Warren Buffet once said, “Partnership is not a legal contract between two equal individuals. It’s an emotional alliance between two people who are committed to each other’s success.” And that’s true, isn’t it? Whether you’re new to strategic partnerships or have been doing this for years, you doubtless understand that your most successful endeavors have been due to the relationships you forged with your partners.
But as the field of partnerships has grown in recent years, so too has the challenge to partnership leaders who are now tasked to support every aspect of a business.
How do you secure the right background for a successful career? And how do we develop the necessary skills to foster emotional alliances that achieve business results?
That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.
Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building… oh, and you get to learn too! Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy – with a solid takeaway every episode from partnership experts in the industry.
When I left college after having studied History and Computer Science, my first salaried job was handling ERP support for Dana Corporation and helping our 80,000 employees deal with their questions about Baan, Lawson and Oracle. After a few years, I joined a local IT firm as Sales Manager and a few years after that, took a break from IT and sold swimming pools and hot tubs in Northern Ohio. Later I became an entrepreneur and started my own marketing business, The Social Media Hat, leveraged that into a role as CMO of Sitesell, and then shifted to Agorapulse where I’ve been leading partnerships since 2018.
While one could say that I’ve been in sales & marketing for over twenty years and that the majority of that time has been in the digital space, the reality is that my career has not been a straight line.
Surely it doesn’t always have to be like that. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a better understanding of what partnership leader roles today require in terms of skills, and how those can be developed and applied?
That’s exactly what Greg Rust is going to talk to us about.
Greg is the Senior Director – Global Holdco’s & Digital SI Partnerships at Oracle and a 5 time Partner of the Year. He has decades of experience as a Global Strategic Alliance Executive that’s based on years working in sales, product management, and more. He’s established trusted relationships with key executives across multiple industries and verticals, and has just the diverse background and perspective we need to tackle this topic.
Partnership Unpacked host Mike Allton talked to Greg about:
♉️ The ideal career path of a partnership leader today
♉️ The importance of establishing trust, both internally and externally
♉️ The role of communications and diplomacy in business partnerships
Subscribe to the show calendar: agorapulse.com/calendar
Learn more about Greg Rust
- Connect with Greg Rust on LinkedIn
Resources & Brands mentioned in this episode
- Subscribe to the show calendar: agorapulse.com/calendar
- Learn more about Agorapulse with a free demo
Full Notes & Transcript:
The Importance of Trust, Communications & Diplomacy in Strategic Partnerships with Greg Rust[00:00:00] Mike Allton: Warren Buffett once said, Partnership is not a legal contract between two individual equals. It’s an emotional alliance between two people who are committed to each other’s success. And that’s true, isn’t it? Whether you knew the strategic partnerships or have been doing this for years, you doubtless understand that your most successful endeavors have been due to the relationships you forged with your partners.
As the field of partnerships has grown in recent years, so too has the challenge to partnership leaders who are now tasked to support every aspect of a business. How do you secure the right background for a successful career, and how do we develop the necessary skills to foster emotional alliances that achieve business results?
That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership. Unpacked.
This is Partnership Unpacked, your go to guide to growing your business through partnerships quickly. I’m your host, Mike Alton, and each episode unpacks the winning strategies and latest trends from influencer marketing to brand partnerships and ideas that you can apply to your own business to grow exponentially.
Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building. Oh, and you get to learn too. Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy with a solid takeaway every episode from partnership experts.
Now, when I left college after having studied history and computer science, my first salaried job was handling ERP support for Dana Corporation and helping our 80, 000 employees deal with their questions about Bond, Lawson, and Oracle. After a few years, I joined a local IT firm as sales manager and a few years after that, took a break from IT and sold swing pools and hot tubs in Northern Ohio.
Later, I became an entrepreneur. Started my own marketing business, the social media had leveraged that into a role as CMO of Sitesell and then shifted to Agorapulse, where I’ve been leading partnerships since 2018. And while one could say that I’ve been in sales and marketing for over 20 years, and that the majority of that time has been in the digital space, the reality is that my career has not been a straight line.
Surely, it doesn’t always have to be like that. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a better understanding of what partnership leader roles today require in terms of skills, and how those can be developed and applied? Well, that’s exactly what Greg Russ is going to talk to us about. Greg is the Senior Director at Global Holdco’s And digital SI partnerships, Oracle, and a five time partner of the year.
He has decades of experience as a global strategic Alliance executive. That’s based on years working in sales, product management, and more. He’s established trusted relationships with key executives across multiple industries and verticals, and has just the diverse background and perspective we need to tackle this topic.
Hey, Greg, welcome to the show.[00:03:00] Greg Rust: Hey, good morning, Mike. Glad to be here. [00:03:03] Mike Allton: My pleasure. So excited to have you. Let’s dig into this. Now you’ve had a varied career. Like I said, spanning multiple disciplines and verticals, even, even more than me. How did you end up in partnerships and what can you tell us about the role you’ve got with Oracle today? [00:03:19] Greg Rust: I loved hearing your professional journey and all the things that you did, because I think it’s very, you know, apropos to, you know, the partnership career path. But you know, I got into partnerships in a very indirect way. And that was, I was a product manager. For an infant nutrition organization based in, in Ohio and a product I was responsible for, we were really trying to look at ways that we could expand its, you know, its presence in the, in the market.
And we had done some market research and found that. We could achieve this through being affiliated with several other products. You know, unfortunately, or fortunately, none of those products existed within our organization. So I literally had to develop a plan to go out and pitch all these organizations about why they would want to have their product affiliated with ours.
And so. This was something that had never been done at our organization, you know, and you’re looking at all the impact would be like, okay, how do we do that from a marketing standpoint? How do we do that from a legal and regulatory standpoint? And we were going to assemble everything within our organization with, so it was going to impact how you even manufacture.
You know, such a thing and then distribute it. So it was really interesting because I had to pull all these things together. No one had done it before. We, it was, you know, literally a new path every, seemed like every hour. And so got that off, you know, off the ground and it proved to be, you know, as, as successful as we had hoped it was not only for us, but for our partners as well, and that’s, that’s where I got my very first taste.
Of of this partnership thing long before such a thing even existed. So at that time, you know, I already had a sales background. I had, which was sales and sales training. And now I have product management background. And certainly back then, I didn’t know how all these different stints. would benefit me.
But to the other point of what I’m doing at Oracle now is, as you said in the introduction, I, you know, I manage a team of very tenured, senior people that call on global holding companies and digital SIs and the agencies within Oracle. I’m in the Oracle advertising business unit. So, you know, data is our DNA.
And so right now data is, you know, obviously the, the talking point, you know, everywhere. And so I think that What brought me here from a previous organization was the maturity of the partner organization and what we wanted to do going forward wasn’t there. And so there was a There was an appetite for getting it, you know, building it up and making it, you know, more impactful.
So it’s the typical where, you know, we’re working with our go to market sales teams that are pretty client direct. And we are, you know, stitching together, bringing our partners across those clients, which, you know, they’re likely their clients as well. And, and identifying the pathway for working together to, with a successful end, end result, that being that everybody, you know, can have a win, right?
Our sales team sells things. Our partner likely has a stronger uptick in their remit. And ultimately we can both point to the client as being successful because we work together. That’s what I’m currently doing at Oracle.[00:06:40] Mike Allton: Love it. I do a lot of the same things here at Agorapulse and I, I appreciate that you got into partnerships because you tried one and it worked and you got that taste, right?
For what partnerships can potentially do for a set of business. It was the same thing here at Agorapulse. We said, Hey, let’s, let’s, let’s try this. There was no strategy. There was no 10 year plan for implementing a partnership department. I was really just doing influencer marketing when I joined, but. For someone who is new to partnerships or wants to break into this exploding field, but perhaps doesn’t want to spend quite so many years in sales as you and I did, what do you think is the best professional background for partnership leaders today?
And why do you think that is?[00:07:21] Greg Rust: Yeah. Tugging cheek. Everybody’s impatient now, Mike, you know, you know, they want to get there sooner, but you know, that’s a, that’s a good question. And I’m, I’m, I’m not sure it’s as much about the professional background as it is that. The necessary skill sets that you demonstrate, you know, in whatever job you have.
So, you know, for instance, I would say the, the skill sets needed to really be successful and in the partnership path would be, you know, the ability to demonstrate, you know, empathy. Certainly there’s, you know, tenacity, strategic planning is key. I think that the ability to forge relationships as well as cultivate relationships is key and I think we should expand upon that later.
But, and then the communication skills, both oral and written. And I think. Under that is the ability to take those skills, that communication skill sets and be an effective storyteller because because really what you’re trying to do is to deliver a vision of what the two teams working together, what the result of that could be right.
And that certainly is key and diplomacy or being effective moderator. I just can’t Stress enough because, you know, everybody, you know, especially your sales organization is trying to make the quarter plan, trying to make the year. Every deal is, is critical the same for the partners, their trajectory of those deals may not be.
Even one’s long term was one could be short term. And so there’s typically some drama sense of urgency that comes into that. So the diplomacy skills to be able to settle it, settle that down and make sure that everybody’s on the same path or, or, you know, really at the top of the list, you know, I think you also have to demonstrate presence.
And by that, I mean, it’s about, you carry a level of confidence because. Early on, I was having to deal with the C suite. I was having to do presentations to all the way up to the CEO about what we were trying to do, why it would matter to the business, right? And so if you’re not, if you’re unable to carry yourself, you know, with that level of confidence and your whole presence, you’re going to fall short.
But. You look at the whole reason that a partnership even exists is that somewhere an opportunity was identified due to a business challenge or an issue, right? And so your partners, you know, are typically involved with the client a little bit more deeper than maybe a software vendor would be, but being able to help everybody see.
What that potential solve for that opportunity is by both of us working together, you know, is key. So ultimately it’s a win. You’re, you’re trying to navigate a win for all parties. That’s why I would say it’s more, it’s not a particular job per se, as it would be that the skill sets that I mentioned.
Would be some of those that you would be able to demonstrate and whatever job that you’re, you’re, you’re currently in, because I’ve worked with a lot of people that, you know, either had an accounting degree or were even, you know, a lawyer at one time or product, you know, project manager, however, you’re able to really elevate those skills is where I.
It’s what I look on, look at, especially if I’m, if I’m hiring somebody into a part of it.[00:10:50] Mike Allton: It’s funny. I mentioned at the outset that I went to college for history and computer science and in full transparency, a, I had no intention of going into marketing as a career and B I was majoring in those areas simply to get out of college because that was like the shortest route.
I just, I wanted to be done with school, but now in retrospect, as I look back, I realize studying history empowered me to be a better writer. And a storyteller and a researcher, which has been really good for my marketing career and the computer science angle, not only helped me become more familiar with technology, but it also gave me this problem solving mindset.
So I’m looking back and thinking, okay, this. Was a good choice in terms of study for the career that I have today. But if I’m starting over and I want to get into partnerships in addition to, you know, focusing on the specific skills that you iterated, should I be looking at like a business degree or what would that career path look like?
Do you think?[00:11:46] Greg Rust: Yeah, that’s interesting because similar to, to your path, when I was entering college. You know, tongue in cheek, my dad was a CPA. I wanted to go into radio, TV, film. Right? But my, and I guess at that time, I didn’t feel like, you know, so compelled and so, like, this is what I’ve been dreaming of all my life, right?
To do it no matter What people were whispering in my ear, but my, my, my father got my attention because he said, accounting, you gotta, you’re, you’re going to look at numbers and, and the numbers tell the story, right? And numbers don’t lie. He’s like, numbers don’t lie, right? You there’s no emotion. And so off I went, part of the creative side of my brain was like, love to be on, entertain people, be radio, TV hosts, all that kind of stuff.
And I marched myself into my first accounting class of which by the midterm, I was just like, This is nuts. This is not who I am, right? But I tell you that story to be able to, you know, answer your question in that there’s so many different pillars when you, when you look at either, for instance, okay, do I have to You know, I was I hired by an organization to build a partnership.
Okay. That’s that’s a different experience versus I’m coming into one into an existing partnership or partner ecosystem, but they want me to stand up 1 s. I or 1 agency or whatever. Right? And so. Obviously, those paths are going to take you to different places, but I look back and I think it’s, I think the environment is a little bit friendlier or more forgiving now about, let’s say, failure in general, because you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, right?
I mean, it’s a partnerships or a people business. Right. I mean, and, and we all come in all shapes, sizes, colors and everything and people, you know, we’re just going to sync with and others where we’re, we’re just not. Right. And so the best answer I can give you is the world experience that you, if you’re going through college, what did you allow yourself?
Did you really put yourself, you know, out there? Did you get involved, right? Or, you know, did you just say, I’m just going to, yeah, I’m going to take these classes. I want to get out of college as soon as I can. So I can earn some money because I think it really comes down to what you, what you expose yourself to where, where’s the scar tissue.
Because I, my, my four year college was a five year experience. As I think most people was, as you know, you’re constantly starting and stopping. This is like, that’s the path I want. And then you find very quickly, it’s like, yeah, that’s, you know, the curriculum is not matching. You know, what I read in the catalog is it’s not matching.
Right. I want out of this, but I would say that if you’re, if you’re somewhere early in your career and you’re like, I really have heard about all this partnership stuff. And I really got to, you know, get into it, you know, partnerships are also, you know, you look at the things that you’re doing in your community, in your, in your family, you know, all those things that make up your daily life that are non professional, right?
And you can start seeing. I like to joke that I am of, I have three other brothers and I’m, I’m number two. And, and if you understand that hierarchy, I was, I was born into diplomacy, right? I was just like, the number two kid just wants everybody to be happy. Right. And I got to see my older brother. Do all the wrong things, right?
And I would just sit back and go, not going to do that. Not going to do that. That was dumb. You know, that’s easy. Why do you keep doing that? You know, so I could craft my own trajectory to success within, at least within that, that the family household, right? So, you know, I think it’s, it’s an exciting time for entering this, this career path of, of partnerships.
But I, you know, I think it really comes down to what you allow yourself. You know, to truly, you know, experience to help get you there versus, yeah, take, take this curriculum and you will graduate with a degree in partnership and success is guaranteed. Right? So yeah, I think we’re there yet. I[00:16:20] Mike Allton: couldn’t agree more.
In fact, I’m having the same conversation with my oldest daughter. She’s 12 and she’s looking at a career in dance and I’m saying, you know, that may not be a traditional for your college approach. It’s all about. That world experience and where you go. And to your point, where’s the scar tissue? But for those of you listening, if you’re looking for a an actual structured partnership curriculum, go back and listen to our very first episode of this podcast with Mark Brinkman with partner nomics.
You can take a look at his this course. I’ve gone through it. It’s fantastic. It’s actually credited with the University of Central Missouri, if I’m not mistaken. So that’s a great way to go. But you mentioned how partnerships partnerships. Our people. And I want to kind of drill down on that because I want to know why trust is so important with both internal and external partners.
And how do you go about earning it?[00:17:12] Greg Rust: And I, yeah, I mean, trust is just, it’s huge, right? It, to me, it is the most important characteristic. Of being successful in this job. And it’s, it’s interesting because it, it takes so long to earn trust, but you can lose it very quickly. And I think what, you know, when you look at all the different pieces and parts that you are having to deal with or juggle on a daily basis, both internally and externally, you know, for me, it’s always come down to, did you do what you said you were going to do?
Right. For, for all, all parties involved. And, you know, the role that we, that we have is some like to say, well, on the eye of the storm, I like to be a little bit more optimistic about, you know, where we have been invited to the party to, to advise, and we can advise directly, and we can also provide that advice indirectly and.
Through the course of doing that and you know, I’ve done thousands of deals both very, very, very large and, you know, small and in comparison, that’s constantly challenging where those relationships are at any given time. Right. We probably have all heard of, well, that, that salesperson or that sales team is very partner friendly.
That one, not so much. Right. And so what happens is you tend to do once somebody experiences the success. Of a, of a partnership, the outcome of that partnership you’re going to do more deals with either that individual or that team, but it also involves all the other ancillary resources. So if I look at, if I’m trying to, if I’ve got a partner that they have something that if we attached it to us, we would have a very unique.
Market offering on behalf of the partnership, you know, all the departments on my side that I have to work with and, and convince that this is a, a good business opportunity and why we, why we should do it. Right. And. You know, you’re typically dropping in on whatever their agenda, you know, is, especially their agenda for their remit.
And early on, they may see as well, this is, this is taking me away from what I really want to spend time on. It’s kind of a bother. Right. And so, you know, over time being able to work with them, you know, communicate effectively as to why this makes sense. You know, you’re able to impact what. You know, the result of what they’ve they’ve done within the organization as well.
So whether it’s partner marketing or regulatory or product, you know, all those different different things that you have to be together. There’s there’s trust that you have to establish with each 1 of those. And so ultimately. I said it earlier, I’ll say it again. It’s, did you do what you said you were going to do?
The icing on the cake is, was there a success, a win for everybody as a result of that, and there’s just, you know, as that keeps happening, it’s just, you know, layer upon layer of trust that, that you’ve built, you know, over time. I think one of the best ways to demonstrate where I know I’ve. I’m finally at the top of the mountain on trust is when I’m starting to engage.
And I, and I’m fortunate that I’ve, I have this type of relationship with, you know, numerous C suite, you know, folks in that when we get together, let’s say that there’s going to be a sales kickoff or another industry convention or something. Then they know they’re there and they don’t. Reach out to me ahead of time and say, Hey, you want to go run before the session start, right?
Or, you know, you want to go cycling or whatever. And we do that. And when we’re doing that, we’re not talking business, right? We’re just talking about what each what’s going on in each other’s lives. Right. And that’s when I know that I’ve reached the top of the trust, you know, that peak, right. To me, that’s, that’s the ultimate, that is the most protective.
IP that I have and I feel like if you’re in the partner world, that is, that’s what you take with you. That’s what others, you know, if you’re getting courted to come to another organization, they respect that, they’re aware of that, and that is going to enable you to insert yourself into the business, you know, and start growing that partnership, you know, fast because of all that.
But yeah, when it’s, when it takes a, takes a dent. And I’ve, you do enough deals, you’re going to have those dents because it is a, is a people business. It’s really hard to, it’s, it’s hard to get back. And it’s, it’s painful because it’s, you know, we are the face of the organization. It just causes a lot of sleepless nights when, when something like that happens.[00:22:21] Mike Allton: Something you said that really resonated with me. Basically, you’re talking about working with sales people who are in effect internal partners and traditionally in my work and when I’m working with other people, we’ve talked about getting buy in from internal stakeholders. But what we’re really talking about is you just basically said was that we’re talking about earning trust with our internal partners, right?
I need my sales team. To trust me that this new near bound motion of co selling with partners that I’m trying to implement here will actually work. They’ve got to trust that I know what I’m doing. They got to trust that these partners will deliver. They’ve got to trust that if they spend time working on this initiative and not, as you pointed out, working on their outbound leads or whatever it is that they would normally be doing at this moment, that they’re not wasting their time.
Thank you for illustrating that, but you also talked about putting a dent into these relationships and potentially losing trust. What happens when you lose trust in a partner or if a partner loses trust in you? I know you mentioned that it hurts. Is it irreparable? Can we come back from that?[00:23:33] Greg Rust: Well, I mean, I contemplating that question in advance, there’s one that I always go to, right.
And it was typical, you know, cadence of like, okay, we’ve got a, we’ve got a client, we’re selling to that client. You, the partner built the strategy for that client. Our software just happened to be. It was already embedded, but there was the growth opportunity. This partner obviously was a big advocate for our software.
Now, you know, most partners build their, their business based on the surfaces of the services that run as a result of those embedded technologies. And so. We had the cell cycle. We managed it the way that it was. And of course, we did also have a client as as you typically do that likes to go. Well, I’m going to play this angle and I’m going to play this angle.
Right? So you always have that somewhat unknown of like, what are we actually getting accurate from from the client? Right? Because they may just have the agenda of like, Hey, I just want to drive down the price. You know, from anybody, right? And so in this situation that, that was, that was a piece of it as, as well, but we got all the way to the, you know, I mean, days away from signing the deal with everybody, you know, we were constantly meeting together by that.
I mean, the partner and the, and, and the sales team, right. Talking about strategy, here’s what we’re going to do when we’re going to do all that kind of stuff. And at the last minute, the organization that I was with. Convinced the client to let us do the services versus the partner do the services. Okay.
And, and your expression says it the most because it’s like, you know, then it was like my phone was, you know, was blowing up. Now we have a level of drama that was unnecessary. We’d actually, you know, had early on qualified that as a potential concern for my partner. We managed it out and then it shows up.
So there was, that went all the way that, because that, that negative business impact to the partner was so significant. It went all the way to the, to our highest sales officer, the VP of sales at the time, okay, all the way, right? And we had too many execs having this conversation. And my point was just like, when you have that many Like let’s say SVPs and above talking negatively about a deal that we’ve been working on for like eight months together.
That’s not good. That’s not one of those, you know, you look around the room and go, Hey, I’m with all these people, right? This is like, this wasn’t good. Okay. Yeah. So we, we had a plan. We got everybody calmed down. We were going to push some business over to them to, to help repair that. Six months later. The same thing happened again with a different client, but the same business unit at the partner, the same managing partner.
So needless to say, I’ll get to it. That gentleman and I are still very good friends, still very good friends. He understood what I was trying to do and the vortex in which I was trying to do it. But that business unit in that partner never ever did any business with us again. It’s just like, if I do it one more time, I’m just stupid.
And I’m not, I can’t afford to have my, my P& L take a hit. Right. So, so yeah, I mean I’m fortunate though, you get better. You know, we talked about diplomas and things. These are the situations that sharpen your, sharpen your blade and make you a more effective partner person. Because if everything’s easy, you’re just never going to get there, right?
But the dynamic dynamics of people. Where they are in the quarter, what they need versus it all comes into play.[00:27:47] Mike Allton: Yeah. It becomes very complex. As you said, I know one of the issues that marketing agencies often face is losing trust with their clients due to an inability to demonstrate value in business impact.
And Agorapulse, that’s something we care deeply about. And here to talk to us about how Agorapulse helps is Anne Pappalizio, owner of Social Squib.
I am Ann Popolizio, and I am the owner of SocialSquib. We’re a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in social media, Facebook advertising, and organic social media. I chose Agorapulse for a few key reasons. I think the primary reason was the robustness of their reporting and the analytics that they have.
It’s a really great platform for agencies. It makes it really easy to navigate. Manage a team that’s doing multiple layers of scheduling approval. It’s a simple tool to use but gives me really, really, really robust information that actually helps me develop better strategies for my clients and better plans of action.
I’ve used TooSweet. I’ve used Sprout Social. I’m much happier with the functionality and the reporting of Agorapulse. Mhm.
All right, great. This is a really just fascinating conversation. I want to thank you for that, and I want to go back to something you mentioned earlier. You were talking about the importance of diplomacy and communication, and diplomacy is not something that has ever come up on this show.
We’re, I don’t know, episode 50 plus. No one’s ever mentioned diplomacy before. What exactly did you mean by that? And how can a partner leader hone that skill?[00:29:34] Greg Rust: Yeah, no, it’s interesting. For the longest Time, Mike, you know, when, when people and by that, I mean, you know, whether it’s. My, you know, friends or even, even my family members, they, they’d say, what exactly do you do?
And, and I never felt like I, that if I said, well, I’m in sales, I never really felt that that was an accurate depiction of what I did. So I would either reference that I’m like, well, are you familiar with the state department? Or are you familiar with what a marriage counselor does? Right? Tongue in cheek, right?
Because. Like I said earlier, this is a, this is a people business and there’s a lot of things behind the scenes that could be creating drama, but I always felt it’s like I’m, I’m the individual that has to help everybody see what success looks like when and success would be that everybody felt that what they were trying to achieve.
They in fact. Achieve so a win. So I think the I’ve said it before, but really understanding what the business situation is and you do that with through a lot of listening, you know, you get pulled in right when a deal is starting to, you know, it’s early stage and gives you the ability to really hear.
What that business challenge or issue is for not only our, you know, sales team, but also, you know, from the, from the partner, because the engagement is, is different. Typically, I have found that the partner has been involved in the, in that client, in that account a long time. They may have set the specific strategy.
That’s where their engagement started. So there’s all that different knowledge and to be able to sit back and really hear it out. What are you trying to do? What are you trying to do? You know, why? And that does that truly align to the business challenge that the client has identified, right? That, that started the entire sales cycle.
Then you have to play it back to both parties with a, with a vision they can really, you know, embrace. And earlier I talked about the importance of. Storytelling being a key communication piece. And that’s, that’s how I look at it is to be able to, you know, have them listen to you and say, you know, here’s what this end result could look like if we do the, you know, do the following things.
And part of that is that you’re also trying to take the, take the emotion, remove the emotion from that scenario and bring order and, and, and calm to it. Right. So that everybody can. You know, can, can see that, okay, we, we can work together. We need to do a little bit more of this, a little less of this.
And I like to make sure that I’m deflating the, the he said, she said, right. Because it didn’t matter the size of the deal, big, medium, large, super large. There was always a level of drama because as we. Discuss it’s a, it’s a people business. Somebody is going to say something that’s likely could be misinterpreted.
And then by the third time that’s played back, we don’t have a campfire. We have a bonfire, right? So that’s where, when I talk about, you know, diplomacy is, is, you know, I always enter, yes, my, I know who signed my checks, but I’ve got to enter as somebody that is like that mediator that can just say. Hey, you know, the reason we have the partnership is the partner’s going to drive our revenues as well.
So if we want to continue to set records of partner attributed, you know, sales and, and that revenue that comes from that, you know, I’ve got to have a voice in the deal and get everybody calm, so that’s what I meant by the importance of really being able to not only have those diplomacy skills, but being able to demonstrate them on a regular basis.[00:33:36] Mike Allton: Great. That’s such a beautiful articulation of what we do professionally. And you also just made me understand why I like the diplomat so much. That’s the show. I think it’s on Netflix with, with Kerry Russell. And she’s dropped in to be the United States diplomat to the United Kingdom. And it’s a brilliant show.
And now as you’re talking, I’m realizing, yeah, that’s what she’s doing as a role. She’s creating these partnerships between us and the United Kingdom, and she’s making sure that multiple players. She’s telling stories that, that explains so much.[00:34:10] Greg Rust: Mike, just to follow up on that, that really, the first time I was like labeled a diplomat, it was from one of our senior salespeople at another organization.
And this person would always be on stage as, you know, salesperson of the year or whatever, right. Would always hit his quota or overachieve it. But the deals that he put together had a lot. Right. And I found, you know, and so I was always working a lot of these deals and I found the ultimate compliment was from here with somebody that was extremely difficult to work with for the partner, for him to basically acknowledge me, give me that title.
It’s like, Greg’s the best diplomat, right? So when, so when it’s coming from somebody that’s really, really edgy and hard, to me that means more than somebody that’s just like hasn’t done as much, right? So it, once again, it helps sharpen your knife by when you really have to roll up your sleeves and figure out all the moving parts.
So.[00:35:17] Mike Allton: Love it. Love it. Greg, I’ve got just one more question for you. I know you’ve heard it before. You’re a long time listener to the show, but it’s my favorite question to ask. How important have relationships been to your career? [00:35:29] Greg Rust: Man, I, I, you know, I could talk about this all day, Mike. I mean, it is without a doubt the most important, you know, piece.
I like to say that, you know, first of all, my last four jobs including the one that I am today have come to me because of those, you know, trusted relationships, right? People want to work and be with people that they’ve experienced success with before, have the same values and know somebody is dependable and have their back.
So I can’t say enough about how important trust has been in that area, but. It’s, it’s, it’s been key as, as well by investing in, in, in others that you’re having to work with. Right. So if we talk about internally, you know, all those different resources that you’re going to have to work with to get a deal done or you know, a specific, you know, custom solution done, you’ve got to invest in those as well.
Right. And by that, I mean, they’ve got to. Really feel that the investment in them is that you want them to be, you know, successful and that you’re going to help. You know, everybody’s got a career trajectory that they’re trying to get to, right? We talked about the impatience. Some are trying to get there sooner than others, but if they feel like you’re in their corner.
And they’ve experienced that you did what you said you were going to do that got them either individual or organizational recognition as well as, as part of the success of the deal or the partnership, you know, that, that certainly helps as well. You know, I’ve, I’ve always felt, and I, and I, I think I would be shocked if most partner people didn’t say this is that trust that we’ve built those relationships over the years we’ve built, that’s our IP.
And it’s like, it’s really all I, you know, my, my experience and everything, but that is what I carry with me. That is what other organizations, you know, court you for to say, Hey, we’re thinking about starting something over here. You can help us, you know, hit the ground running. Everybody speaks highly of you.
And you know, we need to get to market fast. Right. So I think it, it, it, it helps demonstrate the ability to do a quick start in other places. But, you know, I would tell you in no uncertain terms, Mike, that I will not do anything that jeopardizes those trusting relationships. That’s where I draw the, draw the line, because if anything happens to that, then, then what’s left, right?
We talked about earlier, it takes forever to build them, doesn’t take long to break them, and it’s very hard to get them back. So there’s nothing more important to me. As I conduct business on a, I like to joke, an hourly basis that I will not, I know where that line is and I’m not going to do anything that’s going to jeopardize that, my professional reputation, that the foundation is trust, I will not.
So it’s, it’s key.[00:38:33] Mike Allton: Such great advice. I gotta say, Greg, this has probably been one of the most impactful interviews I’ve ever had from top to bottom. Thank you so much for that. For folks who want to learn more from you or connect with you, where can they find you? [00:38:46] Greg Rust: Hey, I’m on LinkedIn. I find that I’ve tried to, in order to not be distracted as much, I try to just stay Pick just a few platforms versus all of them.
So you could find me on find me on LinkedIn. That would be the easiest way to get to me.[00:39:02] Mike Allton: Awesome. Thank you. And friends, that’s all we’ve got for today. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. And please, if you did find us on Apple and drop us a review, we’d love to know what you think until
Thank you for listening to another episode of partnership unpacked. Hosted by Mike Alton and powered by Agorapulse, the number one rated social media management solution, which you can learn more about at agorapulse. com. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Be sure to leave us a review.
Your feedback is important to us. And if you want to be part of our audience during live broadcasts, take a look at our calendar at agorapulse. com forward slash calendar.