Literal Scratch

Episode 37: Leadership, AI Bots, and the Future of Sales & Partnerships

March 28, 2024 Jessie Shipman, Adam Pasch, Aaron Howerton Season 1 Episode 37
Literal Scratch
Episode 37: Leadership, AI Bots, and the Future of Sales & Partnerships
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Adam chats about his return to Uncmn as head of marketing and partnerships. 

Adam, Aaron and Jessie chew over the meaty topic of AI bots in sales strategies, unpacking the ethical quandaries and operational impacts. 

We don't just stop at cold calling; our conversation ventures into the nitty-gritty of optimizing sales teams for peak performance. 

Taking cues from high performers, we suggest a shift towards a mentorship culture, leaving you pondering the future of sales roles and the essence of effective team structures.

To cap off, we peer into the crystal ball of AI's role in business growth, weighing its pros and cons in partnership management and marketing efficiency. 

Imagine an AI chat agent fielding partner queries or SEMrush and ChatGPT joining forces to supercharge your content strategy—these are no longer pipe dreams but potential game changers. 

We wrap up with a moment of gratitude, reflecting on the power of a positive mindset, the value of networking, and the satisfaction of chasing professional and personal growth. 

t's not just a celebration of nearly a year of podcasting—it's about the little wins that create life's most rewarding experiences. 

Join us, three partnership pros, for an enlightening episode that's as much about heartfelt gratitude as it is about the relentless pursuit of growth.

Check out our sponsor, Fluincy

Speaker 1:

Good morning.

Speaker 3:

This is your host, darren. Oh, the pause, darren, what a guy.

Speaker 2:

What a guy. We got Jesse here and Adam's here Three partner pros talking about partnership to 12 to 14 people.

Speaker 1:

That's exactly right. I think we had 17 downloads on the last episode. Yes, Look at us guys.

Speaker 3:

I'll take growth. I'm going to take all of the attribution to that with our bringing it up during the. You inspired me on like how to ask in quality, ask to networking, like scoped specific, and so during the networking events this week I've been asking people for feedback on the podcast. So I'm looking forward to getting all that flooding into the DMs. We'll see how it goes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, 17 downloads. Net five 17 downloads on episode 35 and 10 from this week's.

Speaker 3:

I'm sorry guys, I'm just focused on the 70% growth. Love it.

Speaker 4:

Okay, sure, this is Literal Scratch, the podcast where three friends, brought together by partnerships, dig deep into that world with authenticity, vulnerability and a touch of humor. We're here to share our experiences, challenges and successes, and to help each other grow in the partnership space. Whether you're a seasoned pro in partnerships or just starting out, join us as we navigate the twists and turns of our professional lives, sharing insights and learning from each other along the way. Welcome to Literal Scratch.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to Literal Scratch of a homecoming. So I started this week as the head of marketing and partnerships at a cybersecurity, data and cloud services company called Uncommon, and it's been of a homecoming. They used to be Aegis Strategies. I worked there for about five years. I left seven years ago and so I know, like a good you know 20, 30 people there and, luckily, like half the people that I'm going to work closely with, so it's been great. Yeah, you know people I haven't seen in a long time names that I haven't been in conversation for a while, but we all just like really fell right back into the pattern. So that's a lot of fun.

Speaker 3:

Um, but, man, is it mentally exhausting shifting your thinking to, to something else that has already been in flight? I, the last year, I've been building my own stuff. I've been, you know, deciding. You know true entrepreneurship of, like figuring out what do I need to do today, like I know all of the things. I don't have to go ask somebody, it's all here. Um, so, yeah, so it's been great. But you know, piecing together. I feel like, uh, link, traversing the map of darkness and like finding the light and building out the map as I go along. Um, and it's been good. Like everybody's been super, uh, super open with their time and kind of dumbing it down for me as I'm coming in, I'm pumped.

Speaker 1:

Oh, what is an office? Office, what is this?

Speaker 3:

There's two Fs in there.

Speaker 1:

Two Fs. Okay, yeah, do you know what that reference is? Come on Narnia. No, anybody. What is a wardrobe? No, damn it. No.

Speaker 3:

Shut up. I would accept what is a weekend.

Speaker 1:

A weekend. Oh, I love that show. Oh man, what is a weekend.

Speaker 3:

That's where I was going with. It's an aw-ist.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what is a weekend Not with?

Speaker 3:

an S I-C-E. It's cold in there.

Speaker 1:

Down, that is best show, maybe?

Speaker 2:

loaded question Is it weird Coming back you mentioned you were there before An area coming back in a new role Arguably I'm using air quotes here for people who can't see it Bigger role than before. Right, in some ways? Are you nervous about or concerned at all about? You were there before in a certain capacity.

Speaker 3:

You've left for a while and now you're coming back and people seeing you in light of the old role or being able to reflect your expertise in the new role and kind of lean into that. Uh, no, it's a good question. I don't know if it's a bigger role than before. Um, because, like, one of the things I like about the company is it's fairly flat and it's always been that way. Um, like very encouraging to the newest intern to get into the mix. Like there's no intern there.

Speaker 3:

That is like going and fetching coffee, right, the interns there are are developing, you know, real things in sprints, um, and so in a lot of the things that I'm doing I would have done before when we were very small, right. So that's the other thing of like. Is it bigger? I think actually my role might be smaller than before, because in the early days when I was there, I had a couple of these hats and I had like seven others and I had to be billable on the client site, and now I'm not billable on the client site. So, like, arguably I actually have a smaller role that I just get to like focus on more. So it's hard to say in terms of like size.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think about it in terms of like but to your other question about, like, how people like you know, like the stamp of like I knew you as this and it's, it's always that. Um, I think one thing is like I'm from being active on on LinkedIn for so long, um, I think that they've there's a good number of folks that knew me then that have seen that um, uh, progression, um, and it's certainly amongst the leadership. I've stayed in touch and we've had ongoing conversations over the last few years and I think and I don't know this because I'm going to start having some happy hours getting out and meeting everybody again but everybody's changed. I'm really excited to see someone that, right around when I was leaving, went from being a senior consultant to a manager and started taking on some of those leadership responsibilities, and now this person is a director leading a bunch of stuff. I'm really pumped to see how they've changed, how they've grown, but, like, that's why we all have, so I think, I think it'll all be fine.

Speaker 1:

This is a lot of rambling.

Speaker 2:

You're hitting the point that I was after. It makes me think of, like you know, I'm, I'm, I'm in nearing my mid forties at this point, 42. And so, but still, when I walk in my parents' front door, I'm a kid, right Like the, the, the inevitable, like certain people can't see you in any other light than what they've always known you as Um, right, uh. And even at home, like my wife God bless her, she's amazing, has no idea what I do for a living. She's super impressed, she's super proud of me, she loves that it pays the bills.

Speaker 2:

But like I walk into the house and I'm not, I'm not the same. Like they don't. They don't know that my kids were bad. They learned that I have my own podcast and on this podcast the other day and they saw like a picture or a clip and I played in one of our clips or whatever, and they were like you could see in their eyes they were like, oh, like they woke up to like that their dad does more than just like plays video games and board games and and that it's just interesting to think about that. And I think, coming back to an organization, that would be a challenge in my own mind. And that's just me projecting, like if I went back to somewhere I was before feeling a need to make sure people understand like I'm not the CS rep you knew 10 years ago. I've done more than that, but I'm excited for you, except for the again you called it an office.

Speaker 3:

You know what? Here's the other upside of me being in that office, like we were able to like get around a table when I ran into a problem. I was able to look over to the guy and be like, hey, where's this thing? He's like, oh, it's there. I'm like great, like hey, how is this?

Speaker 1:

working.

Speaker 3:

He's like oh come over, look behind me and and like bam, bam, bam. I'm like, oh, I get it. And I was like, oh, hey, you're running out. This guy was like running out of the office. He's like hey, I wanted to talk to you about this a little bit. We jammed for like eight minutes. I've got some like seeds percolating in his buffer.

Speaker 3:

Like that kind of like impromptu stuff is great and like that kind of like impromptu stuff is great, and then like three, three days a week I'm going to be in the cave at home just cranking out work product. I love this, like I think that's the balance, like cause I got not nearly as much as I would have wanted done while I was sitting there. Um, but I think the other part of your answer is I honestly don't know, because I'm open-minded and I don't really care like who people were 10 years ago. I'm curious where you are now that I'm projecting that onto other people. So other people may have me pegged, so I just have not been thinking about it.

Speaker 1:

So your official title is I think you've said this to anybody- yeah, head of marketing and partnerships.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so partnerships and marketing together, which I don't hate, I don't think that's a problem. What I mean, we have been talking that we started I was looking the other day. We started this podcast at the end of May last year. Do y'all know that, wild? So we're coming up on a year of doing this, which is really fun, and we have been since that time jamming on a lot of theory. Right, aaron is the only one who is actually employed here up until this week.

Speaker 2:

Now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like as a W2 employee. That's, I just want to be.

Speaker 3:

That's the caveat. We're the hardest working people without W2 income, that's right.

Speaker 1:

So Aaron can Aaron can apply for a loan and get one, and I cannot. God bless it. So this is a frustration from this week. Anyway, now that you're a W-2 employee and you have KPIs that other people have given you, now we're going to take all this theory that we've been jamming on and talking about and all this like sort of idealistic what should it be? And you're going to put it to practice in a brand new partner program and, really truthfully, a brand new go to market right, like this is like they're just trying to. They've been kind of doing their thing for a long time and and now they're sort of like all right, if we're going to grow, we really do have to do some of this demand generation and partnership stuff. So like, let's go.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, and like the the really nice thing for me coming in, building a partner program, whereas, like everywhere else, I've had to build, build a partner program from scratch. This is very much like how we think of founder-led sales, founder-led marketing, and then you come in and you're like, okay, these are all great things, they can't scale. Let's build systems and process around this and now we can do this, like repeatably. So they have partners, they have some great partners that they've done some great things with, but it's it has been in the same way when it would have been like a founder led sale.

Speaker 3:

You have a few whales of of customers and and successes, um, but you don't have a hundred successes that you can build a repeatable engine off of right Cause this isn't a small company.

Speaker 3:

I mean, this is there, they have close to 200 people in this organization and so but but this is where I think I'm, where you were talking about demand generation, really setting up all of the marketing systems connected to the sales systems, connected to the account growth, customer success systems, truly meaning like the people process, not that there are tools that solve everything. I think that's really where my focus is and because of this piece of the idealism. The strategy that I'm taking, that it seems like everybody is on board with trying, is we have broad capabilities and a lot because we've done so many different things. It's to pick the single one, like give me one that we can deliver If I sold it we could deliver it in two weeks and that we could staff easily. And now let me go build all the processes around marketing that one thing. That way we can do quick learnings, because otherwise I'm going to be like six months down the road still talking theory, like I want to get to that first success and failure as fast as I can.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, trying not to have like 80 spinning plates. Like let's just figure out how to spin one plate. Yes, yes, gotcha, trying not to have like 80 spinning plates. Like let's just figure out how to spin one plate.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes, maybe just five. I wish one's just not realistic.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one would be ideal.

Speaker 3:

Five is manageable One customer pain point, one solution, and then I've got five plates on the revenue system.

Speaker 1:

That makes sense. Well, you sound really happy. We're obviously like very stoked for you and yeah, we've been watching this journey for a while and haven't been able to talk about it.

Speaker 1:

So it's nice, nice to be able to talk about it. Glad it landed. And truthfully, adam, glad you landed somewhere where people like know you and appreciate you. That is the biggest thing. For me is like damn, when you're not appreciated I get real pissed off. So I'm just glad, uh, that you you landed somewhere where people get you. Um, yeah, I'm going to switch topics, is that okay?

Speaker 3:

Let's do it. I don't want to talk about me anymore. This is more than I've talked about me. Yeah, that's okay. I hosted four hours of networking this week. I didn't talk this much.

Speaker 1:

Uh, let's go to Jessica. No, it was a good. It was good networking too. Uh, I really enjoyed the session. I, uh, I went to and hopefully we're going to get your little side hustle spun up and you can come do a session for Pavilion Denver. I've been telling people about it and they're very excited actually, oh dope.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, they're really excited. I got some other ideas on how to do it on the more focused scale, where it's like actual, real people. So, yeah, we'll talk about it.

Speaker 1:

Actual real people.

Speaker 2:

yeah, we'll talk about actual real people, uh, okay no offense to all the people that come to your networking.

Speaker 3:

Now you are also is that they're all over the place, though it's global yeah, yeah, they're all people that can really meet

Speaker 2:

distributed versus central. There you go. That's better words. Use the buzzwords.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the biggest thing will be, like, whatever you're doing to drum up the attendance is the thing that we're going to have to work on in Denver, right, because, like that will be not fun if only five people show up, and that has happened at virtual events in recent history. So we just got to get, like we, we got to get that You're you're famous marketing engine spun up so people will actually show up and and it will be somebody that was good at driving attendance at partner events.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, yeah, I know you can. Okay, that's not what I was going to talk about. Thank you, you're welcome. Oh, also like, are you now like really glad that you joined Pavilion?

Speaker 3:

I've always been really glad that I joined. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

But I feel like the learning piece I feel like is going to become like super critical and important.

Speaker 3:

I'm immediately Jesse, okay.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to go to see most of it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, my whole day today is I am putting together all the templates, all of the baseline processes. Like I am living in Pavilion today. That is like literally when we're done recording, the rest of the day is spent in Pavilion Going back to CRO school, the marketing sessions, customer success sessions. Like I absolutely love it. I've absorbed the seeds and now I got to get to the next level.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it's so cool.

Speaker 3:

Pavilion is my favorite. Yes, Amazing.

Speaker 4:

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Speaker 4:

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Speaker 1:

Are you going to go to CMO Summit? You should go to CMO Summit. I know it's coming up just like real soon, but you should definitely try to go to that. No, fine, probably.

Speaker 3:

I got too much building to do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I get it. The reason I brought up Pavilion is we had a salon dinner here in Denver this week. This is the thing that people love, right? I've put on three coffees a month for the last three months and last month, the South Coffee. Literally no one came, which is fine, because I got to sit at a coffee shop by myself for 30 minutes, which was delightful, but it's always better to hang out with people. But everybody, everybody shows up to the dinner. It might have to do with the threat that comes in the don't forget that you're you signed up for this dinner. Uh, there's actually like a threat from pavilion in there which is like, if you no show to this and don't tell anybody, uh, you are banned from the dinners for two dinners. Uh, you cannot come to the next two dinners if you no show. Um, and they still like smart though, that's serious. I'm like what threats? What threats can I build into the other events? If you sign up for this and don't show up, you're going to get.

Speaker 3:

You're not going to get a networking match.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, anyway, they are going to start building those metrics into the hub, right? So, like now you're going to have to. If you sign up for an event, you have to do it through the member hub and in the member hub you can actually say, like, did this person attend? And if they didn't attend, it can actually like started to go towards like their metrics and I don't know like what the what that will end up being. But I feel like any kind of accountability is better than no accountability. That's neither here nor there. Twenty three people showed up. There were seats for 20. So, because they obviously expected three people to not show up and and all of them did because of the threat they literally cited the threat. They're like I feel like if I didn't come, like I'd have been in a lot of trouble and I was like, ok, so we actually like had to find another table for six or five or six people to sit around.

Speaker 1:

The topic of the evening was what are some like challenges or what are some techniques that you're using to get to profitable, efficient growth? That was sort of the topic du jour and one of the things that there is a CEO from a really cool restaurant tech company. Tech company and he was talking about they recently replaced all of their support people, so they had offshore support. They replaced like 80% or something like that of their support people with an AI support bot. Yeah, and then two VPs of sales at large companies large large companies are testing out in the next week, have already purchased it and they're implementing it AI BDRs.

Speaker 1:

So these are the dialers. And then, if anybody actually picks up the dial, they end up talking to an AI simulation as a BDR function and as part of that, like they literally are, like we're no longer hiring BDRs, we're only going to use this software. And he was essentially like it was $35,000. That's half of a person and it will dial thousands of people and do essentially the exact same thing. Uh, thoughts, thoughts on talking to an ai bot on a cold call. Like does that make you want to pick up cold calls anymore?

Speaker 3:

I mean, I didn't want to pick them up anyways yeah, I don't, it's unknown, I don't, and like it's just.

Speaker 3:

You know what it reminds me of did. Did you ever get those cruise ship robodials where it goes like I won't do it because it would be terrible audio, but it starts with like a foghorn. You picked up the phone, it was like a foghorn and then it went into its spiel Like I don't want to. The only successful cold calls that I get that like I actually like respond to are when I already know the brand. Like I got a cold call from Keyflow. I'm like, yeah, man, I was. We were talking about this thing. I did your event like blah, blah, blah, but of course the SDR had no idea. Sure, I didn't go anywhere. Yeah, no.

Speaker 1:

Well, the thing is, though, is that, like, what's the metric on cold calls, right? It's like less than 1%, less than 1% of people are picking up the phone, right, but that 0.1% was enough to justify, or 0.3%, or whatever it is was enough to justify the hiring of enough people to be able to dial and answer a phone. So, like, if you could justify this is a conversation that's rooted in profitable, efficient growth, right? So if you could justify hiring a team of five BDRs who are using a dialer to dial a thousand people, somebody picks up, they go through their script, they book a meeting and they move it on to the AE, right, or send it into their round robin software or whatever it is. If you could justify purchasing or hiring seven people at 75K a year base, right, and then some kind of OTE for however many meetings booked To be able to do that function, if you could pay a software to do it for half of one of those people, it seems to me like that gets you to, even if it's like.

Speaker 1:

We all know that that's not a great, that smiling and dialing is not a great way to go to market anymore. It doesn't work as efficiently. But if you could capture that 0.3% and that 0.3% has meaningful revenue to you and you're only paying for half of or like I don't know what is that One sixth of what you were paying. It seems like you could probably still figure out how to make that work, or like that is still an efficient way to go to market.

Speaker 2:

I just I worry about, like with an AI bot. I just worry about the concept of transparency and authenticity, right, because, if you get, I'd listened to one of these the other day. A recording came up on LinkedIn or somewhere, so they played the whole recording and it showed how, like, this AI literally moved somebody off the fence about buying. Like it was the Apple Vision Pro ad. Maybe you guys have seen that, right, like, so the bot's convincing. If you listen to it long enough and you know it's a bot, you hear these certain pieces of it. You're like, oh, that's very repetitive, oh, that definitely sounds. So I'm training myself to listen for this stuff now, sure, but what it's going to end up happening and my concern is like, okay, great, your AI bot calls and he's like, hey, it's Dave with such and such, was hoping you had a few minutes. Great, wonderful, let me just.

Speaker 2:

And then you go through the screen and then it gets passed on when it gets to a real sales rep. Does that sales rep understand that they have to pretend that Dave is a real person? Are they allowed? Because when I call you and I get past you and be like, yeah, so I was talking to Dave, he seemed like a really nice guy, by the way. He said ABC. Are you just supposed to pretend that Dave's real and never tell me that that was not a real person? Am I always going to be in the illusion that I don't like that aspect of it Because it feels authentic, it feels a little bit deceptive, and then it opens that door for, like, any of your reps could be like oh no, dave's just an AI. And then like, ooh what, like I don't know. I just I think this is going to be a weird tradition for people.

Speaker 1:

If you picked up the phone and you found the AI useful enough or like what the AI was selling, useful enough to take another call, like you're having this second call because the thing that they're selling is a thing that you potentially need, right, and now we're just like you have. You have entered the funnel because you picked up the phone and you liked it enough to move on. So I feel like, even if somebody addresses it as like actually that's an AI bot, like that might be a really good selling point for the AI bot. Like oh shit, maybe I need to get me some of that.

Speaker 2:

It might be. I would just like to know upfront, because, yeah, I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, if you hear upfront like hey, you're talking to an AI bot, like you're not staying on the line.

Speaker 2:

Maybe, if I know it's an AI bot, I personally would feel like, OK, great, I can actually ask questions. I can be. I'll probably be a lot more direct in the questions. Ok for me it would be different I would.

Speaker 2:

I would be like, oh good, tell me this, tell me that, tell me that and I I would see how much I could get out. I would just be interested to challenge the bot to see how well or bad it could do, and then also learn about the product to see how much can I get out of you without having to talk to anybody. For me to self-vet.

Speaker 2:

Right, that's interesting, that's an interesting point, but maybe that's a different approach too, like I would much rather chat with AI than real people on the front end. I think it's interesting. It's an interesting use case.

Speaker 3:

It'd be interesting to see how they turn it out, cause I'm guessing the cost is a lot cheaper than people. Well, sure, so I like I, I would be much rather to to talk with an AI bot, um on on a support ticket, like this means I don't have to wait on hold for something and you like, it's actually not like a a pain-inducing thing to just like jam the zero so I could talk to a human being, because all of the like guided, whatever stuff is awful, like fix that, fantastic. But on the cold call piece, what I've been thinking about as you guys were talking is like I have such a high fear of fraud from someone calling me, like I don't pick up the phone. I was like, hi, this is Adam. Blah, blah, blah. Like when someone's calling me from a number I don't know.

Speaker 3:

And now I'm like, yes, like I'm not saying anything about me. You say you know me. I'm not confirming any of my information before you make it clear who the heck you are. And if you're not able to tell me who you are, I'm hanging up like and so. But again, this is just me.

Speaker 3:

So now, to like jesse's question about as a strategy, like okay, great, I'm not a good market to target with this thing because of my own kind of fears of how this is. How the a bots will really be used is to swindle every senior citizen out of every penny that they have, because it'll be very convincing on some fear quotient that they need to hand over all of their information because it's the IRS and they screwed up a thing and they're going to go to jail otherwise. And so it's hard for me to think about the altruistic case of like we're just trying to sell some software here and we're doing all the stuff the right way, and then on the other side is the just vast farms of fraud that are going to be using it, and so my opinion on it is just very wrapped up in the negative use case for me to really think constructively on the positive.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it'll be an interesting time of experimentation and provability, right? Like, does the tech work? Yes, the tech technically works At scale. Like what's the human interaction at scale? Like what's the human interaction.

Speaker 1:

But again, like I'm going, I'm going back to like less than 1% of people are picking up the, are actually picking up these calls, and so it's like I think I think about this a lot of like, what is it worth missing the channel? Like, is it worth if you can figure out how to spend a fraction of what you were spending but still getting the channel for that inbound or that, the channel for that funnel, the channel for that lead, the channel for that potential opportunity? Like, is it worth spending the money? Right, cause this is like this is essentially fluencies spending the money right, because this is like this is essentially fluencies. Like, do you really want to miss out on all the conversations that your partners are having? Like, is that a channel that's worth missing out on? And I kind of feel like, hey, if you're willing to spend 35K a year to capture that 0.3% or 0.5% of people who are picking up the phone, right, and it's only like one point, you know, point whatever the less than 1% is they're picking up the phone but they're not necessarily converting, like this is a very small number of people who are actually converting into revenue, but it seems to be something that people are like not willing to let go of.

Speaker 1:

So it's like where are the efficiencies to be able to capture all the channels?

Speaker 2:

You're also hitting into. Like it is sales culture. Like, if you want to be in sales, you start as a BDR. Like if you're young out of college, like this is where it weighs in. So like, if we don't have BDRs and we have this deeply long-term, established sales culture that everyone should have to be a BDR because that's where you get the thick skin of rejection before you get into sales. That seems to be a part of, like, the mindset of how we prepare salespeople.

Speaker 2:

I don't agree with it. I think that BDR work is some people seem to really love it and enjoy it, but I think it's some of that basic like this is like the lowest end operational stuff that has to be done, and my mind is always toward well, let's automate that. So I'm not against, like using AI. I'm against transparency with the AI. But I also wonder could you use AI for your inbound Like? Like I was saying I would. I would much rather be inbound and get pushed to.

Speaker 2:

Hey, we have you know, here's our AI system designed to help you answer whatever questions you want. You can choose to engage with people whenever you're ready, like I would really like to see that, maybe to keep the BDRs there, but there's a lot I don't know. There's just a lot packed in this. Right, I think AI, like for partnerships, has that same potential. Like, hey, we have three PAMs. We don't have AI engine that we build for partners. That's packed with our program and program information, enablement content, details about what's allowed, rules of engagement, so like, if you have a question, start with the AI engine, ask your question and then we will escalate to your PAM. Based on whether or not you're getting the responses you need to reduce our support costs. I can see it lots of places like that, but I do, like I said, I don't know. This is a big conversation. I just ran with like three different topics.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, that was a lot of topics, so I think the first one for me is like I think I'm okay with the BDR not being the entry level sales position anymore, right? I think what that produces is a whole mess of people who should not be in sales, of people who should not be in sales. I think that sales actually is an admirable career that people can spend, and should spend, a long time doing if they're very, very good at it, and it can be a very lucrative. It can be very lucrative, and so I think that, like churning out like mediocre AEs as a result of like this sort of like created career path in sales, it was actually bad for SaaS and not good for SaaS, and so to me, it's like I really like the concept. Zoominfo does this thing. It's like relegation, it's like the English soccer or English football relegation.

Speaker 1:

So essentially, like AEs start at like a third tier and they have to close third tier leads and then, once they close enough third tier leads, then they get promoted to the second.

Speaker 1:

And when I say promoted, I'm not talking about like a promotion, I'm just talking about like that's what it's called in English football.

Speaker 1:

And so, like you get promoted to the next level and if you close enough of those second tier leads, then you get promoted to essentially, the premier league and then you get all the best, you get around to all the best leads and then you can close all those leads.

Speaker 1:

And if you're not closing leads in the premier league, you get all the best, you get around to all the best leads and then you can close all those leads. And if you're not closing leads in the premier league, you get relegated back down to tier two and you kind of move up and down this tier system and essentially, like what that causes you to do is to learn how to be a full cycle AE and that you get the best leads if you close business, and so you learn your paces. But you're not learning your paces by smiling and dialing and reading a script and moving people on to the next step in the funnel and to me, that's the real learning opportunity, where you weed out and get to create the best salespeople and also you get to figure out pretty early on, like, if you are built for sales or not. Right, like I think a lot of people who are in sales right now that what is it? 18% of sellers in 2023 were producing like 85% of revenue.

Speaker 3:

Right, and so I'm glad you brought that stat up. That blew my mind when I read that this week.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so we're talking about 83% of sellers really should not be selling anything Like what are they doing there? And that is a huge inefficiency. Like, if we come back around to this, like profitable, efficient growth, like hiring people who are not hitting quota should not be selling, should not be like but they got into it because they found this BDR job and they were happy to smile and dial and then they spent six months doing that and then they got promoted into AE but, like they never were really designed to be able to make really do those sales Right. So your choices are you can either riff them or move them about the organization into a position where they're using skills that they actually have, and so I kind of feel like it's okay if the BDR goes away. I really do.

Speaker 1:

I really think that that is, it's a thankless job. Nobody likes it, nobody wants to do it. The only reason you get into it is because you want to become an AE. So I'm like let's just like figure out ways like sales assembly to enable people to become excellent sellers. Right, you use softwares like EBSA to be able to help people or enable them to move through qualification processes that actually work, and really like make it so that 60% of your sales organization is responsible for 95% of your revenue. Right, like, that's really what you want to get to.

Speaker 3:

I think, yeah, I fully agree. I think of this like how do we train developers? Right Cause, the important part here was still like how do you get new people in so that you can have a pipeline of talent? Um, well, you don't have like new programmers, junior programmers, come in and start like go searching for code snippets for everybody, like whatever, like the analogy would be Right.

Speaker 3:

But what do you do? You pair program, you have the junior sitting with the senior and you do the thing together and they they're learning just in time and applying their theory on real stuff. And then they see what worked and what didn't and why. And you have that senior person with them so that they can guide them along the way. But the nice thing is, as that person is guiding, they're learning too Right. And so there's like why wouldn't we have a senior AE with a junior AE? And the senior AE may only be five years into their career. Right, that's fine. And now they can tag, team and, you know, generate more together.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think it's a high.

Speaker 3:

It's still the same idea you pair the AE with the SDR, but like empower them to do the full job.

Speaker 1:

I think it's also a spend and enablement right, like making sure that you have the tools and processes that somebody can follow to become a highly efficient account executive. You also enable and empower the sales managers to do to be that person right, to be coaching and guiding and helping those junior AEs to move those lower tiered leads along the sales process To your point. Earlier, adam of like with the process, like I feel like the last 10 years was like well, let's just hire a bunch of salespeople and like whoever sifts up to the top is the top. But then there was never like a really captured, like this is what we should do to make it right. Because profit what was it? What's the book? Oh, shoot the one. Oh, predictable revenue Right. Predictable revenue is essentially just like well if you do these things. But it wasn't necessarily like that. It wasn't about the individual enablement, it was more about like well, if it's volume, it's a volume game.

Speaker 3:

And it also was this, this inherent culture that comes with when you accept the attitude of higher, higher, fast, uh, fire faster, like is that a way to be a good human? Um, is that a way to like, build a good, safe, secure? Uh culture like, how about we hire thoughtfully and then enable them strategically so that we actually have a culture of success from the beginning? Not this culture of produce immediately on your own in the deep end or you're fired and the people that stick around in that kind of environment, like it's going to be the culture that you're going to have.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Winners keep winning right Like winners, keep winning. If you enable people to win, right Like winners, keep winning. If you enable people to win, then they want to keep winning.

Speaker 2:

This goes back to also like what we've talked about with tech and people talk about well, saas tools and RevOps and constantly tweaking the tools and you need the tools. Like, at the end of the day, the top 10% of your salespeople don't care, like they know how to use the tech that works for them and they know how to use it really really well and you can change the opportunity model and the data that you collect. Like none of that's going to change the performance of your top 10% of your sellers. So the more I work in sales ops, the more I get the further down this road. I just keep thinking what if we just really lean into those top 10% to understand their behaviors and then our decisions around how to structure our sales process and the tech stack that we lean into is based on their patterns of success instead of what the new CRO wants or what the RevOps team wants to purchase? I don't know that.

Speaker 2:

We've talked about this a lot. Technology itself is not the solution. It can facilitate solutions if it's solving real problems, but it needs to stay out of the way and that's. It can facilitate solutions if it's solving real problems, but it needs to stay out of the way and that's just what I see constantly is those people at the top. They're going to sell Sales. Loft outreach doesn't matter. Salesforce HubSpot doesn't matter. Winning by design, challenger sales doesn't matter. They know how to sell. That's where you see the real skill of sales happen is in those top performers, and that's what I'm now like. I want to capture that and do that and do that well. And then to your point, adam, like if you can get that taught downstream, we can level people up and bring everybody up to sell at that same level, regardless of the size of deal they're closing.

Speaker 2:

I think that's the other side too is that it can actually be really hard to have a really good salesperson in SMB, because they can make a lot more money in enterprise. Typically right Deal cycles are longer, but the deal sizes are huge. So how do you make sure that throughout your market segment you still have top salespeople and you're comping them in a way that keeps them engaged? And then also I think about all the people that it takes to do a sale right, like why does only one person get all the money? Why do your ops people that build efficient ops not get paid more? Why can your se not earn more? Why does your cs get cut out when they're responsible for day-to-day from you know, close to renewal? Like I do think that that money should be. I would love to see that money spread a little bit out a little bit more throughout the company. But again, culture of success and if we all had our way and everyone wants to get paid, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So you touched on it a little bit, aaron, but, like, I think there's a pretty, there's pretty clear where AI fits into marketing. It's pretty clear where AI fits into sales, or at least it's becoming more clear where AI fits into sales. So what about AI and partnerships? Like, how are you? I know that, probably, sam, sorry, you're not thinking about this, maybe at all, but I am. You are Okay. Yeah, I would love to hear, like, what you think about. You clearly have some interesting ideas, but I'd like to get Adam's take too on it as somebody who's needing to actually go build this now.

Speaker 2:

Well, I can say that I have to separate right. This is one of the things I have to constantly do is I try to separate my opinions and thoughts very cleanly from what I do at Simsara because I don't really feel like, yeah, like representing the company interest. I can't, I don't, I try not to ever speak to that because it's a publicly traded company, et cetera, et cetera. I can tell you, with that caveat, that personally, professionally, I am very interested in the power of AI for partnerships. I can't. In every company I've been at, you're always fighting uphill to get system resources, capacity development. Let's get core stuff down before we can think about leveraging advanced use cases. But, that being said, I think AI has definitely a place with enablement, with partner engagement, with that initial contact and training, I think, transparency and all that.

Speaker 2:

You just heard one of my use cases. Like I would love to have an AI agent that is all partners can access the chat. Like here's the chat GPT dedicated to our partnerships. It's private, you can only get to it through access. You have access and if you have a question about our pro, any questions at all tied to your partnership, you start here and it is fed and trained and built around our partnership model so it can answer 80% of your questions with accuracy, and then you can choose to escalate and get support from your PAM.

Speaker 2:

Right. Let's lift that daily administrative burden off of PAMs, however we can, and let's try to leverage AI. That's one use case that I think is really, really critical. Sorry, somebody just walked into my office. That's what happens in a home office. Once again, this other office you've mentioned, adam, sometimes sounds nice, but yeah, that's one use case I think there's definitely a way to correct as well. Right, like if we could leverage AI to improve deal registration capabilities through system integrations and things like that. I think there's a lot of potential. I don't think we've figured out exactly where it needs to be yet.

Speaker 3:

That's fair man and again, like this gets into, like I.

Speaker 3:

Like, Jesse, how you pointed out, there's been a lot of theory and now it's practical execution time.

Speaker 3:

But honestly, we're like I'm thinking about AI a lot right now is on the marketing side, because on the partnership side, now that I've shifted to the solution side, to the system integrator side, I'll think about it in terms of repeatable process process on on delivery of like actually doing the services work that our people do, um, but the partner work. I like I'm really only targeting like eight or nine partners, um, because I need to be able to go deep so that I have the ability to have the people that are trained and certified in those, in those technology platforms, to be able to do whatever work we deliver, um. So I don't think that I'm going to actually need as much ai stuff on where before I needed to go get you know, maybe a hundred, maybe more partners. It's shifted and so, like now I'm thinking about it much more from how do I pull all of the information out of people, all these sneeze, to turn into all of the content that we need to talk about the impacts that they've made.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm like I'm deep in the AI marketing hole right now that I need to get out of we're going to get out of. Yeah, I have discovered that SEO is a bear trap and that may not actually be worth my time as a founder. To, to, to really really optimize right I uh, somebody told me to go grab like the seven day free trial of sem rush. Have you ever used this tool before? Um?

Speaker 3:

yeah, uh, I'm partnered with them actually oh okay.

Speaker 1:

Um, yeah, it's a robust tool, uh, and you can do a lot with it, but it is also a spiral if you don't really know what you're doing and so like which is me, I don't. I don't have any idea what I'm doing, but it has this like AI content assistant so you can like plug something in and it will tell you, like if, what's the readability and like, and it has one of those spider maps on it and my perfectionism I'm not a huge perfectionist, but if there's a spider map or a graph, I need to make it all green. Um, and I feel like most people do not, like they're like one section green, ship it right. I feel like that's actually probably what the real practice is. But I found myself spending like I don't know an hour on one revamped blog post yesterday just to like get everything in the green, and I took a step back and was like well, I feel like that was a huge waste of time, like, is that hour of my time actually going to drive any meaningful traffic to my site? And the answer is like no, it's not. So like I don't actually need SEMrush, like what I really need is to like, I'll take my blog posts.

Speaker 1:

I'll put them into ChatGPT. I'll ask to optimize for a handful of keywords. I'll put them back on my website. Chat GPT. I'll ask to optimize for a handful of keywords. I'll put them back on my website. Oh, one I did talk to. I met somebody at the at your networking thing, allie. Allie Spiridic. Oh.

Speaker 3:

Allie's great.

Speaker 1:

Yes. And so Allie is awesome and a marketer and she's like I I believe she said that you. She was like I have this great idea for her company and you were like, yeah, that's fluency. I was like, oh, no way, that's awesome. Um, and so she's like, really, she's like I'm so bullish on what you're doing and, um, she's like I'm going to put some pen to paper and like, help you out with some marketing technique this weekend. I was like you're so great, this is amazing. So thank you for putting on your networking event, because I got to meet Allie and, at any rate, like she was like you don't need. Oh, no, I was so excited to tell you about Allie that I forgot what I was talking about.

Speaker 3:

Well, it sounds like you're rolling straight into gratitudes and so. I'm grateful for Allie and it's 51 minutes.

Speaker 1:

You nailed it. Yay, that's solid landing 100%.

Speaker 1:

I'm super grateful for your networking event and I'm super, super grateful for Allie, who's helping me out with some of this, uh, this keyword-y nonsense, and also like just the realization that, like, I don't have to boil the ocean, I just need to be able to do. Oh, that's what it was. I was putting all the transcripts, or thinking about putting all the transcripts from this show onto the Fluency website and she was, like, don't do the transcripts, like Google hates it, and so instead I'm creating, like bulleted, like a real, like bulleted summary of the transcript and putting that on the website along with, and like, embedding the player. So solid pro tip, yep. But thank, thank you, allie. Grateful for you. You go, adam.

Speaker 3:

Yep, but thank you, allie, grateful for you. You go, adam, no-transcript, and have kept in touch, and when the stars aligned, they called me to come in and talk. I never would have thought that I would have gone back there. And then, as they talked more about where they've gone and what they've done, I got super excited about it. This process I was not sure about became like let's get this process going fat, like I was the one that was pushing it, let's get this done. So now we're in, and it wouldn't have happened had they not stayed in touch. Anyways, I don't know. I'm just very grateful for them and really grateful for the opportunity to get into the cybersecurity realm and really leverage all of their expertise. I'm just going to be the dumb revenue guy. I'll be the heel of everything because they're all way smarter than me.

Speaker 1:

Anyways, gratitudes?

Speaker 2:

I doubt that's true but go ahead, aaron, thank you. I'm just grateful for feedback in general. I've been able to continue demoing to people. It's an ongoing trend right now to get that feedback and both constructive right Getting to see other people's instances Like I saw a new model in Salesforce today that I've never seen before in terms of partner management and then was able to demo my stuff back and got some positive feedback and I just I just appreciate any and all feedback right now that's helping refine our approach and what we're doing and the time that it takes people to sit, listen and provide that for me. So I just am grateful.

Speaker 2:

I'm grateful there's people that are still reaching out, asking questions, willing to sit down. That constantly astounds me in terms of like people are willing to give up their time, and I'm also grateful for a job that gives me flexibility in my schedule that I can carve out time for things like Adam's networking meetings and the follow-up that I'm going to have from those and other people reaching out. So trying to think positively about recognizing life may not always be exactly what I want right now and keeping a vision of what I'd like it to be and a clear plan on how I'm going to move from point A to point B. So it's not just magic when we get there right Like. That's the part Be grateful for where I'm at, be grateful for this first investor, as you've referred to it, jesse, right Like and making sure that they get what they need and I have what I need. Anyways, I'm trying to balance that mentally and it's not always easy to do, so this week's been a good week for it. Grateful for that.

Speaker 1:

I love that. All right y'all. Great show Scratched off the list. Great show, we scratched it off the list. It wasn't that last week's.

Speaker 3:

It was. I loved it so much. We scratched off that lotto ticket. We're a winner.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's a good one, great job.

Speaker 2:

Another episode Scratched down.

Speaker 3:

Bye, not very good.

Navigating Partnerships
Transitioning to New Roles and Strategies
AI Bots in Cold Call Impact
Optimizing Sales Performance and Team Profitability
Leveraging AI for Business Growth
Gratitude and Positive Mindset