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The Future of Sales Ecosystems, with Barrett King [Episode 1166]

This week, join host Alastair Woolcock and New Breed’s Senior Director of Revenue, Barrett King, in a forward-looking discussion on the integration of AI within partner relationship management. This episode explores how AI-driven tools are poised to revolutionize sales ecosystems, highlighting the potential for increased scalability and efficiency in go-to-market strategies as we approach 2024 and beyond.



Podcast Transcript:


Welcome back everybody to this week’s sales strategy, enablement podcast. I’m Alastair Woolcock, and I am thrilled to have back Barrett King, Senior Director of Revenue at New Breed and wildly experienced in terms of partnerships, ecosystems, prolific, go to market background. Barrett, you’ve worked at HubSpot and other big entities. You’re now over at New Breed. You’re on the forefront of seeing how ecosystems are emerging. Great to have you back.

I’m excited to be here again. This is going to be a fantastic conversation. Last one was a little spicy, which I was excited for. Let’s see if we can stir things up again. This’ll be fun.


I want to start off with where we left off, Barrett, last time, because we ran a little bit of time and that is. We talked about what’s happened in the market. We talked about even Google HubSpot. We talked about where we think it’s evolving in terms of ecosystems, but I want to talk about tomorrow and the next few years now.

So I’m going to put you on the spot to project forward looking now. And we’re going to start near term. So let’s think about 2024 trends. And when you think of the PRM space, partner relationship management, We think of how people are beginning to go to market. Front and center, unsurprisingly is artificial intelligence, the integration of AI into both PRM products, the approach and how we’re going to be managing partnerships.

I’d suggest it’s also one of those areas now where those partners that know how to integrate data correctly together are going to fast track their growth. Thanks. And I think it’s going to open up a lot more doors for them in terms of building ecosystems down the road, but that’s my view. Where do you see AI taking us in 2024 and 2025?


I think AI is, so first off AI, if you’re listening to this, I’m a friendly, we’re cool. I should just put that on recording just to make sure we’re square. I do think that, technology has had these inflection points. If you study the way that the internet impacted the world, the way that computers impacted the world.

There’s these moments in human history where we overlap with tools differently, right? We they accelerate, they jump us forward, the Renaissance, if you will. And I think AI is one of those inflection points. If you talk to anybody who’s building with these models, who’s using, technologies that can think in some ways for themselves, through your inputs, obviously you start to get a little bit more power, a little more influence, a little bit more lift.

In the short term, I made it joke before of be nice to me, Mr. and Mrs. AI, if you will. I think people like to speculate on the extreme. Yeah, of course, AI will change the way the technology landscape and human beings interact.

That’s the nature of AI. Looking back again, the way that all of a sudden the human communication model changed with social media, what Zuck did with Facebook was fascinating. He didn’t mean to, or I’m sure he would even admit that, but I think it did change the way that human beings interact with technology.

Now our phones are in our hands. We’ve got social media in our face. We’re living our lives digitally as much as we are in the real world sometimes. I think AI does that from a lift perspective. So I think in the next 24 months, you’re going to see tools that are built tools that, specifically drive productivity, they drive, the ability to here’s a good example, actually.
So I have a friend who built an application, he built an app after we were in college and that app was fascinating because it actually allowed you to take photos and do some stuff on Instagram and on Facebook. And it was just, really creative, but now he’s in the forefront of AI. And just the other day he posted on social media, a video of himself talking.

It wasn’t him. It was AI that had captured his likeness and he had fed it some topics and it was talking in this talking head video. And then he cuts in and I know him intimately. We went to college together so I can see the difference. And the long and short of it is he basically says, that wasn’t me.

I trained something to do that for me. What’s fascinating about that. What I’m really intrigued by is the idea that we could capture our voice, capture our skills and amplify our ability to be impactful on a customer. So I do think AI in terms of partnerships will be really important because It’s going to drive meaningful impact at scale.

You could capture your company’s voice, your brand message, your go to market and deploy it over hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of other businesses from a scalability perspective, you could capture your thought leaders in terms of content marketers and builders and developers and do the exact same thing.

And so I think if you go with a TLDR here, technology will clean. Sort of house on the idea that everything is individualized. Now it’s going to be about scale. It’s going to be about the ability to go even faster and drive more impact, as you go to market in that sense.


I think it’s really interesting, Barrett. I’m going to give you a example for the audience here as well. I’d like to actually go backwards before I go forwards. Bob O’Lake, who’s one of the executives at WWT. WWT is worldwide technology for those who don’t know. They are the second largest value added reseller in the world. They’re bigger than Hewlett Packard Enterprises and others in terms of top line revenue, like they’re big outfit.

Bob and team did a really interesting thing several years ago. Now they built a DTC tech digital technology center. That’s online. You can all Google it, go to WWT. You can check it out. It’s pretty innovative. But what I love that they did back then was, keep in mind, this is a company that interfaces with many OEMs.

And they resell their hardware, software, all of that. One of the big things in those business models is you need a lot of sales engineering scale, need a lot of technical support, all of those things. And is a way in which they almost built this ecosystem around the content to allow people to digitally engage with the labs, with media and all of these other things.

And this is all done like in, in the last four or five years, maybe much more before we have what we have now. I think Barrett, what you’re talking about is the vision, almost like what WWT has done, but it’s scaled that anybody can do it. WWT can do it because they got the resources to pull it off.

But now you’re talking like micro scaling of digital content, of scaling experts into boutiques and others and where and how that can go. That’s the exciting thing that people need to think out of the box on. It’s not just a partnership because it’s going to, I can now scale a little bit more easily some of my co branded or co selling content. It’s actually going, Hey, I can actually take SMEs, subject matter experts, digitize, scale, and drive them in that way, in a way that I never could before. Am I thinking of it right?


You’re, you’re spot on. It’s fascinating because I don’t mean to sound rude. I really don’t here, but like the person who doesn’t have their head wrapped around AI says, Oh, it’s going to replace a bunch of jobs. I think it’s the wrong approach. I think it’s going to empower and emphasize and drive up the experts. So it will force the average, the less than average to think differently.

If you master AI, you can take that one thing or those tens of things you’re really good at and deploy them from a scalability perspective and mass with, I think in the next 24 months, a fairly high standard of quality. I mentioned my friend in the video he presented. I knew within about 10 seconds, it wasn’t him personally.

I was trying to figure out what he was doing. Did he like put an overlay on his face or he looked a little bit different. But when he said that was completely AI generated, it was a, wasn’t, him speaking, it was his voice captured and it was his likeness. That’s fascinating because now. The 25 person design company, the 15 person boutique manufacturing company has scalable impact on their customer from a partner perspective.

It’s the exact same thing. Only you can drive more meaningful lift. So little things like I think about, HubSpot goes to market with a new product, Salesforce, any of these companies goes to market with a new product. They have to educate their, thousand, 2000, 10, 000 partners deeply on that product.

Because those partners are delivering that product to market, servicing it, maybe co authoring thing. There’s a lot of overlap, almost an extension of their firm. Right now, that is a human capital centric problem. How many people can I get on? How many Zooms? How fast can I make it happen? Can I record them?

Can I distribute them? I think about the ability to take AI and layer it into the problems first, which you’re starting to see right now of the way that B2B tech and manufacturing and partnerships exist and how they interconnect. But then going a layer deeper and saying, now, how do we maximize the opportunities?

And so I think about the scalability way outside of just impact on individual, but impact to your point on the scalability and size based impact on the way that, ecosystems are built on the way that communication is done and, education more than anything, because we all learn differently.

We all communicate differently. That next layer, I think AI empowers everyone to do that, which again, is like the distribution of. When cell phones became cheap enough that most folks on average could afford one. When, computers all of a sudden were a laptop. And, they were still clunkier compared to what we’re used to today.

But the average American, the average member of society around the world could go and buy that. It changed the way that people interacted with business. Anyways, that’s my soapbox. High horse, I really think it’s got, a big inflection point coming.


I would tend to agree. This idea of distributed intelligence, right? Where you can take, you take a person, I can take a thing and move it. And I think, we’ll use Salesforce as an example, the trailblazer aspect, which is the enablement portals for partners. Other pieces there is arguably one of the better ones out there for sure. In the market today, it’s very sophisticated, robust, but how many people really love to go into that stuff?

Not a ton when you can start to distribute and augment that intelligence and make it more germane to the direct customer motion. That’s where you get engagement. And now AI enables that engagement in a way that it didn’t before.

I think it changes the way that you use technology to do the work that you’re describing, like at a fundamental basis. it just happened to the day to me. So I was on LinkedIn.

I comment and I like, and I’m fairly active. I was putting up a post. And for the first time, I noticed at the bottom of that post, it said regenerate with AI. What the heck is this? Sure. Let’s see what happens. So I copied what I had wrote. I pasted it over in a Google doc and I hit regenerate. It wasn’t half bad.

And it captured my voice, which was fascinating. And so I think about going now to a tool, a PRM, let’s say to your earlier example, and I say, Hey, I’ve got to go to market now. I’ve got this new product, whatever it is, right? Product A. It’s a complimentary solution to what, products B and C already do.

It adds more value. Helps my customer be stickier. It’s an additional bit of revenue for our business. Right now, I got to have people go and generate perhaps a different positioning content, perhaps the different blog articles, perhaps all of the different components. And then I have to, and this is the most incredible early opportunity, right?

I have to translate it into multiple languages. I have to change it based off of cultural nuance, because there are certain words or phrases or ways that things are said based off of where you are, geo, culture, language, et cetera, around the world. Those are just countless hours and dollars. And we’re talking about that from an individual perspective, from a partner perspective, you’re talking about impacting organizations that may have tens, if not thousands of employees.

So the scalability piece is what I’m fixated on right now in terms of knowledge and knowledge transfer. But I do think the next evolution is specifically capturing your voice and programming the way that your voice Is used. So what I mean by that is like your brand, your image, your knowledge.

I want to have a day that I wake up and something says, we can consume everything you hook up to us, which LLMs do now, but I mean for myself, and I want to have my own, Barrett in a box, if you will, Barrett AI that lives on a server and I can feed it, myself, this interview this conversation and allow it to consume that and then produce really valuable, insightful content, deliver it to a partner ecosystem or have those partners then deliver it back to market. While still maintaining your voice, et cetera. So anyways, again, I’m just, I really like this idea of scalability and impact right now.


So I like the scalability. I like the impact. I like the content creation with AI, and I think it’s going to help a lot of partners scale and fight about their weight class. But I’m going to put a big but here. Are we now also looking at, the emergence where the big OEMs, the big hyperscalers are actually even better positioned than ever before.

And let me give an example Cisco, Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco has been all over the news because of the Splunk acquisition is finally being made official. They got all their approvals and so forth. So it’s going to happen. That is significant. It’s going to add I think the projection is well into the low early billions of immediate revenue flow into the company. But what Splunk brings to Cisco is a managed serviced security model.

A huge chunk of Cisco’s partners in the world are managed services providers. That do manage stocks, manage this, manage that, right? AI specifically to the world of Cisco. And this is not new. This has been going on with whiz out of Israel and many other security providers. Is the way in which we now use machine learning algorithms and AI to do proactive detection, threat detection, all of that, right?

We no longer live in a passive world. We actually live in an already AI driven networking security world to provide endpoint detection everywhere. And Cisco’s on the forefront of that. So the Splunk acquisition makes sense to manage that. Evolve that data and that software in a big way. Now, imagine you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of partners with Cisco.

Should I be thinking purely in the sense of content access and how do I sell what will become software and a service for Cisco with the hardware? Or are we actually going to see more now? Should people be thinking about licensing agreements? Should they be thinking about real integrations with the OEMs?

IBM has been very successful at their global licensing program to allow vendors to license certain aspects of their platform from Watson and other areas to actually create their almost micro ecosystems, their micro approach to market where they have the intimate last mile journey to the customer, but they are no longer trying to be the big guy, right?

Like it’s almost like the little guys are going, you know what? I’m going to be the little guy. I’m going to stay, being the little guy. You guys go build, you do the billions of investment into LLMs and everything else that needs to happen. Let me license it and I’ll help you scale it. Is this a market where it’s going to be favoring the big guys a lot more and people need to be thinking much more creatively around their partnership?


I think it changes to your point the interconnectivity between the two. So the bigs are always going to be the bigs in my opinion. I think it is hard to encroach on that territory, even with strong innovation. But I think it, I believe I should say that. AI machine learning and the evolution of the ability for us to capture the knowledge that we talked about and such will empower the littles to be more valuable, to impact the customers that the bigs are trying to engage anyways.

So I do think it does something really interesting around, it’s like the Robin Hood movement, if you will, right? Like we steal from the rich to give to the poor. I do think that I believe I got to be careful about saying, think I believe this, like you’re going to see that the large firms will continue to innovate and they will grow.

I think M& A gets impacted. You’re going to see the smalls and the mediums perhaps bump off each other and get attached more effectively. I think it in some ways removes the exclusivity though, that you see from the Salesforce’s and the Amazon’s of the world, and that they owned so much of that land grab to your point that the licensing modality and this shared idea, the ability to like attach value to something that already exists in part, rather than having to You could describe it as don’t sell the whole Happy Meal.

Someone just wants fries and a shake, give them fries and a shake. It’s okay. Kind of thing. The idea that micro engagements, I think is a really interesting concept. Like this little moment of value. It’s not everything. You’re not changing the trajectory of my business and helping me grow. What if you just made a salesperson 10 percent more effective?

What if you helped a marketer write seven emails in a week instead of two, like these little moments of value. I do think You know, machine learning, AI, the distribution of value starts to impact the width, perhaps of these ecosystems. And so the depth is already there. They’re already deep experts in a specific category.

Now they can do more of that. They can impact more. So I actually think it’s interesting because the innovative part of it will I hope perhaps continue. I think you’re going to see. This increase of creativity, you’re going to see this freedom that comes with the ability to do really impactful things very quickly.

And my hope, my optimism around AI is that it drives, I use the term Renaissance earlier, but a true Renaissance in terms of the innovation around the way that companies go to market.


If you were to break it down into three ways to start, three ways to evolve your partner program. And I’d love you to build from this idea of the micro. Ecosystem micro partnership forwards. What’s your advice? Like somebody that’s thinking they’ve done it the traditional way but we’re now looking 2024 into 2025. What are the top three things in your mind they have to go sort and do?


At first you got to get into the conversations that your customers are having with your team, with the companies around you and start to look for moments of inflection. So we talk about like incremental value and, micro change impact comes from really actively listening to what your customer is saying with the intent to understand.

Just being super intentional around understanding. So first sort of part of the model in terms of how you evolve and use this technology is deeply understand, which I think you can do tying back into AI with tools that empower you to get the voice of the customer more effectively. Like I, I work with an advisor’s company, Apex score, absolutely brilliant taking CS.

And the idea of engaging your customers, happiness, and think of it as like NPS times a thousand. It just destroys what NPS tried to do because NPS got stale. They’re able to take this really awesome micro engagement, this little touch point they have with the customer over and over again, and consume all of this information.

And they actually have some proprietary technology some machine learning and spit out this like really good index for where your team should spend their time. So I think the first is you got to listen. And I think tools like. I just mentioned their APACs are doing that really well as a bunch of them.

First is listen. Second is innovate. So if you’re thinking about early partner programs, a lot of them, are looking right now to their peers, the ones that are above they’re 10, 15 years more developed and saying, I want to be like that. I think it’s actually the wrong thing to do. You could perhaps emulate the value they deliver.

Their partners are very happy or they, get X, Y, Z in terms of rev share, whatever it is. That’s fine. But how those partnership programs evolved, how HubSpot’s program or Salesforce’s program evolved will not be how the best programs evolve tomorrow. I think, because again, distributed knowledge share distributed impact comes in a different scale.

When you bring in tools that can empower your best to share more knowledge, more quickly, and to be adaptive in the way that you do. So 1 is gain knowledge 2 is distribute knowledge. And the third is make knowledge affordable to everyone. So a lot of partner programs do things like, and I actually really firmly disagree with this.

I’m going to say it out loud. I think tiering is bullshit. I’m going to swear. Sorry. I think this idea of you did enough. So we’re happy. So you get a badge is absolutely flippant. It just, it’s not the right incentive. It doesn’t deliver value. I do think accreditations, I do think certifications, the idea that deeper knowledge is valuable.

The idea of, deeper and more impactful value is what you should focus on and reward. Then I think if you look at the partner programs in the business of the future that are building something for scale, they’re getting hyper detailed there. And I do think technology around AI and LLM starts to allow you to do that because you can take so much and segment it down into so little.

And so if I think about I’ll make it up, service provider X is really good at pushing the a button on their keyboard. I have a keyboard in front of me, and then sipping their water right afterwards, I have a water to my right. And maybe that is valuable to like. 50 of your 10, 000 customers, right?

How do you make sure that all of those 50 customers know that partner X is really good at a button and drinking water. You do that through deep seeded, knowledge transfer, right? So the observation I described in the beginning, you start to listen to what your customers are looking for, and you’re more intentional and you go into building content, using these tools to scale and to make it accessible and make it really intentional, and then you narrow it super far down in terms of aperture.

And you get hyper focused right now. Most partner programs have 10, 15, 20 certifications. Maybe you might have a couple that are in the hundreds. The biggest of the big is they have huge machines behind developing them, but none of them are hyper detailed, at least in my experience, someone I’ll call me out on this, but DM me on LinkedIn, tell me I was wrong.

They don’t call out those intimate value moments. And I think if you want to be scalable, you want to be impactful. You want to lean into AI. You find a way to harness listening, application and then deep seeded integrated value into those micro moments. You’ve got a partner program for the ages.


I want to pull on that third point in particular, Barrett. What popped in my mind and I’m gonna date myself here back in 2004. And I’m not on too much of a Cisco kick today, but I’m just going to give the analogy. There was the CC I E designation. Which was for a telephony expert in terms of what it was, really hard to get like it was a very rigorous program offsite testing multi day.

Once a technician got a CCIE designation, their pay would jump 50, 60,000 bucks. And they were like the first 10,000 people who got that thing globally were like, That was it. They were just busy engineers for years, just doing work because it was a very, like that designation genuinely means something like it, it meant something.

There were literally companies going, if you aren’t a CCIE, you’re not touching my telephony systems, period. Like it just was a no go. When we think of what you’ve just described here of that, while I love the idea, I’m always reminisce on my Gartner days.

What is very hard for a lot of companies is, Oh, it sounds great, but how do you make that work at the regional level? Because most IT, most technology, most partnership programs, The rubber hits the road between the buyer and the people within their city. So how do you make this stand out again in, in that way?

Is it a resurgence of more deliberate things like a CCIE program that actually means something so that instead of me just trying to find the company, I’m actually trying to find the person, but we need a way of giving people access to that data because it is very hard. Beyond, searching a browser to find out who’s who in a market?


Yeah, I think you have to be beyond intentional. So if you think about like at its core, if I go back to the basics, I want to make it really simple for someone to identify a problem, share the problem to my company and have my company then source the right solution, which nine times out of 10 is a partner.

I think you need to be clear on first the problem identification and categorization piece, which we were describing before, If you don’t get that right, none of this matters. Like it really doesn’t. Which means you have to constantly be eliciting feedback and putting that into some sort of a system that’s indexed and searchable.

And then I think in some ways prioritizing the importance of the ones that are the noisiest, which is what we’ve done for years, except we’re just limited in terms of bandwidth. And even HubSpot’s Academy who’s got 150 people or something like that. Salesforce has one that’s a favorites call, 150 people, they can’t build fast enough and they can’t build enough.

I think what you’re describing in terms of the CCEI, the telephony certification, we’ll call it that is valuable because it was a differentiator. I think you have to go beyond that. That is an immediate problem that a customer has that they’ve identified and need some support on. That’s the sort of tier two.

Tier one is can you use the platform? Tier two is are you an expert in certain pieces? Tier three is user, expert, and master of this one thing. Are you really good at X? Whatever that is. I’ll just keep it simple. I think that’s the next evolution because of the points that we made before in an earlier part of our conversation here in terms of deeper value.

And I think it’s more of a tight aperture. If you’ve got 50,000 customers and 20 of them need this thing right now, that’s deprioritized. No one builds that. No one focuses or even thinks about that, but that is 20 companies or even people for that matter. Yeah. That are being deeply impacted by something that would make them more effective, help them get more value.

I think if you look at, three to five years from now, this evolution in terms of technology is empowering everybody to get to that deepest little corner of the room and sweep all the little dust mites out and make sure everything is truly clean, because in that world, Everyone gets as much value as they can, every time they interact with your brand, that’s the future of technology.


Barrett, this has been a pleasure. I like last time we’re going to run out of time. So I get to stop us there. But I want to wrap up as we loved and love to hear with one quick trivia question for you. So from recent Boston Consulting Group survey of senior executives, the topic of AI.

They were asked, how would you rank AI’s impact on partnerships and ecosystems in 2024? Alright, was it for across these executives, was it a priority amongst 25% of them, or 40%, 75% or 89%?


89 is so specific. So I’m inclined to say 75, but I’m gonna go with 89 because if I think about BCG and how they actually interview, they likely found experts anyways.
And partners are the way of the few. I’m going 89, let’s do it.


89 locked in. You are correct. It is 89 percent Barrett King. You’re great. I love your vision for partnerships in 2024, 2025, the future of AI’s impact on them. I love the idea of these micro partnerships. engagements and the digitization there. How do people connect with you?


LinkedIn. I’m a LinkedIn guy. I’m not on Twitter. I’m not on Facebook anymore. Find me on LinkedIn. I’m glad to connect and converse with anybody. I’ll spend 15 minutes with everybody at this point I’m here to help. So shoot me a note, Barrett J. King on LinkedIn. I look forward to the conversation.


It’s been brilliant having you here. Thank you so much and all the best at NewBreed. Keep up the great work and advice that you’re offering to everybody. And we’ll For all of our listeners, please remember like and subscribe, and we will see you again on a future