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The Partner Channel Podcast | Season 2, Episode 24

How to Crush a Self-Review With Your Boss

Show Synopsis

On our Monday episode for this week, join host Tori Barlow and Ben Bassett, Senior Manager of Channel and Alliances a Paystand. Together they tackle the topic of career progression in partnerships and talk about the practice of self evaluation to push yourself forward. Plus, a QBR template created by Ben Bassett, free to download for our listeners.


  • How to take your career in partnerships from IC to leadership
  • What end goal to have in mind when creating QBRs
  • How to know when you’ve hit a roadblock in your organization for your career progression

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The Script

Tori Barlow: Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, The Voice of the Channel. I’m Tori Barlow, VP of Marketing at Allbound. Excited to be here with Ben Bassett, Senior Manager, Channel and Alliances at Paystand. Welcome, Ben. We’re excited to have you.

Ben Bassett: Hey, Tori, thanks so much. I appreciate being able to hop on and hopefully contribute a little bit.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, when we’re recording this, this is a week after Catalyst in Miami, so I’m sure you’re coming off of all the buzz and it’ll be a great episode today. A little bit about you. You’re a channel and partner enthusiast. You’re a part time ax thrower and a self proclaimed yeti. I wonder what it would be like if you were a full time ax thrower. It sounds fun if you’re good at it, so maybe I’ll give it a try.

Today’s a very tactical podcast and you’ve provided some great takeaways that we’ll get into and even a little bonus of a giveaway. Today’s all about career progression. And not only that, but how do you actually make it measurable? And you’ve created a framework for yourself throughout your career and partnerships that you’re going to to spill the sauce today. And before we get into that, we’d love to hear a little bit about you around your background and partnerships and what it’s been like leading up to your time here at Paystand.

Ben Bassett: Sure. This is probably one of my favorite stories to tell because I came to partnerships from very nontraditional backgrounds. I was a data center solution architect, so I talked to servers and storage all day long. And while I was doing that, I was supporting a team of sales reps and I carried a quota, but I didn’t have any direct customers of my own. So we zoom out from that, we look at it. The concept is indirect sales. It’s me influencing the sales teams to get them to sell the product I want them to sell, so I can meet my quota. That sounds like channels of partnerships. So I went from there and I flipped over to the partner side of life. I did a little bit of tech partnerships at one company. I did a standard channel for a data storage company. Now I’m here at Paystand and we’re doing kind of a referral model looking at some tech partnerships. So that’s the genesis of where I came from and how I get to it. It’s really looking at it from the indirect model and knowing that it’s an influence game. And as we’ve so often heard recently, that influence game is based on trust.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. Yeah, I think we’re starting to see more and more of that of that same transition that you went through into partnerships. And it’s really I think it’s underestimated in this industry how big relationships are. I think you hear that a lot in the direct sales piece. But the reality is partnerships is so much more to that and it’s not transactional. It’s actually a year, two years, three years form of a relationship. And it sounds like that might have attracted you to kind of make the change. Yeah. And you know, today we’re talking about going from an individual contributor role or an IC role to how to really take the reins for your own career and go into the more strategic, high level thinking role within partnerships. Now, some companies then I’m sure you could kind of give us some insight here, might be too small to have a big, full fledged partner team, but that doesn’t mean that for your own career, if you’re an icy role in partnerships, you can’t start to make those measurable changes now. So your method of taking control of your career and partnerships is very proactive and tangible. What is your strategy?

Ben Bassett:  I love the question. My strategy starts with a common refrain that we so often hear. I see it on LinkedIn, and I did I hear some trainings: You start doing the job before you have the job. That’s a great platitude. It’s solid advice when I look at it from this side. But as an individual contributor, what does that mean? How do I do that? How do I understand? So through self reflection, right? So understanding how I work, understanding what my company means, how did I do that? How do I make it from here to there? And it really became if I’m going to do the job and the job of some version of management manager, director, VP, I don’t care what the title is, it all comes down to knowing your business. Right. So how well do I know my business? And this becomes kind of a self awareness piece Are my activities effective? Are they generating the results that I need to? Is it benefiting ultimately to start with my clients and after that my company? And that’s the tool that you mentioned, right? The framework that kind of show or pass out or whatever it is later. That’s what I developed after that self reflection

Tori Barlow: Yeah. You mentioned something that I’d like to dissect for a second; understanding how your role relates to the business. And I think if you’re in more of an IC Role, you’re not really that strategic level role yet. It’s hard to conceptualize your data to day to day job what you’re doing and how it impacts revenue or churn or retention or whatever it is. So it sounds like establishing a few leading and lagging indicators. You’re lagging indicators or mainly is it revenue or is it partner intakes, whatever it may be. And then what are the micro moments that lead up to those lagging indicators? Is that kind of what you’re talking about, getting to the nitty gritty there?

Ben Bassett: A little bit. For me it was different. And that model that you described could work for a number of people. For me, I came to it a little bit different. As I was stepping back to look at what I was doing and how effective my actions were. I was able to also realize what that meant for the larger company. So we’ve heard some of the other thought leaders in the partnership space, Alan, Jay, Jared, whatever, take your pick. They all talk about how partnerships touch every other department in the company, right? So do I have an impact on product and where the roadmap directions go? Yes, of course. I’m getting feedback directly from my partners and their clients and they’re telling us what they need. My product team needs to know that and if there’s a support issue, my client might go to my partner who might come to me. So then I get to go to support. Of course, revenue, we have to generate money in order to fund our companies. So I’ve got to work with sales. I’ve got to work with finance. So seeing how I could be a central hub and spoke out from there to the other departments, that’s what the trick was for me.

Tori Barlow: That’s really interesting. Yeah. Instead of being so siloed, which I feel like maybe it’s transitioning to not be siloed, but a lot of partnerships teams are kind of on their own island. And it sounds like what you did to kind of figure that out is really understand how you impacted each of these departments with that. Did you schedule regular meetings with them, more of a group setting? What was your tactic there?

Ben Bassett: Some of this has been very impromptu because when I when I onboarded with Paystand, very early stage start up with series B, I think it was at the time six employees or something. So all of us, every single person, if you’ve been in a startup, you know what that is. Everybody’s running around with their hair on fire. So a lot of it was impromptu. What we’ve advanced into now as our organization has matured is we’re doing a lot more collaboration proactively. So do I have time now? Product or finance or C or support? I can absolutely get that time when I need it. And we are getting to a point where we’re putting that into an operational mode. So we’re setting regular cadence between the teams so we can talk about the feedback we’re getting and where we need to go.

Tori Barlow: That’s really important. I think the cross department communication, not only collaboration, but the communication is key to that sound work productivity. I want to go back to the framework that you created for yourself and that will give away with this podcast. But what’s included within I’m calling it the quarterly QBR, but I’m not sure if you have a different name for it. But what’s included in that? What should people be mindful of?

Ben Bassett:  I don’t know that I’ve given it an official name, but for me the way that I looked at it is I know that as a partner professional, I go and I do reviews for my partners. How did our quarter go? What did we do? What works? What didn’t work? It’s that same exact framework. Now, I’ve just applied it to myself. Right. So I don’t know if you want to give it a name. Cool, great. Probably just, you know, self aware or what have I done? Kind of a thing. Right.

Tori Barlow: Maybe someone listening can give it a name, comment in the post.

Ben Bassett: That’d be great. That’d be great. So what’s included? That was another part of your question. It’s absolutely starting off with what are my goals and quota? How did I do against them? So what’s my number? What was my attainment? Now starting with that concept, right? Going back to one of the first things I mentioned, do the job before you get the job being self aware. So I’m trying to make this as easy as I possibly can. My supervisor. My manager, my director, my VP. Hey, guys, here’s the number you gave me. Here’s the attainment I calculated. This is what it means. Doing that job of tracking my own data and showing it to them. Now a side benefit of this is that it makes it really easy for them. Right. Because I want my boss to think of me as somebody who’s effective, who doesn’t need to be closely monitored or manage and they can count on. And I think that’s true for many of the people that are going to be listening. They want those same things. This is one of the ways that I chose to make that easy for my manager.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, I like it. And are you recommending what’s the typical cadence you do? Is it biweekly, quarterly, annually? What is that like?

Ben Bassett: Yeah. So I brought my own one on one format to Paystand and my manager, I said, “This is what I want to do.” And it was very clear. Here’s my KPIs, here’s how many partner meetings did I have? What else did I do hat was a little bit outside of my role, but still made an impact. That was my week. And then I used the quarterly format, so I had a weekly and a quarterly getting specific to the answer to your question. And the quarterly format just kind of rolled up all of those numbers on what was my quarter was my attainment. But then also wrapping in other things.  And then as I mentioned, as we were hopping on the call, all of my calls are recorded. So providing a sample of call recordings. And one of the things that I can bring to that is, what did I do good on this call? What did I mess up in that call? From this call to that call, I learned that answer. And here’s the demonstration of that. That doesn’t have to be 300 calls. You probably just include a sample of three or four because we’re trying to make this easy for our boss. Right? We don’t want to overwhelm them with information, but give them the correct information that’s actionable.

Tori Barlow: When you say call reviews, is it call reviews with partners? What is the goal there?

Ben Bassett: Yeah. So for me, what that means is call record. So pick your gong as our platform. So all of my calls are recorded and when I talk to a partner, I can go back and I can listen to that. If I had a question in my own head about did I give the right answer, how did I sound in that moment? How’s my story? Is it shaky? Am I confident? Am I at ease with what I’m talking about? So it’s those call recordings that become then the call review over time. So first month, in July I had this question and then in August I had that question again, but I had a much better answer that was more satisfactory. That would be part of the call review.

Tori Barlow: That makes sense. All right. So goals how you’re pacing with quota. You recommend probably starting quarterly recruiting activity sample call recordings which is a brilliant idea I think, especially if you and your manager or supervisor have some sort of rubric or scorecard of maybe what to listen for or how to improve measurably is really interesting. Do you also think that with these quarterly self reviews that it’s a good idea and an opportunity for you to bring up roadblocks or potential roadblocks to your manager of, “Hey, we might not hit this target for this one metric and here are a few things why, can you help me with these?” Like, I’m envisioning this to be a tool of how to ungate anything that might be standing in your way to hit target.

Ben Bassett: Yeah. Good question. One that I hadn’t thought about, but I’m realizing in the moment that I didn’t put that into the quarterly. I instead left that in the weekly. So the weekly one on one time that’s here’s my review and that’s where I would talk about roadblocks. I need such and such a thing from the product. I need this thing to happen from solutions in order to do the right thing for the clients. You’ll take your pick, right? But the concept being is that I don’t want it to build up. To three months. I’d rather deal with it in the moment, in the week.

Tori Barlow: Okay. Yeah. I think that is a really great way to be proactive or to your point earlier with if you need something from product, hey, meeting with them two months before the quarter ends versus before quarter end when no one has time is a great idea. And what should folks have in mind as the goal here when creating these self reviews?

Ben Bassett: So the goal that I used, and maybe this makes sense for anybody listening, is I wanted to create a baseline to start. This is what I did this quarter. And then as business goes, now we’re looking at how do we develop this? Because the theme here is how do we move IC into management? And we’re looking at how do we do the job before we get the job. So baseline with one quarter. The next quarter, you do that quarter plus this quarter. And what was the difference? What was your variable? So did your attainment go up? Did it go down? And then as you go forward, it becomes a quarter over quarter, year over year. How am I tracking? So now we’re looking at business modeling, right? So doing the job before you get the job. How am I doing over time in the role? What skills have I learned? What do I need to improve on still? Because everybody has to improve on something. We’re not all that good at. But that’s the goal, is taking it from a quarter to a quarter to a quarter, and then from a year to a year. And what is my progression? Am I doing better over time? Am I trending up? And it becomes self aware, self knowledge. Where am I at from this quarter to that quarter? And I’m proactively I’m not hiding things. I’m bringing that to my manager saying, here’s where I’m at. I might need help here, but I think I’m really good there.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. You are talking about consistently staying on a proactive cadence. And I think this is really helpful when I think it’s pretty common to do company wide annual review. And I know I’ve gotten questions from folks throughout my career on, well, how do I bring this to my boss during my annual review? And it’s like, we need to be talking about that, or you should be talking about that with your manager ten months prior to the review. And I think if you have all of these recorded or you have these documented of your trend line, as you say, that’s great content for that annual review. Not only that, but you also have it if you are looking to transition companies or take that next step in your career. So it’s all about the doing the job before you get the job. I love that and being proactive. Now let’s say that you could have hit a roadblock in your organization for career progression. What should folks do in that instance and how do you know if you’ve hit a roadblock in your organization?

Ben Bassett: So a roadblock in career progression. There’s a couple of things that I think of when I look at that question. The rooms razor, I think is one of the big ones. And the rooms razor in a nutshell is this if you are presented with two rooms. You choose the one in which you are not the smartest person in the room. So when I when I enter a meeting or when I fly out to the headquarters or whatever, I recognize that I might be the most knowledgeable person about the product or about this topic or about whatever it is. That’s a room that I should no longer be in. I need to choose a different route. Because I want to be, and this is going to sound really weird to some people, I probably want to be the dumbest person in the room because I want to learn as much as I possibly can from everybody else there. Everybody brings fantastic knowledge and skills and tools to the table. And I want to soak up as much as I can. That’s one. And then two, it becomes a question of are you still a change agent? Are you still positively making a difference inside your organization? If the answer is yes. Keep going. If the answer is no, it’s time to sit down and take a hard look at what’s going on.

Tori Barlow: You make a lot of great points. I love the rooms razor. I’ve never thought of it in that light. It’s a really interesting way to think about it. To all the listeners here, you get For now we’re calling it a VR, but someone’s going to name it for us, Ben, and it’s going to be great. You have a lot of knowledge on how to progress your career. Thank you. To our guests, Ben, senior manager, channel and alliances at Paystand. And thank you to you, the listeners for joining us here at the Partner Channel podcast. If you like what you heard, subscribe to our podcast episodes wherever you like to listen to podcasts.