PartnerUp #103 - Think Customer Outcomes or Die - Raja Nucho on Surrounding the Sale with Partners

What is up PartnerUp!

We’ve got Raja Nucho with us this week, and he’s been from sales to partnerships and back again, then back again again. He understands the need for “Nearbound Surround” in every step of the customer journey.

We dive into his perspective from the services side, the sales side, and the partner side across multiple companies. We explore the tension between driving a sale as quickly and simply as possible and bringing in multiple partners.

We even get into some wild ideas about a future in which no one is an employee, but everyone is a partner. Let’s go!

Oh, one more thing. is now live. The 80s dystopian future is here. But there’s always a way to overcome. This year, THE ONLY WAY OUT IS TOGETHER. Pre-register today.

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Full transcript:

Jared Fuller  0:00
Hey what is up partner up we're back I'm not letting Isaac steal my line this this time. I was super excited to get connected a couple of weeks ago by our buddy Scott Barker over at GTM fun shout out to them to uh Raja Raja Welcome to partner up. Oh, so good to be here, guys. Well, today's conversation Raja, you most recently, before you're applauding and navigating the next, you know, big move have kind of where you think the markets going and where you feel like you can have the biggest impact, you had a great run as a chief partner officer at Ceridian. But before that, kind of coming into SuccessFactors, you had a sales background. And I think I've avoided this somewhat strategically, I'm partnered up we've always been a little bit more startup partner, you know, VC, back, SASS series, a type company, in terms of our the topical parts of our conversation. But I really liked how you approach this entire thing. And you bring a perspective that the rest of the world is kind of in and b2b of coming from, you know, an SVP VP of sales, and then embracing the partner side as part of your story. I'd love to unpack that with you. How did you get to use Isaac's language? How did you become partner pilled and your SAP run before leading at CPO at Ceridian?

Raja Nucho  1:26
Yeah, I think that's a great question. And I'm glad you recognized it. Because it's been, I would say, quite intentional. And it started back, I started my career as a consultant, doing PeopleSoft implementations. And I was working with one group and working with the PeopleSoft professional services. And that's really where I first learned that, you know, two brains are better than one, multiple skill sets for a customer client will also always serve them more successfully than if you just have one group at the table. Sometimes we call that the network effect. Sometimes you just call that teaming up, whatever it may be. But you know, at an early in my 20s, when I started doing consulting and implementing enterprise application software, and I took that with me, when I moved after I was a consultant, I went into service sales. And that's when all of a sudden, not only did I experience from an intellectual experience implementing something but a selling experience where I understood that if I was working with an ecosystem of partners who were serving, or had value to said, customer, I was going to be more successful as a salesperson. And so that that's stuck with me. And so every sales position that I had, I always went in with a partner first mindset. And the key was not necessarily Partnering for the sake of partnering. But understanding what is the customer need, what is the prospect need? Who's already got relationships in that account that have had them much longer than I have? And instead of, I'm the person that's going to solve the problem? How do we collectively bring a great solution story experience to so that's where it began really winning, I guess I ever saw winning with in a partnered environment was always better than not partnering. And so when I moved into software sales from service sales, I took that same ethos.

Jared Fuller  3:32
This is a line that I hear when I talk to some of my friends that have been agency or service partner owners, right. So they own a company that doesn't sell intellectual property in digits, they sell intellectual property in time, right? So it's how I tend to think about like IP, and digits and software IP, in time is service. And oftentimes, we often get caught up in this as sales executives or partner leaders. We use things like vendor language and vendor outcomes. What do I mean, things that we want our customers to do inside of our application to meet some usage thresholds, some adoption criteria, some feature flags, but anytime I've worked with service providers, the only thing they care about is customer language and customer outcomes. Like when you're servicing the customer, and you're being paid to service the customer, the outcome that they receive is the only thing that matters. Do you think that you're starting in services, you are more beholden to customer outcomes than you were vendor outcomes, and that might have made you more empathetic towards working with others?

Raja Nucho  4:34
I think you're spot on. And I think that's exactly it. You know, whether it's an industry lens, whether it's a vertical lens, a customer, you know, often if you start purely from selling software, or bits as you call it, you're just thinking of it as a product. But when you think about from outcomes, and when you're coming from a consulting background, that is very much how you need to think about it. It's not so much about the bits and bytes, it's about What's the experience that that expect customer is expecting? So you're you're you're spot on. And I think, you know, I like I would you're putting a very fine bow on it. Did I consciously think about that as I evolved? Not necessarily but I guess how I engaged was less about, hey, let me you know I've got a deal for you I've got a product fit for you. It's as a leader used to say I had my elephant ears on not my Crocodile's ears, and I was using the customer language and what their expectation was, and then draft behind that with a solution that made the most sense.

Isaac Morehouse  5:38
It's interesting, there's, there's almost kind of like a myth, like a, like a narrative that's developed, certainly in the VC backed SAS world. And especially with plg, emotions being so popular that if your customers can't just find your product, get on your product, start using your product, get to value with their product succeed with your product all by themselves, that you don't have a business model that can scale and like, well, I get that obviously, in an ideal world, it'd be incredible if you could make a piece of software that people just start paying you for. And you never need to do anything else except for put it out there in the world. And you kind of see the you know, VCs will especially be like, Well, look, if people can't, you can't scale it if you have to do all this service stuff with it. And you see, like the most extreme examples, I don't know if you guys watched the show Silicon Valley, it's such a great show. But there's, there's this amazing scene where they've got this product, and it does all these amazing things. But it's way too hard. Nobody can figure out how to use it. And so the CEO is like, I'm going to teach people so he gets like a focus group of 30 people. And he's in there, he like brings them pizza and stuff. And after like 12 hours of explaining the product to them. Finally, one person goes, I get it. This is amazing. And he's like, Yes, there it is. Obviously, you can't grow a business if it requires the CEO to spend 12 hours with every customer. But there's this myth that the opposite extreme is necessary. And I think the companies that really succeed, even if the outward story they tell is like, Oh, it was all product lead, it was all viral. Everybody just had this flywheel, it was amazing. They always have a really, it's not a engineering problem they're solving, it's a relationship problem, you're communicating to other human beings how to think differently about the way they do business. And that is a necessary thing. It's not something to be like, Oh, my product sucks. Because if I have to explain it to people or hold their hand, we failed. That's not That's not the right conclusion. It's no, we probably do have to hold their hand explain it to them. And there are already people that are holding their hand and explaining other things to them right now. And if and if they're working with, you know, consultants, etc, like, that's okay that your your product may need that it's called Change Management. It's called Bring it you know, changing the way people think about things. So I just think it's really interesting that that that myth is kind of persisted, even though when you look at the unicorns, none of them are self serve, they all have a whole ecosystem of people trying to help the customers out.

Raja Nucho  7:59
No, you're and and it gets even more as your customer, it's one thing if you're serving the small business community, then you get into the medium, then you get into the large enterprise. So you know, the complexity becomes ever greater just from a product fit. But at the end of the day, as we all know, people buy from people, it's relationships. And so yes, you need to be able to provide a solution that is relatively and I think in the cloud world, solutions out there, whether you're serving the enterprise application market, the technology, whatever, they are getting better at telling that story. But there's no short, changing the development of a relationship, because the amount of stakeholders that have a point of view that sit at the table, and often you don't know who they are, they don't even come to the table until the final decision to yes, we're going to move forward. But they're channeling they're communicating, they're hearing through the people that are in front of you. And so it really does have to be done in parallel the both the relationship and the product. And again, you know, depending on the industry, depending on the customer size, that that that that supply chain may be shortened. But ultimately, that final mile will always come back to do I trust this person. Did I feel they were authentic? And and do they truly understand what I'm trying to achieve? And no product discussion is going to fast forward that and so I think back to what you had called out Jared, that whole empathy coming from a consultative a solution selling kind of approach as opposed to a product selling is always the best approach and customers are becoming way more intelligent to what they want. Just like when we go and buy. I don't know here in Canada we used to have Best Buy and Future Shop and Future Shop was all about commission sales, people selling you TVs or whatever appliance you need and Best Buy would wait till you ask the questions. Well I think we've figured out here and candidate that the best spot for most customers buying technology, they don't want to come in with, Hey, I've got a deal for you. They've done a lot of research. In fact, you know, the stats say that 64% of the customers that you engage with have already made a are leaning towards the CIO, they're just looking for, do I trust these people have? Are they validating what my research is saying? And is there strong references from their customer base with what they're offering?

Jared Fuller  10:29
So going to that transition? Whenever I was like, hey, is there something to unpack here? Because I think there is, it's like, if you have some exposure to being beholden to customer outcomes, I think you're probably much more open to kind of like both of your points, working with others in service of helping them. So then you went into the software side for from, you know, bits to time, right? Where the only leverage you had really was like, How can I maximize the amount of time that me or my team or my partners, you know, are helping my customers to going into the bid side. And immediately, it looks like you started working with some big names. I mean, I know it SAP you were, you know, running the Deloitte Partnership, which I'm pretty sure SAP is Deloitte biggest software partner, right? It drew this. So I mean, that's a big, that's a big Alliance. So let's go to let's, let's talk about that transition into, you know, being on the sales on the software side, to, you know, managing Deloitte before we talk Ceridian, what, what do you think were some of those aha moments that made you go, Hey, I need to work with other trusted advisors in order to meet my sales objectives? Yeah, I

Raja Nucho  11:35
think, you know, as I mentioned, because of my, when I was an individual contributor, I, I had success working with partners, it's as simple as that. And I heard feedback from my customers and prospects, that these are partners that they trust. And often, you know, what they're what these customers and prospects are looking for is they want to work with people they've worked with before. So you want to put in front of them, the people that they know, and they trust. And so that became a, as I moved into management and owning bigger responsibilities. Not only did I continue to practice it, but I brought that to the teams that supported me and collaborated with me to deliver against whatever the outcome is. And I'll just take a step back that, you know, one of the reasons I left SAP, I went to a small Mar tech company called Media valet, to run sales for them. One of the things doing that, and this was a small, you know, about what, 25 million ARR average deal size about 25 to 50k. And very direct selling motion. But I even in that smaller environment, the the application of a partner ecosystem strategy applied, and again, it wasn't because you were trying to complicate it. And Isaac, you had said, you know, hey, you know, our product should speak for No, it's because partners had insight to these customers and what they were doing beyond what you were actually talking to them about. And I think we often forget, as whether you're a sales leader, a business development leader, a customer success leader, marketing leader, that customers are usually looking at your solution, not in isolation, but it's fitting a bigger puzzle, and you may not understand that puzzle, and you usually don't, so the partnerships bring that regardless of the size of it. And so that was was critical. So I don't think it's a, you know, I don't think it's just a size of, you know, SAP has to do it this way or a small, it plays the same is just a different, slightly different strategy. So aha moments that you asked about Jared, like I said, first, a consistent, predictable data driven way I have more success, right? And my customers have a better experience. And so often, as a sales leader, as a manager, I would ask post the sale what what did you like about this? And they said, We liked that you had an open mind, we liked that you had an inclusive mindset. We liked that you included people that had relevance to this discussion. And you did not try to strong arm or control the narrative but in fact have just like hey, you know what, let's let's open this to a broader discussion. And that doesn't come naturally to a lot of sales folks in software at the management level and the end and that is a cultural thing that I think and Alan one of your great colleagues, I think often says kind of the the skill set matched with the the budget it's that skill set we're still training the Salesforce on how to use partners to better their their their success rates,

Jared Fuller  14:50
no matter how much we try to keep Alan out of these episodes. He still he somehow manages to find a way in and so shout out Alan Adler. He listens every time we love Alan he he gets some of those things around the head. Isaac, I saw you hopping in.

Isaac Morehouse  15:02
Yeah. This is something I think I've probably asked similar questions on several these podcasts because I think it's just really relevant that I'm seeing, especially talking with salespeople. How do you, Roger, how do you think about like when you were in sales, I guess. And when you're working with salespeople, when you're in partnerships, trying to help navigate that tension between as a salesperson, you're like, hey, I want as few I want as few roadblocks between me and closing that deal as possible. And the more I want the ball in my court as much as possible, and I don't want to have all these other players, now I'm waiting on them. It's contingent on this person, and then contingent on three other people. And, you know, obviously, with enterprise sales, that's, that's a part of it, no matter what, but you bring in partners, and it just adds complexity, and it slows it down. And you're kinda like, I'm good at sales, I can close it anyway. Right? Like, I don't need to, I don't need to complicate things. And that impulse, especially right now, when everybody's missing their quota. Like that's not a bad impulse. But to recognize the difference between when bringing in partners is an unnecessary level of complexity, because there are also people by the way that I've met in the partnerships world, on the opposite end, they just want to talk, they just want to loop everyone into everything, adding complexity, and they don't want to just close a deal, right? So like,

Jared Fuller  16:20
there's this partner and this partner in what you're doing, we

Isaac Morehouse  16:24
just all get together and hold hands, and we're all going to, you know, find some throw the kitchen sink at them. And then the sales guys like everybody, leave me alone. Where do you how do you make that decision? When it's like this I need to bring in this is a waste of time. And like realizing the trade off for Yeah, it's going to add a little complexity and slow it down. But the end result is going to be much better, versus an unnecessary layers of complexity.

Raja Nucho  16:46
Well, great question. And it's not a simple answer. But it first and foremost, internally, there has to be from the CEO down. Obviously, the CRO, the Chief Customer Officer own services, all of them have to believe in a go to market that has a partner centric motion. If that doesn't occur across the bunch, you know, and I think Jared, I read in your latest post, oh, we're not just a up department, you know, that's absolute partnerships should never be seen. And I think you know, I'm going a little off tangent here. But the notion of PRMS and CRMs, and, you know, sales teams and partner teams, and that we should figure out and I do like that term near bound, because I think that's what you guys are all trying to accomplish. Those are all forcing a silo discussion. And so the CEO, the CRO, they need to be communicating to the organization across all the functions that we have a partner centric strategy. That's number one. Number two is the CRO needs to put incentive models because here's the deal sales enablement doesn't matter how good it is, will not chan Chang, a great seller who's had success and go, Oh, you've just now gave me a great story on why we should use partners. That's not enough to use partners, you're going to have to have both a carrot and a stick. And the carrot is an incentive. So what's my incentive to use partners? As you go down the path, and that becomes successful, I would argue you have to use less incentives, because all of a sudden, the salespeople are closing more deals more predictably, in a faster cycle. But that's a real lever that has to be leveraged, especially if you don't have that in the ethos of the company. The third thing is you need to be enabling not only your sellers, but your partners in the in the culture and the values of the our organization this case. So hey, here's what we you know, we measure the health of our business on a quarterly basis, here are the three real key self. So partner enablement is key, and then the follow up and follow through. Right. That's, that's critical. And so the the, within all of that, it's how do you import, often what will happen is, you know, will pass over the fence, oh, I'll give it to the partner manager to man, no, we want to enable the seller to do more self service. So, you know, this is why I don't like this idea of like, you've got this team managing the PRM, you've got this team managing the CRM from a tools basis, but it's like, Hey, I've got a 360 degree view of this customer or this prospect. And I know, here are the partners, whether it be software partners, services, partners, brokers, advisors, whatever the category of partnerships is, so that the seller can with the support of the man and partner management team can give them insight but they really are the tip of the spear and that way, you know, call it the type a control freak, whatever it may be. They feel like they're, they do have that control that you're referring to Isaac, but it does require from the top down, CEO down a strategy that says we are a partner centric company. It's measured with some metric cuz that come behind it, you have an incentive program that and then an amazing enablement and analytics that say, Hey, here's at a data level, how we're succeeding and how quickly but the adage of culture eats strategy for lunch is the reality. And so, the other thing is, speed, often organizations, CEOs, CRO say, Okay, we're in on a partner strategy. And then they say, in three months, six months, if I don't see results back, you know, it's it's, it's, it's a, it's a, it's a complete, you know, it not only is it a waste of resources upfront, but it's a waste of resources down. And so there needs to be we're in this for the long game. And, and that's the, that's kind of the final lever that if that isn't there? Well, then I would, I would encourage people who are working in the partner world to be very suspect on whether they'll be successful or not. In that type of environment,

Jared Fuller  20:59
you hit the nail on the head for a couple different reasons. Because whenever people like you who've who've seen that point of view at the top of an enterprise, looking out over a customer base, and what would be your ecosystem, knowing that your counterpart, your executive and partner, your CEO, your CROs are thinking the same way. And it is a priority to them is absolutely essential. So if you're in a partner organization, and your CEO is not aligned to that, you need to be thinking to yourself, not I have to get another another job. But you need to be thinking, how can I drive that change in that conversation and sell effectively my CEO on making that a top three commitment? I mean, going all the way back to You know, Bobby Napal, Tony, one of my good buddies, you know, was reported directly to Benioff at Salesforce, he tells the story and partner up what number what to Kevin two or three, I have with Kevin rahasia. He tells the story of like, look, when everything changed at Salesforce is when Benioff got on the main stage. And he said, partnering is a top three priority, right? Like he said, that's when everything changed everything. You know, it didn't, it didn't really change until then we had some wins, we have some stuff, but I had to go sell Benioff to like go risk his reputation and his company's future by saying that to the entire business, right, and then you look at it today, it's a multi trillion dollar ecosystem,

Raja Nucho  22:18
that story applies, like at the time, it's really having the conversation with our CO CEOs that, hey, when we do sales kickoff, and when we do our customer events, the first, you know, five to 10 minutes, we need to come out both to our customers, to our sellers, and to our partners, reiterating that we're a partner centric organization, because when everybody hears that, that's the beginnings of a strategy that requires tactics and and processes to support it. But if it doesn't happen, again, that culture that isn't used to a partner centric motion, will always find reasons excuses to delay, avoid and debate it. And so couldn't agree more.

Jared Fuller  23:05
You also talked about the the long game, I mean, the long game versus the short game, there's so much to be said about that. Especially whenever you're thinking about these much more bigger strategic partnerships, that maybe this is where we could work in just for sake of time, because Raja, you, the three of us could just geek out for hours, is talking a little bit about how a Deloitte and an SAP get started, or any kind of bigger alliances like, we have to assume that there's a long haul, right? There's these these alliances that do pan out over five years, 10 years. I mean, just look at this. I haven't talked about this on partner, but I've wanted to this is this is how strange the world of alliances is. Microsoft and Nintendo and Activision just launched two weeks ago, they signed a 10 year Alliance. That's very strange to me. Why? Because it's not x, Xbox and Nintendo the biggest competitors, right? Like, what what's there, so there had to be some win near term for them to make a bet long term. Right? So whenever I'm trying to work in Accenture on the SI side, or I'm trying to work a tech partner, or a services partner, I'm looking at both horizons, right? The answer is never a dichotomy. It's both how do we prove out something near term to where the CEO doesn't go? I can't wait three years for results, but at the same time, not shoot ourselves in the foot. There seems to be the partnerships that work has a near term, you know, hey, here's the quick win. And here's how we don't screw up the long term opportunity. How have you approached that or looked at that Rajah kind of span in your view?

Raja Nucho  24:41
Yeah, I will. I think it's a good lead into my Ceridian time because so if as you can appreciate for for those audience members that don't know, Ceridian, they're an HR Payroll in the cloud enterprise software solution, and so as you can appreciate the saps the Oracles, the workdays own A vast majority of that market and big partnerships, whether they be software, Microsoft or the Accenture's of the world, they've got hundreds of millions of dollars not only invested, but in profits that they're making. So when you're an upstart like Ceridian, Deloitte, Accenture, on the lease on the services side, or even a Microsoft going, guys, how are you disrupting the market, we already have our we're already tied to the biggest players. And it you know, it's no secret. So what it comes down to is your product has to have a differentiated story. And so if there isn't something that that, and the way I always go, I actually say, listen, hey, Accenture, or Microsoft, I know you have really big SAP practices. Here's how a partnership with Ceridian is going to help you grow those SAP practices. As soon as you do that, all of a sudden, you become a non threat. They're like, Oh, okay, we'll explain how one plus one is going to be three as opposed to one plus one is going to be 1.5. And, and then you have to come with the goods going, you know, here's the industry we play in, here's the ocean set that we have, here's the customer base we have. And that triumvirate is going to tell a differentiated story. If you can't, well, then it's going to be very difficult to activate a partnership. And that's a story for small growth phase companies. And I'm spending more time with smaller companies, because they often go we're not there yet. You're going to be there, right? You need these players. And so how are you differentiating yourself other than price, I've got a cheaper deal for you. It's how are you differentiating and then, you know, the partner ecosystem opens up. And sometimes we actually look at and go, Oh, those guys are never going to want to partner with us, because they've already got something really big and strategic with with who we consider a competitor, we'll have you looked at how you differentiate. Because the reality is there's always deals that are being won and loss for things that you don't know about until you actually proactively list what they are.

Isaac Morehouse  27:05
So I come from the career space before this and my colleague for years, at a previous company, we would always tell he would always tell young people in their careers. And don't worry, I'm actually going somewhere with this, it connects. Jared knows I have some circuitous route, sometimes, he would always tell people, the way to care more about others, and be more engaging and interested and curious and build goodwill is to be more selfish. And that sounds very counterintuitive. But his point was a selfish person goes into every environment and says, every single person in this room has something that's a value to me. And I'm going to make sure I don't leave this room until I get it. Right. So you enter that conversation. And you're like, this person's a weirdo, and they're boring. And if you think that you leave the conversation, but he's like, be more selfish. There is absolutely something that person has, that's a value to you don't leave until you get it right. And when you think about that, from like a partnership standpoint, it's like, in pride often gets in the way, right? So like, oh, well, we set out, you know, we're Microsoft, we set out to beat Nintendo. And we tried to beat them. And it's hard for companies to sometimes admit, we couldn't beat them at this one thing, they just do it better for us. And if you're more selfish, you say, Cool, how can I get something out of that? How can I get something out of the fact that they're better at this thing than we are? Instead of that pride? That's like, No, we're gonna we're gonna go with them. We're gonna fight with them. Right. And this is where I think we're seeing a lot of interesting stuff. Jared, you've talked about with this, like powered by partnerships, or like, you know, one product that lives in another product to stick with the video game theme, I was just talking with my teenage son, and he's talking about Super Smash Bros, like this game that has characters from every other game. And with each new iteration of the game, they would expand the number of characters that you could play, and many of them broke down like previously existing licensing boundaries and things because companies that were like, We want more people to play our game, but we realize we can't compete. Everyone wants to play Super Smash Bros. So we're just going to cede ground and say, Okay, let's make a deal where our character from our game exists within your game, we're just acknowledging you've got something that we don't, this distribution among this demographic that wants to play this style of game, instead of insisting that we're going to beat you head to head, let's just say, Great, we'll give you that ground, put our character in there, and we're gonna go do what we do best. And I think there's something in there. It's like, instead of thinking we got to be more selfless and partner with everyone, no, be more selfish. And let your pride get out of the way and say, How can we win by latching on to something somebody does better than us? This is

Raja Nucho  29:39
a fail. I know we've been talking about services. Now let's switch into software part because I own software partnerships or ISVs. Partnerships as well. And one of the challenges and I'm not going to call out specific organizations, but I've worked now with a few of them and this isn't the biggest companies and the smallest is product people technology people have a huge ego about their product. Right, they believe they make the best stuff as they should. So when you go and try to and you go, Okay, what does that roadmap look like how we can build it? And so there's always this debate around should we build by our partner. And I'm always saying, Guys, it's not a question of build, but your partner every time, there's no, nothing is saying we can partner for three months, we can partner for six months. So if you're building it into your roadmap, then we'll at the appropriate time will, in a transparent way, communicate. But this is one of the big challenges with the ISV channel or the software second is trying to convince your product and technology team that partnering does not mean it's going to stop you from developing a great roadmap. And in so you spend cycles, months and in the meantime, you're missing out opportunity from a customer perspective, and from a sales perspective to build really great pipeline to close amazing deals, because we can't get our heads out of the sand in terms of Well, I can build it better than partnering or buying. Yeah, but if you're going to build it, that's going to take you let's look at the data 12 to 18 months, that's case, if you're going to buy it, it's going to take you 12 to 18 months assuming and go through an acquisition quickly. So partner every time and this is very simple. This is the cult, like there's a culture in sales. There's a culture and product and technology, where again, we need to speak to that audience. So the chief technology officers, they need to understand not just the notion that partnering is effective, but it actually can help give them time as they build or buy their product strategy. And so that you call it selfishness, I'll call it curiosity. It's absolutely necessary. And it gets again, that this whole silo of well, you know, our product organization has a strategy or sales organization strategy or marketing, we need to bring those things, move it from a vertical to a horizontal discussion. And it sounds obvious, but it is, it's a challenge. And you guys have been speaking about it along a long time, and now starting to brand it with your near the near bound concept. It's,

Jared Fuller  32:11
it's, you're totally right about the ego component. At the same time, there seems to be the you know, the resource constraints or the, you know, the opportunity cost, if you will, right. So everyone perceives partnering as an opportunity cost of, you know, something else. And I think viewed through that lens of, you know, how do we come alongside I mean, there's obviously been inventions like iPass, which, you know, workato is trays and carries, you know, can supposedly, and this is not a ding on them there. There are some limitations of iPass and things like that in terms of enabling integration ecosystems that are less intensive on the product side, but even then, it seems like product orgs view it from like an opportunity cost first, not an opportunity. It's almost like cost opportunity. Okay, cost, like, I don't have time we're too busy. There's too much going on. So it's an interesting dichotomy for us to unpack and try to solve as partner leaders. How might you? Or how have you gone about like that, you know, maybe I'd actually lived to unpack this a little bit to kind of going into Ceridian. I mean, because you all disrupted that kind of age. How would you describe the market for Ceridian HCM? S? Hrm?

Raja Nucho  33:33
Well, depends now it's being human experience management, you know, HX Sam, HCM still the standard, though I can't you know, calling humans capital is, I think whoever termed HCM is, you know, it was a terrible brand, but it's somehow held and there are certain organizations that are moving off that brown to HSM, the human experience management. But at the end of the day, you're talking about people. And it's it's no different, you know, I was in the ERP market, I've been in the supply chain market, I've been in the mark tech market, all of the same concepts apply. It's not, it's not unique, some of the things you might get your head around a little easier, because we all are people, we all are concerned about how we're developing. So one of the things that I would say is a nice thing about being in the eight, the HR space is it's something that people can relate to, you can personalize it, regardless of what your function and your role is. But in terms of what's going on in the market, it's now I think, one of the fastest growing categories because of things like COVID because of hybrid and remote because of the the war on talent, which is often being stated that you know, more and more employees are picking and choosing a lifestyle as well as a work and so you really need to bring to bear solutions and experiences that that speak to them. And so more and more companies are starting to look at not their HR Are systems not just as a way of managing their employee data? But what's the experience that the employee is having? How is their experience and getting paid? Is it a? Is it? Is it through the concept of a wallet? Is it near? Every hour versus every two weeks? These are all on demand on demand pay, they call it? How do you develop? You know, what's really cool. And one of the reasons that I went to Ceridian is because there's an extremely innovative mindset. And so they're starting to look at, you know, an employee is not a corporation, and a corporation is not a set of employees. And so how can we disconnect a human from just this, this concept of Oh, you're part of a company. And so if I leave partner hacker, and I go to Raja Inc, well, I've done a whole bunch of development. And of my, my skill set, how do you actually port that with you from job to job. And so they're looking at that, that totality of the the talent experience, and trying to say, we don't have it's back to this open versus a closed development strategy. We don't own the employee record, we think of what Apple has done, and saying, you know, we're not gonna monetize your data. Well, in fact, I'll import that data wherever I go, whether you're on an Apple device or not. Ceridian and some other companies are starting to do that, which I think is extremely powerful. The intuitive nature says, I'm not going to have, I'm not going to have stickiness, but quite the opposite happens. It's the selfishness that you mentioned Isaac, no, no, you've made the experience so great with me, my allegiance is going to continue to expect that this is the level of service, the level of experience that I have. And I think more and more software companies are thinking that way.

Jared Fuller  36:46
That was such a beautiful way of answering my obtuse question Raja, because when I said, look, look, it often seems like companies are resistant and they put the cost before the opportunity. And looking at some of your your work before like, you say a couple different things like, as the chief partner officers ready, and you were trying to, you know, build these profitable and growing partner communities enable Kosove resell, deliver scale, but then extend. So like built into the core philosophy as you were trying to drive Ceridian as platform more deeply into the rest of the industry, and not just the industry, but where that person might go? Right? Because that is an actual ecosystem mindset, like what you just described, is, it's nuanced, but important, right? It's that the totality of cyrenians ecosystem, maybe employees coming in and out of any individual company. And that's just no product. Like if you don't have that mindset that we've been kind of sussing out here, you're going to miss those opportunities entirely. And, you know, how many employees is Ceridian have now over 1000?

Raja Nucho  37:49
Think it's just 7600 or so. But yeah, it's getting larger? Yeah, so it's around

Jared Fuller  37:56
8000 employees, which is, you know, coming from a place that was dominated by Oracle and SAP and these giant names, I feel like that innovation is what facilitated that success. What a great call out I just love the way you describe that.

Raja Nucho  38:10
Yep. It absolutely, it absolutely is. And it's disrupting the market.

Isaac Morehouse  38:14
I love this vision of the future. I know, there's like a little bit indirect for partner off topic. But man, I get really excited about this idea of, you know, the sort of the decentralization of what a company is like the idea of me Incorporated, right, in a way. It's like everyone's a partner, right? That like, hey, how do we how do we treat partners as like these independent entities that we partner with, whereas employees, oh, you're like, owned by the company, right? And this concept of, I mean, firms exist, because transaction costs exists. This is, you know, Ronald Coase economics one on one, it's great stuff you can look into technology brings down those transaction costs. So that being your own firm becomes more and more possible. And that idea of like, Hey, I'm not like owned by this company and working there. And people aren't literally owned by companies. But there's, there's a relationship there. That's not as fluid as if you're an independent contractor, turning everyone into like, I own my data, my work record myself and I partner with companies at various times. I think the movie industry is an interesting example. You come together to build to make a movie, which may cost millions of dollars, hundreds of people involved, sometimes 1000s. And then when the movie product is done, you sort of disperse and during that time, you're operating as if you're one company, but really it's tons of different companies, all coordinating, partnering together and individuals. I just I love that idea. I've been fascinated with that idea for years. I know Jared has as well.

Raja Nucho  39:37
Well and you know, not that I don't want to make this a promo about Ceridian though. I'm a big believer in the company, despite I'm not there anymore. You know, you got to be on the right what what are we as people especially from a work perspective, well how we get paid, right? And so if you're able not only how we get paid, but the frequency now, imagine through your wallet, you get paid through Have a digital card on a daily basis, not a weekly, not a monthly, and then on that card, you get your payment and you can direct it towards your charity of choice, or your investment of choice, or whatever it is, all of a sudden you to your point, not only is that individual now a part of the ecosystem, but everything around that individual and how they engage. So it truly is the network effect. So you've got one individual, you've created this partnerships for the company. Now you've created partnerships at the individual level. And now everybody is communicating with with one another to do it. And that truly is, you know, the gold standard for a partner ecosystem.

Jared Fuller  40:44
I loved your perspective across everything. So like some of my key takeaways is like partner person this is this is definitely an episode to come back to to go look how to think like an executive in an enterprise software business and build that partnership in that mind that mind share and that commitment from your CEO absolutely has to happen. A great episode to share with your sales leaders that are like on the fence are trying to figure it out. Like you commit to this mindset, you can do some phenomenal things. Raja, thank you so much for joining us on partner up today.

Raja Nucho  41:14
Oh, my pleasure, thank you for inviting me, I would love to come back and unpack some things, you know, building a partner ecosystem from scratch and a billion dollar company is has got some amazing things that fall out of it. And some of them are obvious, and some of them are not. So I hope we can we can do another session again. But again, thank you so much for having me a pleasure, gentlemen.

Jared Fuller  41:37
Absolutely. We absolutely will do another session. Isaac, what do we got to tell the people that are still tuned in? Tune in with us at the end?

Isaac Morehouse  41:45
Look, I'll tell you right now go to PL EC We are living in the 80s future predicted and many 80s dystopian sci fi is but I say dystopian, because things are tough out there right now and there is a dark feel. However, what do all these movies have in common? There's always a hero. There's always a way out. And pls We are feeling that vibe all the way. The only way out is together. To go check it out. Go pre register. We will have much more details coming out in coming months. This is going to be the remote experience of the year we're going to blow away everything we did last year which was incredible. And get on that get on that vibe where we got a slight twist to our 80s vibe last year. It was 80s futurism was more of like a warm, sunny feel. This year it's a little more like the 80s futuristic dystopia with a way out. That's why I gotta emphasize that so

Raja Nucho  42:41
I'm registering right after this right after this. I'm registering Isaac, you've got me sold.

Jared Fuller  42:46
I started to build out I won't make it this episode. But I've started to build a playlist this year for pls 23 and it is it's got another flavor to it folks. Y'all are gonna love it though. Folks. We were jamming out to pls last year at the back half of the year. You're gonna love the new playlist I got going this year. So Roger, thank you, Isaac. Thank you. Partner up, peace out. We will see you all next time.

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