlin is charged Brian, Brian would always like hey, found a potential partner. Let me know what you think I can make the intro. Warm intro, send email, great conversation. Oh, yeah, we have x customer onboarding XYZ. Great. Is that an opportunity for us to go in and maybe find other opportunities as well.

Tom Burgess  09:41

I was just on a call today with Bruto who now works at Zapier and it's just the same like in this at in the organization that I'm in right now at SAS labs like we are we're trying to revamp how we go to market or just like our partnership programs in general and, and aside from like the sheer aquas shouldn't play building strong relationships to just get a pulse and understand that like, you know, utilize it, that's a great way to approach it is like, Hey, we've got customers coming in through the CES, Fe e CSM team would have sales, customer success. But is there a secondary lever from a partnership level that you can pull in? It's it's just all about getting scrappy and thinking outside the box. Like, sometimes that's not going to work. But to your point, as you get like one or two CSMs and understand the value in customers being close to to future partners. Like that's huge. And it goes back to your point of saying, here's the quick win. Here's the shared customers that we have. And I just did that by reaching out to my team. That's awesome.

Michael Jed Lantis 10:37

In the same thing, I think with like the AES, right, I think the it's really difficult because in my experience, especially at DocuSign, if you had a we had a partner deal. And you had a bad experience with the partner AE like you probably don't want to work with a partner to like at all. But if you were one of those ETs that got it right, and you understood the value of your hitting accelerators, like so easily writing, like you're the first one like, oh, yeah, let's work with the team. So same way I think, you know, find someone where you can be successful within the chatter, rinse and repeat.

Tom Burgess  11:09

Yeah, well, that reminds me a big shout out to Josh Kirkham, because I feel like So previously, when we when I worked at Vinyard, I worked at a HubSpot agency there was a video partner and he was like the the AE that was like wait, partner referred leads close at what percentage like faster, I don't need to do my own demos. Like he got it. So all A's out there like this is your this is your time to shine and your bond partner leads right away.

Will Taylor  11:35

When people think Salesforce and these other ecosystems, they might think that it's like wildly different. And you know, maybe it is maybe it isn't but when you were having conversations with your team at let's say chili pipe bricks. I know there's someone dedicated to the HubSpot ecosystem. What were some of the nuances for like when you're talking about the strategies and like riffing with with your peers? What came up as some of those nuances or differences or again, maybe it's exactly the same and you had to share the experience

Michael Jed Lantis 12:05

the way we were building out chilli Pipers partner program, and Anthony is you know, who can contest to this the best. But we were in three buckets right? So we were targeting HubSpot agencies, right for marketing and Marketo agencies specific for marketing but HubSpot, you know, CRM and then Salesforce. So the way we branched it out was with three different ecosystems where each manager was in charge. So onslaught ketto, Gen. Marketo, Carl, HubSpot, and then myself for Salesforce. And everyone kind of lived in their own little bubble, but we we definitely were trying to do the same thing right in terms of wind events, cosell enablement. And then also it's interesting like you can kind of cross paths in the sense of the HubSpot agency doesn't do Salesforce work or a Salesforce shop doesn't do HubSpot work or Marketo. You can kind of cross synergies between all three of them. I think our roles were very much the same in the terms of we all have the you know, are at the same goal. We're all measured the same. We're all doing the same partner activities. I would say the language is a little bit different in terms of a kendo and HubSpot and Salesforce but then we did find those awesome partner that maybe did all three of them at the same time, which really, okay, well who kind of oh, this relationship now. But it was cool, right? If and if you have like a program like that I was able to, you know, give Carl HubSpot lead. And I was able to give Salesforce leads, right? And that was able for who gets credit, or is it a team credit?

Will Taylor  13:38

Whenever I think about the big ecosystems, I always think it's probably the same play over and over where it's like, choose the one category or the tab, focus in and you know, most of the processes are going to be the same,

Michael Jed Lantis 13:53

same title, same are all different ecosystem. But they I would say they all very much feel you just have to learn how to they're all different. At the end of the HubSpot ecosystem is a beast Salesforce, built their brand off, they're using them our kiddos Adobe has been around forever.

Will Taylor  14:09

Yeah, and one important thing to note there, though, is there should be one person dedicated to each ecosystem. Because they are so big. What I feel some partner programs might unfortunately do is they say, Okay, you're the partner person now go do all of the partnerships, when in reality, like you should dedicate one specific head towards an ecosystem because, yeah, they're just too big to work within. But then also, I've worked within the Salesforce partner ecosystem and like working with our portal. I can't say it was like, the easiest thing I offer wasn't in it every single day. But you've been just learning that I think is really important for you know, the one person versus that managing three. So you're on the service side. So what are some of the learnings that you've had or Maybe even like the way that you engage with partners, clients like the rest of the team and how they view partnerships, what are some of the biggest differences that you're seeing being on this side of the partnership versus being on the tech side?

Michael Jed Lantis 15:14

Yeah, it's super interesting, right? It's like all the things that I thought partners cared about, like, don't witness, which is really interesting. So let's start. Let's start with, right, you bring on a new Salesforce partner, it's easiest, I think we have joint customers, but I think the biggest thing is like you can't partner with everyone, when you're on the service side. It just doesn't make sense. Especially if you know, our team has made it easy. There's no way I can partner with everyone. So for myself, I'm working backwards in the sense of what technologies do our customers use? And then let's see if that makes sense to have a partnership. And quite frankly, like a lot of our I'd probably say, today 80% of our customers are warning already usually indeed it so low he threw if we're submitting a dual reg or our you know, solution engineers are recommending the ninja like, Okay, wait, there's a partner program for this, like, let me like, make sure we don't really care about the revenue share, we just want to make sure that our customers are one successful. And to win I have for me from a partner manager, I want to make sure that we like obviously, are getting credit for that because the partner team Alenia day gets credit for that, but also enabled right? What do our what are the technical people on our team? Is it the you know, the the data sheets, do they need to connect to the other sc on the other side? Who need to see a Sam, what happens if I need two extra licenses because someone gets routed or the admin leaves? So I think all of that is kind of important. On my end is like making sure we have the resources available. If there's a question in the channel, there's a technical problem is something's broken? Who can I go to? Where do I go to Leaney to super cool, they have a dedicated se to every one of their of agency partners, which I've lino nots of the ori with on on the other side. So that's super interesting to work with. And then I think you look at a different leg, right? We live now I truly live in the Salesforce ecosystem. So I think if on the services side, you know, Salesforce, you have you have your partner of Salesforce. So trying to earn trust with all the account executives to our to our customers, doesn't mean you're going to, you know, win all of them. But you know, just to know, like, Hey, we're working with your customer. This is the roadmap that they're doing. You know, obviously, they may not be buying the high velocity sales override and outreach or sale law. But I want to let you know, this is kind of the roadmap they're going to use so you can kind of be friendly with them. frenemies almost sometimes too

Tom Burgess  17:44

curious. Because I, I have the exact opposite experience where I started at a service based agency moved into SAS. So I actually knew a lot of the things that you like, come in, and in a SASS companies like a better an agency cares about this. And they don't Commission's being one of them, like that's mailbox money. But I'm curious. I'm curious, like, what are the maybe the myth is busted on your end? In terms of like, what did you think partners really cared about?

Michael Jed Lantis 18:12

I mean, I mean, I think I talked to a bunch of partner managers, right. It's their rev share, I think everyone leads everyone leads with revenue share, at the end of the day, if I'm being honest, the way we we think is like, revenue share is great. And you can give that 15% Back to your customer if you want, you know, to show that you're doing like even a discount on the services side. And I think the most valuable thing that's been for myself is the CO marketing. We're pretty small team, that CO marketing if there's a partner marketing manager that actually lives on the other side, I would love to help I would love help to write a customer success story, hope amplify that. I would love help for webinars, I would love help for, you know, we did a lead up to Denver in Denver dinner when there was four. But it was, it was great. Like it was a great time and we were able to like split the cost and target each other's ICPs and that's what I've been doing actually recently, I've been asking like, hey, what events are you going to? Is there an opportunity for the dinner? Is there opportunity for an event that we could tackle? We do have a customer newsletter. So I think why don't we highlight our partners in our customer newsletter but I would love ammo to kind of do that live collateral data. Here is a customer success story here's a win here's a new use case kind of all other things from a small sales were stopped with kind of neat

Tom Burgess  19:35

Yeah, for sure. Now I would echo like rev share you know, to most Commission's is once again, it's just like a drop in the bucket. But when you when you think about service partners in general, depending and this is like very maybe one sided but you know, a lot of times agencies are running on very thin margins. Your your next year potentially comes with your next client. So going back to the idea of like But part being multifaceted and how service base companies approach partnerships allows for, you know, hopefully to build more inbound funnels. So from like a partner management standpoint or can my goal was to help like uncap or, or unveil different service levels they can build around that are different, you know, go to market initiatives, you know, selling customers one thing and I think you you like you nailed it on the head, where it's like, you're trying to solve for your customers, more than anything else. That means that sometimes you will put a competing product in front of them because of their necessities. And more importantly, like how you scale and succeed is by managing continually developing services, like strategic documentation or strategic positioning around products is so important that if service providers or service companies understood, now we're talking like, Okay, this is what we're looking for love it.

Michael Jed Lantis 20:55

Yeah. And almost, I think, like, I think you got to realize that everyone that I work with, you know, our, you know, amazing Solution Architect like that, like that being said, I think if from a partner manager side on the tech side, like use cases, right, what's it like a new use case, because you can have an awesome product, but I'm not going to know every ins and outs of the new use cases, or the new product SKUs that, you know, a new product can have. So it's like if you know, if you're a partner Mandra other side and trying to help educate the your partners in this room? Oh, hey, there's a nice case here. Not sure if it's convenient for you, when you can stay top of mind to, it's not going to come up until it does. So you can kind of do that strategic advisor on the part of manager side too.

Will Taylor  21:40

Awesome. Well, we are coming up on time, I wish we had more time, maybe we'll do an episode two with you. But we always leave our guests with one tactical tip. And so what would your tactical Tip Be for anyone who is working within the Salesforce ecosystem? What is that thing that they can implement? After they're done listening to this,

Michael Jed Lantis 22:00

you know, being here, I've learned so much. And I've learned that I can't do it by myself, I feel like there's so many experts in this space that are willing to help that have done it. So I think, you know, if you're working on a project, and you're starting from scratch, so I think it's always good opportunity to connect with your peers around you and then outside of the network, because I think I've realized that, you know, I have friends that are trying to do the same thing, whether it's, you know, trying to scale a partner program or trying to figure out the best initiatives to work with. And then Salesforce itself, right. It's, it's a beast, you know, like, we're not going to be able to go to every conference sponsor, every conference, and we're not going to know everything latest, but I think I think technology today is as community led, right? So I think if you're able to kind of just put yourselves in the right shoes, right networking events, right place, right time, it'll help help along along your journey.

Will Taylor  22:57

I love that approach, partnering up, of course, in the entrepreneurships fashion. And I like that, and I mean, I've seen you in the partnership space as well. That's how we got further connected. And I mean, we went up for dinner, we chatted, you know, a bit of partnerships, bit of fun, and then we reconnect and we talk more partnerships. And so especially for something like that Salesforce ecosystem, I think, like the that worlds and honestly, any ecosystem, like you said, it does operate in this community fashion. And so if you are a part of that community, you can be a part of the important conversations, you can meet the important people. So I really, really appreciate that and really want to hammer that for people where it's like, you know, they don't just say your net worth is your network because it's like, corny, and it almost rhymes that it actually is real.

Michael Jed Lantis 23:45

So there is that. Well, Michael,

Will Taylor  23:47

thank you so much for your wisdom. And like I said, we'll probably get you back on to get like a six month update on being on the other side. But thank you so much for your wisdom and chatting today.

Michael Jed Lantis  23:58

Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. Cheers.

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