Podcast Ep3: Drew Schuil (VP of BD & EMEA Ops at Integris Software) Shares How to Vet Partnerships

Drew Schuil, VP of BD & EMEA Ops at Integris Software, joins us on The CoSell Show to discuss:

  • How Integris vets potential partnerships and co-selling opportunities
  • The biggest surprises that have come about in building strategic partnerships
  • Advice to startups looking to build a partner ecosystem

Brought to you by our host: Taylor Baker (Podcast Producer and Head of Content at CoSell.io)

Listen on:



Below is the transcript of the podcast episode:

Taylor Baker: Hello and welcome back to the CoSell Show where we speak with leaders in sales to discuss the ins and outs of co-selling with partners. I’m your host, Taylor Baker, and today we are discussing what co-selling actually means and how it can be used to grow your startup. And who better to have as our guest today than Drew Schuil, the VP of Business Development at Integris Software. Welcome, Drew. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.

Drew: Sure, sure. And thanks. Thanks for having me.

Taylor Baker: To kick things off, our listeners would love to know more about your background and the path that led you to where you are at Integris today.

Drew: So I worked for a startup called Integris Software based in Seattle and we’re focused on data privacy, which if you’re reading the news these days is becoming a hot topic in the U.S. I’ve been with the company for about six months. Before that I was at a company called Imperva for the last 11 years in a variety of different roles, including one where I went off to a startup and was spun back in. Yeah, so I’ve been doing sales for, gosh, about 20 years now. I’m mostly in enterprise information security and enterprise software and in every single one of these environments, working with partners, whether it be resale partners or technology alliance partners or just peers in the field that we’re able to partner with and share information. So, this topic is near and dear to me and something that I’ve experienced in my career. Like I said, over the last 20 years or so.

Taylor Baker: Wow. What a journey you’ve had. Congrats on 20 years in the industry. Can you maybe sprinkle in some personal pizazz with a little something about you that we maybe wouldn’t be able to find on your LinkedIn profile?

Drew: Oh, that’s a funny question. Yeah. I don’t have too much up there on LinkedIn, pretty minimalist profile. I guess one of the things is that in my last role at Imperva, in my last job, I basically was living that character in the movie Up In The Air. I obviously don’t look quite like George Clooney, but was on a plane for over 400,000 miles a year and basically kind of living that Up In The Air lifestyle and definitely flying. Got to see 43 countries. But it’s good to be off the road. It’s good to not be living in a plane or living in an airport.

Taylor Baker: 43 countries and 400,000 miles a year. Wow. You really did have an Up In The Air experience. Can you maybe shed some light on how your sales team was structured at Imperva?

Drew: Sure. So when I was at Imperva, it was a public company since 2011. so large sales team, over 300 people. And so there was lots of layers. There was the SDRs, ISRs, field reps focused on territory, focused on strategic accounts. ABPs, RVPs, EVPs, SVPs, a lot of different layers.

CoSell Bot: The business dictionary called and we are happy to answer. If you are new to the CoSell Show, welcome to our micro segment where we demystify notable business vernacular. Today we have a slew of sales titles to spell out for you. We’re going to start off with SDR which is Sales Development Representative and ISR is Inside Sales Rep. Then we have RVP, EVP and SVP, which are respectively Regional Executive and Senior Vice Presidents. And we’re going to close off with AE, which is Account Executive.

Drew: And so going back to a startup and working at Integris, we’re a team of eight right now so we are lean and mean on the sales side, but that includes a couple of SDRs, three SEs and three sales. So we’re out there really running and gunning, wearing a lot of different hats like you have to do at any start up.

Taylor Baker: So at Integris with such a lean and multiple hat wearing dream team, how do you zero in on your preferred customer? And what channels do you use from a sales and marketing standpoint to reach them?

Drew: Yeah, that’s right. So as a lean team, it’s something that we really have to focus in on. Like I said, the data privacy space is really hot right now. And so we’ve got, this is a good problem to have, fortunately we’ve got companies coming to us all the time saying, “Can you do this? We want you to do this RFP.” They want to do POCs, hands on POCs. They want to deploy the software in their environments and test it out. And so we’ve been forced to really focus on who our ideal customer is. We actually came up with an acronym, it’s called SCALE. And so the S stands for startup friendly. So we’re looking for, number one, organizations that have either worked with startups before, understand the benefit to working with startups and that they can pretty much help to dictate the direction of the product. So that’s number one, startup friendly. The C stands for a contained POC. So let me explain that for a minute. So, like I said, we’ve got three security engineers, system engineer resources, pre-sales technical resources basically. And so if we get three to five requests per week to do a POC and the POCs can be very hands on, very in depth. You can see that our resources would be topped out pretty quickly. And so we put together a test drive program called the Integris Test Drive and essentially enables customers to go into a cloud environment whether it’s hosted at Amazon or hosted in [Ensure 00:05:28] and gives them the ability to basically test drive the technology within four hours or less. So that’s number two. The third one is the A stands for aligned to our vision and approach. There’s a lot of different approaches to solving these problems out there. Our approach is certainly one and our competitors and other folks out there have different approaches. And so we want to work with people that really buy into our vision and are aligned with how we see the world and how we see solving the problems. And number four is led by either a tech savvy executive and or by one of our strategic alliance partners. If we go back and look at the deals that we’ve won and the deals that have progressed to where they are in the pipeline today, a good portion of those have come from strategic partners that are working with customers and bring us in to very mature opportunities. And so we’ve seen a very high success rate with those and or when it’s led by a tech savvy, a technical executive. And the last one is pretty straight forward. The E stands for executive access and support. Again, going back and looking at the deals that we’ve had the best success with, we always have an executive that’s aligned and and supporting us through the whole process. So when we go through and we look at deals in the pipeline, when we look at even the very, very large customers, fortune 500 customers, that are requesting to do something that’s going to take up a lot of our resources, like a POC, we basically look at this scale, these five different items and kind of score each one. And if it’s only a three out of five and we can’t convert one of those other two, we may decide to pass on an RFP or we may decide not to spend the resources in and chasing after that particular opportunity. So again, it’s a good problem to have, but it’s really forced us to get very crisp on exactly what that ideal customer looks like for us.

Taylor Baker: What a unique approach and an efficient way to determine who you want to partner with. Since we are here at the CoSell Show, I have to ask, how do you define co-selling?

Drew: I’ll give you an example. There’s a big show every year called the RSA Conference in San Francisco and as a startup we didn’t have the hundred thousand dollar booth in the conference area. What we did is we just rented out a meeting suite, basically a room that was converted into a meeting suite at the St Regis Hotel, which was right across the street from the conference, and actually went and worked with one of the resellers, our resell partners, that I’ve worked with in the past. And we sat down and made a whole bunch of phone calls, reached out to his network, kind of gave him the rundown on what the technology did, how it fit into his portfolio. He reached out to a bunch of his customers and he was able to get out of, I think the 16 meetings we had, at least eight or 10 of those were as a direct result of him going out to his network and saying, “Hey, you really need to look at this technology. I think it aligns with your vision.” And so I think it was a good example of an early stage startup where … or even just even a single relationship, a single partner, can have a huge, huge impact on getting the company off the ground.

Taylor Baker: Wow. That is a perfect example of co-selling. Thank you. And how exactly did you incentivize these potential partners to sit down with you at this conference?

Drew: Yes, as pure relationship at this stage. What I found, particularly with this individual, he’s been doing this for a long, long time, and the value that he gets is somebody that he knows, when he brings in front of one of his customers and talks about something that’s new, that number one, it’s going to be interesting. The customer is going to thank him for introducing them to this technology and that they actually look to him to bring in new technologies. And then number two, that person’s not going to make him look bad. He wants somebody that he’s, again, been to battle with that he knows has his back. That’s not going to put their foot in their mouth. That’s not going to do anything that makes him look bad. And so I think based on the relationship and based on that trust and just again, setting that precedent with his customers, that he’s the type of person or type of organization that’s going to bring in new technology. All those things kind of come together.

Taylor Baker: So Drew, you have a unique experience working with co-selling because you have worked in both the startup atmosphere as well as with larger corporate enterprises. How would you compare the two arenas?

Drew: Yes. So I think in a large enterprise you have a lot more collateral. Your currency, meaning you’re going to have a lot more leads, you’re going to have a lot more deals that you can use to flip to a partner as a thank you for bringing you into a deal. You have a lot more to work with there. As a startup, the initial stage in the example I just gave was very one way. It was the partner bringing us in and us sitting down and doing networking and co-selling together based on his Rolodex. At the larger enterprises I think there’s much more of a give get mentality. I’ll bring you into three deals. So you bring me into three deals. The other thing I would say is it’s usually very localized. It’s based on local relationships within a specific region or within a set of accounts when we’re talking about a large company, because that’s just how the companies are organized. Whereas with a startup, you’re kind of shotgunning out to all verticals, to all regions, to anybody that’ll listen and take a meeting.

Taylor Baker: So tell me, what’s the actual process like for initiating a partnership? Especially when you’re targeting someone you haven’t worked with in the past?

Drew: Yes, it kind of … it probably helps just to break down the partners into different categories. So the one I was speaking about was kind of a reseller partner. If he brought in a startup or a technology that looked good to one of his customers, he would sell it on his paper for some margin or reseller partnership. Their typical types of partnerships would be technology alliance partners where there’s some synergies between the two technologies. Potentially there’s a technology integration there or some reason that a customer would want those two technologies together, either bundled or integrated or working together. In our world today there’s a third category, system integrators or SIs, where they’re going in and advising on a much broader set of topics where they may have a customer that needs specifically what we do and kind of our niche and they would bring us in. And so, back to your question in terms of what we normally would look for or how to determine what kind of a partner to work with, on the technology alliance side, if a partner’s name is coming up often in discussions, that’s a good indication. At Integris there’s a few partners like that that come up in, I’d say, at least 50% of the conversations. And so getting in front of that and proactively building a partnership is something that we’ve been working on and there was some pretty good success. Sometimes it’s looking for the ability to counter a competitive scenario. So I just had lunch today with a security partner that we’ve signed up. And in order to help them compete against one of their toughest competitors, they want to use the data privacy angle, which is what Integris does, and talk about that because it’s a hot topic and how they tie in and help with protecting more consumers and customers, private data, so really attaching themselves to hot space to counter a competitive scenario. Or third example, it could just be as simple as a peer relationship that’s selling into the same accounts. When I was a regional sales manager in the San Francisco area, I would often meet with other sales reps from companies that were not competitive. And so we would sit down over coffee, or sometimes have something a little stronger, and just talk about kind of the challenges, maybe tips and tricks. Who’s doing what in terms of projects or who’s got the ability to get something done versus who’s the time waster. Just kind of sharing information. And over time people move on to other companies and it’s amazing how those just peer coffee relationships build and continue over time.

Taylor Baker: So once you’ve made these relationships and the wheels are turning, how would you actually measure whether or not the partnership is providing value to everyone involved?

Drew: Revenue makes everything great, right? It makes problems go away. It makes partnerships take off. But one of the challenges is going back and measuring, right? It’s going back to measure, okay, what did we do? What did we talk about the last three times we’ve had coffee or we’ve done networking? What was the end result? And so I think one of the challenges that I faced, and you and I talked about before, is how do you keep track of all this, particularly when it’s on an informal basis and especially when it’s on a formal basis and has some sort of monetary value attached to it? How to keep track of it. How do you make sure that both parties can look at it very quickly and see that they’re getting value when, again, you don’t have a deal that’s closing immediately or you don’t have a partnership or press release to point to, how do you track that progress? I think that’s a challenge within the industry.

Taylor Baker: In your 20 years of experience with partnerships, what would you say has been your biggest surprise?

Drew: The biggest surprise, I guess recently in the last six months, is having a sort of a preconceived notion maybe based on some history before joining the company or based on just some assumptions to say, “Well this company, they wouldn’t be interested in partnering or they’re already doing something with a competitor. Or such and so is over there and they don’t like us or they don’t like this person at our company.” Or whatever the scenario is. It shouldn’t be a surprise but I guess it always surprises me how willing people are to have a conversation. And if there’s something meaningful for both parties to entertain that conversation and let bygones be bygones or let those past assumptions kind of sit by the side.

Taylor Baker: A lot of our listeners are currently working on or wanting to create their own startup. So what advice would you give them about engaging in the partnership ecosystem at an early stage?

Drew: Yeah, that’s a great question. And especially in a startup, right? When you’re still focused on logos and on revenue, it’s hard to say, “Okay, I’m going to take this time out of my day to go have coffee with or go network with somebody because I’m so focused on getting those logos in the door or getting that next round of funding.” It’s easy to de-prioritize partnering, business development, co-selling. I guess the advice I would give is reaching out to the past network or to a new network and filling in those times with partners that you can sit down and co-sell with. You just never know what you’re going to get out of it, whether it’s a piece of information, whether it’s a lead, whether it’s a potential actual partnership for the two companies to work together. But at the end of the day, somebody told me a long time ago, never eat alone. Always … everybody’s got to eat. And so I think one of the ways, especially at a startup, that you can extend your reach is to kind of follow that principle and make sure that you’re, every city you go to, you’re meeting with partners.

Taylor Baker: That is really beautiful advice, Drew. Thank you so much for that. So what is the best way for our listeners to get in touch with you if they have any more questions?

Drew: Yeah, probably back to LinkedIn. So that’s probably the best way.

Taylor Baker: Thank you so much, Drew, for taking the time to chat with us here at the CoSell Show and to all of our listeners out there, thank you for listening and be sure to tune in next week for even more exciting co-selling content. Now go get your partnership on.

Originally published at https://www.cosell.io.




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