PartnerUp #125: How Partnerships Build Unshakable Brands with Sangram Vajre

What is up PartnerUp!

Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder and CEO at GTM Partners, joins the show to discuss ecosystems, Nearbound, and category creation. He shares insights he learned while building Terminus, which was an early company in the ABM space. Sangram, Jared, and Isaac discuss how partner people can interface with CEO’s. They dive into how partnerships can fit into the company's larger vision.

Sangram gets specific about what he sees with events, community, and AI in the market. He divulges how GTM Partners are taking advantage of those trends, and the need to embrace change.

P.S. If you want the Nearbound Sales Blueprint that just dropped, head over to to get it entirely for FREE.

P.P.S. If you haven’t heard, we just dropped the news on the largest event in partnerships history is BACK… and bigger. The historic PL[X] Summit for 2023 is now the Nearbound Summit. Register, again, 100% FOR FREE over at Nearbound Summit and get your FREE event workbook while supplies last.

Subscribe & Listen On:

  • Apple | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon | Google | RSS
  • Or literally, anywhere you get your podcasts. Seriously. Ask Alexa: “Alexa, play "PartnerUp the Partnerships Podcast” and magic…


  • The shift to go-to-market strategy. 5:15
  • The importance of identifying the problem. 16:25
  • How did you get to this point of growth? 19:53
  • The importance of partnerships. 25:44
  • How to change your marketing and sales funnel. 27:11
  • The six go-to-market motions. 31:46
  • The importance of positioning and leading the charge. 38:58
  • Resources allocation and resource allocation. 40:25


Isaac Morehouse 0:06
This is a secret transmission. Are you going to inbound this year? The big HubSpot event in Boston September 5 through eighth. If you are going to inbound boy do we have something amazing lined up. HubSpot and reveal are partnering to bring you near bound at night. The Add on event of the events. This is the inbound plus event that you don't want to miss. Thursday, September 7, near bound at night HubSpot and reveal we are doing a mini golf tournament amazing food drinks ridiculous atmosphere toasts on the hour from industry leaders from companies like HubSpot partner stack reveal mind matrix sixth sense we've got a whole bunch of people are going to be there's going to be absolutely amazing near bound at night, during the inbound conference. If you want to go this is VIP only. It's very limited. The space has a limited number of spots available, they are filling up quickly. But if you want to go shoot me an email . And I will send you the special link near bound at night during the inbound conference. It's going to be the place to be hope to see you there.

Jared Fuller 1:25
Hi. All right. What is up partner up? We're back. We got a trio here today. That has been a long time coming. Probably. Isaac, how many times has Gil pinged us about this particular guest being like so Joe rallies like you have to talk to such and such how many times like it doesn't.

Isaac Morehouse 1:42
I mean it it has to be over the course of like it's been at least six months. I feel like this has been in the works for like a year since like the partner accurate. I don't even know. I didn't know like last year, you know, pre pre merger with reveal I don't even know. But yes, it's time. It's time we do this.

Jared Fuller 2:00
It's time that we announced the special guest sacrum. Welcome to partner up my man.

Sangram Vajre 2:06
Man. I'm so excited for this. So not just you. But Gil has been me too is like why this? If it's any consolation that they get to it's on both sides. So I'm excited to talk about

Isaac Morehouse 2:18
Yeah, Jill's running that near bound, influence play right there on both of us. Yeah,

Jared Fuller 2:23
yeah, totally. I'm actually going to take a picture right here and send this to Joe right now just so there's some proof. So I just sent that to jail. There we go, boom, done. Live on the pod, hey, we're doing it. We're doing it. We're live. Well, Sangram I'm so excited to talk to you. We've been doing some cool stuff with GTM partners, and Judd and kind of like, you know, trying to align to what the kind of the cool work that you're doing over there. And actually, I kind of wanted to start there because your story with helping create, you know, the ABM is a category was something that I was really close to adrift, right, like, we built lots of ABM integrations and kind of played that space. And after terminus, you know, we were kind of, I think, is the market like what Sandra, we're going to do next. Tell us tell us a little bit why you actually kind of wanna know this, why you started GTM partners, like Why Why was there like, what whole? Were you trying to fill in? Like, why now? Like, why is it the right time to do something like what you're doing?

Sangram Vajre 3:14
And it's a pretty stupid idea, actually, you know, if you really think about it, because

Jared Fuller 3:20
that's how we felt about partner hacker at a media company, right? We so we both started businesses, and we're like, why would you guys start those

Sangram Vajre 3:26
pretty stupid, actually. And most people who have built companies like I ran market part odd wins with acquisition of ExactTarget, Salesforce, and that build terminus, as you said, so you're building companies, a SaaS product shouldn't be the way to go. And if you have done twice, who Which idiot would ever tell you to do something else, because that's where you get multiples. That's where there is, things that you have done. It's hard, not many companies, or people are able to do and build companies of the scale that I got to do so in many ways. It's a very stupid idea. At the same time, I had to look inside of me and say, Well, what gives me joy, more than anything? What is it that I do that is so effortless for me, and I want to spend the next decade of my life doing it. It's really came down to that. And whenever and when I step back and look at it. The three things that give me a lot of life is just innovating new frameworks, that's really where the flip my funnel and EBM, I think everybody would just like like you both, but not of course, that's what you'd like to do. So I want to innovate and not have any regardless if I'm thinking oh, I was start a product company. Well, again, I'm then thinking about that one thing, but I'm thinking about so many things. So it didn't make any sense. So what will allow me to do more frameworks. The second I love building communities and building an idea where people are coming together, it's almost a movement style, but I don't want it to be around this this one side project. I want this to be part of what I do across the board. So what is big enough where lots of people can engage in it and still feel they're part of something. And three, I just want to have fun. Like I just this go round, I didn't want VC money, I want to build cash flow efficient growth business. I want to do live and work in a way that I just want to do so. So thanks decade really came down to these three things. And then when my last book move, which I wrote in on Google Marketing, 2019 became a Wall Street Journal bestseller. I got a tremendous amount of inbound on like, whoa, whoa, yeah, go to market. Yeah, talk about it. And now everybody's talking about go to market. So I feel like the right thing right on made sense. And then the last board was siriusdecisions, and Topo. They were the two analyst firm that got acquired in 2018. Some might say they got swallowed in 2018, by Gartner and Forrester. So for the four years there was this void created the marketplace like, hey, it's not an agency. It's not a consulting, who is thinking about the new frameworks, who is helping the next demand waterfall, the next double funnel, the next flip? Like what is the go to market way of looking at it? That gave me a lot of energy. So Brian, who wrote that book, and he and I are like, well, let's just go build the next analyst firm, all around, go to market. It's big enough where we can create movement and bring people from marketing, sales, CSRO, ops, all of it together. And it's in our lane enough, because we know we build companies, it's all about how making sure you have a great go to market. So that's how it all started.

Isaac Morehouse 6:21
I love talking with people who have clearly found their sweet spot you said you wanted to have fun this time. And I'm like you just have it you exude like you it seems like sacrum you're in your zone and I love that that's that's just aspiring to like just remind yourself like I don't want to do things that I hate all the time. Right? So like, Can I can I work to eliminate more and more things that I hate from my plate? And you end up finding out what you're uniquely good at what you're where you're in the zone. So I definitely feel that energy coming from you. The thing that

Jared Fuller 6:55
you know, kind of going to my in Isaac story saga is like, this is stuff that I've heard from let's say, Andy Raskin. And obviously I saw with David can sell over a drift is the thing that it sounds like the you chose outside of let's say your personal like, Hey, do I have the energy, which I think is equally important? Like if you're, you know, an executive sales leader, you better like sales, right? If you're an executive partner later, you better like working with people, right? If you're executive marketer, you better like content and copy is like most people fail to make kind of their decisions and how they approach, let's say, change from an undeniable shift in the market. Yeah. And I think what I'd love to hear from you is, you know, you said, What's that new thing, what to you, from your vantage point, is the undeniable shift in marketing and sales 10 success teams in this, you know, you can't really call it a go to market department, per se. But let's say every company does have a company does have a GTM. So what's that shift for you?

Sangram Vajre 7:54
Well, that's a great question. So quick story on this is, when I ran marketing at Pardot, I thought sales are crazy sales don't know what they're doing. I'm giving them a lot of leads, they don't do a great job of it. That made me think about building this whole idea of ABM, like maybe we need to do account based and that drives. So that's really led to starting Terminus and starting this whole ABM, like marketing and sales, no more alignment conversation, we should all be focused on accounts, we should all be focused on pipeline, we should all just do this together. That led me to do billing IBM, and then or the three years or so as we build this new category. We had a lot of churn issue in the first couple of years. And as anybody who's a new category building, they would know you'll have early adopters. And then those Oh, this is awesome. And six months later, they're like, I'm not sure what am I doing here again. And so we have to like re educate the market. And all of those people as well. The customer success are the people who don't know what they're doing. Like I need to bring Customer Success part of this conversation that expanded my vision of what go to market is is way bigger than I ever thought. And then we wrote the when we wrote the book, it became even more clear than Brian Halligan, who's the CEO of HubSpot, and I interviewed him like who wants go to market? And he's like I do. I'm like, no, no, you're a CEO of a billion dollar company. I understand the boxtops that you understand all that stuff, no, no seals, no, you don't want to stand. I want only three things. I own the vision for the company after repeat that to every single person 100 times every day, through my partners, to my investors to the market, all of that I own the culture of the company, because if you don't hire great people, were not going to build great business. And number three, which he said I get no credit for is go to market. And there are decisions like should we spend money in marketing or sales? That's a go to market decision. Should I open up an office in the media or stay in North America? That's a go to market decision. So it just blew my mind that go to market is way bigger and way more than I thought it's not a product launch. It's not a product marketing. You're making decisions every day and go to market so that was the big shot. If that happened for me, that gives me gives me so much energy is like going with AI right now like how many use cases of go to market could be addressed with AI? It is making me so happy if I was just building another software company that did chat or podcasts or something, I would be stuck in that one thing. Now I'm looking at everything and go to market and it's all business decisions or bull market business decision.

Jared Fuller 10:23
Whenever I kind of like translate that into the next thing I've always seen with you and your content, it's so funny that we hadn't connected until now and just your speaking events. And by the way, I do have to shout out that panel you had a few weeks ago it had like, you had Gainsight, CEO yet HubSpot CEO you had like that was just like the most power heavy hitting thing. Every from zoominfo. Henry from zoominfo. Like it was like it was like yeah, it was amazing. That that was like yeah, goat already had Yamani, you had Henry, and then you had a thick, thick, thick, right? I was like that what a panel. When you're having these conversations with other industry and kind of category defining leaders, right, like, look at all of those, you have reviews, you kind of have, you know, inbound, you have, you know, customer success and data and you have, you know, data, right, like there's this big thing, what are those conversations like with those people? Right, I think that's something else that people are trying to, especially listeners of this podcast that are trying to, let's say, for the first time, you know, set some context for maybe a second Sondra, for the first time in their executive kind of partner careers. They've been, you know, doing 10% of revenue, maybe 15, or 20. They know what they're doing. But marketing and sales have kind of been other departments. And then all of a sudden marketing and sales leaders are coming to them going, Hey, we need to figure out this partner thing. And I think you have to align at that CEO level still. Yeah. What are those conversations like with those CEOs that might give, for example, a partner or executive? Maybe the competence to go, hey, I can go have these conversations? Because this is how CEOs are talking today. What are those? What are those been like with you in the macro shift?

Sangram Vajre 12:01
Oh, man, it's so interesting around this, we just dropped a research report like are announced that you're going to drop one but aligned on this idea of what are the go to market motions. And we blended the ecosystem lead where companies where we're classic example is Salesforce by quitting AppExchange, which is a very ecosystem led move. And and another was channel where a lot of the salespeople understand the channel part and collapse that in do partner, because that's the right wording around it. So this conversation is really important to me. And when we think about that partner lead, it doesn't mean that your entire company's partner lead, what it means is that you're going to use that as a way to drive your business outcomes. At an executive level, at the C level, when I'm talking to NEC or Yamini. And others, they are literally looking at saying, Well, what will this particular lead movement or motion that we're going to use? How is that going to not just incrementally change, exponential change our business, and not in the course of next three months, they are looking at things that will change in the next 612 months, 18 months, three years. So as a partner person, I would paint that picture, I would paint a picture that is more about Alright, this is where the market is, here's where we need to be. This is a longer play. But here's how we would go about it. We need to be focused on inbound and outbound. And we need to get this this event and community. But this is going to bring us the longer term deals in the marketplace. This is how you establish yourself as a category leader. This is how you're gonna have not another 10% incremental revenue in your business. But 40% revenue in the business marker that has that opportunity to do it more than any other go to market motion in the business.

Isaac Morehouse 13:48
Yeah, yeah, it's funny. It's easy to kind of like if you feel the need to, you know, argue your case, say you're in partnerships, to feel like okay, I've got to have some framework that I can come up with some some argument for why this strategy is important. And forget that the best argument to start with is how are customers behaving? What do buyers want? And that's where it gets really like where people start to get the conversation get easier? Because when you say, look, how do you like to buy things? How do you discover things that you want to buy? What's your typical journey look like? And you realize pretty quickly, that you're thinking more about as a buyer, who you're talking to? Who's giving you information, who is influencing those decisions, who that has solved this problem before that you trust has recommended it. And when you frame it that way, like look, here's the buyer, they're surrounded by all these nodes of trust. We need to tap into those. Some of those are our partners. Some of those are vendor yard, people that we partner with who are vendors that they're already buying from. Some of them are service agencies that they're already working with. Like though there's some of those nodes surrounding the buyer. And even if even if we're still doing our outbound and inbound, we can tap into those partners and layer them onto those plays as well, because buyers are this is the way that they work. And it all starts with the buyer like these.

Sangram Vajre 15:09
I say I would add one more layer to that what's really exciting at the sea level? Is there truly I think this is the gap that I see every time or most times when I'm talking to poor people is, that is still what they hear that they hear the same argument that you just mentioned, from a marketing person from a salesperson and from some of the other people the gap a lot of times I see in that argument and where the CEO is trying to connect the dots and I call this like burn less calories of people is like, Okay, how do I move exactly what you just said, but how do I move that? How and what is the way to do it, and I think 100 I have a partner that is like leapfrogging that level of connectivity in that. But you have to tie it to the rev to the revenue numbers, you have to pay help help the CEO to say in your vision of building this company to the next, let's say 50 million, 100 million or a billion whatever that is, this is a key art that you need to have. If you can connect the dots for the CEO for that. Your your endgame, if you can connect and now they're burning calories like well, I hear the same thing. Yeah, buyers are, but I don't hear that, like how does it fall in my vision to get to that number because that's what he or she is saying to the board and investors and everything. That's when I see a lot of mismatch

Jared Fuller 16:25
kind of makes me think a little bit too though about kind of the whatever you were starting Terminus and ABM kind of started to catch on. There is some similarities in that, like there we were amidst kind of a big shift, if any folks listening has ever been in an old school sales and marketing alignment meeting. Right, like you're laughing segra because you know exactly what I'm talking about that maddening. Like just, you know, same complaints from marketing, same complaints from sales like it. It's, it was the same as Glengarry Glen Ross. Right?

Sangram Vajre 16:58
Well, it's even worse. I don't know if it's worse is one of my favorite books is out of you guys. I've read it Who Moved My Cheese? Yes, yeah.

Jared Fuller 17:05
So that book saved my life. By the way, that book actually saved my life. At one point when I had a really dark time. It was a great little book. Yeah,

Sangram Vajre 17:11
yeah, hit it. I have a 13 year old son and I gave his word and read that like three times. Now I'm like, This is gonna be a lifesaver for you read that don't fall in this. And that was those are the categories I'm laughing is because every time I've been in those meetings is literally that, Who Moved My Cheese? I literally see everybody being becoming mouse's. And they're all struggling to figure out oh, Who Moved My Cheese? Where's the number? No, my numbers the most up to date, or? No, I think this is. And we're talking not about the problems that we need to solve as a team, which is why go to market is so exciting to me, because it's not a functional thing anymore. And that's why I love opera stuff. Because opera is not about a function anymore. It is about enabling it is about accelerating. It's about driving an entire company in a direction, which is beyond exciting to me. So I'm sorry, I interjected. But that made that picture came to me in my mind of matches,

Jared Fuller 18:03
like amazing little book for, you know, going through a transformation or change into have the right mindset. And I'm gonna back into this question in a strange way, because this is actually going to get really, really interesting. Yeah. Is I often find that the change agents, the people that let's say, identify the problem, the most like who the heck here is sick of the sales and marketing alignment meetings. And then here's this ABM thing or, for example, Hey, why the heck were we marketing with this partner that has access to all of this our tax to hire, why were we doing this CO selling? And they're the ones that surface? The problem, oftentimes are the ones that win the debate. Yeah. So for example, I've known a bunch of partner leaders that were able to let's say, get the mindshare of the executive team. But then they weren't the ones that ended up leading the transformation, right? It's like they created the problem. And then they kind of got shot as the messenger on the way out, right. And then someone else comes in and kind of takes it and it's like, if they hadn't, they hadn't done what they did that transformation would have never started in kind of this. I'll kind of start there for talking a little bit about I think you identified the problem very well. And flip my funnel was a positive message, right? It wasn't an anti message. But there's something to be said for like the person that highlights the change and the need and the desire and then perhaps the one that ends up winning. So that's my strange way of backing into the question of it. You deserve a lot of credit for creating ABM truly I truly do. At the same time. Were you that type of person that you created it, but there was this next wave of people that like kind of benefited from you knocking down those initial dominoes, you know, and let's say not not necessarily winning the entire category? Yeah. And by the way, this is what Jill and I are talking about right now, so blame her.

Sangram Vajre 19:43
Well, I've been I'll be I'll be honest, I feel like demand demand base and success. Let's just talk about tremendous success demand bases. We all were trying to get into the same space. I think in the first three, four years. We didn't Terminus was like on top of the German that was Baidu. default, but understood it. And then over the last few years, I think demand based in six senses, but significant amount of lottery investment, but also focus on it. And they have moved on and furthered the pause, then I think Terminus did in the early days. It's 100%. Post people, Jared, when people ask me like, hey, yeah, we want to do that we will build that character and category. And my answer to them is no. Don't do that. And unless they come back three more times, and with that conviction that no, I really want to do it. And I want to do it for the next 10 years of my life. And I want to really focus on it the most authentic way possible, I really am invested in this idea to that level, and I'll quote them work and then say, look, think about this. Can you imagine inbound being inbound without Dharmesh? And Brian? Bingo? No. Can you imagine Paul Smith also without Nick getting imagine Salesforce building Dreamforce. Without Marc Benioff, like, that's the level of passion and marketing that you will never hear the CMO name of the CMO of any of these companies ever. Like if I ask you Who is the CMO of any of these companies, chances are kind of know somebody but really, these CEOs are the CMOS are the go to market leaders bringing the message because their passion, and they signed up on some dotted line with blood saying for the next decade, we're going to stay on this course no matter what, that's a marketing decision. It is an executive co founder level decision, not something most people understand and do.

Jared Fuller 21:33
Right, it is a journey to almost like a public type company, or at least that, you know, billion dollar kind of milestone, so to speak, you know, without throwing any shade. I mean, there's almost literally like who's the CMO of drift. And like you you kind of want to say Dave Gearhart right now, as well, though, it's not Dave Gearhart. Right. It has nothing to do with that. You know, like, that's a that's like the, this strange thing is like, I think the lesson that I just took away from everything that you just said, is that like, if you want to be this person inside of your organization that helps drive this transformation, this change, you know, whether you call it partner lead or ecosystem lead, are you using near bound strategies to let's say, like, actually take some tactical steps forward? What you need to make sure that you understand is that like, it's not coming from anyone else. Yeah, it has to be on you. So like, you have to be the evangelist inside of your company, and demonstrate to your marketing leader, your sales leader, your CEO, look, I'm going to die on this hill, then I'm going to be with you with for the long haul, or you're gonna have to kick me out. You know, like, I am here to drive this transformation not just the plays the tactics, because your point about Brian and Dharmesh you know, like literally it took a snowmobile accidents to take out Brian. Yeah, right. Like, fully, you know, he literally was on the verge of death, sitting at the bottom of a cliff with his son, you know, just last year, right, like, year, year and a half ago, like, that's the only reason you know, he finally was like, Hey, I have to take a step back away. You know, there's so intimately tied to that transformation I think it's a really salient point.

Sangram Vajre 23:07
And it's not about the product in a on none of them are about the inbound is still talking about Inbound but guess what, they've already become a wheel but they they're still talking about Inbound and then even hasn't changed. You know, I'm in Atlanta, is a quick quick example on this is Chick fil A is a great brand. If you ever been in Atlanta or Sal like you will know people are like crazy about Chick Fil that. And and what's interesting is I know the VP of Marketing at Chick fil A, who worked on that brand for a while. I'm like, Man, are you not done with cows? Like, you know, you've been running the cow thing for the last decade? Like how long will you have the cow on it? And as a marketing person, you know, you want to come change, you want to change the color, your agenda message, you're trying new things? And he's like, this is the question we get all the time. And we do surveys and data insights in it. And we have only penetrated even after a decade and a half less than 10% of the market.

Jared Fuller 23:58
Right? I mean are like the Geico Gecko, right? Like shadow like, Hey, how about when does that dumb Gecko gotta go? And it's like, no, like never right? I actually just saw something. This is be going a little bit off the rails. I saw this this morning. And it was from a Harvard study. And I believe it was from a GTM strategists kind of director at Salesforce, but it was an HBR article about the difference between, let's say, call it what, ultimately a buyer ends up purchasing is 81% of the time, a buyer is purchasing the brand that they were first aware of. Which is like this shot the Shabbat, the stat was shocking. And if it would literally been any other name than HBr. I would have been like, that's BS. Like that's just not true. And what they were, what they were kind of calling out was like intent data. It's like look at 1% of the time, the the second, third, fourth, fifth place leader, once there's already intent, the brand that created that attend, they win 81% of the time, so you can imagine the Geico Gecko All right, the cow, right that brand awareness where you're like, I want a chicken sandwich, right? Or like I need insurance if they're the ones that created the intent 81% of the time they went

Sangram Vajre 25:10
all men athletes. That's why I love this. I've said this so many times, brand drives demand. Most people would look at us so opposite to that. Let me just start doing pay per click and SEO and offset partnerships is actually building brand. Bingo is bad stuff, nothing connection. building brand. And that's why it is a it's a bigger it is has to be somehow part of the co founders vision statement, that it is it you need to be linking up to it. But God does

Isaac Morehouse 25:44
know, I was gonna set up a question, but you've tied it together like okay, Jared, you know, kind of set up like a devil's advocate, doesn't that study fly in the face of you know, this idea that people are looking to people that we that they trust, and that you should be working with partners, because if it's all about just brand marketing, when Sam said partnership is part of brand, like that just brings it home, I was recently talking thing was a thing was rep genius event. And someone asked like, what is the, you know, what's the number one thing about one of my previous companies like we built it without any sales team or anything like that in there, like, how did you build it? I said, Well, it was content and partnerships. But those were those came second, those only worked because we had a radical point of view, right, we had a, we had something unique to say, in the market. Because of that, the right kind of people were interested and willing to partner with us, because we had a radical point of view, and our content actually mattered. But it had to start with that point of view, like, look, I'm biased. I'm a CMO. And I'm big, you know, like category design guy. But I'm telling you, partnerships, they work so much easier. I was just writing an article about this today, before we got on here. When you have someone when you've got a point, a point of view points of view that overlap, they kind of attract each other magnetically, and you find partners really easily and you find working with them really easy, because you're saying the same things are things that are complimentary, all day

Sangram Vajre 27:11
long. And I remember like so back to Terminus, our flip my funnel was the answer to the problem that we said, less than 1% of the leads turn into customers, you don't want to be that you want to be on the right side of history, let's change it. And then we painted the old funnel, and then put a new funnel like literally upside down in front of it. And that that got people the visual, the promised land around that same thing would go to market partners, we have t shirts that people are like trying to buy, and we did a limited print out of it that literally says grab a marketing problem, you'd have a sales problem, you don't have a CS problem, you don't have a product runner, what you have is a go to market problem is really trying to break down the silos is like no, a marketer cannot solve a sales problem if you're trying to do it in individual functions. And you have to ultimately look at saying, Get rid of your marketing and sales meeting, get rid of your pipeline review meetings that are all about one or two teams, make it about go to market and say how are we going to go to market? What do everybody need to do to drive business outcomes? It is a much better conversation.

Isaac Morehouse 28:14
Yeah, looking at your you've got this great. And I see it in all your emails that I know they're every week or what your email newsletter, it's always good, but this is the sixth go to market. The sixth go to market motions. So inbound, outbound, pretty well established product lead is now pretty well established, I would say partner lead we've talked about you've got event lead and community lead. I'm really curious about those because as a as a marketer myself, I look at those and I'm like, are those like, like, Are they big enough to be considered like standalone motions, or those kinds of get wrapped into like event lead? And that kind of like part of inbound part of your content strategy? Certainly partners, you can layer those things in with partners, community lead, everybody talks about it, but like, what does it look like? Because if you have a community and then you're you're trying too hard to like, tap into that to sell then the community doesn't work anymore. But if you're not doing anything at all, like you got to. So I'm curious about those last two, I feel like those are very early. And they're kind of a little bit a amorphous right now tell me like, what, what caused them to make that list? And where do you see the upside there?

Sangram Vajre 29:26
Great question. Yeah. So so I'll use event lead. And before that just a data point. Every research report that we write is backed by data we have due to partnerships, we see where the money's flowing, we have a moral power. So we look at all our data in order to make these these recommendations and again, I enjoy saying that and controversy is not not a new thing for me. So it's what we want in a in a civil way. The reason event lead we looked at that was because as COVID hit, and people started to think about events differently and all of a sudden it became all the He's virtual. And then air meats and go casts of the woods started to pop in. And here we're looking at that. And what was really interesting it for the first time, I saw a clear wave of saying, Whoa, people are actually not looking at events as how many people show up. They're looking at events to close deals, they're actually looking at events to do drive pipeline, they're actually looking at expansion deals through these events. And all along most people have looked at events is like, Alright, let's see how many people showed up. That's not what events are. And the best company in the world actually know this way before I understood it, like anything. And mostly I feel like I'm late to the game. I'm just trying to say it up first. But if I'm late to the game, so let's just use again, Salesforce or HubSpot as an example. Salesforce does, obviously the big event Dreamforce every year, and I was at Salesforce and I the reason I stayed longer there was because I want to see how Marc Benioff builds his business. And the way he did that was through this one event. And now like why, why does he do this. And the reason he does that is he wants to get everybody in the company, everybody in the partner, everybody in the ecosystem, to say the same message and drive your product innovation, so use that as a forcing function. But he doesn't stop at that. Every almost every month, he has three to five, Salesforce one events happening in different cities, where companies are closing in deals, partnerships, everything is happening. And he uses the drumbeat of event to drive the pipeline. And when you peel the onion and look at the numbers, almost 30 40% of the revenue comes from these events. So if people thought about events as like, oh, big webinar, 15 people showed up, and then we closed the books on it, you have missed the whole idea of the event. So that's an example of

Jared Fuller 31:46
Alright, so we have these six go to market motions. Here's kind of my takes on them. The first three inbound outbound product, they're about me about us, they're about our company, the second three, partner, event and community are about the market. So I kind of think like, the first three are about orienting yourself as a business around, let's say, some of these motions. And then the the second three are about orienting yourself around the market. So for example, when you're doing inbound lead, you know, like, to me, that is my take on how I'm attracting the market. When I'm outbound, it's my take on how I'm targeting the market. When its product, it's my take on how I'm converting right the market. Yeah, and then these other three, it's the lens is almost inverted. Right? It's, uh, where is the market at? Right? So partners, events, where, like, for example, you would never do an event of like, just your database. And just to you, that's like, the dumbest thing ever. Right? Events are for bringing a lot of people together. That aren't customers, right?

Isaac Morehouse 32:49
They're about living in the market or surrounding them. All right. Yeah. I'm trying to play around with language here. I see what you're saying that the distinction between those top and bottom three,

Jared Fuller 32:59
right. So there seems to be something here. And here's here's the phrase that came to mind for me. And I have a permutation of this. You probably have heard some permutation of this. I think it might have originated from slack and Stewart Butterfield, but the phrase was great product never beats Great. Go to Market. Oh, yeah. Right. And you know, HipChat versus slack, right? You can look at Oh, you know, all of these different permutations of this. But I ended another one. Great product never beats great go to market. But great go to market never beats great ecosystem. And I think the bottom three of these is Why is there's that force multiplier effect on top. So you, you would always have a maturity model of like HipChat, I wasn't HipChat, customers Great. worked awesome. Fine. And then there was slack. But then teams comes in, like a monolith, right? In had the ecosystem, right. They had the partners, they had the events, they had the community, right. That was Microsoft, that was teams, and then look at open AI and the transformation of AI if you're, if you are starting a competing company to open AI right now, in selling into the Microsoft install base, like that bottom three, let's say you had the top three, here's our inbound, you know, here's our all of our strategy than Microsoft comes in with their partner community. They're massive events where they bring 30,000 people together, hundreds of 1000s of people online in their community, you're like, Whoa, you're in a tough spot. I'd love your take on that.

Sangram Vajre 34:25
You first of all, I've never looked at it that way. That's a phenomenal way to pull those three and distinguish between the between the top three in Bandarban product and then partner event and community. That's a great way I'm gonna I'm gonna riff I'm gonna spend time riffing on it with him on that one. So great call out and great way to look at it. The other part it made me think about was it our research shows that most companies have at least three if not four of the six core market motions in play. Right? Right. Like it's not like oh, I am you know, people you Think about the lead as like, this is Oh, that's all I'm doing No, no, you have that plus this plus this, that make that impact for your outcomes really well. And then again to Salesforce event is not just event it is all of that included in it. But here's another riff at it is, you don't have to start at the top. With those three things, you can start with the bottom and get to the top. So in the case of pretty much HubSpot mean, they were on the verge of dying, before they acquired the company. With that David cancel was running. And that became part of their marketing automation platform. They had great event, they had great community. As a matter of fact, I would say they even they did not have partner, but they have all these inbound working for them. But they didn't really have a sticky product is very similar to what Terminus happened, we had this whole flip my funnel thing, and we have all of these things. So we have all the bottom part, but our product was still in the making of it, because we haven't really fully and we understood where to go. But we didn't know the steps to get there. So the bottom three can give you the time, which is really what kills all deals and all businesses is the time to figure things out. You if you can build the bottom one, they will give you a pass almost to figure out your product. Now if your prop is bad, you're gonna get out, you know, at some point, you're going to lose your shit on that one.

Jared Fuller 36:20
Actually, this this is this is a really interesting kind of takeaway here or thought process, Sagar me you solicited is is there a when you said time? Is there a difference in strategy or approach based on whether or not you are the category leader. So let's say you're the first one into market. Yeah, and you start with category, right? Versus let's say you're, let's say a late entrants, and then you go category based on just kind of doing some rough, this company, this one, this one, it seems to me, like if you're not the category creator, or sorry, if you're if you're not first to market with the product, then category creation is a decent play. But if you are first a product in market, then category creation might be actually a really tough play, it's a

Sangram Vajre 37:05
harder play, it's a harder because you already have a figured out point, point of distinction in it. So Terminus is an example. We started with advertising. And I remember G two at that time, it was And the reason I'm on they had me on their advisory board is also part of those reasons. Because early part, they, they were like, Oh, you're advertising product, we'll put you in the advertising bucket. And I'm like, no, no, we are Account Based Marketing. They're like, what is that? Like? It is the new thing. And like so I'm going through my speech, this is in 2014 2015. Nobody really knew what that is. So rightly so they didn't want us to be a new category. They're narrow, we're going to just put you in the advertising aisle. After all, that's what you do. And we're like, No, our vision is bigger. So I said, You know what, instead of that I would rather have you never even list me. As the thing is, if you don't position yourself, somebody else will position you. Boom, and you out position that is very, very hard. So if you would have been categorized as an advertising platform, we would not have been able to raise money, raise conversations, get market going, just size it don't even list us. And then for the next six months, I went to John John Lilla when he was running engage you and I went to vendor more and I went to went to demand base because it was run by another company. Under the people. I said you all need to we all need to come together. And then we went to GE to and said look, there are eight other companies were doing ABM. This is not okay. There is no such thing as category of one. So I get what you were saying if not letting letting us be that, but he or eight other companies who want to do it. So we created a consortium and we went to Jeetu again, and that's when God said you know what, okay, fine. All right, we'll create this ABM category. But that required us to take our sensate vote, don't even name us, we would rather be anonymous on Jeetu, then you positioning us into something that we don't want to be in the future.

Jared Fuller 38:58
I want to tie that tie this together for the audience. And I want to kick the question over to you Isaac is my takeaway from that if you're if you're listening to us and hearing us espouse and you're bound, it was sovereign just said, you know, like, if you don't position yourself, someone's gonna position you. You're right. Like, I think, absent your positioning inside of your company, your thought of as the partnerships department, the third wheel right at the date, the third rail like a you know, they're kind of over there. If you're not, right now today, going to your executive team with your positioning and your framework and leading that charge and saying, Hey, no, we are going to adopt a near bounce strategy. You can't adopt a partnership strategy in the marketing department. That's not a thing. That's just not a like, go tell me about the partner marketing book. It doesn't exist. Like there's not one right. So tell me about the partner sales book. It doesn't exist. There's channel Books, tons of channel Books, tons and tons of detail out there but that it's not told from the perspective of the sales leader and I think that's where, where I'm so optimistic about near bound it as being that positioning to come in and go, no, no, this is what we're doing at this company. And I'm leading that charge, which is different than the mindset of the box that that executive is already putting you into younger channel department, you bring me leads, not the I don't I don't do stuff for partners. You bring me referrals, you get partners to register deals for us. Right? Like, you're already screwed if that's the position that you're in. Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse 40:25
Yeah, it's, it's interesting, because it also it kind of changes the resource allocation battle just a little bit. So if you're like, you know, I want more resources to go to my department. Well, whose department is that going to come away from? But if you go to the sales team and say, Let's try to get X percent of our sales of our deals, partner sourced or partner attach? Now that's those are resources that are still within the sales team, but it's just a, where are those things being dedicated? So that was a question that I have for you, Sandra, what are you seeing in the market, you've got these, you've got these six motions, some of them fit pretty neatly inside departments, some of them won't. What are you seeing as far as like, resource allocation and ownership of these plays? Like what is, you know, a company that's running? Maybe four of them? Like, how are those kind of breaking down? Where are those lines going in terms of ownership and resource allocation?

Sangram Vajre 41:17
Well, first of all, I think last lot of us have to had to recognize, especially in b2b, the roles CML didn't exist until 2001 2002. Most people don't know that they feel like it has been there forever.

Isaac Morehouse 41:31
But one of the ways Agra, is that such a great little note, because I spent years of my career working with young people in the early career space, and I would always tell them, don't stress too much about what you want to be someday, because what you're going to be doing in 20 years probably doesn't exist yet. And 20 years ago, what I'm doing now didn't exist yet. So there you go. Yeah, like

Sangram Vajre 41:51
everybody knew chill out on all of this. And the second part is this, what we did was literally took a revenue, clear revenue line, and we started to split it in the name of creating clarity. So we split revenue into sales and marketing, then we split that further in revenue into sales, marketing and customer success. And then we continue to split that into adding Reb ops and enablement. And obviously now, and partner becomes part of it is as almost a third wheel if that really would exist. And so it gets marginalized over and over time. What we propose and what we're starting to see in the marketplace, is the rise of a almost achieved go to market officer. It's a it's a new role that we imagined just like ABM didn't exist in 2014. Like that didn't people didn't even understand but now it is in almost all companies are doing ABM there is an ABM manager, there's a director of EBM, and they typically report into to VP of marketing or CML, we imagine that there will be a chief go to market officer, which will reimagine this whole function and instead of splitting them will actually be in the service of the customer and non by trying to say, Hey, where's my budget for my budget for my budget? It is going to be like, where what do we need to do to drive this? Where do we need to do? Unfortunately, today, if we create that role in most organizations, they will be typically it will be a salesperson, and nobody wants to report no marketing wants to report into a sales leader. That's just not what they want to do. They would rather reporting to CEO who is also a salesperson sometimes, but they would not want to report to a chief revenue officer who is a glorified salesperson. So what did you do? So that's really where the process were, when we see these go to market motions. I think everyone who is on the side of Alright, we're seeing history change in front of our eyes, we're seeing AI pretty much obliterating the entire manual job functions of lot of the sales teams that used to do and so we need to get smarter be people to be able to work in their smartness as opposed to trying to do more manual work. As you start looking at this we imagine you're going to have chief go to market officer we're going to have instead of revenue splits by function, it will be part of the same team it is going to come back to that original vision that most companies had back in the day

Jared Fuller 44:07
I love how the framing on like some of these you know the lexicon like chief marketing officer, right like the the power of language and network effects, you know, ABM flip my funnel, these things that kind of have, you know, staying power, we sometimes forget that the words that we use are not the words that the other rest of the market is kind of like using and these things, you know, they are shaping how we, you know, go to market and the roles and everything inside and it feels like we're at this such this interesting time that everything's kind of up for grabs again.

Sangram Vajre 44:42
Yes. Yeah. And when he's ready for it. I mean, that's the beauty of it for the last year and a half Jared and Isaac, I think we we had this moment of BP pretty much everybody sheepish about making change making any decisions everybody will just in there. I'm just gonna sit in my chair and and see what's going on. Right. I just don't want to enter the arena. out with the big push on the AI. I think all of a sudden people are like, wait a minute, I never thought let's just figure out what the US government Nick on that the event that we did a few few days ago, Nick being the CEO of Gainsight. He literally said this phrase he said, AI as a CEO, has never has have never been so intellectually challenged as now, with the use cases that are with the app, like he is a CEO of $100 million plus companies that I'm spending more than 30 40% figuring this thing out. That's the CEO of a company that could be public tomorrow, right? Like so. The point being that everything Geraghty, everyone is up for grabs and people who are going to change history. This is the moment this is the moment where leadership is born. This is the moment where people actually make things happen. This is the moment where people actually say, I wish others could do that. Now. Now it's you. Like now it's me. It's now it's everybody who's listening to this. It's up to you. Position yourself or be position, figure out what you need to do.

Jared Fuller 45:59
Boom. Wow, sacrum, everybody. That was that was one of my favorite episodes. Say, and we were just geeking out over. You're having fun. Isaac and I are like slacking and taking notes and going back and forth and just having a blast with you. What an empowering way to end the show. I think I'm gonna call it there because I could not think of a better way to end it. Isaac, we got one plug before we end probably where if you're listening to this, you got the push notification on your phone. Come see me at catalyst Wednesday. 9am this should come out on what's that? The 20 That'd be the Tuesday right before I think right the Tuesday right before so then come see me Wednesday night am the 23rd if you're in Denver, otherwise go to near bound register for the summit signer and we're gonna shoot you a note afterwards and work you into that we're going to have well over 5000 7000 some 10,000 person number for that in November. So go to new round Isaac anything else?

Isaac Morehouse 46:53
I don't think so. Man. feel like there's no you covered it. You got it. You checked off the list. Good job. I'm not even needed here, Jared.

Jared Fuller 47:01
No, no, that was that was a heck of a conversation. Well, Sagar, um, thank you so much for finally making the connection. I'm so happy to have made it and look forward to doing some cool stuff with GTM partners in the future. You got an amazing team there across the board. And I've loved working with Judd, for instance, so Sangram everybody, the godfather of ABM, lots of takeaways here for you, partner up, peace out. We will see you all next time.

Sangram Vajre 47:25
Thanks, everybody.

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.