There was excitement and energy in the air! Catalyst2022 was supposed to start at 4 p.m., but the floor was packed by 1 p.m. The bar was poised for a 6 p.m. start but had to open early for thirsty attendees by 4 p.m. Food was schedule for 5 p.m. but was brought out early at 4 p.m. for the swarm of guests. And the band played for three hours play versus the one that was scheduled. It wasn’t a scheduling blunder by Catalyst by any stretch of the imagination. The adjustments made were because of multiple generations of people were gathered together talking partnerships. Who that partnerships could bring even Millennials and Boomers together, but it did, and it was amazing!
For this older Gen X-er, the first Catalyst2022 in Miami last week was collaborative, energizing and refreshing. From the panel discussions to the networking events, it was truly invigorating to see today’s channel leaders and icons like @Jay McBain, , @Heather Margolis and @Kristine Stewart, along with ecosystem gurus like Allan Alder – all drawn to Catalyst2022 by the founders of Partnership leaders @Asher Mathew, @Chris Samila and @Tai Rattigan. Their vision of bringing this community together to share insights and expertise was a success. Plus, we were all able to observe tomorrow’s channel leaders making their own names for themselves.
Taking partnerships to its highest level – conceptually and operationally – was the focus of the event. Bringing together ideas and best practices from both the co-sell and through-sell routes-to-market all in the same place was the result. It was amazing to see new ideas being offered and new participants figuring out how to come together and learn from each other. In today’s complex technology buying environment, most Partnerships ultimately take on similar traits, regardless of route-to-market, because they’re all evolving under the same buyers’ journey umbrella. As one person put it succinctly, “whether it’s an Alliance Partner or a Channel Partner, neither of them work for you and both of them need to drive revenue.”
That’s not to say that as a 20+year veteran in the industry I don’t see some challenges ahead. For example, I watched a younger Alliance Partner Manager googling MDF in a session and coming up with a wood product. Having run an MDF company, I couldn’t help commenting – telling her to actually look up the works Market Development Funds. Terminology and acronyms should be an easy fix, and yes there can be more attention paid to context, in particular when there are presenters from both areas presenting on the same panel. However, I will take the passion and energy over some of the marginal chaos any time. In fact, the Partnership leadership team was thinking ahead, setting up a great slack channel/thread for anyone to ask what they might consider to be a “questionable question,” (i.e., what is MDF, Deal Registration, etc.). It was a great idea in a space that is full of industry jargon. But, more importantly, it was a great way to build community regardless of experience.
The idea of elevating partnerships to a higher level throughout an organization may not be new but has never been this pervasive within the channel ecosystem. You can’t spend more than five minutes on LinkedIn to realize the sizable increase in the word “partnerships” or “partner” in a person’s title. In fact, according to Crossbeam, 59% of the top 100 SaaS companies have identifiable partner roles.
Within this context, its critical to for the channel to understand what co-selling and through-selling are and what they have in common. We all need to onboard partners, enable partners, build a go-to-market strategy, then actually market and sell – all to drive revenue in the most efficient way possible. As the routes to market and the web of partnerships get more complex (with resellers, co-sellers, influencers, and affiliates all in the mix), it is imperative that we get everyone together, regardless of if you’re a Channel Chief or a recent college graduate, to share and learn from each other.
All in all, cheers to Catalyst2022! I look forward to the energy and insights that come out of next year’s event.