PartnerUp #126: Having the Right Conversations with the Right People Featuring Katie Landaal

What is up PartnerUp!

Katie Landaal, AV, Global Partnerships and EcoSystem at ZoomInfo, shares her experience in partnerships from her time at ZoomInfo and at previous organizations, giving a combination of tactical insights and an understanding of the overall strategy.

Katie shares the importance of knowing the right partners to focus on and being willing to cut those who aren’t driving a meaningful impact. She also talks about the controversy surrounding Jared’s recent LinkedIn post, which, at the end of the day, underlines the importance of being an agent for change.

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  • Nearbound at Night during the inbound conference. 0:06
  • What got you here won't get you there. 7:43
  • The different types of partners and their roles. 10:44
  • Why partnerships are so important? 12:13
  • How to be a change agent and help others. 15:45
  • The importance of partnerships. 20:16
  • The maturity of partnerships professionals. 24:02
  • Looking at the long-term strategy. 26:11
  • Strategic partnerships vs. strategic alliances. 31:45
  • Choosing the market first. 35:21
  • Strategies for building out your network. 38:14
  • Finding a partner when you know you want a partner. 43:23
  • Hard conversations, hard choices, easy life. 46:07
  • Any courage comes along with risk. 49:03


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 That's i s 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 1:24
Hey, all right. What is up partner up? We're back. Isaac, how you been my man. It was super fun to hang out with you and the crew at the Casa. We got a little little office building down here.

Isaac Morehouse 1:35
Hey, we're getting we're getting a cluster down in St. Pete little by little so slowly, magnetically attracting all of the talent to the area.

Jared Fuller 1:44
Uh, yes, indeed. Excited for that. And this, this is gonna be a fun one because we get to circle back kind of on a story that we started on the partner up podcast, with my good friend, Christian Rach, who was with Discover org and then zoominfo right when zoominfo went public and excited to talk about a ton of things including that kind of transformation story with Katie Landau, welcome to partner up.

Katie Landaal 2:10
Hey, guys. Happy to be here.

Isaac Morehouse 2:12
Yeah, Jared, I was talking to Katie before he hopped on. And I was like, talk about the near bout influence play? I think we had, I think we've had like four or five people be like, You need to have pockets. You need to have Katie on the podcast.

Katie Landaal 2:26
So I feel so honored.

Isaac Morehouse 2:29
You're doing so the right man for everybody is everybody's looking to you, Katie. You know, while we were chatting, I'll ask you again, something I asked you before because I think it's really interesting we should have had record on at the time. But I asked you have you seen an uptick in interest in partnerships, because I know in addition to your work at zoominfo, you kind of help other people, you do a little bit of kind of consulting here and there people come to you they know you've been in it for 15 years or so. Have you seen an uptick in interest and people coming to you and saying, Alright, we got to figure out this partner thing? And if so, when did that start?

Katie Landaal 3:02
100%. I mean, it really started, for me, at least consulting started a couple years ago, and it was just projects here and there. And I just help folks out, I would say really, it started hockey sticking in the last year, and then especially in the last six months. And I honestly think it's just because there's just been so much more of a spotlight on partnerships and how important it is. And now it's becoming a main motion for go to market for any of these massive organizations that before it was always on its own island or you know, just kind of the redheaded stepchild that nobody really wanted to deal with. And so I just I think that that's what made it really kind of explode especially be being so present. It's so

Isaac Morehouse 3:45
funny, because when I asked you that I'm like, have you noticed that uptick? You're like, absolutely. So it kind of started about a year ago really started six months ago. And I'm just thinking, that's exactly been our experience, basically that timeline. And um, I was telling you, I'm new to the partnership space. And a year and a half ago, a little over a year and a half ago, Jared was like convinced me, okay, we gotta go launch this partner hacker thing. And he told me he's like Isaac, the partnerships moment is upon us. He's like, it's the beginning of the wave the partnerships moment. And I'm like, he gave me some evidence and some things are like, okay, I can see it from a high level. I can see it. Yeah, but it was like six months into partner hacker. All of a sudden, we really started to feel it. And then starting in 2023. It was like, Okay, first we were feeling it from mostly partnerships, people and a few others. Now it's like, all kinds of people outside of partnerships, sales marketing. Yeah, we, yeah, they're common and they're asking and so here's, here's the interesting. This is a double edged sword for partner people who are primarily part of our primary part of our audience. This is a huge opportunity for them, but it's also a threat for some of them. And that's something that I've noticed that, you know, they've kind of had the luxury in in a bull market economy where companies are kind of flush with money and whatnot. But to sort of be in their department that's not seen as super relevant. And that's kind of comfortable for some of them. Like, maybe it's frustrating at times, but it's also like, yeah, I can just hang out, make friends with people be liked by everyone go to events, not that big of a deal. Now, suddenly, the boss is knocking on your door, and they're like, you're gonna solve our problems? What are we doing with Parker? Yeah, some people are like, big opportunity, and some people are freaking out right now. So I'm sure a fitting is gonna happen.

Katie Landaal 5:28
For sure. I mean, what I've noticed in a lot of these organizations is I hate to say it, but a lot of the sales guys that didn't really fully make it, they just find their way over to partner, right, and they kind of hide there for a while. And not to say that's a negative thing. It just means that, you know, that's just kind of where they were placed. And hopefully it worked out well. And sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. I think what we're seeing right now is, it's just mainly a lot of BD play, right? It's just, you know, going back to the old traditional style of, you know, handshake deals and trust and being able to actually do things together in the right and most efficient way. And so I love that I'm, we're seeing more of a spotlight on that, and then actually seeing what the ROI is thereafter, whereas before, it was kind of just a loose thing, right? Oh, yeah. We went to dinner. Great. What did what happened? Yeah, right. Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse 6:21
Yeah, the the benefits of a tough market. It's like, it's hard. But it forces you to, to identify what's really creating value quickly. And I sort of wonder, Jared, we've talked about this in some other episodes. I think there are some early indications that we're seeing this, I don't really have any, like stats to back this up something maybe I should look into, but it's almost like the the people who sort of like get you there and lay the foundation sometimes are not the ones who take you to the next level. So okay, I'll give you an example. Totally separate from this. Back in the early days of like, the crypto space, you got all these nerds that are doing all this crypto stuff, and they're like, we're alone. Everyone ignores us, they don't take us seriously. And then all of a sudden, when they're taken seriously, the people who like were there at the beginning, they often get replaced by people who come from a different era, like Oh, cryptos big now. I'm the guy who used to do a podcast about whatever now on the crypto podcaster. And they surpass those people. And then it takes them off sometimes. But like, I wonder if something similar if now that partnerships are becoming more and more, you know, hey, we need this motion. People from sales, people from marketing people who have not been there, up till now are going to move into a lot of those slots.

Katie Landaal 7:29
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that's, that's where I get the most requests for help advice. Help me figure this out. What should I do? Where should I start? Yeah, I mean, that that's just the way it goes. Right now.

Jared Fuller 7:43
There's tons. I kind of love that analogy. You know, like, what got you here won't get you there. And there's so many, like, kind of mental models kind of around this. David cansail. From drift popularized, at least internally, I don't know how much you wrote about it publicly, was, let's say, your growth curve versus your company's growth curve. Right. So what happens is, if you're growing slower than the company, you'll get hired over. If you're growing faster than the company, you typically leave and go find something else. And what we're seeing right now, you know, in the past year, for example, like on LinkedIn, there being more partnership manager jobs open that account executive jobs. So that's a fact. That's a stat. That's interesting. Whoa, that was a big deal. When did that happen? Right. That's not something you saw, especially in SAS, you know, all the way to leadership where, you know, former partner leaders that I trust very much, so let's bring up like a Bobby Napal. Tonia, Isaac, right. So like he helped create the Salesforce ecosystem, he helped create the app exchange, he landed Accenture for Salesforce, which is probably one of the biggest partnerships in all of tech. What's Bobby doing these days? You know, he's not, he's not the one leading the charge anymore. He's kind of a CEO and advisor. Whereas I think that there is some new blood coming into the space that isn't former partner leaders. Like if we look at people that you know, we talk to an AI with, you know, the, you know, Chris Walker's or Scott leases, or these other people that come from the CMO or the marketing world or from the sales world are starting to go, Hey, we really need to pay attention to this thing now where we weren't before. There's definitely that phenomenon. You know, kind of happening everywhere. And you know, frankly, we welcome the new blood, right? I mean, yeah, the partner ecosystem is the best ecosystem. Hey,

Isaac Morehouse 9:34
I hope you welcome the new blood because that's where I'm coming from.

Jared Fuller 9:39
Yeah, we've got what it shows you like I was like, Come on, let's go start this day, right like we need you know, new blood in like our last episode Isaac, where we had on from writer right, so first time partnership manager came from as an account executive, you know, goes into writer and the reason why though I think is very interesting. The context behind this, I think, is the coolest part is he's like I wanted to learn the most about marketing, about sales, about CES how to run a business. And because I want to be an entrepreneur someday, and that felt like the most natural path to, you know, to get there. And I'm like, Yes, of course, definitely. Yes. You know, those are those are my favorite entrepreneurs peekaboo from data box, right, they've been in those roles. And that's what we're doing, you know, shows like this, and, you know, evangelizing showing that this is probably the most strategic role. Definitely one of the hardest, I mean, Katie, talk a little bit about, you know, that, from your perspective, right, kind of sells it back to Academy driving revenue. Yeah, we like doing, you know, Zoom info and helping lead this change that public market cap, you know, big company, you know, it's a bit of a bit of a switch,

Katie Landaal 10:44
I'm sure, yeah, so I mean, to just to give a little bit of my background, so I've been everywhere from the tiny, miniscule little agency, that's 10 people, and we're just doing, you know, 12 50 million year, all the way up to the, you know, Ingram micros of the world now, like zoominfo, things like that all state event. So I've seen everything from tiny, tiny all the way to very large and everything in between. And I think that's what's given me a really different perspective on this stuff. Going back to what you had mentioned before, that's what people don't realize the partner world. And that strategy is much more of a kind of general business or you know, a little bit of everything right to be dangerous, but you're not necessarily specific to engineering, you're not specific to product design, you're not specific to marketing, you're not specific to sales, right? You just have all of that in mind, and then pulling that together as a, as a true big picture strategy in order to drive the business forward. So it really is a very interesting role. I think it gets, you know, looked over quite a bit. And I think that, you know, we're also seeing that with a lot more Chief Product Officer, what are they calling a chief partner officers now, which I think is so cool, because you just never saw that before. It was always just, you know, VP of global channel or alliances or partnerships, or whatever that meant, and but it's really nice to see that a lot of that leadership is coming in and owning that and being able to take it forward.

Isaac Morehouse 12:13
Katie, I saw you had LinkedIn posts. Recently, you had a stat on there, you said something, I think you said like 58%, I don't know what the stat were was 58% of companies are relying on partnerships to drive revenue, or maybe it's 50% of revenue, I can't remember what the number was. Yeah. So

Katie Landaal 12:31
what we're seeing and what's coming out, you know, with Deloitte and a few of the others and foresters and Gartner's, they're coming out with all these stats showing that partner programs are super influential on their entire revenue plans and streams. And you know, how it rolls out to the rest of the organization, as well as you know, how it's affecting. Marketing plays, how it's affecting sales plays, how it's affecting, you know, everything in between. And so I just find it, there's just all these steps are now coming out, which is so interesting to me how they do it, I could not tell you. Yeah, however, reading the reports coming out is fantastic. Because it also puts another, you know, spotlight on why partnerships is so important and why, you know, everybody's starting to consider it as a main part of their go to market action.

Isaac Morehouse 13:19
What Yeah, it was interesting, because you had, and I've seen a lot of stats set up this way. In fact, I've posted some myself as well, where you kind of have like, Hey, here's a stat showing, you know, 58% of revenue is being you know, whatever, tapping into partners in some way. Yeah, yet. On the other side, 40% of companies don't even have a partnerships department. And we've had some similar stats like 40% of new opportunities open by BB SaaS companies, one or more partner had a relationship to that deal, but only 7% of the time, are they tapping into that partner in some way? And you kind of have these contrasting stats, I've seen that basic framework come in many ways. Yeah. So my, my question on that Katie is like, Okay, so those companies that have new partnerships department, as we're in this partnerships moment, where there's becoming more and more attentions coming to and more people are looking at it? Will they solve that by building a partnerships department? Or will they solve it by layering partnerships into another department, and not even not even going the route of having a partnerships department? Like, I'm really curious on that.

Katie Landaal 14:20
I look, you could go either way. There's pros and cons to both and you just have to figure out what works best for the organization and what is actually advantageous for everyone involved. I think I'm a huge proponent of the crawl, walk run strategy. So

Isaac Morehouse 14:36
what is going on here? I know. Everybody says in a row, we're still mentioned it.

Katie Landaal 14:43
I have been preaching this from day one. I've always said make it simple. Make it black and white upfront, then build from there because what happens is a lot of people go into these, you know, partnerships and they think like you mentioned Salesforce The Center was like, we're gonna do this, right? This is what we're gonna do together, we're gonna make this amazing. And it's and when you really go back and look at what that history wasn't what the trajectory was the started from just one or two clients here, there, then it started, you know, growing and growing and growing. And then it became such a huge partnership that both organizations were highly, you know, gaining so much revenue for both sides of the house. So what I always say is that you want to really start basic start black and white, do it well, and then move on into, you know, growing and growing the partner program and growing into other areas that you want to do. So, I, that's, I am huge, huge on that. And I'll always stick by it.

Jared Fuller 15:45
I love the I love the simple frameworks like that. It's so funny, the beer crawl, walk, run up, up back up. But I think it's particularly important in a moment where partner professionals are finding themselves not just having to help their partner ecosystem, but truly help each department leader. Yep. And you cannot walk into that meeting with that head of marketing or that head of sales with a grandiose plan and all the here's why an ecosystem strategy, blah, blah, blah, they're like, I have campaigns to run in a pipeline number that I'm falling behind on. So like, what are you doing? Like, how are you helping, right? So like, here's my plan to help. And really lay that out is truly how you become I think a change agent and truly helpful inside of your company is you have to recognize like, change is a process. And either you're in control of it, or it doesn't happen to you. So I think the the opportunity for us partner leaders right now today, and it's kind of funny, the the stories that I've heard from the peak of Buddha's to the rallies to the bobbies to, you know, the people that really were at the table when they transformed into a ecosystem or partner company, they were really good at precipitating change. Yeah, hoping each department head and you know, that kind of approach of like black and white, make it simple. Totally needed. And, in fact, I actually want to double click on that, because I feel like, you know, since I was a customer of discover work back in 2015 2014, at Panda doc, to seeing zoominfo. Today, I have never seen a company, pull more solutions together. And do what y'all and Henry have done that I think zoominfo has, and I'm curious with that level of let's say product change, and yeah, platform and all of that, like, you stack those things on top, and then you add partnerships on top.

Katie Landaal 17:31
Yeah. So a couple things happened, right? So we, you mentioned Christian Raschi, you so run this way back in discovery days used to help in the early days, and in what we would see is she would kind of get the random backdoor deals, or I know this guy, and this guy knows this person. And now we're connecting, and now we're a partner, right? And it was always this kind of very loose relationship. And then that's they would just didn't know where to put it in. So they say here, Chris, and take it right. And then that's became a partnerships group. And that's what you saw a lot early on, especially with these larger organizations. When I came on, right after the IPO, that's when we started getting a lot more strategic and thinking about what are we doing long term and scalability wise, and so forth. And so I managed all of our, like, really big alliances. So we're talking, you know, the GCP, is the AWS Azure, right, talking to Salesforce, HubSpot, and so forth, the real big, you know, at home names, and how does that, how does that work between us? Are we co selling together? Are we just doing joint marketing campaigns together? Is there some way that we're fitting into their foundational, you know, strategy, what, you know, what does that look like long term. And so it was a huge believer in that, but the way that it works best was, again, going back to crawl, walk, run it was we had to find these early wins to kind of fru. The point, right to show that that this is what works, and this is why it works. I did we just to give context, I did leave for about a year, which I still get crap from our from Henry about. And I went over to a startup and ran their entire go to market and revenue strategy. And then what that looked like also with partnerships and so forth, because that was just a very different motion. It was a more of a plg motion. And that's, you know, obviously, partnership pretty partnerships are key there. And then I came back. And now I took over the entire ecosystem for zoom and bow. And it's been fun. It's been a wild ride, but a lot of it I've just really scaled back to be honest. There's just been too much of a spray and pray and to watch of, yeah, we think this is a partnership, but it's not really a partnership. And so we're just going to throw it over to the partner team and then they're going to manage, you know, the program or the relationship or whatever that looks like. And so, a lot of that I've just been really pulling back in a sense of focusing on things that really are genuinely bringing us value. And that are also driving us forward for, you know, our go to market motion, both in, you know, product strategy, as well as you know how we're selling today and how we're coming to the market. So yeah,

Isaac Morehouse 20:16
that's such an interesting point, just a quick thought on that, that, you know, in this moment, where more attention is being given to partnerships, more attention to partnerships, and more importance of partnerships doesn't necessarily equal more partnerships. Yeah, so it's like, hey, we need more revenue, we need a higher percentage of partner, attach whatever that may mean, you were partnerships and fewer activities spread everywhere,

Katie Landaal 20:42
quality over quantity, huge, that's a huge thing. For me, too, I'm much more about quality over quantity, if you have quality partnerships, you're actually going to see a lot more of a return versus a quantity where you're just trying to do some complex partner program. And you think that if you're gonna get add on, you know, 1000 new partners to this thing, that somehow that's going to render millions of dollars in revenue, and, and so forth. And, and honestly, I mean, partners or partners are, are tough, because especially if you want to get their attention, or if you really want to work with them very deep within their own organizations, big or small, right? You got to have those good relationships there, you have to have the trust, you have to have the, you know, the that relationship built in order for it to really work. And if you're trying to do too much of a quantity play, how are you developing really deep, meaningful relationships with those partners, if you're spread so thin? Or if you're trying to fit everyone into a box? That's the other thing? A lot of people are like, oh, we'll just put them in this program. And it'll be fine. It'll work great. Well, most of the time, that's not really the case. Most of the time, it's, you know, you can't, you got to really customize what that partnership looks like in order for it to be successful.

Isaac Morehouse 21:58
Yeah, it's funny. I'm an adviser to a b2c company. And I was just talking to somebody over there yesterday. And they're at an early stage. And he's like, we're cutting in this thing where we're trying to expand our reach. But we also need to start getting revenue going. So we have this partner program where we're really looking at to drive revenue, I'm like, Well, tell me about the partner program. 100% of it is just we're going to set up an affiliate program, and then a whole ton of affiliates. And I'm, we're walking through the numbers, and I'm like, these are really small, you know, little bits, yeah, maybe they'll add up over time. But he's like, you know, so I'm trying to do this big event. And I'm having a heart, I'm worried that I'm not getting enough people to drive enough value to our affiliates to be adding affiliate revenue above. And I said, Well, what if you didn't worry about the affiliate stuff, trying to get 100 different affiliates that you can that you can use? What if you just found one or two companies that have a similar ICP and say, Hey, we don't even need to pay us anything. How about we co market this event together, you handle one of the speaking slots, you said it to your list, we'll set it to ours, we'll do a lead share arrangement of some kind, like, just make the event a big success by going to your favorite partners. And he's like, oh, and I'm like, like, you don't need to he's like, we're trying to get like 100 affiliates at all. And I'm like, Don't worry, like, what if you just went deep and just did it? Yeah, did three or five, you're gonna triple or, you know, quintuple or whatever, you know what you call it. Five 5x, your, your reach for that event? And you're gonna have some buy in and then you can figure out the monetization side if you're trying to do that. But I know it's a little different in b2c, but just that principle, same principle, like,

Katie Landaal 23:37
yeah, it's the same principle. It's absolutely same principle. It's the same philosophy. It really applies across the board. And I think where you see it the most is the organizations that are doing it. Right, right. I mean, again, going back to Salesforce in the center, the biggest partnership really out there. That's what they did. They just focus on that and those plays in that relationship. And that's why it became so successful.

Jared Fuller 24:02
I think there's, there's so much to unpack here. That's really, really good, I think, audience, for those of you listening to Katie, this is the difference between, you know, someone who's first time at the show, and someone who scenes a little bit of the story. And there's a maturity here that I want to point out, is I've often said that partnerships, professionals have what I'll call shiny object syndrome. But what they really have is they have FOMO. And what that's indicative of is the you're not sure what choices to make. So you're like, hey, that partner could be the next thing that partner could be the next thing, right? And what your executives what your CEO and I'm certain this is probably the case with Henry and you, they're asking you to call a shot. Yeah, to make a choice to say no, no, where are we making the money? How are we doing it? Right? And that's why obviously, you know, these conversations are so important is that for you to truly be successful, you have to have some conviction to go hey, these are the partners and here's why. And And forego perhaps other opportunities. Because, you know, hey, I know for a fact there's something over here, you know, bird in the hand, perhaps two in the bush, we tend to find more junior folks that are out there building tons of relationships right there, you know, onboarding tons of partners. I mean, I've certainly done that to hit a revenue objective. I think. I think Bennett listens to this one of my old partner managers where we went in and I mean, we closed like, hundreds, hundreds of agencies, yeah, our partners, hundreds, right, and a year and a half, they were all out, you know, like, but we sold them all. So like, we drove some revenue, we sold them to like one or two other deals, but it was like, this is clearly not strategic. This is not probably what we should do long term, your short term objective. And, you know, it wasn't until we pivoted another direction and got much more strategic on that agency side with like ROI DNA, and then some bigger agencies where we strive to do the great things. So if you're, if you're finding yourself in a position where you're throwing the longtail at the problem, and you don't have a strategy for the long tail, it's just going to be emergent. Probably going to be in a bad spot.

Katie Landaal 26:11
Yeah, I think I think what's given me a unique relationship with Henry and the rest of our executives at the organization is I really look at it not only in short term, but long term too. So I come up with these kinds of strategies of what can we do in the short term? What can we do in the mid term? And what can we do in the long term? And how does that all fit together?

Jared Fuller 26:32
Like crawl, walk, run? There? It is, right? Yeah. And so

Katie Landaal 26:35
it, that's really where I think, you know, those conversations are the most fruitful. Now, obviously, there are always things that, you know, Henry will bring up, or Chris Hayes will bring up or any of the rest of our C suite will bring up that are incredible partnership opportunities. And yes, of course, I will go and vet them and you know, chase them and figure out is this really right for us or not? At the end of the day, it's always their choice, right? But I'm at least coming to them with the facts. I'm coming to them with my opinion. And I'm saying, Hey, this is what I see. I think it's great. I don't think it's great, right? And then we make decisions from there. And then you know, we kind of focus and prioritize off of that,

Jared Fuller 27:16
what you just said, might have, like, kicked something out of my brain. That's an interesting, very interesting thought. Is there another role that has perhaps, as much like let's say ordinal risk from like, no risk at all. So let's say an SDR making 100 dials in a day. What you just said, if I go all in, and I do this thing with this partner, it is perhaps the end of my company, my career, my category, like

Katie Landaal 27:43
these decisions, very pressure, it's high pressure, for sure. So

Jared Fuller 27:47
absolutely, like when I was doing the Marketo, and drift negotiations and doing that with Adobe, I mean, this was, you know, Whatsapp group with CEO CTO, right. And, you know, Sequoia level, like, this was high stakes stuff. And I felt very much like I am playing a game that if I screw up, yeah, well, in fact, desease exact words to me were don't fuck this up. Yeah. You know, like, literally like, don't book this was the advice because otherwise the I'm dead? I'm dead. Right now, it was very clear. I don't know that there's another one that has that much ambiguity of like each choice.

Katie Landaal 28:22
Now, cuz, honestly, I mean, look, a lot of the times we get compared also just stret Chief Strategy officers, right, but I see them in a very different light, where they're looking more for the long term outcome direct with the company, right, versus where I'm looking at what are we doing externally and internally? And how do we marry both of those together with our partners? Right. So it's a little bit of a different view.

Jared Fuller 28:47
That's why like, Chief ecosystem officers, the company, yeah, it's like, it's kind of energy, right?

Katie Landaal 28:51
Yeah. It's kind of like a mix of both. Right. And so I just, I just find it so interesting that more and more organizations are leaning in on that. And I think that it's just so important to have the right people involved, so that they know, they know how to drive it forward. But with the risk, yeah, high risk all the time.

Jared Fuller 29:12
What was it? Let's talk about that resume info for a second. Yeah, I want to tie these concepts together real quick, because I haven't seen a company launch as many products or, let's say, skews or features. Yeah. zoominfo has over the past several years. It's been perfect. I've referred to Henry even on the podcast as a gangster. I mean, that in the most admirable and scary sense of the word, because he truly is, in my opinion, he's just like an industry gangster, you know, like, get stuff done. And you've launched products where there's been competing integrations, you've, you know, built new platforms and opened up new partner opportunities. What if some of those kinds of conversations been like because in the build by partner kind of framework, you're making a decision twofold, right, the immediate customer value, the long term partner opportunity there it really is a strategic decision when you're especially when you're talking m&a, or, you know, like, hey, that partner is pretty much dead. You know, this partner?

Katie Landaal 30:08
Yeah, no, this, that happens all the time. Right. So like, I'll I know, you want to talk zoominfo. But I'll just give an example when I, before I manage all of their top alliances, one of which was Google, and that did about 350 million a year, which is was a third of the entire revenue. So that partnership brought in a majority of the revenue that was coming in for that organization. So that was a very high pressured risk situation where if I made the wrong move, that then affects the bottom line for our organization. And that was, that was huge, right? And so I think that, you know, obviously, risk is always going to be there. And it's always something that we have to, you know, watch and, and focus on. And then with zoominfo. It is it's hard. It's a it's, it's very much a orchestration type feel, right? I'm always the one that's going very cross functionally, to see how does this fit with the sales team? How does this fit with procurement? How does this fit with finance? How does this fit with product? How does this fit with our engineering team, right, and making sure that it's all in alignment so that that partnership is as successful as it possibly can be. And that's really all it takes for the most part is you have to be just very good at speaking all the different languages in the different departments to make sure everyone is on the same page. And then when you take that to C suite, right, like that's, you're taking that overall message to them and saying, Hey, this is where we need to adapt. This is where we need to change. This is where we need to make, you know, our bets, for example,

Isaac Morehouse 31:45
your I have a quick one for both of you. Okay, so this shows my ignorance being outside of partnerships. When I hear people talk about strategic partnerships, or strategic alliances, and I know Jared, you've defined this in some various ways. And I like I get I get that to a degree. But would it be fair to say like, maybe at least in the early days, every partnership is a strategic? Like, you have to think of it as like, if this is not a strategic partnership? am I wasting time? Like, what how would you define that difference? Between like, Oh, these are just partnerships. So this is strategic alliances?

Katie Landaal 32:21
Okay, I can go, I could go on hours about this. I think in the early days, it's very different than what you're seeing today. So when we talk about strategic partnerships, today, I'm thinking those are the ones that have high quality, right? We're doing a lot with them. We have a lot of customer overlap, we have natural merriment better together stories. We're doing integrations where, you know, doing cosell motions, where do we referral motions, where we're doing product integrations so deep that each of us are kind of influencing the other, right? Because we want to make sure that it's the best for the customer at the end of the day. Early days, strat partners, at least in maybe dirt, you you feel differently, but early days, it was always well, who are we making the most money with? Or who was the biggest name? And that's a strategic partner. Right? Like you looked at it more of who was the biggest and who was kind of most recognizable? And then that was what you would consider as a strategic partner, even if you weren't doing nearly as many activities or things with them as somebody who maybe is a brand that isn't as recognizable yet, right?

Isaac Morehouse 33:31
What, what what I'm trying to get to is, I'm thinking here, like, okay, we're talking about this 40% of companies with no partner program, we're talking about people starting look at this more. So if you're a company that has no or maybe not a very mature partner program, it's almost like when you start, you're only thinking about me, tell me this is not right. You're only thinking about those, like, really deep strategic sort of partnerships, because you have to get those first, before you can have kind of the benefit of maybe that long tail and those maybe lighter weight partnerships. Is there like an order of operations here? So it's almost like Jared, I love what you said about the long talent. I see the long tail is sort of a luxury, like, when you look at a what is the long tail come from the shape of the graph, you don't have a tail by itself, like the tail had needs a dog, right? The long tail has to have some meat like what's, where's the big bulk of the value coming from? Yeah, that part first, and then maybe you can start to build out once you've got some critical mass, you can have like a longtail of lightweight partnerships where it doesn't go very deep. But it sounds like you've got to start with like one to three strategic partners from the jump,

Katie Landaal 34:39
in my opinion. Yeah. I think that's where you gain the most insight and you find what works best for your organization as well as ways to rinse and repeat with others. So you're always going to want to be agnostic, especially, you know, in a space like mine. You have to be agnostic to all those other different partners. As in you may have different partnerships with each of them. However, you are doing some sort of similar rinse and repeat because you've learned from the first one that worked really well, we made some adjustments, right? And then we we implement the same kind of strategy with them as well. So it just kind of depends on the organization and depends what you're really focused on, honestly.

Jared Fuller 35:21
Well, I'll give you kind of like an in between this is like a permutation of a similar answer to what you brought up Isaac. And Katie, your answer is the way that I started to think about it. Whenever I was forced to make a choice, like you are going all in and you are figuring out something that's going to make an impact in the next 90 days. And I need the plan by the end of this week, or you're fired. It was like, Wait a second, you keep recruiting? How did that happen? Like it literally that was what situation I walked into? And I was like, Well, how do I make that choice? And what I decided that I think I believe now more than ever, is I you have to choose the market first. And that's when I decided I needed to be a market lead entrepreneur. Yeah. And you don't choose the partner, you choose the market? And what do I mean by that? Well, the market is where are my customers? Right? So if you're an ICP Hopper as a company, you know, God bless you. But I will never be one of those companies. Again, like, ICP hopping is like, you have a hammer, and you're looking for nails. Yeah, like my product, my product, my product, my product, my product, that compounds across the entire business, especially with partners, where you waste so much time, so much time,

Isaac Morehouse 36:36
where your partner is, oh, we can partner with anyone? Yeah, oh,

Jared Fuller 36:40
my gosh, we partner with everybody, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. And I think the real takeaway here for people in from my vantage point is who is the best conduit to the most customers that you want, right? So who has that relationship that owns that audience that has that trust, and then I would also add another vector that will drive your partner acquisition and future partners from so if I'm an early stage startup, I am typically orienting towards an existing ecosystem, not just a partnership, right. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to partner twofold, I'm going to choose, let's say, a tech leader in that ecosystem, you know, parent company, and a couple service ones. And I'm going to really focus on igniting a core customer base, where I can have this brush fire that burns brighter than any other one out to replicate out. So I think the, the answer is probably similar. The lens is just market first, where is the customer? And then are is there? Is there a long tail of partners where I'll get you know, the outsized, you know, 20%, that perform right, available? So if you were to go do that, you know, in bet the farm, so to speak on a? Oh, I don't know, let's say for a partner strategy around, let's say something nice. And like open AI? Market? Yes, there, right. There's market. But there's the long term there is no ecosystem yet. Like, if that'd be a very scary play long term. So you might be able to do something really cool with open AI. Right? But that long tail is terrifying. What do you do next? Yeah,

Katie Landaal 38:13
yeah, no, I think those that's the hardest things. Look, all of the Gen AI stuff right now is obviously a hot topic. Everybody's chatting about it, everybody's, you know, having their opinions on it, I think we're partnerships are gonna play a pretty solid role is you're gonna have to find what that strategy is, that works together, and pushing that forward for the long term. And that evolves over a long, like a long period of time. So if we're talking about, I'm trying to think of a good example. So for Gen AI, if you're thinking about it with a partner, and let's say they're the ones who have have, you know, the foundational piece that you need for, let's say, chat, right? And you want to implement that into your chat bot, because you want to do you want to eradicate your STRS, let's say, and you want to implement that, which then automatically pushes everything over and knows what to do and all things right. You want to find a partner that obviously feeds into that, but at the same time is also evolving that Gen AI, so you can take it further. So maybe now you're focused on STRS first, but now you want to take it to Well, now I want to take as my customer success team, or now I want to take it to you know, these other areas of your business that is also hyper beneficial. Right. So like, that's kind of the way that I at least I would look at it. Now. Again, Gen AI is a very new space and there's no real you know, silver bullet that's going to tell us what works long term versus short term and what what we need to do now I think it's more about you need to just be really smart. Going back to write exactly what you said, Jared, which is that market right like focus on the areas that you Do Now work? Well focus on the niches that you know work well, and then work together on that, and push it forward.

Jared Fuller 40:08
100%. And then what I would say is know your customer know your partner, right? Show me, you know me. So for example, whenever you're making that choice, I talked about it in the strategic alliances chapter I wrote in the partner hacker handbook. It's a kind of amalgamation of like, the sumo advantage and a little bit of Chris Voss never split. The difference is like finding that black swan is, you know, what is that lever that you can move for that ecosystem partner that that first big, you know, center of gravity that you're you're going to get the big wind with and have other winds fall out the other side? What's in it for them? Why are you important to them. And it's phenomenal when you can nail that and understand, hey, here's a top three business initiative for you, your company, we know what it is, I know you. And here's exactly how we helped drive it. And here's the proof points. And it's amazing how few people will show up to a partner conversation with that, here's what we do for you. Yeah, right, and why we're going to be so important to you. And if you do it, you can say crazy stuff, which I've said a bunch, I've said this in several Park partner conversations that, you know, I gotta get Brad coffee on here. So that way I can prove that I didn't say that to him in our first combo. As I said, I'm going to be your number one partner globally in less than one year. He's like, Who the heck is this crazy kid? Like, you know, I have the answer. I know I'm going to be and I know why. And then they go. Well, that was very different than every other partner conversation I've had, you actually had a strong opinion. And that's actually the tenant of the sumo advantage. We, you know, one of the only books on how to do alliances is like, look, you're the entrepreneur call your shot, what is in it for them, if you do not have a strong opinion, guess what, no one's coming to you and being like, hey, here's how you become our best partner, you and everybody else.

Katie Landaal 41:50
Now you're, you're the one leading the charge, you're the one who has to figure out what that strategy is, and how to actually execute on it. So there's, nobody is going to just hand it to you on a silver platter. It takes a lot of work, right. And it takes a lot of grit to be able to get through it. But I think the most successful partnerships, they focus on those things, right? They focus on those relationships, not only just to, you know, spin up in conversation and think of, you know, art of the possible, but they're actually getting very tactical, they're getting very in the weeds are going, Hey, this is how we benefit you. How do you want to go to market together, right? Or, you know, how, you know, this is how we're benefiting your customers and our customers at the same time. Because it's just such an natural merriment between our organizations, it's easy for us to like, be able to just go and chat with all of our customers about it, right? Or we have customers already saying how green it is. Those are the strongest those are by far, but those again, you're totally right, you have to really drive that forward. And you have to have the entrepreneurial spirit to be able to have success in that area. And being a generalist is the best way to do that. Because then you have a little bit of this little bit of that, a little bit of that. But you see the big picture. And then you bring in those experts in the different areas. And you say, hey, like, this is why I see how great this is. Let's chat with this person in this area. Let's chat with that person in this area. Figure out how to execute.

Isaac Morehouse 43:23
Okay, Katie, I want to ask you something that I actually don't know, Jared, if we've ever asked anybody this on the show, there's a side to the partnerships job that doesn't get talked about a lot, because we've been focusing on when you you know, how do you find a partner when you know, you want a partner? How do you win them? How do you find the mutual advantage? How do you implement it? How do you win in the internal battles, but there's a part of the role and the more successful you get more successful your company gets, the more this becomes a part of the role react to do the opposite. Where you have to be the bad guy, you have to tell people No, and I have learned partner people in general, are very nice. They're very kind. They have a little bit of nice guy syndrome, maybe it's because so many of them are Canadian. And so what how do you handle those? Learning to be because I've what I've noticed is there's a lot of like, maybe if I just have like benign neglect, I won't actually have to have a hard conversation and say No, they'll just sort of go versus like, even the even the mental bandwidth necessary of like, half assing a bunch of these that you just know aren't really going anywhere instead of just saying, hey, look, we tried something didn't work. Sorry. We're taking a different direction. Can't do anything together. Like how do you get that down? Because that's something I think some partner people listening to the show. I know because they're nice people I've met many of them, learn to have the hard conversation and say this isn't a fit.

Katie Landaal 44:41
So this is like an early thing that I talk about you every time folks come to me for advice or things like that. I was like you, you need to be equally as good at delivering bad news as you are good news, both internally and externally to the partner. You can imagine obviously, you know, zoominfo is a pretty large organization. I Get inbound requests to be a partner with us, I'm telling you hundreds at a time, and I've had to learn how to be very transparent and very upfront. Now, I'm not ever going to be nasty about it, I'm not going to, you know, be this kind of bearer of bad news all the time, but I'm definitely gonna say, hey, look, I while I see that there is value here, it's just not in our top priorities. But that may change, you know, next quarter, six months from now a year from now. So I definitely want to continue the conversation, but I want to be upfront with you that this is not something we're gonna get tactical on, or execute on in the near term, right? And most of the time, if you start the conversation that way, they say, oh, yeah, completely understood. We're in the same boat, or, you know, whatever it is, we're just in these kind of ideation phases and wanted to pick your brain. And then you're already going into it saying, Hey, we're not going to spend time on this, we want to be really strategic with you. Let's circle back on this in the future, when it actually makes sense. Or when the timing is better, or whatever that looks like,

Jared Fuller 46:07
there needs to be a name for that persona, the one that's just generally a little bit everywhere that gets along with everyone skirts by without actually getting anything done. And people are like, what do you actually do hear that because those people do exist, and you might, they might be interesting, they might be be neat. They might be hard to, let's say, identify or get things done, but I think they that can be a dangerous persona. And I love what you said that you need to be well versed in having difficult, you know, delivering bad news, one of my favorite phrases is hard conversations, easy life, hard choices, easy life, you have to be able to have the courage to stand up in like actually put your foot down and say no, this is the thing that we're doing, you know, what Hill are you willing to die on? That's a hard combo. That's difficult news that saying, Hey, we're foregoing these other things. Right. And that's, I think, generally just really good leadership. And I think there's a good opportunity for partnerships folks to, you know, think like an entrepreneur, right? If, if you don't want to come out of this role, or this position, with some cross departmental, you know, leadership component, that's probably not the role for you. Right? If you don't want to run your own business, or be able to lead multiple departments, I don't think that partnership, you know, being a partner leader is probably the right home for you.

Katie Landaal 47:29
There's also the opposite side of that, too, if you're looking to get glorification, or if you're trying to get your name on everything, or you're trying to somehow say Oh, this was because of me. Partnerships is also not the place for partnerships. It's very rare that they get called out in like these big orchestrated deals. For example, like when there's some sort of huge cosell motion that happened between partners. Well, that's because of the partnership team, but you're not hearing them being called out about it. Most of the time, you're just hearing about all of these AM's work together, and they strategized, and all the things and they made this come together, and it was great. So I do think that it's a little bit of a, you have to be really passionate about what you do. And you're also, you know, choosing your battles, digging your heels in. At the same time, you need to also realize that you're not going to get necessarily the appreciation or, you know, glorification after the fact. Because most the time, partnerships is really that this background motion that's making all these things happen. But they're not necessarily in the forefront. So it's interesting, right? You get a little bit of that juxtaposition where you kind of get both sides of it. And you have to be comfortable there. You have to be able to be okay, I'm cool there. I don't I don't need to be, you know, called out on everything. But at the same time, you know, I'm also going to really stand by this and tell them look like this is what we need to do. And this is the best strategic play, and I'm going to make it happen. Right? That's the risk. That's also the risk, right? So you're putting your name on it.

Jared Fuller 49:03
That's the risk any courage comes along with risk. I couldn't think of a better way to cap this one. Katie Landau, Katie, thank you so much for joining us on partner up and putting a kind of second story and a new twist on the Zoom info chapter. Excited to continue to see this innovation in the crazy wild world of tech right now. We'll see you I think this will be dropping the week before Inbound and HubSpot. So. Isaac, I don't know that we have a URL or anything but for those of you that are listening, he can find your way to the secret invite only event near bound at night. If you don't know about it. Let us and you're going to inbound you can shoot us a DM it's invite only by the time this drops we'll probably be close to sold out anyways. And excited to hang with you and everyone there anything else Isaac for the folks out there?

Isaac Morehouse 49:50
Nothing that we can talk about yet.

Katie Landaal 49:53
Yes. Yes. All exciting things coming. I'm hoping also this bridges that gap a little bit Jared. So we're in not getting poked at so much at on LinkedIn with a recent post last week.

Jared Fuller 50:05
I was wondering if you saw that and you were gonna bring it up very beginning the very

Katie Landaal 50:11
beginning I was going to but I didn't want to you know start it off on our on rough rough waters but

Jared Fuller 50:16
yeah, well hard conversations easy life. Alright folks, we'll

Isaac Morehouse 50:19
see you later. Where are we? What post? Was it? I don't know if I'm caught up on this.

Katie Landaal 50:25
Oh, this was So Jared posted something kind of a little viral. A little bit viral. He posted something about Oh, that's right. asked how, you know, we obviously went down and valuation and things like that. And he just kind of went on a rant about it.

Jared Fuller 50:40
We should have started with a demand side not Yes. Execution side, which yes, in company that we've seen in my lifetime, that can respond to help change a buyer behavior. zoominfo Yeah, so that was the point I was trying to make. I was definitely not trying to just call out zoominfo Definitely not. But you're very fair point.

Katie Landaal 51:00
No, it's fine. That's just you know, what happens is, yeah, no, it totally happens. But like I said, hopefully this gives you a little bit more insight that you know, we do take it really seriously and we do really value our customers and really want to make sure that we're doing right by them. While we've made mistakes in the past any organization has, but I definitely can tell you we're hyper focused on bouncing back or pivoting or doing what we need to do again to make it right for the customer. So

Jared Fuller 51:28
that's why I think the transition in the day that I laid out Katie to back from like me poking fun and then you deservedly bugging button back. I think it marks the end of zoominfo as a data company, yes truly needs to mark the evolving as a platform

Katie Landaal 51:43
as a platform. Well, I can tell you right now, there's some really awesome cool stuff coming. Obviously can't talk about it. But it'll it'll definitely show you how we're differentiating ourselves from just being you know, known for data. I think. I think it's some pretty exciting stuff. So

Isaac Morehouse 52:02
I just like this idea, Jared of having a guest scheduled and then like the week before they come on. You just was Yeah, I

Katie Landaal 52:10
thought that that was ironic timing. By the way.

Isaac Morehouse 52:15
Let's take shots at our guests before they come on. I like this format.

Jared Fuller 52:18
We're gonna go okay, we did this at the end. So for those of you that stayed all the way to the very end when you thought we were signing off, you got the entertaining part. JT, Isaac, thank you so much. Partner up, peace out. We will see you all next time.

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