S5E12 Skyrocket SaaS Sales with Partnerships with Barrett King

S5E12 – Skyrocket SaaS Sales with Partnerships with Barrett King

Skyrocket SaaS Sales with Partnerships with Barrett King.

A lot of new tech entrepreneurs believe the best way to generate leads and increase sales is through paid ads, social media, or SEO. Believe it or not, none of these strategies come close to channel partnerships and in this episode, my next guest breaks down simple strategies on how you can identify and establish partners that help you skyrocket your sales. Please welcome, Barrett King.

Partnerships play a crucial role in the growth and success of businesses, especially in today’s competitive landscape. By joining forces with other companies, businesses can leverage each other’s strengths and resources to achieve mutual goals and drive growth. Establishing strong partnerships is not only about expanding reach and increasing revenue but also about creating value for customers and fostering innovation. In this episode, we will explore the importance of partnerships in business and how they can be a key driver of success.

Partnerships offer a unique opportunity for businesses to tap into new markets, reach a wider audience, and access additional resources and expertise. By collaborating with complementary businesses, companies can enhance their offerings, provide more value to customers, and differentiate themselves in the market. This strategic approach allows businesses to scale more quickly, expand their reach, and create sustainable growth over time.

Benefits of Partnerships

One of the key benefits of partnerships is the ability to combine strengths and resources to innovate and create new solutions that address customer needs more effectively. By working together, businesses can leverage each other’s expertise, technology, and insights to develop innovative products and services that drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. This collaborative approach fosters creativity, encourages out-of-the-box thinking, and enables businesses to stay ahead of the competition.

Partnerships also play a vital role in building trust and credibility with customers. When businesses form strategic alliances with reputable partners, they signal to customers that they are committed to delivering high-quality products and services. Customers are more likely to trust and engage with businesses that have strong partnerships in place, as it demonstrates a dedication to excellence and a focus on meeting customer needs effectively.

Furthermore, partnerships can help businesses navigate challenges and overcome obstacles more effectively. By pooling resources and expertise, partners can support each other in times of crisis, adapt to changing market conditions, and find innovative solutions to complex problems. This collaborative approach allows businesses to build resilience, agility, and flexibility, ensuring they can weather storms and emerge stronger in the long run.

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In today’s interconnected world, partnerships are more important than ever for businesses looking to thrive and succeed in a rapidly evolving marketplace. By forming strategic alliances with like-minded companies, businesses can unlock new opportunities, drive growth, and create lasting value for customers. Whether it’s expanding into new markets, innovating new products, or enhancing customer experience, partnerships provide a powerful tool for businesses to achieve their goals and create a sustainable competitive advantage.

In conclusion, partnerships are a cornerstone of success for modern businesses. By collaborating with the right partners, companies can unlock new opportunities, drive innovation, build trust with customers, and navigate challenges more effectively. The power of partnerships lies in the ability to leverage each other’s strengths, resources, and expertise to create value, drive growth, and achieve shared goals. As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to changing market dynamics, forming strong partnerships will be essential for staying competitive, driving innovation, and delivering exceptional value to customers.

Key Timecodes

  • (00:49) – Show intro and background history
  • (09:36) – How to acquire good channel partners
  • (15:20) – Deeper into his business strategies
  • (17:35) – Some lessons learned or mistakes made
  • (19:56) – His best success stories
  • (24:12) – How he build his ideal team
  • (27:19) – A bit about inbound market
  • (29:54) – A key takeaway from the guest
  • (33:31) – Guest contacts


[00:00:00.000] – Show Intro

Introducing Payback Time, the podcast for entrepreneurs looking to build and scale their startups, gain access to actionable tips, proven strategies, and valuable data that can help you avoid mistakes, skyrocket sales, and optimize profits. Your business breakthrough may just be an episode away.


[00:00:18.600] – Guest Intro

A lot of new tech entrepreneurs believe the best way to increase leads and sales is through paid advertising, social media, and SEO. None of these strategies come close to channel partners. Establishing channel partner relationships is the fastest way to scale a business. This is how big publicly traded companies scale their businesses. And in this episode, my guest talks about how to identify and build relationships with partners so you can sky I Rocket your sales. Please welcome Barrett King.


[00:00:49.330] – Sean

Barrett, welcome to the show.


[00:00:51.070] – Barrett

Thanks for having me. I’m excited to have a chat with you. This would be great.


[00:00:53.560] – Sean

Thanks for joining me. So before we dive into your background, can you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?


[00:00:59.800] – Barrett

So I am very teamwork-oriented, professionally, and I’m very team-oriented, personally. I’ve got a good friend group. I’ve got a wife and son, my little pack, if you will, that I run with. I actually index more introvert in the things that I like to do in terms of hobby. I think it’s probably a product of doing a lot of my professional exercises around so many folks. So I like skiing and snowboarding because they’re fairly independent. I like mountain biking because it’s independent. I like running, which I was not a runner growing up because it’s independent. I love photography. Those that can actually see me. I have cameras behind me on the here. I really like things that are single focus because it makes me double click on what’s in front of me, and I really get a lot of value and feel good from it.


[00:01:38.090] – Sean

Awesome. All right. Well, let’s dive into your background. Take us through your story.


[00:01:43.910] – Barrett

Yeah, it’s interesting. I tell it this way quite often when I ask my history’s sake. I think of it as the green Lego mat when we were kids that you would build your house or ship or whatever on. So for me, that represents exiting primary education. I went to school. I changed colleges twice. Actually, I technically, I guess three times because I went to night school at one point and graduated with a design degree. Not what I started with. I actually initially went in for urban planning. Don’t ask me why. I don’t actually know why that was interesting, but it was. I think I wanted to try something different. But I found my way into the design, and then I graduated at a time when the market wasn’t doing so well. And so initially, my opportunity was… I volunteered at my high school, and I worked with a fashion photography company, and I did a bunch of stuff that was around my degree. But I found that giving back was nice, and the fashion photography thing was applicable to what I had in terms of my actual education, but I wasn’t excited about it anymore, really at all, I think at that point.


[00:02:36.800] – Barrett

I found my way into restaurants, which was a happenstance, had a meal with somebody who I ended up connecting with the GM who said, Do you want a job? I ended up leading their a full hospitality motion. And so over the next couple of years, I honed skills in people management in, again, really fast-paced environments. So restaurants, as some folks, perhaps, listeners know, are this really dynamic place. And so in part, I developed a lot of skills around the interpersonal interconnection part of what business mandates, which is the thinking on your toes and being flexible and being dynamic in many ways. But also I was learning the business of business because restaurants have really tight margins and a really fast operating just general go-to-market because they have to, because food expires and because goods expire. And so inherently, I learned speed there. I started to put more Lego bricks on my mat. So if I think about, again, that mat analogy, I graduated with maybe a few blue six by six and orange four by fours or whatever on there. But I didn’t have a really clear understanding of what I was building, where some of my peers did.


[00:03:37.090] – Barrett

They had a little tower of blue four by fours because they wanted to go be a lawyer or a doctor or nurse or whatever it was. So I did restaurants for a period of time, open restaurants, ran restaurants, had an incredible experience, really enjoyed it, but was burned out on that stage of life in terms of working 3:00 PM to 3:00 AM. A lot of my friends weren’t. And so I didn’t have what I was looking for, which is what we used to call a normal job, if you will. So I found my way out of that into tech Tech, did that for about a year and a half, got laid off since 2010. Economies imploding, housing crisis, all that’s happening. Back in a restaurant, opened a restaurant with some folks I was invited to join with. Incredible experience. Again, learned a lot about early company development, brand awareness, teaching people how to be this standard of excellence, things that were important that I’ve applied later in my career. Found my way back into tech, finally, and I have not looked back. I was in technology for about 18 months, give or take, maybe two years at a startup, as head of sales.


[00:04:31.340] – Barrett

We took it to exit by myself at another inflection point of what am I going to do next? So I had done the restaurant thing. I had a blast. I left, I got into tech, I thought I was good to go. We had a good run, but all of a sudden, I’m at a point of unemployment again, saying, what really is next before me, and I had a friend at HubSpot. For those of you that are listening, HubSpot is an all-in-one at the time marketing solution with a little bit of sales mixed in, but mostly a marketing solution. And they were evolving their partner program. And so I was spared the details. The story has recorded a bunch. But long as short of it is, I went through a rigorous interview process that was involved and invested and very intricate, and then found my way into the partner community there. So I was acquiring and building a book of partners. I was the first head of sales training for a partner, and for two years ran direct sales training as well. Did that globally, which was a fascinating experience. Back into the partner management side of the business where I managed some of HubSpot’s top partners and was fortunate to do a lot of really interesting creative work at that time.


[00:05:27.690] – Barrett

I left that stage and went into corporate I managed a corporate sales team, helping them to figure out how to bring partner and go up market and shift the way that they were co-selling with these businesses. And then the last part of my tenure there, I was in a go-to-market lead role as a part of a team of folks that were strategizing around the future of partner and go-to-market and how to evolve the business as it goes up market. So a really awesome eight-and-a-half-year, actually, about eight-and-a-half-year journey. Learned a lot, experienced a lot, and saw this, if you will, journey of building early-stage companies with the restaurant experience and then the early startup experience of how do you start from scratch and build something that was meaningful and deliver value to customers. To the time I joined HubSpot, more of a growth stage company, about 400 people, all the way to 8,000. So we went from grow up to scale up, if you will. A really fascinating eight years, eight and a half years of learnings and exposure to what it takes to build a business of that size. And then I left, took a little bit of time off, and actually decided I didn’t want to lead the ecosystem.


[00:06:23.690] – Barrett

The opportunity was too massive. And so I was fortunate to find my way to HubSpot’s top partner in North America, New Breed Revenue, where I lead the revenue team here, the partnerships and the sales team. And I’m fortunate to have taken then my experience in terms of building companies and being a part of growing and scaling companies to a firm that is very well established in a very significant ecosystem. But they themselves, us, I should say ourselves, are also growing and evolving and trying to polish the way that we deliver value to our customers and scale that impact. And so I get to be entrepreneurial again, full circle in that sense. And at this point, I’ve taken that Lego mat and I’ve put a bunch of different bricks on it. And as of late, been really intentional around reforming a lot of them and formatting them, if you will, into this pyramid that I can stand on, because I’m fortunate to have, you call it 15 plus years of business now, almost 20 years of business, and have had such a diverse amount of experience to create some range, things that I can draw from in the way that I support companies and certainly my peers moving forward.


[00:07:20.770] – Barrett

So it’s an interesting journey. It wasn’t intentional. I like to still say sometimes, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ll figure it out someday. Just having fun and learning as I go.


[00:07:29.570] – Sean

I love transition there from the restaurant industry to tech. I always have a lot of respect for people who get into a service industry, especially restaurants, because it is fast paced and it can be high stress. And it’s not only stress from the customer, but from your employees and timelines. I think of you’ve probably seen the show The Bear. It’s like that environment, that pressure cooker. It’s not easy. But if you can deal with that, you can endure that, that preps you for bigger and better things.


[00:07:56.480] – Barrett

It does. It changes you a little bit, too, for its worth. My wife and I have a five and a half year old, and I always say to her, he’s going to work in restaurants. And so she laughs and she’s like, no, he doesn’t have to do that. I said, no, I think he needs to. It will change the DNA of how you think about work. And for me, this career base that I’m describing in terms of the pyramid of Lego bricks, the analogy I always use, is important because when I talk to some of my peers, they’ve known what they wanted to do for ages, and they’ve focused only on that. And while it is really valuable to a certain stage of your career, I do think having a diverse background in terms of experience, it’s how I hire now, frankly, matters because it brings different perspectives. And for me, restaurants and frontline service, I started as a host in a restaurant in Boston. Those motions, those actions, and those experiences really define a lot of the hard work and the great what you’re describing and the ability to operate under pressure. And I think in some ways, also a little bit of tough skin you develop and being in that environment.


[00:08:52.440] – Barrett

When I left restaurants, I very intentionally went into tech. I had a friend who knew a guy who had a company that was backed by Google that was trying to sell all the restaurants. And he got wind. I got this person I know who’s in the scene in Boston, where I’m from. And I had a bunch of connections, my peers, my friends, the folks that I saw at brunch on the weekends or hosted a party at their restaurant for a special guest or whatever it was, those are the folks I was going to go and sell to. So I could empathize with the problem and I could relate to the issues. And so it was a really interesting parlay from a very deep, integrated restaurant career for, gosh, six years, seven years, whatever it was, off and on in the middle. But How did that then transition into tech sales and a really fascinating experience, to say the least.


[00:09:34.990] – Sean

That’s cool. Well, we’re all about building tech, building SaaS, and a big part of that is using partner, not using, but working with partners. I come from a world, corporate America, a lot of experience there where I was implementing projects with… Channel partners would be working with us, and we look for the big plays. It’s not the Facebook ads, it’s not the Google Ads that move the needle, it’s partnerships. That’s where the real revenue is generated. And that can be a foreign concept for some people. Why don’t you start a high level, explain what that means, partnerships? And then let’s dive into how to acquire good partners.


[00:10:16.350] – Barrett

So if you go back years, I think a lot of the time, partnerships was a misnomer. It was about companies that resold the software, resold the service. And sometimes it was about co-servicing. But generally speaking, it was channel. It was like a path to market that involved net new customer acquisition. I think what’s fascinating about the transition in the last couple of years is that the true meaning of partnership is starting to come to the forefront of the way that people think about this as a go-to-market channel, in particular because partnerships as a definition is about, in my opinion, to be clear, to organizations that are working together to deliver more value to a mutual customer in business, to be clear. Again, partnerships in business. And so if you think about that at its core, it’s two businesses that are aligned around one core customer. And so there’s this idea of a triangle. It’s like you plus me plus some a product or solution delivers value to the customer in the middle. I actually like to turn that on its head a little bit and say it’s you plus me plus a customer. I’m drawing a triangle in the air here, right?


[00:11:14.160] – Barrett

As the three sides of the triangle, and at the middle is the intersection of value. And so when you think about partnerships 2 or 3.0, whatever level we’re at now, and we think about partnerships going into H2, 24 into 25 and beyond, partnerships really is about the mutual value intersection, that moment where because of what we do in this other organization combined and the addition of a customer, we actually can elevate the value that’s coming out of all three of our businesses and the lift that we all three get. And that, for me, is one of the most important things when you think about identifying what I call early partner market fit. So when I think about what that moment looks like for most companies, they say, I get this question a lot, how do I define or decide on my early partnerships? I always say, well, it’s not That’s that question, actually. The first question is, who are the other organizations? What are they doing that are around my customer? Now, to be clear, it doesn’t mean that they’re using my software or my service or they’re like companies. It’s just, who else are they working with?


[00:12:13.120] – Barrett

Do you provide a marketing tool? And they’re an accounting firm? They’re an accounting software, rather, right? We keep using the marketing software example. Or are you Fintech, right? You do some a Fintech product and there’s a marketing software that sits alongside a lot of your customers, whatever it is, those intersections between like businesses, businesses that are, again, aligned on that customer. You can identify that by talking to your customer. So it sounds like a very simple thing, but if you’re not engaging daily, weekly, monthly with these customers, all of your customers for that matter, it’s a missed opportunity for you as a leader, because they’re going to tell you what you’re doing well, their missed opportunities, what you could do better, etc. And they’re going to, if you ask the right questions, tell you who else they’re working with. Which as simple as that sounds, that’s your early partner market fit. Those companies also or already have your customers’ trust. And whether you are trying to earn it or you’re trying to increase the trust that you’re building with those customers, these businesses become the partner opportunities for you to do so. And so in a perfect world, when you think about identifying early partner market fit, your customers are actually telling you who those partners are.


[00:13:19.390] – Barrett

Sometimes you get a lightning strike moment. I love the example of Pete Caputo over at HubSpot. I know the story well because I was there for it. Pete Observe, this is the simplified version, but Pete Observe and some of HubSpot’s most successful customers were working with marketing agencies to naturally, as you’d expect, do the marketing actions in their marketing software. He then went to those customers and said, What’s going on here? Like, these agencies doing this work for you? And they said, Yeah, they’re fantastic at this. They’re experts at content writing or social media advertising, whatever, the partner program was born. Now, again, super simplified version of it. Shout out to Pete Caputo for your brilliance. But more important than that, though, is the fact that he observed that this was happening by talking to customers. And so early identification is important. Secondary tier to that then is engaging with those businesses around looking for that intersection of value that I commented on earlier. We may or may not have the same customer yet, but inevitably we will. And ultimately, what is that overlap? So again, do our softwares talk to each other? Do your services complement my software or vice versa?


[00:14:17.640] – Barrett

Or simply, are we both in this customer’s business? And maybe it’s just a matter of us figuring out how we celebrate each other, how we reward each other, how we work together towards that mutual outcome. So synthesize really simple. Partnerships, in particular in business, are about better together outcomes by driving this idea that your business plus a secondary business plus a customer can together deliver this intersection of value in the middle.


[00:14:43.150] – Sean

Love it.


[00:14:43.660] – Commercial Break

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[00:15:21.570] – Sean

I like to break the fourth wall at times and talk to the customer. I got to tell the listener here, in this case, the key takeaway, a lot of gold there, but the thing that I really like a lot there is go to your current customers and ask, what else are you using? Whether it’s maybe they’re working with a service company or maybe another software, that’s a potential channel partner in that case, because there are some people, and I’ve been there, where you’re shooting in the dark trying to find the right channel partner. That’s going to take you way too long. Go to your current customer and find out what are you using today? That is brilliant.


[00:15:56.390] – Barrett

Good idea. I appreciate that. Yeah, I think it’s about keeping it simple. A lot of folks come in hot with like, how do I go? And I saw my competitor works at a marketing agency, so I called 50 of them and they told me to go away. They’re like, cool. Well, they’re probably overwhelmed or busy or distracted. Or like, that’s another piece of the same pie. Why don’t you just ask your customer? Or my favorite, I love this when tech leaders or B2B leaders or manufacturing is always fun, too. And they say, Barrett, how do I know who those partners are? And I asked the question of, well, have you talked to your customer recently? And they’re like, no. Well, first off, you should talk to your customer. That’s a big red flag. But more important, the ones that say, well, yeah, I talked to them last week. And you’re like, great, what did you ask them about? They’re like, oh, man, I was asking about how much they love our product and what their favorite parts are. And I’m like, cool, what’s the negative feedback? What are the gaps? Because I can guarantee that whatever you’re doing, they are going to identify because they’re using it every day.


[00:16:46.100] – Barrett

Again, software service or irrelevant. You are not doing everything for everyone. Let’s be humble enough as leaders to understand that. And so if that’s the case, there are going to be parties that are doing that work in some capacity, whether it’s they integrate and they fulfill some a need made, or they overlay and they deliver something on top of. There’s so many dynamics to it. So the encouragement that I give, I’ll break the fourth wall for you, too. I love this, is, listener, be intentional around. Don’t just think about a single dimension of partnership. Sean, one of the One of the things that I hear a lot is it’s got to be the reseller motion, or people just index in that direction. They’re going to sell my software. No. What if they’re going to integrate with it and it makes the customer stickier? What if they’re going to deliver services on top and it gives the customer more value because they’re experts? Just thousands of dimensions to this. Think in 3D because the game is much more interesting if you do.


[00:17:34.270] – Sean

That’s goals. Can you share with us… We’re going to get to a success story in a moment, but can you share with us maybe some lessons learned or mistakes made, maybe you made or maybe you witnessed somebody make or maybe another company?


[00:17:47.620] – Barrett

Sure. Around partnership in particular?


[00:17:49.390] – Sean

Yeah, exactly.


[00:17:50.310] – Barrett

Yeah, sure. I think people do a couple of things. One, they’re either too assumptive or not assumptive enough. That comes up quite a bit. So they index into this, this partner will want… I always love… I lead revenue at a marketing and sales firm now, right? So we do integrations and we do custom development and we’ve got our own applications, but we also do migration work and we do CRM and revenue operations work. And so we’re dynamic to a fault in some ways for vendors that want to sell to us because they think, Oh, I fit in one of these categories, therefore, they’re going to want to work with me. I one recently reach out to me and say, Hey, we’ve talked to 10 of your peers, right? And all of them said, We have this really great product. I’m like, Okay, cool. I’ll give you 15 minutes. I’ll listen to you. Competitive advantage, right? I want to know what they’re doing. And this person, this is the mistake, right? Assumed that I wanted to be pitched on the solution. Hey, so here’s what we do, and here’s why it’s great. And you get a 20 % rev share, and you got to care about it.


[00:18:45.660] – Barrett

So hold on, wait a minute. You assume that I want to buy this thing already. They were literally talking about, When can we set up a kickoff call? Take a deep breath. I’m not sure I even understand what you do. And I also don’t really care what you do. I care about why my customer cares what you do. So talk to me about that. So the The lesson, if I may go a little bit further, is if you’re going to work under the assumption that I need your solution, who I being the customer or your target audience, make sure you’ve got something more than just why I should buy it, why my customer cares about it. In my case, it’s a partner, and why the market, in many ways, I think, mandates that I pay attention because the noise that I have is immense. And I think that’s been one of my core lessons in terms of to cut through the noise, be personal, yes, but really get to the root of how this This solution or whatever it might be actually delivers value to the thing that I care most about. That’s the other end of the spectrum.


[00:19:35.550] – Barrett

So you talked about, obviously, the things that were done well, done poorly. It’s the lack of assumption, too. You already know what we do, so it’s going to be fine. I love that from big companies. Oh, you know Salesforce? Oh, you know HubSpot. You know Amazon. Sure, big logo. But how do I actually relate to it? How do I care about it? How does my customer get value from it?


[00:19:55.550] – Sean

Got you. Can you share with us one of your favorite success stories and what you’ve done with… Maybe it was a big home run partnership you did with HubSpot.


[00:20:06.940] – Barrett

Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting. When I was at HubSpot, there were a lot of different experiences that I’m, I think, in many ways proud of. I remember early on acquiring partners. This is one of my favorites. And it combinesines a few different lessons. I was working with a peer, really good fit, larger firm. We had been working on them for, I don’t know, at this point, eight months or something like that. Our sales cycle was short at that time, like 30 days. So this is a big, if you will, big deal. And we get to the end of this very long procurement process. And we’re on, this is like pre-Zoom. We’re on a call in a conference room, and she’s sitting next to me, and I’m sitting there, and the two of us are just sweating bullets. Like, come on, we’re right at the end. And the guy goes, okay, cool. I think we have what we need. And I just went, I’m going to take a shot. So I just said, Sounds good, Dan or whatever his name. Dan, sounds good. So you’re ready to get started? And I waited. And I remember I don’t know how long I waited because I had a watch on and I looked down when I said it for whatever reason.


[00:21:03.880] – Barrett

It was almost a full minute, 53 seconds of silence. This guy sat there and he grumbled and he huffed and he puffed and whatever. Takes his deep breath and he just goes, You know what, Barrett, I am. Let’s do this. And it sounds simple. It was one partner of the 10 I brought on that month or whatever. But it was being very direct and being very intentional and being very clear in terms of why it made the most sense for this business to connect, because I had already delivered the value. I had already delivered the story. I had already been very intentional around it. So I could argue that that’s an individual win. If I go to the other end of the spectrum, it’s this idea of bringing together… I mean, we had tens of people in this project, but HubSpot was trying to move from a sales and CS-led partnership to a PDM model, Partner Development Manager model, which is a bit more of a mutually aligned role. Frankly, and if someone from HubSpot listens to this, forgive me, I’m going to say this out loud in a recorded line, but they should have years ago So.


[00:22:00.640] – Barrett

And I think HubSpot knew that, and they were trying to figure out how to evolve the program to make sure they met the partner’s needs and the customer’s needs. And I appreciate that. I worked with this really brilliant woman. Her name is Michelle Etherton. She’s fantastic. If you’re listening, I miss you. You’re great. Michelle brought Amazon from an Amazon perspective, she came from AWS and had big picture, big company lens on the problem. That was fascinating because not only did we change something really fundamental in HubSpot’s DNA and how they went to market with partners, but I learned a mountain from this person. She’s so brilliant. And what I learned more than anything was the power of buy-in. So the idea wasn’t new. Hubspot had explored this idea of moving from a salesperson, if you will, and a CS person, if you will, owning the partnership, conflicting in some ways and maybe some challenge in terms of mind share and time share. And there was a lack of overlay which created conflict and friction with direct. They’re no one’s fault. It just needed to evolve. Michelle showed up and said, This makes sense. I was on her team.


[00:22:55.790] – Barrett

I said, Of course it makes sense. We’ve been talking about this for years. What was fascinating was it It took us a year of really hard work and a bunch of brilliant minds whose names I will not mention for fear of shout out. Michelle doesn’t mind if I shout her out. The others, I’ll keep an anonymity. But bringing together all these different stakeholders. What I learned this experience was When you’re at an organization, we’re talking about very different size. Early on at HubSpot, we were 400 people. I was building a book of business. I was beholden to a sales manager and director, and it was a line of sight. Now we’re talking about thousands and thousands of human beings, 8,000 employees. We’re talking about impacting 500 plus human beings as individuals, let alone the partners themselves that are going to have a downstream impact. And so there was care and there was investment, there was data, there was analysis, there was conversation, and there was intent behind it. And so my core takeaway and my core learning from this experience was it was patience. It was the need to be very intentional in terms of the way that you make big decisions.


[00:23:51.830] – Barrett

And we got it done. It took a year. And on the way out, actually, right before I left, we inked the deal, if you will. And HubSpot made an incredible shift to their credit and their benefit to help partners grow differently, aligning to one role, bringing into an overlay function and helping us, I can say now firmly as a top partner, to help their customers even more effectively. It’s a really cool impact.


[00:24:12.660] – Sean

We circle back to something that Michelle taught you was buy-in. And I assume that’s to get your entire team, your culture. You mentioned it could be as many as a thousand people all bought in. Is that what you’re referring to? Is everybody’s moving the same direction?


[00:24:28.210] – Barrett

Yeah. So it is. It’s Aligning your vectors, I’ve heard the expression before, and rowing in the same direction. If you think about the idea of a long canoe or a row boat of some kind, if any one person is rowing in the opposite direction, it doesn’t work functionally. The boat won’t go forward, it spins or slides or whatever. It is vital that you are intentional around bringing all of your stakeholders to the table and getting their lens of interpretation, being very intentional around aligning on their values and the things that matter to them and not making the assumption that, well, because I said that we should do this, the data says we should do it, or the entire business says we should do it, that every person will feel good or understand every time you have that conversation. So when I think about alignment, when I think about stakeholder management and big project progression, a lot of it is patients around perspective, understanding all of the stakeholders and folks impacted, their lens of interpretation, and what really matters to them in terms of why this change will or will not be a negative or positive, and empathizing, and being very clear in the way that you communicate those changes so that you’re always thinking about how we can bring those folks together.


[00:25:34.490] – Barrett

Because frankly, again, the more that you do that, the more effective the outcome is of the work that you’re actually doing.


[00:25:39.350] – Sean

To circle back a little further, I love the quick story there of giving the final word and then waiting nearly a minute, which feels like three days.


[00:25:52.760] – Barrett

The month. It was the longest 53 seconds of my life.


[00:25:54.690] – Sean

My gosh. And what is the old saying we saw on Wolf of Wall Street, the one who speaks first loses. I know it’s a true term.


[00:26:01.910] – Barrett

Yeah, it’s true. You positioned on…


[00:26:04.740] – Sean

And this is a good takeaway for the audience, you can correct me if I’m wrong here, but you want to position all the value, give them all the facts. And if they’re not sure, you ask the question, what else can I help you find? What other information do you need to make a decision? But then it’s otherwise, are we ready to go? And then you shut your mouth.


[00:26:22.150] – Barrett

Yeah, zip it. It’s the hardest thing. I have a five-year-old, so he doesn’t zip it. And I always joke with him, If you could just shut your mouth for like, 45 seconds, you’d learn so much more. He’s brilliant. We’re very fortunate. He’s a smart kid. But my wife and I talk about it, and I relate that back to that moment. It clearly imprinted on me. That was almost 10 years ago now. But when you start to think about, in particular in business now, we’re so focused on being thought leaders, having the answer, being the driver, that when I coach and mentor early sales folks or sales leaders, even, I’ve met CEOs that don’t do it. There is power in being quiet, and it matters in particular when you can control it, when you zip it.


[00:27:02.610] – Sean

What is the old saying, you have two ears and one mouth, use it in those proportions?


[00:27:08.080] – Barrett

Yeah, I like to take a call out here. You do. And if you have a challenge with it, my default was always grab a sticky, throw it on your monitor, and just remind yourself by looking at it constantly. Yes. Just be quiet.


[00:27:18.990] – Sean

I was doing a little homework about you offline, and you do know a lot about inbound marketing. And there are a lot of SaaS founders that are always looking for ways that the flywheel really starts spinning, and it’s not you always reaching out to get new customers like, now they’re coming in. That’s a great place to be. Tell us about inbound marketing a little bit.


[00:27:41.520] – Barrett

Yeah, I think it’s table stakes right now. You need to be intentional around creating the content that your prospects are looking for. Your potential customers are educating themselves somewhere. You want to be the magnet that they go to, which comes from authoring content that’s helpful, it’s insightful, that answers the questions that they have prior to and even after becoming customers, which are frankly all questions that you can get to by asking your customers. We go back to that point that I made earlier. You should be talking to your customers and surveying and understanding through them and through your CS team and the folks that are engaging with them, what are the most common 10, 15, 20, 50 things that they are asking for or looking for insight into? Because those are the questions that you should answer through content, through blogs, through co-authoring content that sits on people’s pages, through ebooks and white papers. You should be out there in the digital world in that sense doing so. The other part of it, though, is that inbound has evolved. Inbound is table stakes in terms of being able to create the content. I would argue that nearbound is the next stage of that, which is the idea of creating communities, creating reach through the businesses that are surrounding your organization and using those to amplify your message as well.


[00:28:49.980] – Barrett

So if you’re a leader right now and you’re thinking, how do I attract more of the customers I want to work with? Good content marketing, certainly social media and advertising matter as well. But looking for those like businesses, those partners that we were talking about, to empower them to go to market with and for you. You saw it with Amazon. You saw it with HubSpot. They nailed it, right? Give their marketing agencies all of the marketing power to market HubSpot. Holy cow. Like a thousand voices on top of HubSpots that are saying the same thing. It’s pure brilliance. So for me, if I were listening to this and thinking, what do I do? I’d go look to my partners, I’d go look to my customers, and I would certainly go look to the market, and I would start to talk about the things that matter most to my base. You don’t have to always be a thought leader, to be clear. A lot of folks think they have to be innovative and brand new. You can still point out that one plus one equals two. You can just package it a little differently, or you can put your logo on it and your spin on it and your perspective.


[00:29:42.110] – Barrett

Because nowadays, being a leader and being clear in terms of who you are as far as brand awareness and your brand overall is as valuable as the way that you actually go and sell and service those customers.


[00:29:53.780] – Sean

Right on. All right, before we jump into the rapid fire round, what is one key takeaway you can give our audience?


[00:30:01.490] – Barrett

Be intentional. I think it’s really easy in business to be scattered. We’re all distracted. There’s a lot of noise. Be intentional. You say, Oh, my sales team is struggling. Why are they struggling? You’re going to point to marketing and say it’s the leads, or is it their skills in process, or do we need better referrals from our partners? Be a student of the problem. I think that’s my core takeaway. I’ve heard that before. I can’t own that phrase at all. Someone way smarter than me came up with it. But be a student of the problem and fall madly in love with it. Think about it, obsess over it, lean into it. The more you learn, the more you dig in, the more you expand and ask questions, the more informed you’ll be, the more successful you’ll be.


[00:30:35.220] – Sean

Brilliant. Brilliant. Love it. All right, let’s dive into the rapid fire round. This is the part of the episode where we get to find out who Barrett really is. If you can.


[00:30:43.580] – Barrett

Oh, boy, I’m ready.


[00:30:44.530] – Sean

And here we go. If you can try to answer each question in about 15 seconds or less. You ready?


[00:30:49.750] – Barrett

Okay, I think so. We’ll find out.


[00:30:51.850] – Sean

All right. What is your favorite podcast?


[00:30:54.380] – Barrett

I would say my own, but that would be rude. I think there’s a couple of them out there. I like Sean and… Oh, my gosh, I just blanked, of course, under pressure. My First Million? The founder of the Hustle. I can’t… Yeah, there you go. My First Million. Thank you. Look at you. Nailing it. Support.


[00:31:09.310] – Sean

Read his mind. All right, next question. What is a recent book you read and would recommend?


[00:31:14.830] – Barrett

I’ve read The Terminalist. I actually read a lot for pleasure. A lot of folks, if you can see me right now, I’ve got a huge library of books that are about learning. I don’t do enough of it. I read The Terminalist. I really enjoyed it. Good story, good series, interesting. Got me out of my head. It was nice.


[00:31:29.970] – Sean

Really enjoyed the series on Amazon. Just a one-off. Rumors are there could be a prequel.


[00:31:34.440] – Barrett

We’ll see. No, they’re working on it. Actually, that is confirmed for those of you. That’s in production? That’s in production right now. Yeah, it’s confirmed.


[00:31:40.370] – Sean

All right. You brought good news to me. More good news than ever. There it is.


[00:31:44.010] – Barrett

I love it.


[00:31:45.680] – Sean

All right. What is your favorite movie?


[00:31:47.870] – Barrett

It’s easy. Inception. That one changed the way that I think about the world. I really enjoyed it. A creative, interesting, just absolute mind-bending journey. Thoroughly enjoyed that one.


[00:31:59.170] – Sean

Yeah. When I’m asked the question. That is my same answer, actually. I love Inception.


[00:32:04.040] – Barrett

Look at us. Kindred spirits.


[00:32:05.290] – Sean

Yeah, for sure. Brilliant movie. All right. What is the worst advice you ever received?


[00:32:11.750] – Barrett

Sell through the problem. In tech, in particular, I think, Actually, I hear that a lot. Personally, it was this idea of be nice to everybody. I don’t think you have to be nice to everybody. You have to be cordial to everybody. So personal and professional, those are my two.


[00:32:24.210] – Sean

Right on. Right. Flip that equation. What’s the best advice you ever received?


[00:32:28.330] – Barrett

I think I shared a lot of it, the professional stuff here, this idea of listen first. I don’t know that I can own this either, but I always talk about active listening is the act of listening with the intent to understand. Most of us don’t do that. We listen to respond, listen to understand. And then personally, I think it’s pay yourself first. I’ve been educating myself the last 10 years on finance, and I think that matters most.


[00:32:50.390] – Sean

What is that? Mike Michalowicz.


[00:32:52.870] – Barrett

Is that what it is? Profit First. Yeah, something like that. Don’t follow the trend. Everyone wants to talk about the new hot thing. Just pay yourself, invest Just wisely. Be patient. All right.


[00:33:03.440] – Sean

This is a fun one. This is a time machine question. If you could go back in time to give your younger self advice, what age would you visit and what would you say?


[00:33:10.740] – Barrett

This is such a cool question. I’ve never been asked this before, and I get a lot of weird ones. I would go I would go, it’s going to be deep. You ready? I go to 18, right? And I would say three things. I’d say, It’s going to be okay. I’d say, you need to be more patient. And I’d say, hard work is not always the answer. You got to use your Smart.


[00:33:31.260] – Sean

Love it. All right. And where can the audience reach you?


[00:33:34.820] – Barrett

I’m a LinkedIn guy. Check me out on LinkedIn. It’s Barrett J. King. This is one of me. There is a Barrett King in New York. He is not as cool. And if you’re listening, I will get my Gmail back from you. I’m a LinkedIn guy. I’ve got my own show called Outcomes. I talk to go-to-market leaders that have a good story to tell and some tactical advice and feedback. So you can find me on the traditional platforms there. But I’m a LinkedIn guy. Shoot me a note. I will spend 15 minutes with anybody. I’m glad to help where I can.


[00:33:56.920] – Speaker 3



[00:33:57.480] – Sean

Well, thank you so much for your time, Barrett. This is great.


[00:33:59.950] – Barrett

Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.


[00:34:01.860] – Sean

Hey, I’d like to say thanks for checking out this podcast. I know there’s a lot of other podcasts you could be listening to, so thanks for spending some time with me. And if you have a moment, could you please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a five-star review. The more reviews we get, the higher this podcast will rank. All right, stay tuned for the next episode.


[00:34:19.410] – Sean

We’ll see you.