Ops Cast

How Marketing Ops can Support Nearbound GTM Strategies with Justin Gray

February 12, 2024 Michael Hartmann and Justin Gray Season 1 Episode 104
Ops Cast
How Marketing Ops can Support Nearbound GTM Strategies with Justin Gray
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Show Notes Transcript

This episode is the first of a series we are working on to educate our audience about some emerging Go-to-market approaches, and to provide guidance on how you, as a marketing ops professional, can be an enabler for these GTM approaches. 

In today's episode, we will be talking with Justin Gray about Nearbound GTM Strategies. Justin is an award-winning 5X entrepreneur who has made a career of launching and scaling companies and guiding them to successful exits of over 250MM. In 2018, Justin started angel investing to make strategic investments in founders he believes in and is currently a Limited Partner in several Funds.

He is now Co-founder and Managing Director of In Revenue Capital, where he couples GTM expertise with venture funding to empower Seed stage founders and their startups, through a first of its kind model called Operator-Immersive capital.

Justin is a strong voice for pragmatic entrepreneurship, Partner-Led Growth, and building intentional performance culture. As a recognized speaker and thought leader, Justin has presented at top industry conferences and has been published over 500 times in publications.

Tune in to hear: 

  • Justin introduces the concept of Nearbound GTM strategy, discussing its definition and implications.
  • He outlines the key market drivers that prompted his team to adopt the Nearbound approach.
  • Justin emphasizes the importance of building relationships across the organization for successful implementation of Nearbound strategy.
  • The conversation delves into the impact of Nearbound approach on talent identification, hiring, and retention, questioning whether the current models are adaptable to this strategy.

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Michael Hartmann:

Welcome to another episode of Opscasts brought to you by MarketingOps.com powered by the MoPros. I'm your host, Michael Hartmann. Flying solo today, which is all good. Uh, Mike and Naomi will be back soon, I'm sure. All right. For this episode, it's the first of a series that we're working on that is going to help educate our audience about some emerging go to market approaches and help provide guidance on how you as marketing professional is going to be an enabler. Or an advocate, even for some of these approaches at your organization to join us in that conversation for this first one is Justin Gray. We're going to be talking about near bound go to market strategies. Justin is an award winning five time entrepreneur who has made a career of launching and scaling companies and guiding them to successful equity exits of over 250 million in 2018. He started angel investing and to make strategic investments in founders. He believes in, and is currently a limited partner in several funds. He is now also co founder and managing director of in revenue capital, where he couples go to market expertise with venture funding to empower seed stage founders and their startups through a first of its kind model called operator immersive capital, uh, he is a strong voice of. For pragmatic entrepreneurship, partner like growth and building intentional performance culture and is recognized speaker and thought leader, and he has presented at top industry conferences and published over 500 times in publications. So wow on that. So, Justin, uh, thanks for joining us today. Yeah, that's a lot

Justin Gray:

of intro to live up to. I'll try to, uh, not fall on my face here.

Michael Hartmann:

It'll, it'll be good. We're, we're, we're gentle. So we try to be, um, so I think, I think, um, one of the things we're going to need to do for a lot of these, if it's, if our audience is like me, some of these, um, terms that are going to be used in these new approaches. Uh, and we make, if you're like me, you make assumptions about what they all mean, but I don't want to do that. So, yeah, so this idea of near bound go to market strategy, maybe it would be helpful for you to just give a thumbnail sketch of what does that actually mean?

Justin Gray:

Yeah, it's good question. Um, because there's so many terms that people are using for, you know, this partner led near bound partner ecosystem. Um, I would say it's, it's just. I mean, everything revolves around relationships. And so if you look at what's going on these days with, you know, what's been called inbound outbound, um, the reason I do like the near bound term is it's, it's, you know, it lends itself. To an application across all of those traditional go to market strategy. So you're, you're, you're not giving up, you know, any of the motions that, you know, we've been running for the past, you know, two decades, but you're doing that in a more intentional manner to get access to relationships. And so I really do think about, you know, Nearbound as fundamentally as access to relationships. And of course that comes predominantly through partners.

Michael Hartmann:

Is it so, I mean, part of this feels a little bit like the way things were. When I first got into the, the, you know, formal work world and that, you know, relationship seems like they were really important back then too. And it was very, but it was all, you know, people had, uh, the old, the old thing was, you know, salespeople had their Rolodex, right? So is it, is it going, like, it's a little bit like going back to what. Some of those fundamentals or is it something new now?

Justin Gray:

I think that it's fundamentally a recognition that like all these gimmicky things that, you know, I'm sorry, marketers have been gravitating towards for the last 10, 15, 20 years. Under the heading of digital marketing, like are those cycles of success are getting shorter and shorter. So it used to be you could put out an email blast and like, Oh my God, you know, an email that's tailored to who I am and my preferences. And I'm going to respond to that. Like now everyone's flooded with, with email, you know, you're flooded across all these channels, content and so on. And so I do think it's coming back and recognizing that. you know, when people buy, they are looking to gain trust. And the best way to do that is through someone that has already, you know, serve them in the past. They, they, you know, understand their needs. They understand where the pains are and they can kind of guide you in that process, but it's also coupling that with a lot of these, you know, newer, uh, tactics and strategies. So, you know, the example is, you know, am I going to do. Targeted outbound, you know, in your own strategy. Absolutely. But like, why wouldn't I rather than a cold list? Why wouldn't I start with a list that I've curated with one of my partners? I understand again, the pain points of the folks, you know, within that that segment, and I can intelligently leverage that relationship, my message. You know, my understanding of that organization. So it just makes everything, in my opinion, more intelligent, quite frankly. So that's why I do like thinking about it as an overlay for inbound, for outbound, for content marketing, for, you know, target account marketing or ABM, whatever you want to call it. It's just understanding how you can get access to relationships and information and then informing those strategies as a result.

Michael Hartmann:

No, that's, that's good. Uh, you hinted, I think a little bit at some of the drivers behind this. Yeah. You talked about the, like the decreasing effectiveness of some digital channels, for example. What are some of the major things, maybe there are others beyond that, that you say are drivers to, that led you and others to get to this model of near bound go to market? I mean,

Justin Gray:

I think just. Fundamentally, no one is buying something unless it means a multiplier for their business, right? Like, you're seeing a lot fewer experiments being run out there. Like, everything is about value, and it's about understanding what that value is going to be, and it has to be an order of magnitude in order for someone to make that decision. Like, folks just aren't spending in the way that they have been in the past. That's, of course, fueled by this whole efficient growth. Uh, kind of movement and so on, which is really just a guise for good business. Um, you know, why, why would you invest in something unless you had a really strong understanding that that was going to be meaningful for your organization? And so how do you get a window into that, you know, that again, I think is best served through relationships, uh, and getting access to folks, uh, in a way where you understand what they need already. You can kind of bring that value forward because you can put together. You know, a business case, a uh, an ROI model a, you know, you can, you can show them that value upfront, maybe even using the, the solution that you're selling. Um, and so it's demonstrative, right? And, and it's really difficult to make that investment on the selling side if you don't have that same understanding of fit and a, you know, uh, uh, mutual value and, and so on. So it really does inform both sides of that. But to your point. Um, you know, the, the, the very superficial, uh, spring and pray type method just isn't yielding any result. And so you have to look elsewhere to, uh, to grow a business.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. It's interesting. Cause it, the, the word that kind of keeps coming up and I've talked to you and others is this word of trust, which I think is truly important. And I, having been a buyer more than a seller in my career, like I think when I found trusted people, I'm more likely to, to. Or at least I have a very, you know, we have a conversation. I mean, my take on trust though, is it's really hard to develop it, right? You have to put an investment in it and it's really easy to lose it. Right. And so to me, this then has implications on how. On the timing and the timeline for getting the value back for investing in those building those trusted relationships. So are you also seeing changes in how people should? Or are you suggesting people make changes in how they're measuring the effectiveness of these strategies?

Justin Gray:

Yeah, I think fundamentally you have to change how you're how you're measuring these strategies like you can't just put, you know, a blanket of digital ads out there or, you know, email blasts and nurture and so on. And then expect, you know, a straight line ROI around that. So, you know, partnership and Nearbound really starts with developing those partnerships, you know, at the onset, and that in and of itself takes time, right? Like you have to us. evaluate your customer. You have to understand who else is serving them. You have to understand who's, you know, has access to your buyer. Um, then you have to find fit between your organization and their organization. Um, there's some runway involved there certainly. Um, and you know, I think that's what we see, you know, day in, day out as we work with our portfolio companies, because these are all very early stage organizations, right? Like they don't have. Massive brands in the space. Um, and so getting them to understand that fundamentally, this is going to take some time and investment. Um, but normally, even within that investment period, you can start to see some, some, you know, opportunity precipitate like it's not uncommon. Sure. Um, if you understand like a who, who those great partners are, and you get access to multiple layers within the org, the partner team, the executive team, the selling team, It's uncommon to walk out of even those first couple meetings with some potential joint opportunities that, that are very real and very near term. So, um, I think you have to look at that, you know, through two lenses. You have to always be mining for that, that near term stuff, but you can't forego that, um, or you can't forego the longer term just for the sake of that. Uh, you know, that immediate gratification.

Michael Hartmann:

Sure. Yeah. I mean, it feels like there's, there needs to be a mix of both quantitative and qualitative metrics, right? So

Justin Gray:

there's, yeah. That's why it's. It's frankly so difficult to run these programs without the participation of the executive team, without the buy in of the CEO. Um, because there is certainly going to be some, some qualitative and quantitative involved. And, and a lot of that is just being close to that relationship and, and kind of seeing that momentum build.

Michael Hartmann:

It's interesting. It just popped in my head. My wife, uh, does fundraising and volunteer stuff quite a bit. And, and now. vocationally, she's doing it. And I know that one of the things she is really, really good at is providing value to potential donors or existing donors and things like that. And it feels like it's a similar thing, right? There's building that relationship and the connections between relationships to others and taking advantage of not advantage, but You know, taking advantage, leveraging those. Yeah, I think that's an interesting, uh, over when it's, yeah, I think the allure of digital marketing solutions has been that the metrics were easy to come by and you could share immediate impact. And I think that's the danger that the downside has been that you get very short sighted. So, um, so you, you wrote, um, an article and thanks for sharing this with, with me, uh, in Wired Magazine sometime last year in 2023. And one of the things that really caught my attention, you, you started alluding to it when you talked about the buy in of the organization that there is. You know, for this kind of approach to be really successful, it probably needs to be embedded in the whole process of how you build your organization in terms of the people. So hiring, onboarding, uh, retaining, recruiting, like all those things. Like how, like, am I, is that something you feel strongly is a part of that? And like, how would you suggest, like, how do you think that needs to come to life in these organizations when they're taking this kind of strategy on?

Justin Gray:

Yeah, I mean, so even if you think about understanding who your best partners are going to be right, like you have to think about that across the buying journey. And so, you know, the anecdote here is so I used to run a digital marketing go to market consultancy and Our primary go to market motion was through our software partners, not all of those software partners were going to be, you know, uh, focused on their net new acquisition, you know, so we weren't always co selling, you know, for, for net new logos. Oftentimes we were looking at, you know, the maturity on those platforms, what were their pain points? Churn was, was a very common pain point. And so we could prescribe our services later within that buying journey to where someone was. You know, in under a CSM, they were being serviced by a customer success team. And that team was, you know, managing 250 to 500 logos at one time, really difficult to be effective, um, and be an expert when you've got a 20 something, uh, CS rep trying to like manage off a red, green, uh, yellow. Type of dashboard, right? Like, what are they ultimately going to prescribe that? It's going to be meaningful to that customer. And so it was a really great relationship, you know, where we thought we'd find those pain points. Maybe someone's pain point, you know, to the top of funnel point was like, we just need to acquire new logos. We need access to trust and we could help them in that manner. But more often, it was, you know, we need people to find real value within our solution. Can you design services? Can you enable our CS team? Um, you know, and, you know, what are those particular measures that are going to be impactful to them and really zoning in making those KPIs? So I think when you're evaluating partnerships, you can't get so myopic, which I feel like so many organizations do in terms of like, you know, acquisition or, or source, you know, quote unquote, sourced revenue. Um, that tends to be like the very shiny object that kills a ton of partnerships. If you're not, if you can avoid looking at something through that, you know, very myopic lens and understand, all right, where could this partner. Influence my customer along the journey. We want them to take, uh, and align those partnerships correctly. It's it's so much more impactful. And that really is a, uh, it's a necessity to involve, you know, not only the entire team, but again, I mentioned the executive team because oftentimes partnership teams are spun up to do one thing and that's drive net new revenues. And unfortunately, that's not where the value in all partnerships resides.

Michael Hartmann:

So do you think when you say, I mean, it feels like that this has implications all the way up and down and across an organization, like it could even play into roles, you know, that are not strictly go product, product, finance, finance, maybe operations, because there, if there's interactions with those clients or prospects in any place, right, you want that to continue to be building trust.

Justin Gray:

Absolutely. So, I mean, the partner really becomes your, you know, first order customer. Right. And to your point earlier, like you've got to be managing those relationships. You've got to like, uh, some of our most successful go to market investment was sponsoring all the RKOs and SKOs of our partners, right? Like we were right there talking to, you know, their sellers, their CS folks, like what are their, their key initiatives for that year? What, what KPIs are they looking to drive? What joint clients do we share? What joint prospects do we share? And really we'd have a, you know, Uh, an unfiltered audience right to the folks that mattered the most on. So a lot of that investment, you know, that's not tied directly to an individual sales cycle that's tied to fostering that relationship and into treating those folks like our customers. And, you know, again, that's where most of this motion starts, which is fostering those relationships so that you can, you know, you can sell that one to get access to many on the back end.

Michael Hartmann:

Right. Yeah. Do you think that there needs to be a little, I mean, first off, I, I think the whole process for hiring is kind of broken a lot of ways. I don't know that I have, I don't know that I have a great, any solutions or ideas for how to fix it. Cause it's. So just some fundamental things in the way that things happen, but I do, like, it does feel like there's probably some things that need to be incorporated into the companies want to have this kind of strategy in terms of how they're, what are some of the maybe soft skills and things like that they're looking for and people they hire. Across the organization. Do you think, do you think that, you know, HR and talent teams can adapt to some of this stuff?

Justin Gray:

Well, I think first and foremost, I want to say that, like, I don't agree with lighting up a traditional partner team in order to create a nearbound motion, like I think it, it fundamentally starts with the teams that are already in place with your sellers, with your customer success folks, with your marketers, uh, those folks have to learn how to, to, you You know, partner led motions. Uh, and I think to your point earlier on, like, Hey, a lot of this stuff sounds like very traditional selling really good sellers are already doing this stuff. Um, and so, you know, it really is about threading that, you know, across the rest of the organization. Can they do that now enabled, you know, with marketing? Can they do that? Uh, and, and, you know, leverage partners for successful handoffs to CS folks and so on. Um, but once you've built up some of that DNA and you started to see some of that return. Then, you know, most times it, uh, necessitates that we spin up a team that really is focused on this 24 seven. And to that point, yeah, like you, you have to do. I think H. R. like, I'm not a big fan of H. R. running any hiring process. Um, I'm a big fan of those hiring processes being informed by, you know, the direct. Team and direct managers, uh, and even the direct relationships that they have. So hiring from partners, hiring from, you know, other vendors is a really successful strategy. Um, but I think if they're involved and they know what it looks like and they can kind of. Plus that out within those candidates that maybe have been doing that, you know, pieces of that on their own, or, you know, maybe even doing it successfully in teams at scale, you're going to be able to see their perspective kind of come to light. The thing I hear most often when I talk to people about partnerships in a hiring capacity is like. Well, you know, I, I, I, I'm looking to learn, you know, the partner stuff from you guys. It sounds really interesting. It's like, alright, great, well that's not the best candidate for this role. Um, I'm really looking for someone that can tell me stories about how they've gone out and forged relationships on their own because they knew it was gonna provide them access, uh, and, and provide them, uh, success towards the, the, the metrics that all sellers are, are engaged by, which is of course bookings and revenue.

Michael Hartmann:

Right. Yeah. I think that's, you already had something provocative. We're going to get, you know, all the HR folks out there going to come after us now, but, uh, that's all right. They're already

Justin Gray:

after me. I'm pretty vocal about it.

Michael Hartmann:

Um, okay. So, um, since our audience is, you know, primarily marketing ops, revenue ops folks, uh, what do you think the. The biggest challenges or benefits that might accrue from this for marketing ops leaders and practitioners, if they're going, if they're either advocating for or being asked to support a near bound approach.

Justin Gray:

Yeah. So if you think about, you know, partnerships and relationships, what's the biggest challenge to these programs, even once they get off the ground, and that's that it traditionally resides in someone's head. And so if you can take that information out of someone's head and put it into systems so that you can really, so I'll even zoom back, like, let's say that you have no, you know, partner motion whatsoever, you don't have any partners, you're very new organization, like the first thing that you're going to want to see is. What are our customers using? Like, who are they engaged with out there? And where do you go to look for that? Like, probably not within your, your systems of record or, or your CRM. Like, that's the fundamental change that needs to happen. So I'm a big proponent of, uh, you know, partner attach. Across, you know, all, all, all a critical system, certainly CRM and, you know, any marketing tools, marketing, automation, whatever it happens to be. If you think about your database as a window into relationships and you can operationalize that, that becomes the absolute critical, uh, you know, it becomes the focal point for getting these for driving success within these programs. Because the first thing you're going to want to know is all right. Okay. Who out there has access to my target account, my ICP and you know, are they selling to the same buying centers that I want to sell them to again, like most people are going to start going, you know, online to LinkedIn to different data, you know, technographic data sources to figure all that out. If you can bring partner attach as a centerpiece to all of your systems of record, that then becomes your window into okay. You know, our 15 best customers are all leveraging these two partners. Well, that's a pretty good place to start from a partnership standpoint. And then certainly as your sellers are selling and your marketers are going to market, like that segmentation is going to be what drives their campaigns, because you know what it is that people are doing with that partner. You know, the value that they're getting, you know, how your solution bolts into theirs and makes a one plus one equals 10 type situation. Um, so we have to be able to understand. You know where the relationships are within our prospect in our customer base. So that partner attach Aspect and you know as far as i've seen no system is doing that out of the box And so I think you know, that's up to to rev ops folks and marketing ops folks to build that functionality And keep that data fresh because that should be what is informing every single campaign and every single go to market motion that we run

Michael Hartmann:

So I just when you say partner attach, I think I think what you're saying is capturing what partners are involved with what?

Justin Gray:

It's that one to many relationship, right? Like we used to build it. We used to build it in a, in a partner's custom object, uh, in Salesforce users, right? Like, and we would, we would tag all of our, you know, on a yearly basis at minimum, we'd refresh our TAM and ICP. And then as the nearest neighbor, it was, all right, what partners are they using? Right? Like which of our partners, which, which technologies across the landscape, what other consulting firms, analyst firms, whatever it happens to be. The more information we had there, you could immediately look at an account and say, Oh, well, I've got relationships with three of their tightest vendors. That's where I'm going to go to start informing how I'm going to sell into that organization. So that visibility is just

Michael Hartmann:

critical. Yeah. So to play the skeptic a little bit. Um, how, like, what, what's the, how do you build an incentive for people to make sure that that is updated and accurate in those systems? I mean, I go back to this. I think most marketing apps folks would say that. And probably revenue ups to sales ops would Expect getting salespeople just to maintain opportunity data is a struggle keeping it consistent So how this seems like an extra bit I could see the value downstream, but how do you get them to see it?

Justin Gray:

Well, I think if everyone is incentivized around, you know some uh visibility in the bookings and that varies with With people's roles and so on. And I think if you've run it, and this is like at the, at the very granular, what we go through with our portcos, like we will actually, you know, get embedded with them, we will forge these partner relationships and then we'll run some cycles and we will show them explicitly how much more successful those partner involved cycles are than, you know, some cold outbound campaign, or even someone that comes in through the website, because you know, so much more about. That that buyer and that organization and how they buy, like what was their procurement process? Like who was on the buying committee? Am I selling to the right individual? All that information is informed by partners. And once you start to see the success and the velocity and the deal size and all the metrics that we want to measure grow in the positive direction, it naturally creates that. Like when I know this, It makes my job easier and you almost have to kind of go around to each one of those departments and show them that, uh, you know, that win and and then that behavior comes along with it. But, you know, you also incentivize people to build things that scale. So like, uh, You know, our technographic partners, we actually had a system that would, you know, we use a data provider to bring that into the system. Anytime we saw that, that tag, it actually through automation attached the right partner. And so it wasn't about like, you know, having to do all these data imports and so on, like we created automation and created scale with those systems, but it was because fundamentally people saw that like. 80 percent of our revenue is being driven by partners. And when they're involved, we've got better clients. We've got larger deals. We've got, you know, windows into what we want to sell them next. Um, and so it just really becomes a cultural touchstone at the center. And then all of the right behaviors really stem from the fact that people are seeing success in this area and often in a big way.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. It, it, it feels like. This should inform operations teams about rather than focusing on just pure metrics, right? How do we enable? The sellers and the other marketers jobs to be easier by whether it's through automation. So it's more about enabling them to be more efficient and better as opposed to just, I mean, there's an accountability piece that still needs to be there, but it feels like it might change your priorities on what you do in terms of Evolving your systems and technology stack. Yeah. I

Justin Gray:

mean, that's why I love attaching, you know, ops folks rev ops marketing ops Whatever we want to call it. Um to pipeline metrics to bookings metrics Right, like fundamentally what you're doing should be informing those motions Like you're you're largely in a support motion and you are supporting sales and you're supporting demand gen right and and so The more we can tie people to success and drive the incentive for the right behaviors, and again, you get visibility into, wow, this stuff's really working, um, that tends to be the kind of You know, light bulb moments that I see out there. Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

I mean, the, the, the model you described made me think about, I had a role at one point where I had mostly marketing ops, but I also had a small inbound team for a while. And it was the whole, that whole idea was new at this company, various sales relationship driven business. And I had one sales leader I had heard through the grapevine was really not. He was kind of undermining what we were doing for lead qualification routing and didn't think that it was going to add much value. So I went through that exercise of looking at the deals that went through to his team from through that versus those that didn't and looked at the difference in the velocity, the average deal size. Close percentage, close one percentage, things like that. Eventually that person became the biggest advocate, right? Because I think it didn't saw the

Justin Gray:

value of it. And to the point earlier about partner attach, everyone asks me like, what are the new metrics? What are the new like KPIs that, that organizations need to be measuring with, you know, a near bound, a partner led approach. And my answer is always the same. Everything you're measuring right now, but through the lens. Of that, that partner involvement, right? Like when we have three or four or five, whatever it is, partners attached to that, that prospect, how is that performing? You know, how, how is it, what, what is the, um, you know, our deal sources? What does our, uh, opportunity, uh, pipeline look like? What's the velocity look like there? What's the booking success? What is the customer MPS? Like you could follow this all the way through to every single metric that we, we already measure. But when you're able to segment that by. You know, the, the involvement of partners and then, you know, even better, the co selling, you know, co selling motions with partners. All right, great. They've got four of our partners that we can leverage, you know, from an insight perspective, but we're actually co selling with two of them into that deal, how does that affect all of those metrics, um, the results are I've never seen. Uh, those results being negative. Um, so it's always, you know, a lift because you're, you just know more about that buyer. And again, you're, you're kind of, um, you know, in proximity, you're, you're catching some of that trust that goodwill because someone Right alongside you saying, Hey, trust these folks, like their solution really works. You've seen this at, you know, X, Y and Z corporation, so on and so forth. Um, so the, the same thing that relationship sellers are doing, we're really looking to do that at scale. Um, and that's what some of these operational components can really enable. Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

So curious. I, I think the majority of this is probably. We'll make a lot of sense for people who are in say tech tech companies. Do you, do you think this, this has, do you think this would work as well in. Non tech companies, maybe sort of pure b2b product companies where they're baking widgets or whatever.

Justin Gray:

Yeah, I mean We kind of hinted at the product, uh aspect earlier So like one of our partners, uh was very early sales loft and like ran product over there ran partnerships Like if you could understand you know, what your prospects are using from a technology perspective, how your technology integrates with that, uh, what the gaps are there, like what are, what are customers looking to do that can inform your, your product roadmap. It informs, you know, how you bring that product to market. Um, there's really no aspect of a business that, that, you know, relationships and trust wouldn't better enable. Um, and so you just have to figure out, you know, it all centers around the customer. What do they need? What are they using? Where are they looking to get solutions to those pain points? How do you fit in? How do the partners fit in? What is that, that gap what's left over, right? Like, and how do you come together to fill that gap? Um, so I, I think if you're placing the customer at the center of things and really using them as a proxy for who you should be partnership partnered with. And, you know, how your joint value prop together serves those, those organizations, it can inform, you know, any aspect of that, that buying cycle, any industry, any vertical, um, as long as it's centered and kind of linchpin by the customer.

Michael Hartmann:

Um, do you think of, so this podcast is linked to the marketingops. com community, right? So do you think there's a place for communities in, in this ecosystem as well? Do you think of them as partners or is it another step in kind of the, the, the network of place where you can build relationships?

Justin Gray:

Yeah. I mean, I'll go back to, you know, the lead MD example, which again was my consultancy. Like we looked at, at communities like this. In fact, we looked at this exact community as, you know, a partner relationship and something that, you know, when we participate in, we get access to a ton of folks that frankly are always involved in our buying committee. You know, what relationships do you have? You know, I'll throw a Rizzo under the bus. Like I've reached out to him many times, like, Hey, how can we get access to this organization? I see they're a sponsor or I see they're speaking, you know what I mean? Like You really start to think about anyone who's serving your same customer that has access to the buying committee that is involved in your sale, um, and leverage those relationships. It's just all about being pragmatic in that regard. So I don't, I don't see too many, too many relationships. That wouldn't be, you know, effective within this motion. We ran that with an analyst firm called Topo for years because they were getting in, they were understanding the pains of an organization and they could source someone directly to us. They'd say, Oh, you need that? These guys do that really well. Um, and so it doesn't have to be a tech partner. Certainly it doesn't have to be a services partner. There's a lot of other opportunities out there. If you just understand where your customer is going and who they trust.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, I mean, there's, there's, the power of these communities is, like, I've been, been involved now with several, and if, I, I, I tell Rizzo all the time, right, I think if the, something like this been around 20 years ago, you know, when, when I was first getting into this, some of this stuff, who knows where, I mean,

Justin Gray:

It is a trust circle, right? Like, you know, I've seen, you know, some of the stuff that you guys do in terms of, Oh, here's a recommended platform. Here's my best practices on that platform, right? Like, if you understand where, you know, your, your customers are actually advocating for you and you can leverage that, that, that advocacy, like that's incredibly powerful. So, and that's just, again, like looking out and being really insightful around who's talking about you, what value are they finding, what customers are leveraging you, right? Leveraging you and, and, and seeing results and then, you know, starting to serve those individuals as part of your go to market notion. Yeah, absolutely.

Michael Hartmann:

So, um, kind of going back to our core audience of, of marketing op folks. If, if they're listening to this now, they're like, you know, this, this model seems like it would work with my organization. Like what, what would you recommend to them to do to help? Maybe drive some change and, or at least consideration of this kind of approach and then, and then start to maybe, I don't know, does it make sense to pilot it? Do you need to go all in? Like, what do you, how do you think it, do you have any best practices for less of a lack of better term on how to start adopting this within an organization?

Justin Gray:

Yeah. So, you know, kind of playing off what we mentioned earlier, like with, with. Our organizations, we'd love to, to, for this to happen or start at the grassroots level, right? And so if you are in a rev ops, marketing ops role, and you can, you know, uh, uh, you know, start this kind of mini pilot with a couple of your best sellers, who are they seeing, you know, in, in, in your joint customers? Who, who's serving that same buying committee and then start some of those partnership conversations, kind of put together this little, you know, SWOT team. And we're doing this right now with, with some folks on a selling team and some folks on a marketing team. And they've, they, they've gone out and they've located two potential, like great partners. And then we're helping them navigate those conversations. And the first thing we want to do is. You know, match them up with their, their counterparts within those orgs. So seller to seller marketer to marketer, Hey, here's, this is our theory. Let's who, who should we run this with? And who are a couple of your customers who are a couple of our customers that are not, you know, already customers of, uh, of the, um, the other party. And run those, those couple of cycles. And, and I guarantee if you're doing this in a way that, uh, where you understand the value prop between those two potential partners, like what is the real value that we're bringing to market? Those then will become great case studies that you can then bring up to your executive team. And we do this all the time. Like, Hey, what are just a couple of customers that you have great relationships with that we can co sell together? And then once that deal, you know, we start to see those precipitated opportunities and we see some success within those deals, then use that as fodder to bring up to the executive team on their side, the executive team on your side, get them excited about those results. And now we can push this down in more of a comprehensive manner. But everyone always wants to start at the top. Let's go sign a bunch of agreements. That's where stuff gets spun off into into no man's land pretty quickly. So if you can find some things at the grassroots level and see success there, that success certainly within this environment where everyone's struggling to book revenue, like everyone's down in terms of sales numbers, and you can come to them with an idea that's actually proven, that really creates momentum within these areas.

Michael Hartmann:

Do you, you mentioned case studies, and I know what you're, I think what you're suggesting is people sort of develop their own case study within the organization, but are there, are there enough? Uh, examples of companies now doing this where that are, you know, could be a case study to help even get that ball rolling to develop something internally that people can go to.

Justin Gray:

Sure. I mean, I guess it depends on, I find those are good supporting materials. So I'd still recommend, you know, uh, doing this in a grassroots, uh, motion and then. You know, look at what, you know, Microsoft is investing within their partner channel. Like a lot of big organizations are like doubling, tripling, quadrupling down on partner led growth. You can bring in those kind of ancillary, uh, data points, but nothing's more powerful than saying like, Hey, we just closed a great deal. And the only reason that we closed that as we involve this partner got a great relationship with their seller. You know, we were able to understand these key points. Here's our joint value prop. Here's why the customer cares about it. And look, look at the revenue that we just generated. So certainly, and I mean, all you have to do is just go on LinkedIn and search, you know, partner ecosystem and you'll see plenty of folks out there, like making investments and, and talking about success in this area. Um, but brass tacks is pretty hard to argue with. Yeah,

Michael Hartmann:

it's, it's interesting to me. I was just kind of smiling a little bit because we've talked in and out a little bit about metrics here throughout this conversation. And what you just described to me is what I think ultimately, and ironically, marketers have missed a lot in the, in the last decade or so, which is talking about their impact in storytelling ways. Right. So storytelling, it has so much power over, you know, people and how they think about things. And that's not to say data and metrics aren't important, but they don't always sway people.

Justin Gray:

Yeah, how do you present those? I mean, just ask anyone who's walked an attribution model into a board meeting, like, how unsuccessful that, that is.

Michael Hartmann:

Just duck, duck right

Justin Gray:

away. Right, you know, like, without a narrative and a story to support that, I mean, obviously, like, storytelling is largely how we sell, and, and, You know, that's a great point on, on partner led as well on, on Nearbound is, you know, those stories are what's captivating that audience, right? Like here's how one plus one equals 10 and so on. Um, so you have to, that's what I mean by like value propositions. Like really, what is the story that you're telling together? That is just so compelling. That's going to open that door. It's going to, you know, gain you trust, but that applies to anything, you know, branding, storytelling, uh, you know, KP, uh, presenting analytics or storytelling, like, Hey, let me look. Really walk you through how we acquired this, you know, flagship customer. Um, that will get a lot more, uh, that lands a lot better than trying to show someone a report and say, Hey, go ahead and consume

Michael Hartmann:

this. Yeah. I totally going off on a little bit of a tangent here, but I'm, I'm still a fan of attribution reporting, just not the way it's been used in a lot of places. And I think what I've gravitated towards is that's great for. Marketers to continue to use as if you're doing traditional stuff to help you figure out where to place bets on the flip side. If you're going to go to a board meeting or senior exec meeting, depending on the size of company, digging into wins and losses. And then building the story about how that, how that happened is going to be much more powerful.

Justin Gray:

Yeah, I couldn't, couldn't agree more.

Michael Hartmann:

So, um, so we've covered quite a bit of ground, uh, here is, is there anything that. I didn't ask you about or we haven't covered yet that you think is really important that that our audience would want, need to know about for Nearbound.

Justin Gray:

I think, you know, we kind of touched on it, but like that value proposition, how you articulate that to the customer has to be value forward. Like they have to be able to, to experience what the benefit of your solution is going to be. And so like, that's one of the areas that we always focus on, uh, when building new partner teams is. You know, first and foremost, understanding that value, right? Like, so I'll give an example. Like we've got a port co, um, that is a, uh, a software tool. It's vertically focused as all of our portcos are on the physician space, on the healthcare space there. They basically, if you guys are familiar with like SPF. Or any of the, um, like, uh, uh, sales compensation tools. They are compensation for doctors, right? Like very verticalized, um, their best partner channel. It turns out is there are these massive consultancies that operate in the healthcare space that design comp plans for large healthcare systems, right? So we. This is literally how we piece together this, this partner approach like, Oh, really? So what are their pains? While their pains are, they put together these huge, complex models, they turn them over to a large healthcare system. And what do they do? Someone in that order tries to build it into a spreadsheet. It's incredibly error prone. There's no visibility from the doctor's standpoint. There's no visibility from the consultancy who, you know, assembled that, um, that comp plan, uh, and. At the end of the day, they don't know if they're driving the strategic initiatives that the organization is trying to foster. Are they, you know, moving more towards value based care or so on and so forth. Um, it's patient NPS rising. Like if you can't see any of that stuff, cause it's all in a spreadsheet. So there's a number of like really acute pain and value points tied to this, being able to then bring that into an ROI model that's informed by the. Thousands of customers that these consultancies have have served over the years really enabled this particular port core of ours to leverage a very believable, very, you know, uh, relevant business case. So we put this together with the partner. We shot that out to a couple of prospects like, Hey, right now. You know, when I'm talking as the consulting partner, like when we hand you this, you know, comp plan every two to five years, um, you know, what do you do with it? Are you seeing these same pain points that, that we're experiencing out there? Uh, yeah. And here we put together a model already based on your organization. Cause again, this consulting partner knows about their clients at a very deep level. We're able to put together that business case for them right there. Like on average, they're saving seven figures plus, uh, in errors. And in, uh, uh, headcount that they're throwing towards, you know, trying to compute these manual spreadsheets. So like, that all needs to be wrapped in a story, but like that ROI model has been incredibly impactful and incredibly effective there. So I would say that is the area that most people neglect here. Um, along with, you know, several others, but like, it's so critical that you nail that value proposition and that you can articulate it to a client in, in a language and, and with impact that matters. So like that, that's just a critical area in, in seeing success. And certainly if you're doing that in that grassroots method that we, we mentioned, if you're taking that to an executive, it's going to enable that conversation, you know, tenfold. So really important to nail

Michael Hartmann:

down. Yes. It, in that example, it sounds like, you know, these consultancies. Have a good practice, but potentially at risk if these companies can't then turn it into an actionable thing to do. And then, so what you're providing them as a solution to that for, for the partner and ultimately to those, those, and it's also just

Justin Gray:

not to get, not to get too far correct, but not to get too far down this tangent, but like, it's also a proactive biz dev tool for them because they can see. You know, they know what the organization is trying to do. They can see whether their compensation is driving that in terms of behavior. And they can actually, you know, hop in earlier than what would normally be like a two to five year cycle. They can come in at, you know, the 18 month mark. Hey, uh, we actually think you should try this new thing. And so it's a, it's a business generator for them. Obviously we're doing a rev share for them. So they, they create a tail of, of revenue as well. I mean, it's a win, win, win all around. So I know it's a very specific example, but all of that came about by. Understanding the customer, understanding who they were working with, and who is our nearest neighbor within the sales cycle that we wanted to run. Yeah,

Michael Hartmann:

I think that's a good point that I don't think I had picked up on. It's not just, like, it's not just solving your end customer's pain points, right, with your product solution. In this approach, you also wanna do that in, in a way that with those partners you may be helping them has to be Yeah. As well. Okay. So that's, it has to be, yeah. Okay. So that makes a lot of sense as well. So, wow.

Justin Gray:

Um, yeah, just a quick anecdote on, on that. So like, you know, Marketo was my number one partner for over a decade, right? That didn't happen because we were doing great things for their customer. I'm sure they liked that happening, but sellers aren't going to bring you in just to do the right thing every time. It would be a great fairy tale if that were to happen. They brought us in because we spoke CMO really well, and we could sell to rooms of executives where a typical software sales rep could not. And so we would bring in benchmarks. We'd bring in, you know, business cases. We would help them. We were essentially their value engineering team for free, something that they didn't have access to unless the deal size was astronomical. Um, so it was solving that acute pain point on their side to get access to a customer that we could better solve pains for the value chain there is, is incredibly important.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. And so, and that's another piece that I think is worth highlighting, which is. Yeah, you're not just looking for them to provide you value, you need to provide value to those partners to whether it's absolutely, you know, avoiding risk or whatever. Yeah. Okay. It makes a ton of sense. Right? And again, like, if some of this still feels like Kind of going back to old school models, but at the same time, you know, clearly technology's evolved and there's ways. I like the idea of, um, partner attach. Is that what you called it? Partner attach? Yeah, I think like being able to capture that. I can see how that would add a lot of value to and understanding what's. Yeah, I mean,

Justin Gray:

you could leverage all of your. All of your modern, you know, uh, B2B go to market tools, right? But why wouldn't I want to market to a universe that I know something about already? That I have a door open into already, right? Like, so it really just becomes a way to frame, you know, those, those audiences and those segments through an inbound, through an outbound, through a content, like whatever model you're, you're, you know, going to market with that knowledge is going to make that model better.

Michael Hartmann:

Love it. Hey, this has been great, Justin. I really appreciate it. If, um, Yeah. Is there, is there anything that, uh, our folks can do to, our listeners can do to keep up with you, what you're doing with it in revenue or, uh, near bound in general?

Justin Gray:

Yeah. So all of our content that we put out of the didn't revenue is go to market focus. So I think you'll probably find a lot of value there. Uh, hit our site in revenue. capital or in revenue. com works to, um, our newsletters there, our podcast is there. We give away a ton of content. Free, anyone wants to get ahold of me, hit me up on LinkedIn, very active on that channel. And, uh, yeah, I appreciate the, um, uh, have me on

Michael Hartmann:

today. Yeah, it was great. Well, I'm glad we were able to get this in. I know, I know your schedule is tight, so I appreciate you carving out the time. So thanks again, Justin, for, for joining us. Thanks to all our listeners, uh, for continuing to support us and we will be back with another episode soon. Bye everyone. Thanks guys.