By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
We were thrilled this last time to be able to talk to Scott Salkin, CEO of Allbound.
We think we coined a new phrase– Account-Based Partnering!
Channel touches a ton of pieces of your business, which is part of why it’s so complex, but also part of why it can be so effective if you do it right.
Scott and I had just come off of Dreamforce 2017 having spoke on the same panel about Sales Enablement.
In this episode, we ask and answer some great questions including:
Identifying one of the most important things that goes along with growing a great channel.
- What do you see in the market?
- Where do you see the best companies investing and positioning to create a more effective channel?
Find out what he thinks is “the coolest thing and most exciting thing.”
I also asked Scott:
- What is influencing deals to move through the pipeline and actually close?
- How are things being influenced throughout your pipeline and how are you measuring those things and relating it back?
Scott also reveals the people he would put up on his personal Mount Rushmore of sales.
Listen in now or read the transcript below:
More about our Guest:
Scott Salkin is the Founder and CEO of Allbound, a next generation platform that helps companies accelerate revenue through their channel partner programs by replacing portals and PRM with a smart SaaS solution that guides partners to more closed deals and renewals.
Scott’s high-tech career started at the nonprofit San Diego Regional Technology Alliance (SDRTA), providing technology equipment and training to underprivileged communities throughout the region.
His next stops were at Cisco Systems and NetPro Computing (now Dell Software), before launching his first startup, IDS Technology Marketing, in 2007.
Scott has been listed by the Arizona Republic as one if its “Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35,” as one of the Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” and was featured as one of AZ Business Magazine’s “Generation Next Business Leaders.” He was honored as the Phoenix Business Journal and Business Marketing Association (BMA) Marketer of the Year as as a finalist for Arizona’s Tech CEO of the Year.
Scott also served as board president for the Phoenix chapter of the Business Marketing Association (BMA), as Chairman for the Arizona Technology Council’s Startup and Entrepreneurship Committee, and as a board member for Playworks Arizona and for the Arizona Technology Council Foundation.
Matt Heinz: Thank you everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Excited to have you here. If you’re joining us live, as we record every week live, Thursday at 11:30 Pacific/2:30 Eastern. Thank you for joining us. I know we’ve got a number of people that do join us live on a regular basis. Also, for those of you on the podcast, whether you’re listening today or tomorrow or next week or later on, thanks so much for joining us. And every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present and future is available at SalesPipelineRadio.com. We, every week, are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing and today is no different.
Now I have to give a special thanks to our guest today, because we have someone else that is going to try to join us again in a future episode but you know it’s the fall, it’s getting colder, we’re in and out of heating so anyway, previous guest, got a little sick, did not have a voice, could not join us. Last night, at the last minute possible, we had our guest today join us. And I couldn’t be happier and he’s been on my list to get on the radio show for a while. We have Scott Salkin, he is the founder of Allbound.
Scott, thank you so much not only for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio, but doing it so last minute.
Scott Salkin: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Matt Heinz: So, one of the reasons that I thought about Scott for today, not only is he a great speaker and he has great insights on B2B marketing as well as running and growing a business, we were together on a panel yesterday at Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference and it was on the topic of sales enablement. And we’re going to get into a little bit of sales enablement and sales and marketing alignment questions. First I want Scott, just introduce yourself and talk a little bit about Allbound and the work you guys are doing, specifically on the channel marketing and channel management front.
Scott Salkin: Yeah, absolutely, glad to. I’m the founder of Allbound. So, Allbound is a SaaS platform, started up about 2 years, going through an accelerator program in San Francisco, called Acceleprise before getting to market and now growing here in Phoenix, Arizona and we focus 100% on helping companies sell more effectively through their channel partners. When I say channel partners, I mean, referral partners, resellers, MSPs, a ton of technology companies out there. They drive the majority of their business, some of them 100% of their pipeline, of their revenue goes through channel partners, not just the traditional hardware players, but also a lot of SaaS and software companies these days, it’s subscription economy.
There’s some really core elements to making sure you have an effective channel, and the most important thing is keeping your channel engaged. In order to do that, we’ve focus on a couple of key areas, one being sales enablement, of course partner enablement, enabling your partners, but also pipeline management, making sure you’re generating and driving the right leads and providing the right tools and resources as deals move through the pipeline.
This is collaboration and communication with partners. There’s so much reliance on technology these days, you also have to make sure that you’re creating partners like people, that you’re collaborating with them, working with them first. Our technology, our platform helps do those three things, and we’re very passionate about it and we’re helping companies figure out the strategy and then use the right tools to grow great channels through own companies.
Matt Heinz: Yesterday when I asked you this question on the panel, we sort of talked about the idea that channel management is so hard, you said, “Yeah, it’s so hard. I got so frustrated, I created a company to try to solve it.”
Scott Salkin: Yeah.
Matt Heinz: Selling through channel could definitely be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it represents a virtual, motivated sales team that is completely commission-based, is completely incentivized to go out and bring new deals to you. But you also, you lose a lot of control over the process. You’ve got an inside sales team or a direct sales team, you control those, those are your employees, you have more control, more visibility to what’s going on. Talk about how you’ve seen, both in your career as well your clients, sort of manage that balance between opportunity and the complexity of the management side.
Scott Salkin: Yeah, you know I’d like to talk about that. My career started at Cisco Systems. I was an account executive there and Cisco’s one of those places where, we use the term “Never Sell Alone” quite often here now, where at Cisco, you never sold alone. Every deal you ever went into, was with a channel partner. So, the relationships with those partners were critical and not only did they help you pre-sales, and to make sure you were positioning the right technology because you’re helping put together the right strategy and helping get the deal closed, but they’re also really critical post-sales, making that relationship with the customer, who was at the core of the entire business.
Building those partnerships and making sure they were not just something that was there to drive revenue, but also something that was there to make customers more successful, deliver more value at the back end, was an extremely important part of the business. That came from the top down. Cisco, at that time, our CEO was John Chambers, who I’m sure a lot of folks listening here today will know that name. John and the whole company on down was passionate about the role that partners played within the business. I think that’s one of the most important things that goes along with growing a great channel.
You know, like you were saying, channel partners and these businesses that you’re working with to help you grow, they’re basically volunteer sales teams. They’re not getting paid until they close deals, so you’ve got to make sure that they’re aligned with your business, that they are being treated well, that they’re part of your culture, that they’re not just sitting there on an island on their own waiting to get leads delivered to them so that they could possibly drive them to the pipeline. You’ve got to help them do those types of things and make sure that’s a piece of your entire culture from leadership on down to the sales team, the marketing team, the operations team. Channel touches a ton of pieces of your business, which is part of why it’s so complex, but also part of why it can be so effective if you do it right.
Matt Heinz: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Scott Salkin. He is the founder and CEO of Allbound. Scott is, as you can tell, a well-spoken guy but also very humble guy. He’s not going to tell you things like he was Arizona’s top 35 entrepreneurs under 35 a couple of years ago, was the 40 under 40 winner with the business journal down in Arizona, so excited to have him here talking about channel marketing. If you are doing anything around channel marketing, I’d highly encourage you to go to Allbound.com. Great platform to check out, but scroll down the page, you’re going to see a lot of great insights and a lot of great content to help channel marketers.
It’s interesting, you think about the sales and marketing literature that exists, the best practices. As I’ve gotten more familiar with your blog and spending more time there, I’m realizing just how few other sources of best practices exist in the industry around channel sales, channel marketing, why is that? Why do we see so little focus, not just from a product and a platform standpoint, but so little content focused on the channel?
Scott Salkin: It’s interesting, you know, we even call our newsletter “The Niche” because, channel is so niche, and that’s one of the things I found out there while I was working for the field as a channel practitioner, but it was hard to find content and resources and things to really help me advance my career. Eventually, as I started my own consulting company and then found Allbound, that was one of our real big goals, to create more content and resources and provide more things out there that will make channel professionals more successful.
I think as much as the channel is something that’s been in business for a long time, it’s also something that, interestingly enough, is still maturing. I looked at some other areas of technology and in sales right now and I can even consider customer success sales, but look how that’s evolved over the last few years and how almost the category’s been created. And I still think that the category of channels almost being recreated right now. For so long it was so purposeful and important for companies like Microsoft and IBM and HP and Intel, all these companies that you thought of as traditional channel players and then there’s kind of a renaissance. People were starting to wonder, what is going to happen to the channel and how are partners going to work as we move into a cloud and subscription economy where it’s not so much about margins anymore, but it’s more so about how partners provide value throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
I think one of the reasons that there just hasn’t been as much content and resources and thought leadership out there about it, is because there’s been a lot of transition and a lot of change that’s gone on in the space and a lot of thought leadership is just starting to come out more and more these days with more information about the channel. We’re trying to be leaders in that area but it’s fun to see some more folks these days start to write about that as more companies realize the value of what a channel can bring to a business, not just, again, from sales, but through driving efficiencies to the entire company and effecting KPIs like customer acquisition costs, and all the important things to growing a business these days, channel can actively impact, we’re starting to see more thought leadership and more information put out there about that and it’s exciting to see, but it’s still in a re-maturing phase towards what’s happening with channel, partner programs right now.
Matt Heinz: I would agree and I also think that a lot of channel programs are very transactional and very focused just on getting deals closed, almost to the detriment of both parties. You, like me, have probably seen a lot of different channel programs out in the field.
You know we were both at Dreamforce together yesterday and I’m actually, today, in Arizona, just in your neck of the woods at another software company’s partner conference and you can see the clear differences between companies that simply treat their partners as a channel. They treat them as a source of sales and those that also look to enable the channel and help make that channel better. Just because your channel has access to your customer, doesn’t mean they have any idea how to sell to the customer, or follow up with the prospects or manage a pipeline on their own that’s going to make them better. So it seems to me that a small investment in making the channel more successful, making them better, creates better results as well as greater loyalty, but that seems to be the exception to the rule. What do you see in the market? Where do you see the best companies investing and positioning to create a more effective channel?
Scott Salkin: It used to be, I feel like, for a long time and this is one of the frustrations I had before I started Allbound, you know a channel, like you said, was very transactional. It was very much focused on through-partner marketing, how many marketing campaigns, how many cold calls can we get our partners to make to try and have them generate leads? And then, how many deals can they close? And it was also about how many partners can we get? The more partners we have, the more successful we’re going to be, so let’s just get as many partners as we possibly can and see how many deals we can get them close but without really paying much attention to the strategy, their engagement, the enablement, the real important higher touch pieces to make those partners successful.
You know a lot of folks have heard about account-based marketing, account-based sales, account-based everything these days. I feel a little about what’s happening these days is account-based partnering. Something the whole channel model, where folks are starting to put a lot more focus on the partners that they see as being more successful, where they are aligned better through their business, that they can really bring in and align to the practices of their company and build great partnerships, not just with the company, with the people.
We used to often hear partners referred to just as the company’s name. “Hey, I’m partnered with Insight” or “I’m partnered with CBW” but really who you’re partnered with are the individual sales reps within those companies you’re trying to drive engagement with and you’re trying to build relationships with to help drive sales, to help make customers more successful.
The companies that we see doing it best are the ones who are really paying attention to the higher touch pieces of that. You can still automate a lot and take care of the low hanging fruit with technology, but what can you be doing in terms of making sure that for example, your partners are not the last ones to know when you’re rolling out a new product. The next time you’re rolling out a marketing campaign, you’re releasing a whitepaper, you create some new sales collateral or competitor documentation, the partners aren’t necessarily the last ones to see that. Now they’re part of the whole collaborative structure of your organization between sales and marketing and operations and everything else, the channel fits in, is align directly within that and it’s not again, just sitting out to the side.
It used to be, I always saw that companies would create their sales and martech stack and then they’d have a separate channel stack. I always thought, “Why would you ever want do that? Why not, especially these days, include the channel stack as part of your martech stack, include channel technology as part of your martech stack?” Integrate it and leverage the best of three technologies you have. If you’re using, marketing automation, if you’re using CRM, if you’re using account-based marketing technology, how can you leverage that for your channels, not create an entirely separate stack.
Again, I think the more aligned that that channel is and the more that comes down from top-level leadership. I know the conference you’re at this week, with CEO on down, it is a strategic initiative and it’s drilled into the rest of the company that the channel and these partners that we have are core to us growing our business. And the more that can part of that message throughout the company and the culture of the company, the better you’re going to be and that goes along to everything that you’re doing in terms of enablement and tools and resources and how you manage your pipeline and everything. It’s got to be integrated in there.
Matt Heinz: Absolutely and I think we, some breaking news here, Paul. We just invented a new term account-based partnering? ABP? What we need in this industry is clearly more account-based things. Just a little bit, but I think, Scott, to your point there, really, really well-taken and I think that, I don’t know, feels like there’s an 80/20 rule there. I think a little bit of investment, a little bit of better thought and brand and precision and forethought can really help people get more out of their channel.
We’re going to have to take a quick break here, pay some bills. We’ll be back in a couple of minutes with more from Scott. We’re going to pivot and talk a little more about sales and marketing alignment and the relationship between sales and marketing’s happened. Find out what Scott’s been driving at Allbound and what he’s seeing elsewhere in the market. Thanks very much for listening, we’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: You know, Matt, I just went to Google and looked up account-based partnership and it’s already there and both of your pictures are listed right next to the Wikipedia entry there. Very quick it happened.
Matt Heinz: I was going to say, somebody better go to GoDaddy and get Account-based Partnering.com right away. For those of you listening live, you’re probably going to get first dibs on cracking that. Although I bet you during the commercial breaks, Scott probably had his team already working on that, knowing that’s coming down the line.
Well thanks very much again for joining us here on Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ve got a few more minutes here with Scott Salkin, our guest. He is the founder of Allbound, a fantastic platform for managing channel relationships. Highly encourage you to go to Allbound.com, check out what they’re doing. Lots of great content if you are at all involved in managing channel partnerships and driving any sales to the channel, highly encourage you to check out their content. Lots of really good stuff there.
So Scott, wanted to pivot a little bit for the rest of our time here and talk a little about that relationship between sales and marketing. Our panel yesterday was very focused on the changing dynamics between sales and marketing. I mean there are a lot of ways to look at this. In some cases, I see marketing now reporting up through sales as part of what companies will describe as a revenue team. I’m seeing marketing organizations manage inside sales and sales development functions. Lots of moving parts, I think a lot of it seems focused on trying to drive better alignment and revenue responsibility across both organizations.
What are you driving at Allbound directly and then what are you seeing in the marketplace now, relative to that alignment?
Scott Salkin: Here’s what I think is the coolest thing and most exciting thing, is that I think we’re at a point right now where sales and marketing agree more than ever that they need to be aligned. I think sales and marketing alignment is has been a topic we’ve talked about for a while, the way we reach our prospects and our customers has just been changing so much over the last decade, decade and a half, and sales and marketing alignments has been a big topic, but it’s been an evolving topic. I think now there’s just this concrete agreement now that sales needs marketing more than ever and they’ll freely admit it that at the top third of the sales cycle being evaporated into research and self-learning by the customer, that relationship is more critical than ever.
I think that is the first and foremost thing that has to be looked at in terms of getting sales and marketing alignment. Everyone must to align but that in order to do that, they have to ground some really critical elements that’s going to help them do so. It’s not just saying “Yes, sales and marketing needs to be aligned,” it’s saying, “We’re going to do it, and here’s how we’re going to do it.” It’s starts with some key areas. Companies needing to get their sales and marketing teams together and aligned on things like, who the target buyer is and what the buying process is. Not just looking at buyer personas, but looking at actual buying processes for the organization. Looking at the revenue process, looking at conversion points throughout the entire funnel. Making sure your messaging is aligned.
I talked a lot yesterday about things like making sure that you have a lot of optimization and feedback loops. You’ve got communication throughout the entire process with sales and marketing. You’ve got meetings and goals to review those and you want to set goals. You also you want to have service level agreements between sales and marketing, in terms of what quotas look like but also what’s the follow up process, in terms of when a lead comes in, when is NQL or SQL is created. How is sales following up with those? What’s the timing like? What’s the feedback like? Where sales is providing feedback back to marketing, how often is that happening?
I think the agreement that sales and marketing needs to be aligned is step one, but then don’t do a lot of these critical elements not just checking the boxes, but making sure they’re there and they’re strategically identified and worked on is critical for organizations and for the leadership and for practitioners as well.
Matt Heinz: Well this conversation is relevant to the channel discussion we had earlier as well. I think a lot of people that are managing channels treat it a little bit like a product marketing exercise, traditionally, which in many companies means creating a bunch of collateral and throwing it out to a group and hoping it sticks.
If that is your objective, if that is your prime focus as a channel manager, than you are leaving it to the rest of the organization to actually drive results. If you’re measuring your success based on the volume of collateral you’ve produced for the channel versus some measure of pipeline contribution, some measure of channel marketing influenced-deal. I realize that’s more elusive and I know that’s a lot of what you’re trying to do at Allbound as well, but it seems like whether you’re doing that directly or through the channel, that alignment is critical, not easy, but it’s proof.
Scott Salkin: Right, I think one of the most important things we heard yesterday was around not just attribution in terms of where deals are coming from and how they’re being attributed to what campaign or what activity you’re doing, but I thought this is the best sentence I heard yesterday was influence. What is influencing deals to move through the pipeline and actually close? It’s in terms of content influence in terms of events you’re attending, events you’re speaking at, relationships you’re having, dinners you’re hosting, meals you’re having with customers or prospects, referrals that are coming in the door. How are things being influenced throughout your pipeline and how are you measuring those things and relating it back? With the technology stacks that you’ve put together today, you’re able to actually put some data and put some actual information behind those.
I think it’s important and it’s important when you’re developing content and you’re developing tools and resources that it’s not just the overall content strategy that you put together, but that you’re really looking at things like learning how content’s being used, where it’s being found, and how it’s being found and why it’s being used by your prospects, I’m sorry by your sales reps during the sales cycle and how that influence is happening. The more you can actually get some information and some feedback from your sales and marketing teams on effectiveness, the better you understand what you need to be creating, when you need to be creating it and how it’s going to influence each phase of the sales cycle. I think there’s tools to do that, but I also think it goes back to communication and how your team is working together and it goes back to that alignment piece.
Matt Heinz: So you’re still in San Francisco, I assume, still finishing out the Dreamforce experience with 130,000 of our good friends in software to service world.
Scott Salkin: You know I heard 180,000 this year.
Matt Heinz: I felt it, just walking around. You know I was only in town for a couple of days but just the crush of humanity is something. As we wrap up here, I’m just curious, your feedback on what you saw the last couple of days, especially for those listeners that weren’t able to make it and also, what’s your strategy going into a conference of this size? It’s easy to just get crazy busy and just follow the crowd and get absolutely nothing done. What did you think of this year’s show and what’s strategy at show of this size to get the most out of it?
Scott Salkin: What I saw and what you see at Dreamforce is such a reflection of what sales and marketing sees today, the good and the bad, in terms of all of the noise and all of the information and all of the products and all of the stuff that’s just out there that you’ve got to compete with for very limited dollars. Everyone out there almost who were speaking at Dreamforce as you walk into Expo Hall, thousands of companies there.
The hall was very oftentimes hard to distinguish messaging from the guy in the booth next to them. It’s complex, it’s complicated. You’ve really got to work hard to distinguish yourself, to make yourself different and it takes a lot of work on the inside to make sure that, again, you’re really identifying who those prospective buyers are, what the personas are. You’re looking at your messaging, you’re viewing those with your sales team, that you’re doing ladder walks. Talk about marketing and sales aligning, when I say ladder walks have marketing sit on calls, listen to calls with the reps, making sure that the messaging is on cue and on par with what’s being presented everywhere else by the thought leadership you’re creating. The more content you create, the more important things like sales enablement are to make sure that your sales team’s aligned with the message you’re creating.
Dreamforce is such an amazing representation of what’s actually happening out there right now in terms of, I don’t want to say gold rush, but it’s almost just this rush to create products and try and get them in the door to folks and you’ve really got to be focused on the alignment, it’s the message of what you are trying to get across and there are entrepreneurs, CEOs, folks listening to this call, the vision and mission and dream that you have of growing a company and how you’re getting that across. I think those things are critical and it’s tough to distinguish yourself.
Matt Heinz: Alright, last question, quickly before we have to wrap up here that we like to ask people in your position. If there was a Mount Rushmore of sales and I’m thinking about the people that have influenced you, whether they’re mentors of yours in your past, whether they are authors, speakers, bloggers, people that you’ve read. It can be a former boss, it could be Zig Zigler, it could be all over the map. Who are the maybe two or three people that you would put up on your personal Mount Rushmore of sales?
Scott Salkin: You know I don’t mean to be cliché, but I always think, of course, the man who comes to mind first for me Steve Jobs. I think what better sales guy have we seen up there in terms of not just being an innovator but the guy who actually get that message across so clearly and really gets you to believe so much. I think he was such an amazing sales and marketing mind that he has to be up there. From my point of view and my perspective, being in technology, I think a guy like him is amazing.
You know you see these days so many folks writing books on sales methodology and everything else, that it’s hard to distinguish between all of technology stuff right now, but I think other folks out there, I like to go to these technology leaders. I was a huge believer in guys like John Chambers, who grew and built Cisco into what it was. John did some amazing things and he was just one of those guys who was just a transformational leader, who with thousands of reps in a sales conference at the end of the year, having just gone through a strenuous year and missing quota or hitting quota or wherever you were, had to re-energize that team to get back the next day and start going after the numbers again. Those types of leaders are amazing. So John was a great guy and maybe kind of, a little different of an answer, I could put out there.
And gosh, I cannot think of one more.
Matt Heinz: Well that’s enough for now, I know we’re going to run out of time here. It doesn’t matter that you’re using people that everyone thinks of ’cause it just reinforces how important these folks are and how much we have to learn from them.
So Scott, I just want to thank again so much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. We covered a lot of good ground here. I know you are doing this while still traveling and trying to get home. I’m looking out the window and it’s eighty degrees and it’s just a beautiful day here in Scottsdale, so safe travels getting home. Thanks so much for joining us, especially last minute. Encourage everyone to check out Scott’s business Allbound. Go to Allbound.com if you’re doing anything around channel marketing, channel sales.
Got a lot of great guests coming up the rest of the fall, into the holiday season here and the end of 2017. We’re going to let you go, join us next week on Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ll have more great guests. You can join us anytime at SalesPipelineRadio.com.
Paul has his finger on the trigger, ready to move us along. Thanks very much, Paul, for all your great work. This is Matt Heinz. Thanks for listening to Sales Pipeline Radio.