PartnerUp #101 - From Seller to VP Sales to CEO - How to Partner Pill Your Sales Org with Alexander Buckles

Three-digit podcast club, what’s up?!

We’re so honored to enter the 100+ podcast club with this release of episode 101. Thank you to every listener: From the OG’s who were here at the beginning and new alike who are tuning in for the first time, thank you. We truly are here to serve and help you on your journey.

For our first guest joining us in the three-digit era of PartnerUp, we have Alexander Buckles, CEO of Forecastable.

Alex’s entrance into partner land came via the sales organization. So we’re talking Nearbound Sales, people! He was a top performer at Marketo Adobe who always was partner-friendly, but never fully committed to the motion or his partner team.

That is, until he switched sides so to speak and led the Perkuto sales org (a top Marketo partner) to double their revenue by going all in on co-selling with the very company he left. He gained so much conviction in the power of selling together, he founded Forecastable on his journey. (Oh hey, if you haven’t caught our new show Selling Together with Jessie Shipman and this topic is top of mind for you, go sub, now!)

This episode is packed full of snippets for those hard conversations you’re having in the field right now with sellers and sales leadership alike.

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Full transcript:

Jared Fuller  0:00
All right, what is up partner up? Isaac, I've made it. I've made it to the three digit podcast club episode 101. Hey, we

Isaac Morehouse  0:20
should always need some champagne or something to be honest with you, you know?

Alexander Buckles  0:24
I'm surprised I didn't get a bottle or something in the mail. I feel a little slightly disappointed.

Jared Fuller  0:30
Alex, welcome to partner up, man.

Alexander Buckles  0:32
Thanks for having me.

Jared Fuller  0:33
And our big near event. So we formally announced the merger of partner hacker and reveal which is wild. Alex your story, and how we got to even know each other when you're at per Kudo. I feel like is as illustrative as any on you are inside the beast. So in terms of like, selling martec, right, so you are the AE that either didn't like partners or worked with partners. And then you went over to the partner side where you led sales up for Kudo successfully and grew revenue tremendously and ended up with a great exit there. You've seen both sides of this equation. How might your story be the thing that partner people need to like internalize to build that partnership with sales works?

Alexander Buckles  1:14
Yes. So in general, so, you know, thinking about how I interacted with the partnership work when I was at Adobe or slash Marketo is I didn't really work through the partner org, I was always like, kind of that rep that, you know, I started out in the SAP ecosystem. So I understood large enterprise sales I understood, you know, the valley like primarily the value of of working with partners in their reps that actually knew how to co sell. So when I got to Marketo, like I understood how to co sell effectively. And I kind of lone wolf that I had my account list. And I was like, All right, we got partners out there could be drift, right? And say like, what accounts are you guys in that we're not and I just knew how to work that list independently. I never worked through that partner work. And frankly, at the time, I think like most sellers, I didn't have like a true like the respect for the partner order that I have today. I always I think a lot of sellers just view them as like, Hey, where's my leads? If you're not feeding me leads, what are you doing for me, right, there wasn't like this collaborative thing that was going on. And then after Adobe had acquired Marketo, I had already started forecasts were kind of in the background. And, and I couldn't continue building that software company while being employed by Adobe. So I ended up cutting a deal with a professional services firm figuring that all of these little Marketo shops are gonna get sucked up by the big systems integrators over time, you know, Accenture, Deloitte, or whatever was going it was going to look to acquire those companies. And so that organization was looking to double revenue and flip the company. And then of course, through that motion, as we were going through that, like that exercise of doing that, a COVID hit, and then over 60% of our forecasts completely tanked. Like it was kind of it came to a screeching halt. It was a mad dash, we had no idea kind of what was going to happen or what was going on. And frankly, the coastal motion is what saved us completely. We had deploy the technology or the forecastle tech at the time. And I said, Hey, why don't we go in and go talk to these AES and try to get as many A's from Adobe as possible, into the mix co selling with us. And before we knew it, instead of a single quarter, we had over 80 enterprise account executives from Adobe, in the Technology Co selling with procure Udo in the background, and that recovered our loss forecast dollar for dollar. And then we overcompensated, like blew revenue out of the water and put the company inside of like eight months.

Isaac Morehouse  3:19
Like what why did it take that crisis moment to make that it seems like low hanging fruit given how effective it ended up being like what was what was preventing that from going on before that.

Alexander Buckles  3:29
So there was nothing that was preventing it from happening before we had started. So we'd already started I think it was back in that December before COVID. Had we'd already started the coast sell piece of things and started getting kind of all those motions in place. What's our cosell plan? What are we doing with these account executives and what frankly, what we were doing and this is a great play for any, any MSP or any any service provider in general is like, hey, you know, what are the in order for CO selling to work, everybody has to be making money, in order for the sales reps to actually care about what it is that you're doing. And to feed you business, you have to make the money first. And that was kind of our our Mo is like we have to go lean in and show that we're ready to go help them hit their number. And so when I told my reps there was I said, Hey, why don't we go in? Let's go to all these reps. Let's figure out what their top 10 targets are for the year, let's get their full account list. But let's say what accounts do you because you already know, once you get your list, okay, well, these are the ones that I kind of cherry pick off the top, this is what I'm going to focus on for the year. And I told my reps, I want you to go and build their buyer maps for them. And then I want you to schedule one hour meetings with them and walk through all the work you did into the in terms of account planning, points of penetration, things like that. And when we showed up to the table in those one hour sessions and did full like account planning session, their top 10 accounts, all of the customer accounts kind of came with that they're like, hey, if they're willing to lean in in this like fashion with us, then then we're willing to go lean in and reciprocate so by us giving first like their reciprocation just did it did wonders for our business should always give first and every single partnership that I do, it's like I don't want that. Like if they give first to me I'm upset. Like, because like as a second you give first it's almost It's like they're obligated to reciprocate, like you're going to get business out of that. So if you're always in the habit of giving first, even if you don't receive something back for the first one or two deals, eventually you're gonna get someone's attention, the right kind of attention, and it will work out for you.

Jared Fuller  5:11
Your process of having to go over to the dark side and figure this out, so to speak, is what allowed you the mental space to be like, Okay, what would work for me on the other side? Do you feel like if you'd been approached in the same way at Marketo? By, you know, your future self? Like, how would have you objected to it, or you would have handled it like if someone had actually come in and truly helped you? You think you would have leaned in the same way that those A's, you know, at Adobe did with you when you're a pro? Kudo?

Alexander Buckles  5:38
Yes, absolutely. I mean, I was very partner friendly to begin with, just because like my personal perspective, as in a, I almost never use our internal professional services, not because they were incapable or anything like that. But I felt like by giving a partner the business, a capable partner with a great reputation, right, giving a capable partner the business, like they're dependent on that business to keep their lights on, right. Whereas if you're a large SAS company, and you start bringing in your PSR, granted, they're going to be very good at their jobs, and you know, hopefully, and they implement really well then they walk away team disperses, and the customers kind of left alone. And when they will need something again, and they call up, they may not get those same resources, they may get a completely different team. And they have to reestablish that relationship and reestablish that trust. So like from day one, I was pretty much like on the partner side. So when I got to procure judo, you know, I started doubling down on that. So not only do we start doing the upfront work, and you know, doing the account planning and things like that, but we went we were managing really large enterprise accounts for Kudo. And we basically went and said, Okay, we have these account managers that have all these great relationships that engage with these accounts every single day. And so we created a process whereby sales and account management or customer success would align on a regular basis. So we could identify, are there new stakeholders? Are there new initiatives are there challenges, and we had a process for keeping the customer success managers and the A's at Adobe apprised of all of that, which, you know, was something it was one reason that we stood out?

Jared Fuller  7:04
Everyone internally, your team, if you're an account executive, you are beholden to what we might call vendor outcomes, meaning as a software company, it is the outcomes that we are looking to achieve as a business. If you're partnering with a service agency of any sort, that has a contractual relationship with your prospect or with your account, they are beholden to customer outcomes, not vendor outcomes. Correct, right. And if you're honest with yourself, especially in today's environment, where every purchase is, you know, being scrutinized x times more, the only things that are getting funded right now are clear paths to customer outcomes. So working with a company that is literally paid based on customer outcomes, not your vendor outcomes set you up a lot closer to where you know, the red lines are getting approved, and the blue lines are getting signed, you know, on signature, you know, blocks,

Alexander Buckles  8:00
that is a really good way of putting it the only thing that ever matters are outcomes in general and the customer outcomes are always trump all other. So I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Isaac Morehouse  8:08
It's funny. I heard Joe rally say recently that she, she said salespeople salespeople are used to celebrating when the gong rings right deal closed. She said that they shouldn't, that's just that's just the signed contract they should celebrate. When the customer has gotten value, right, get that customer to value. And she said like, you don't have to be an altruist to do this. The more customers you get to value, the quicker those customers, your best customers are the best tool you have to sell new customers. I know that's hard, like right now in this time where everybody's like, we're missing our numbers, we're missing our numbers. Go get me more deals. How do you how do you balance that, like, hey, I want to focus on making sure we don't just get them to sign on the dotted line, but we get them to value when you've got these, you know, you've got your your CEO or your CRO CFO telling you, you got everything you have to do everything you do has to be closing more deals, hitting more numbers, like how to both of you, you know, recommend approaching that in this market.

Alexander Buckles  9:13
Well, in general, when even back in Marketo, I used to get lectured sometimes when my manager but how much time I'd spend with customers, like, you know, back then, it was just like, because when the deal closed for me, and I didn't necessarily track the value they were getting like I wasn't I wouldn't get like to that degree, right? But I would go in and make sure I did check ins with the stakeholders that I was closest to during the cycle. Hey, is my team delivering How are we doing stuff like that? And when you set up and then remember I said I was also very partner friendly. And so I would establish that communication Cades with a partner and set expectations with them as the account executive. It's like, hey, you know, we brought you into this deal and you deserved it. You earned it like you're a great partner, I'd say but after the sale closes, let's say let's at least talk every couple of weeks or every major milestone to shoot me an update. Let me know how they Things are going and that update will prompt me to shoot a text over to one of my stakeholders in the buying side or it'll prompt me to make a phone call or schedule a meeting to check in on something even though I probably already know what happened, whether it was good or bad. That cadence like it was just wonderful.

Isaac Morehouse  10:14
Did you get pushback for the fact that you were not sending people to your Proserv organization?

Alexander Buckles  10:21
Sometimes, you know, and eventually they did away completely with I think they ended up doing away completely with comp for Proserv. Like they weren't paying it all on it at one point, which which really incentivize partner stuff. But even then, you know, you get, you know, there's still needed to be a bunch of enablement, done, these reps need to know which partners to go to, and why and how to set up those cadences and set up the, you know, a meaningful, you know, bi directional relationship with a partner, it goes a really long way. And if you're competing against Proserv, internally, that's a tough position to be in. As a seller, Frank, because I don't really care who it implements as long as implemented properly and take care of the customer doesn't matter to me.

Jared Fuller  10:57
Imagine the seller who's partnered deeply with an expert, and maybe a series of other technologies on how they supposedly work together. And they can point to Isaac, this was kind of your comment, the, you know, 123 customers that they had driven that change for, like, they were the change agent that helped these companies. And it doesn't even have to be the same partners. But it was bringing that expertise, and the people tied to their outcomes together. To me, if I'm in sales, and I want to sell today, I can't just rely on product marketing, I can't rely on sales enablement, I can't rely on the words that some content marketer is putting in front of me, that's going to be the thing that sells this feature into this count, what I need to rely on is my ability, right? My my ability to work with the people that my customer needs to work with to achieve their objective, if you're truly caring about your customer, then you're going to be stacking a list of people that you've truly helped behind you, and you're willing to bring into the next conversation.

Alexander Buckles  12:01
Absolutely. And another just, you know, talking about how another way that partners can add value. And maybe in along that same line is what we did one thing we also did a procure, though, again, it's through the lens of me being an ad and Marketo was like, What do I need, like, I always wish as a Marketo ad, it's like, yeah, I can go send that white paper that Marketo produce or send it to that blog post we produce. But again, it's not as believable because it's coming from me as a sales rep and automatically, like, the credibility goes down, right? But if I send them to a third party site and say, hey, look, this company did this analysis. And here's what they did. It's Marketo, let's say versus Pardot. And that's maybe the conversation I'm having, I encourage you to go over there and experience this and read about it, right. And like I always wanted that third party thing. And so and so when I got to procure, I'm like, hey, what third party things would have did I wish I always had access to, and let's go build that for these AES. And so what we did is I went ahead and invested, I found a bunch of Pardot consultants, and I said, who also had Marketo experience, I said, Let's go into the nitty gritty details of like the like the things that marketing operations professionals who can smell BS from a mile away, let's go get to the nitty gritty details of the true differences when it comes to running these two marketing automation platforms. And then we did an analysis of it, we scored it, we put it up on the website, if you Google Marketo versus Pardot. Right now, it's still probably up. And then we went to all the A's and I built the battle cards indexing in this scenario, use this and that scenario, here's the email template, here's the assets use that and it served as a disinterested third party, you know, for the for the A's at Adobe.

Jared Fuller  13:28
What about the interplay between the kind of like the day in the life as a rep, kind of what you saw, and per Kudo as it started to cascade up the importance tree, if you will, in the sales organization. So as you're working bigger and bigger accounts, I'm assuming you would work, you know, outside of what Adobe calls names are named account managers, into all of a sudden there might be an RVP, like a regional vice president involved in some very important deals, or you might, you know, be a topic of conversation inside of, you know, pipeline reviews, or forecast calls. What's missing from that layer of let's let's assume that our partner people, our partner listeners, right now, take that advice, uh, you know, what, I need to convince my sellers that they need to build their own body of work underneath them, right, by working with experts in the market and being proud to sell themselves and not just their company, right? So I'm gonna get my sales team bought into that vision. Great. What's the first line of resistance at that RVP level? Or at that sales manager level where they're, like, either friendly to the partner being involved or like, get this partner the heck out of my deal?

Alexander Buckles  14:30
Yeah, I've run into that a few different times. And that are like, there's tactics you can do to get around that kind of stuff. And I ran into it over there as well. It's like, I had a couple of reps telling me hey, my manager asked me like, why are we putting so many eggs in that poquito basket? And I'm like, because I'm awesome man, you know, it like anyway, just, you know, messing around, but, but in general, we were delivering tremendous value. And then a lot of these reps were putting a lot of their eggs in our basket and, and it was called out a couple of times. And so those folks, you know, in fact, I think the the couple of managers that have came up with They didn't have a deep Marketo background, they came from different product areas within the Adobe organization at the time. And so I just don't maybe they just didn't understand like the niche that we lived in, and how important that were, it wasn't there weren't a lot of great partners out there that are delivering, like high quality and or enterprise delivery. And so for me, it was about meeting with those individual managers as like executive alignment is really where that comes into play. I already had advocates across you know, let's say you had the frontline managers, and then second line managers, so two of them, and each of them had five frontline managers reporting to them, each of them with 40 reps beneath them in total. So it's a matter of getting some of those other frontline managers as advocates, and having them talk in group discussions as peers, so those other frontline managers to get buy in. And then of course, when you get enough of them, then second, and third line managers pay attention, and that's where you get a little bit of top down from that point forward. Once you've earned your street cred,

Jared Fuller  15:48
I think you hit the nail on the head, I certainly have seen in my career, things start to change, where you take the nervousness off your shoulders and go, I have to get this partner to a place where I'm confident putting my VP of sales with their VP of sales, right? My CRO with their CRO, those kind of like executive alignment is a very, very obtuse and packed word. But the short end of it should be, is it valuable enough to get our sales teams to align at the leadership level? If not, I need to go build that value, I need to have that joint value proposition and how, you know, there could be a plan for us to achieve 5 million in sales together 10 million in sales together. You know, like, I remember being asked point blank, by my CRO at the time, when do I get a meeting with my counterpart at Adobe? And why is he going to take that meeting? And I was like, I'm, I will have an answer for you on that shortly. But like that exercise of like going, Okay, I've had the sales leader relationship, I'd met with him, right, like, you know, the EVP of sales, like, you know, has a has a billion dollar number, right, like a billion dollar number in revenue. How do I make sure that, that meetings valuable for my CRO and like that had to develop into more of a concrete kind of like Target plan, right, where we were identifying the top 10 target accounts. And we didn't bring all of that data to the meeting. But what was so interesting was coming to that meeting with the plan, hey, we have these 150 target accounts, we've already aligned with your RSVPs named this, this and this. Here's kind of like our general messaging, you know, what do we need to suss out of this conversation to know when we both need to get involved? And what messages we need to be cascading back down to our field? It seemed like a whole nother value was unlocked. Once that like executive, you know, hey, we co sign this plan, go.

Alexander Buckles  17:42
Yes. And and once you unlock that, once you get a little bit of like field level success, and you get into that second and third line manager relationship, and you want to have that executive alignment, like for me back then I just sat down with those executives, once you have the street cred to have that conversation one on one. And you say, hey, you know, whatever your name is, Bob, you know, what are your priorities? What's the number one or two things you need to accomplish with a field sales organization today, like they are, they already know where they need to win. And back then it was, hey, we need like Pardot was like dropping their price significantly. And it was killing deals, reps, were having a hard time overcoming that massive difference between Pardot and Marketo. And that's where I was like, Okay, I have to take myself, okay, if I can solve that problem for this third line manager, and I can bring that to him on a silver platter, you know, he's gonna go top down to everybody in the organization and say, Hey, we asked them to solve this problem. They solved it. Let's go run with it. And so that's one way together. You said, how do you get your CRO to show up and have a great conversation with this person? Well, if you make that that conversation all about that vendors priorities and what they're trying to accomplish, and that you're advocating for them, it just goes a really long way from an executive alignment perspective for castable.

Isaac Morehouse  18:46
When and why did you? Did you make the make the move?

Alexander Buckles  18:54
So like, when, like, when did I go full time? Or went? Why did we start it?

Isaac Morehouse  18:58
Yeah, kind of both. Like, just give me the journey there. I just find it really. I just, I'm curious on the, like the initial impetus, and then when you were like, Okay, this is something bigger, I need to make the jump. Yeah. So.

Alexander Buckles  19:11
So this is like, well, actually, going back to December of 2017. I was in a deal with, you know, fortune 1000 company I was I was technically single threaded. So this is a large deal. We were owned by VISTA equity partners at the time. This was pre Adobe acquisition. So the variable compensation plans were outrageous, we're making 4043 cents on the dollar. Right. So, you know, I had a 1.3 million ARR deal on the table. And I was single threaded, basically with a CMO. So great, great place to be single threaded, right. You know, their purchasing authority, their budget, all these things, but they had a very, very small marketing department market Deparment of one person, you know, a very, very large brand, with a very small marketing department. I got to the point where, you know, that was like, you know, a $400,000 commission check for me and even the largest commission check I would have ever made in my career. So it's good You know, life changing money. And I've never made that kind of money before. And it got to the point where I even had the president of Marketo at the time, like on the line with me with the CMO twice. And she's like, she's like, man, Alex, this guy loves you, like he wants to buy from you. And, and at the end of that, we ended up losing the deal, I got the call. And we lost to a vendor whose name I wasn't even familiar with. I didn't never even heard of this company before. It wasn't like part I would have been, like, not okay, but we lost the Pardot or like, you know, or Oracle or something like that. But it was like a no name vendor. And I immediately went back and I thought, I was like, man, deep breath, like the day I lost it, it was hard. But the day like on January 31, when I would have had that commission check, hit like that one really got to me. And I started thinking that like, where could they have lost that deal. And it only had to have been because of the CFO, maybe the CFO came down, there's such a large price difference with a no name vendor, they had just cut me off at the knees. And I wasn't multithreaded I didn't build that relationship. And so I started paying a lot more attention as painfully because of that of that result. I started paying a lot more attention to being multi threaded. And then I started thinking, I'm like, like, how do I make How do I keep even keep track of all this stuff, it's like, I've got 10 or 15 deals in the hopper, you know, some are coming up right away. And some are, you know, throughout the rest of the year, I can't memorize every single person and every single deal and keep track of it all in my head. And then try to repeat that in my one on one to the manager every week, it was nearly impossible. And so at the time, I started using Lucid Chart, I was like, Okay, we had some licenses for that, let me go build some of these buyer map things are visualizing my relationships. And I started, you know, showing them in my QBR decks, and it helped me just get way more buttoned up in my sales process. So I started training other reps in the company on how to use Lucid Chart and how to build these buyer maps. And even then they came back and they're like, they did give up on it because it took too long to build it. And so I had another startup prior to this. And I basically went back to that same team and said, Hey, guys, I think there's an opportunity to enterprise sales, to make it easier or more manageable for that mid market or enterprise rep to visualize their ord like really easily and manage all those relationships across a ton of deals without spending a ton of time. And so in January of 2018, that's when we started building, getting into the partner co selling stuff. So you know, if you think about, you know, an odd time to build a sales technology, right, because you think about the last eight years, VC money was cheap, it was readily available, people way over bought sales, tech, they own every single tool on the frickin planet, right? And then nobody could possibly imagine that you could have like another piece of sales technology would add value to their lives, robots, people will throw their hands up in two seconds and tell you to pound sand, right. And so as we built all this wonderful technology, it was very difficult to go to market with that. And then it was just really, really hard. And then so we continued building through procurator, right, and we were waiting for that exit for me to kind of roll full time into Forecastle. And so I wanted to go as soon as we exited, procure, though, my plan was to go stand up customer success, all of our operations, and throughout the rest of 2021. And we're gonna go to market in January 1 of 2022. And then crossbeam screwed all that up. That's not their fault. They raised a ton of money in October of 2021, they did in a good way. They raised a bunch of money then revealed later, you know, raise $50 million. And I'm like, okay, there is a lot of attention on CO selling. And I understand co selling to the nth degree, that my whole career never formally through the partnerships. Org, I kind of just did it on my own in the field. And I said, Why don't we take all this like wonderful enterprise sales technology that we built, and bring it to the cosell motion. So everybody can communicate and collaborate around a deal, regardless of what CRM, they're running in the background. So we act as kind of a single pane of glass. And so we spent a year like pivoting almost, even though at our technology, we're at our core, we're still a sales technology, we spent a year pivoting to be able to enable, like that kind of complexity. And that's, that's where we're at today. So to even add more to that story, you get to December of 20. So we launched basically, the cosell stuff back at catalysts, you know, phenomenal event. You know, we opened up a whole ton of pipeline, and then it's like, boom, economy started go down, like partnerships, people are getting laid off. It's like a little bit of doom and gloom. I wasn't feeling that great in December. And then, you know, typical startup life, my whole world changes, like every two minutes, and then come January. Now all of these really large deals that we're in, are starting to say, how many tools can you replace, oh, you can replace this sales technology, and that sales technology. And this because we were five years, we built a very robust application. So as you can see, like, I couldn't sell any sales tech for the first few years, jumped into partnerships. Now partnerships are getting laid off. But now it's like come full circle. Now. It's like, Hey, we're willing to buy a bunch of sales tech now. So it's like, my world changes all the time.

Isaac Morehouse  24:21
Man, that's a it's an interesting point about the in the cost cutting phase. integrations are important, like how many how many other tools? Right Can you replace or work with? If you're if you're siloed standalone tool, it's gonna get real tough out there.

Alexander Buckles  24:40
integrations are where it's at. We went with an iPad solution right out of the gate, for that very purpose, time to market right. How many integrations can we do to start ingesting as much data as possible to start basically allowing our customers to leverage the tools they already use in the best possible way? Nobody wants to go buy some big platform anymore and have you do you know everything under the sun like that's a waste of time. I think integrations are where it's at. We bank on that one pretty hard.

Jared Fuller  25:03
It's interesting that the next logical extent, you know, extension of the collaborating around accounts and having an account team where, okay, you're starting to map out personas. I mean, these are default fields in Salesforce or HubSpot, where you name you know, the contacts that you're working on in the OP, right. And you'll have words and phrases like influencer, decision maker, champion, economic buyer. And the reality is, is in big enterprise, see, this deals like a lot of those personas need to be checked, you know, if you're, if you're selling a 20k 50k, you know, maybe up to 100k kind of solution. Sure, you can be, I mean, there's more and more budget pressure these days, but you can get away with a handful of those like a true champion that's like batting for you all the way that wants you no matter what, and direct line of access and business case with the economic buyer. That'll alone can be difficult. The second that you add on top of that, well, I need to orchestrate this across these two tech providers, maybe it's an ABM platform or sales engagement, or, you know, sales intelligence, or maybe it's on the data and it side, right, like there's going to be some tech components that are essential to your customers would be workflow. And then there might be some expertise around how those solutions work together. And now you're working with some, you know, maybe it's even a former customer services partner. It could even be someone from your ces team or p s team that really helped one of your customers in the past. But the point is that the best sales is done. Not solo, the best sales is done as a team selling is a team sport. And so many people that you know, fit that lone wolf persona figured out real quick, that you can be the one call closer and close those SMB deals all day long. But that, that shit don't fly in enterprise land,

Alexander Buckles  26:58
it doesn't. And when you see reps, and I see him all the time, they're gonna get they're gonna get killed, they're gonna get killed in their careers over the next couple of years, you get some reps that'll go in doing the same old thing lone wolf and and they may, and they'll, you'll see on the job hop, they'll go in there, hopefully get a great patch with a couple of great deals, they do their lone wolf thing they make, you know, a bunch of money, they skate for a year, you know, possibly maybe not do anything else and hop to the next one, and use that first success to go get the next job. And eventually those guys won't last.

Isaac Morehouse  27:24
Yeah. So that's an interesting question about the kind of the talent pipeline for all these these roles. The type of person that is, has been attracted to and successful at sort of sales roles often often has that lone wolf mentality, and the type of person who we've seen this year in the last couple of years, people saying, Yeah, I just I didn't like, I didn't like always being the pushy salesperson. I want to I want to work with people and collaborate. So I joined a partnerships team. So I'm wondering, if we'll see the reverse. If we'll see the reverse if the, if the sales people that are winning increasingly are those that are they like working with a team, they like playing a team sport, they like going at it together. And those traits are getting rewarded more and the lone wolf is suffering. Maybe some people who had not thought about sales as a good fit for them might start to start to make that move. I don't know. I'm curious if if you think we may see that.

Jared Fuller  28:25
I'd comment on that real quick. In that the bus on the account team doesn't need any more passengers, what it needs is a frickin driver, a leader, right. And I think those leaders are going to have a couple components. This is going to go back to you know Sam McKenna, Joe rally kind of like the show me, you know, me, meaning subject matter expertise. I think it's very wise for I mean, the best sellers, I know, build an expertise over time on an industry, right, their network compounds, they don't lose their, you know, network from job to job, right. So if you hop from it to InfoSec, to product to SAS and martec and sales tech, like you're starting to Ground Zero every time like these are not concentric buyer circles. So like, that's stupid advice. Number one, pick something you care enough about to actually help someone and then you're gonna increase your odds of selling, right? So they need to be the leaders of their space. They need to care about what they do. They need to care about the transformation of actually helping, you know, show me you know, me prove you care. To quote Jill and Sam. And, you know, that's it is a tall task, but there's a lot of money to be made there. I mean, I know a lot of sellers that make way more than their manager, or executive counterparts, you know, that they're taking 500 600k home a year because they kick ass at their job. They're really good at it, and they exhibit these behaviors. I know a handful of them that are still at Adobe that were at macaque Marketo. And they figured out that playbook, their account team sellers and they'll bank you know 500 Senator Kay in a down market on their W two. So it's leaders that care about their industry, their customer, that they might come from a sales background, they might come from a partner background, but I think the leadership quality is what stands out to me.

Alexander Buckles  30:14
Absolutely. And by the way, I think that Marketo, like the the quality of talent in the Marketo organization, with some of the highest quality talent I've ever worked with. So I'm not surprised that there's a bunch of sellers, so they're, you know, doing their thing. But in general, getting back to that being a team sport is a couple of things to talk about one team sport and then to career path. On the team sports side, you know, it's like, you have a choice. So I'm speaking a little bit to those sellers that are lone wolf and right now, and you know, who you are, right? You know, though, you know, it's not just about, you know, relying Yes, you have to now start relying on other people. And yes, they may not do things the way you would have done it, and you have to just be okay with it. Like, I struggle with that a lot. I'm kind of a perfectionist, and I wanted things done a certain way. And if you didn't do it, like I got pissed off about I got frustrated with it, I manage it properly. But you know, it was very frustrating on the inside for me. But every single person on that team is somebody you can leverage in your cycle. So like I got somebody my team that like a Solutions Consultant, and um, if you're paying attention to the demo, like for those those folks in r&d that are just sitting back and letting demos happen, no, you're like, I always have the cameras up, I'm looking at everybody's face or back, then we're in the room for most of these conversations. And I'm looking and seeing who's connecting with the Solutions Consultant, or who's who's like, Who's, who's connecting with whatever resources on the line. And if I see that there's a connection there, I make sure to double down on that connection and say, Hey, Rick, like one of my favorite solution consultants would like Rick, hey, can you send an extra note to Sally over here? Because I feel like she really latched on to your experience, when you share this, this or that? And that little extra, can you please leverage this person, like leveraging your team, like you're only one person leverage your full team? You know, so and then I think the second thing there, you talk a little bit about career, right, and, and so when I think about, I think there's gonna be a big shift to like those sellers, that I think sellers should start viewing partnerships as a promotion path for one. Because now, it's almost required, you've got to start co selling with people, like, if you're not involving your partners, and things like you're just having a conversation with yourself, you're not going to do very well in your career. And it's just going to be more and more partnership stuff happening. And so I think those people that have that sales background and understand what it takes to close a deal, from a process perspective, can now go into partnerships and learn how to do that, like those are going to be the partner pros of the future. And the partner pros today that don't have that sales mentality are going to get are gonna get squeezed out of the business, if you don't start getting that sales mentality, you're gonna get squeezed out and replaced by those that do.

Jared Fuller  32:33
And who's going to help create that next generation of sellers, I mean, that's, that's what we're trying to facilitate here and bringing out you know, you know, shows, like selling together, and then, you know, kind of like our future relaunch of partner hacker where we have streams for each department like these conversations need to happen. And we need Partner people you listeners out there to, you know, communicate with us give us feedback, but share what's standing in the way of you painting that vision for that seller. Right, like someone has to tell that salesperson what we just discussed, is that your VP of sales, I guarantee you She's not saying that right now, if unless, you know, your program is just like, you know, screaming from the rooftops, you're making all money. And you're you're the you're the exception to the rule of the market right now, is that these conversations aren't happening in your sales. Org. So are you do you have the confidence to go talk to your sellers, and, you know, help them realize how they can have a better career? Like, those have been the part of people that have impressed me the most that they've gone to the sales org, or they've been in the sales shoes, and they've gone to Parkland and gun Look, I get it right now you're under pressure for this, this and this, here's how I'm going to help you. But you need to be halfway like those hard conversations are the things that need to be happening in the field right now?

Alexander Buckles  33:49
Well, that and I don't, I don't think most sellers, I mean, they don't pay a lot of them don't pay attention to they're not going to pay attention to the partnerships. Or I'd say in a lot of cases, I hate to be harsh here. But like they're not gonna pay attention to partnerships, or they're probably not going to pay attention to marketing. Their VP can can scream from the mountaintops all day like hey, by the way, partner co selling is a really good increase win rate, increase deal size, shorten cycle, you can say that all day until you're blue in the face. But until that sales rep sees another sales rep that they know and respect, do that thing and say yeah, man, or you know, like that, dude, I won that deal, because I did this, this or that, that partner nailed it for me. And I closed an extra $300,000. And I did it really fast. Like that's when sales reps are paying attention. And so like, and so, you know, maybe it's about the wind stories, right? But I have seen wind stories before like everybody wins and somebody wins. There's a partner involved a wind store, email goes out to the entire sales team, probably 15% of sales reps even read it. You know, it's just not convincing enough. So one thing I used to do, and this was more for account planning stuff I used to call it like when I was early in in a cycle, I made it so any rep on the sales team could call what we call a relationship roundtable and all they could do they booked time they say hey, I need a relationship roundtable. All the sales reps in the sales team would come together, and we go to that person's one account, we'd all go to LinkedIn. And we say, who knows? Who, where, where do we have relationships, and we all help that rep and got behind that rep and said, you know, here's some ideas I have for you. So what I'm just thinking about this on the spot, but like, what if you took that same exact concept, and brought it to like a partner win story. So now, I've got a peer, let's say you're a fortune 500 company, you got this big sales order, you now need to motivate reps to co sell more effectively, why not take that one store and get that rep in the room talking about how they did it, and then have every single rep in that team, I want you to bring one deal to the table. And let's go have this seller whom you respect, walk through it and give you ideas on where on how you could do better with partners and what that what that might impact. And I think that level of like a peer helping you in that regard will go much further than us trying to do top down or even through enablement. It's got to come from peers, I think

Jared Fuller  35:46
one of my favorite tactics that I've actually seen work and not just experience firsthand, but seeing stories about in the wild. of, hey, we're going to the next phase of our partner program, we're moving from a siloed business unit to, you know, an overlay motion where partner team and sales team are aligned, they're sharing the same, you know, targets, quotas. You know, we figured out a lot of the hard part, now we have to go do here would be my advice, for the partner people that are strong willed enough, and you have enough conviction, to arm this conversation. Find the person that is the most vocal, anti partner sales rep in the entire company. I mean, the one that talks shit in every single Slack message is just vile towards partners. And I've definitely seen reps that they spare no words, no four letter words, enough in their condemnation of you know how much they hate partners, and make it your objective, to turn that person into the most partner pilled person in the entire sales org. So you have this plan, you approach them and say, hey, my objective this quarter is to take you from being the most vocal critic of working with partners, to our number one supporter, and if I truly help you, if I truly help you, my ask is that you'll join. You'll join me and our CRO, at the next QBR to talk about how you went from I hate partners, I don't want to work with them, too. I want partners touching every single deal. And it's almost like that sales rep that, you know, you didn't want to work with it all of a sudden is like, okay, challenge accepted. Right? Like they're gonna approach it with a new light. And, you know, the anecdote that I had was with Adobe and a rep that kind of fit this bill. And he didn't fully adopt, like the totality of like, let's say, service partners. But on every single deal, he had at least one tech partner involved and was using it to navigate procurement better. He was using it to navigate budget objections, a whole bunch of different issues that he wasn't before. And at the end of it all, he's like, Yeah, I mean, pretty much, you know, I haven't cracked the code on how to like, source new pipeline. But I've saved so much time on my deals, my win rates higher, and yeah, I'm partner, you know, partner pilled.

Alexander Buckles  38:07
And for those sales folks, listening is frankly, no different than working your normal, like, you know, normal sales cycle, you have an opponent in your deal, who may be a vocal advocate, or vocal opponent, right. Maybe they're advocating for you know, a competitive solution, and convert that opponent into an advocate for you like that all these other people that were on the fence before they might have been in that neutral zone, not quite a supporter, not quite an opponent, you now convert them into advocates. So I think that's right in line.

Jared Fuller  38:31
There was there was one anecdote that stood out to me where literally, we had one of these calls with a tech partner, this anti partner rep shows up and he's like, oh, yeah, I'm so glad to connect with you guys. They were just asking me the other day about this vendor, this vendor in you so I'm happy to connect with you because I kind of was like, you know, take your pick. Right? It like that moment. It was like you see how not being in that conversation? How like you not caring about this person at all can have some influence when you're not in the room, tying this all back together. We're in the triple digit land episode 101. This is from our very first guest, Bobby Napal. Tonia. So I know that there's something good here if we just didn't cover that. And it's advice that Bobby gave me. Bobby told me about the story. So Bobby was the head of Salesforce partner program under Benioff. So the creation of the AppExchange you know, Accenture, like, like the guy, right? Crazy, crazy guy. I love Bobby. But what he told me is he said, Look, the way that anything changes in business, is to get the big dog into the bake the rest fall behind, not the other way around. So, in that respect, how did Salesforce break out of tech companies and financial services? Well, they weren't trying to win all the small financial services companies. They went after Bank of America, JP Morgan, Chase, boom, knock those out. The rest of financial services fell, right like the rest of the market collapse behind them. them. Okay, how are they going to win, you know, Accenture, away from Siebel in these other platforms? Well, it wasn't by winning 500 other service partners. It was by working with like two or three and taking Accenture's top accounts showing them a lot of pain right then they made Accenture fall boom the rest of the services and consulting industry fell behind them. Hey, there's some good advice there maybe instead of trying to work with your your top your bottom percentile reps that are like hey I'll work with anything I'm there's no way I'm getting to my quota. Right go take that top one that's always at the top that's like no I don't want to get partner pilled go work with them turn them into an advocate that watch the rest of your sales org fall in line Isaac What do we got to tell the piece about this week we got we were bringing back pls right

Isaac Morehouse  40:46
I mean in addition to that together network which by the way this episode was like selling together all over it. So some good good crossover content. Definitely check out these are phenomenal. These shows are phenomenal marketing together with Logan Lyle selling together Jesse Shipman and they both have a weekly newsletter. That is just so good. These are like really high quality stuff. So a huge recommendation there. If you go to Parker You can see the click podcasts. Absolutely get those into the hands of your counterparts get get those in the hands of people in sales and marketing. But PL X is coming soon. Very soon. The moment returns so it's going to be all I'll say is it's going to be bigger and better than ever. That's it I'm just gonna leave you that keeps it mysterious. That's all you'll

Jared Fuller  41:35
say. Okay, I won't let any more cats out the bag, but will pre reg be life P

Isaac Morehouse  41:40
Alexa die should be March 1. That's the target be Alexa, come

Jared Fuller  41:45
March 7. So yeah, we're March 7 to every Tuesday, partner up new episode Tuesday morning. So March 7, should be the day that you're listening to this. So pls for pre reg. It's live people back in better. All right, Alex, thanks so much for joining us on partner up.

Alexander Buckles  42:04
You're very welcome. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it, guys. Isaac Till next

Jared Fuller  42:07
time, my man audience thank you so much. We will see you all in the interwebs peace

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