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The Partner Channel Podcast | Season 2, Episode 34

Partner-Led Everything with Isaac Moorehouse of PartnerHacker

Show Synopsis

In a bonus episode of the Partner Channel Podcast, host Tori Barlow is joined by Isaac Morehouse, co-founder of Partner Hacker. For this special feature, the two talk about the much anticipated PL[X] event; what to expect, what to gain from attending, and who the speakers will be. Listen in to find out more!


  • What PL[X] is and what makes it different
  • Who some of the key speakers are
  • Where listeners can find out more

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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 Isaac Moorehouse, co-founder of Partner Hacker. Welcome, Isaac. We’re excited to have you.

Isaac Morehouse: Hey, Tori, it’s great to be here.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind for you. I’m sure with everything you’re unfolding for the industry. We’ll get into that in a bit. But a little bit about you. You’re like I mentioned, the co-founder of Partner Hacker. You’ve founded several startups, both bootstrapped and venture backed with a mix of wins and losses. You’ve also published a dozen books and thousands of articles, and you’re eagerly diving into the B2B partnership space headfirst to learn from the best. So I think we’re talking to a great guest today. Welcome again.

Isaac Morehouse: Yeah, well, that’s why I’m here to learn from the best. So I came to your show to learn from you.

Tori Barlow: Tori Wow, big boots to fill. Isaac Yeah, no, I think we have been chatting. I think Partner, Hacker and Allbound just about some industry topics going on. One I know right now that I’d love to hear your perspective since you talk to a lot of folks in the industry is just exec buy in for a partnership. And what that means not only building a program from scratch but with everyone tightening their belts. What does that mean for a partner program at a company, whatever stage it is? And how do you even start with thinking about it?

Isaac Morehouse: Bryan Yeah, it’s interesting. So preface this to everybody listening that I don’t present myself as like this seasoned partnerships expert who’s been working in partnerships for four years. As I said, I’m an entrepreneur. I come from mostly BDC, but having started Partner Hacker with Jared Fuller back at the beginning of 2022, we’ve just like lived in market like all day, every day. I’m talking with people who work in partnerships and so I’ve been able to learn pretty quickly. There’s really common pain points and as you said, hey, exact buy in, right? Not not being treated like. All right we got a partnerships person. Check that box off. Just do your little partner thing over in the corner. You know, like, how do we get this to be something that the company understands is crucial? I think I think what what’s been really cool is right now, there’s there’s like a moment happening. And I think people in partnerships, many of them not all, are starting to feel it where they are starting to get some of that attention. They’re starting to get a kind of a higher level interest, more of a strategic interest in partnerships or an ecosystem centric strategy for the company as a whole, because the ROI on traditional sales and marketing are really starting to suffer and people are feeling that pain. And you add in the recession and you can’t just keep throwing headcount or experiments or paid ads at everything companies And starting kind of with VCs, you can almost think like VCs or like this sort of like thought leadership.

Isaac Morehouse: And then founders are kind of downstream of a lot of the things that VCs are talking about and trends that they’re spotting. And then that kind of bleeds into different department heads. You’re starting to see A16z open view in some of the biggest VCs talking about, Hey, you’ve got to have an ecosystem approach, you’ve got to have indirect go to market channels. You’ve got to rethink this reliance on just, you know, pay more salespeople, run more ads, get more customers. You’ve got to have distribution that happens in a more dispersed way where you’re plugging into partner ecosystem. So that’s starting to happen. And suddenly the spotlight is shining on people in partnerships. So I think like there’s a really there’s a positive moment, but there’s also this like, okay, show me the ROI, prove to me how this works and prove it fast. And, and that can be a really a big challenge. So I’ve answered longer than I wanted to already. But here here’s the here’s the takeaway. What I think I’ve noticed in Jared and I have really been talking about this a lot is. As long as partnerships are viewed as a department or a title, it’s easy to kind of think you have it taken care of. So we’re kind of talking about we don’t literally mean this, but just as like a shock value.

Isaac Morehouse: Hey, there should be no partnerships departments. There should be no one running partnerships. Why do we say that? Because it’s a way to say this is not something you just hire a person for or stick into one corner. This is something that every department head needs to be thinking about. What is your partnership strategy in product? What is your partnership strategy in sales, in marketing, in success? You need to be thinking about partnerships as a strategy, and those are all very different types of partnerships. It’s almost kind of crazy that one person is supposed to like, handle all these different types, But so that’s that’s what’s really been hitting not only with partner managers to say, yes, yes, yes, I wish. But the other department has we’re thinking this way and saw themselves as being having a partner for a strategy, but also with those department heads, with heads of sales and marketing, they’re saying, look, this is getting tough out there. It’s brutal. Yeah. What would it look like if we went to market together with partners, if we built and co innovated with partners? So that’s what’s really hitting that idea of let’s take it outside of just partnerships, people trying to beg other departments to give them attention. Let’s talk about partnerships not as a department, but as a strategy. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of success in these conversations.

Tori Barlow: Very interesting. So if I’m hearing you correctly, are you recommending we still hire for partnerships folks and they manage something, but they’re kind of a dotted line to everyone, or are you recommending me as a marketer? I’m also adding partnerships things to my plate while hanging out with the CRO who who’s also doing partnerships. What does that balance like

Isaac Morehouse: Yeah, that’s a great question and I’m going to leave the recommendations up to people who are a lot smarter than me. You know, we’ve on the Partner Up podcast, we’ve had Alan Adler and Jay McBain and all kinds of people who are who are consulting with companies on these very questions like what’s the way to do this to get this strategy? And, you know, I’m not going to say, Oh, here’s the recommendation, because I think like having a partnerships person, having a partnership department absolutely can make a ton of sense. But I think the key is what what happens when you when you. When you give something a name, you package it up and you hire a person to solve it. Then everyone else can feel like, okay, we don’t need to worry about that anymore. And that’s what that’s what you don’t want to happen. The opposite needs to happen. So if there is somebody who’s trying to orchestrate and coordinate and I think it makes a lot of sense, especially from the ops standpoint, because partnerships require some unique tools and processes that aren’t quite the same, like just using your CRM, for example, or just using your existing marketing tools. There’s some different motions. So you need like someone who’s coordinating and understanding the way to work with all these different types of partners.

Isaac Morehouse: But that’s got to be someone who is not just interfacing with partners, but they’re spending most of their time interfacing with other other departments in the company and like having that level, having alignment on that strategic level from the heads of those departments that we are committed to co-marketing with partners, that that’s something your CMO is on board with right then. Then having somebody who’s kind of playing that coordinating role is is great, right? That can add especially adding some of those specialized things. And the ops, as I mentioned, some of the specialized tools. But but if you just hire that person and say, solve it for me. Yeah. I mean, you like one person trying to do partner marketing partner, selling partner, you know, integrations and product stuff, working with like you can’t it’s not it’s not doable, but they can play a coordinating role. They can be that. They can be that sort of sinew that connects all those things together. At least that’s kind of how I’m seeing it right now. There’s a lot of debate about how this stuff should work and who should report to who and whatever. And I’m not going to take a position on that. I’m just trying to learn from what’s happening.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, no, this is all coming really fast in the industry and really exciting. Speaking of unpacking more and having more conversations around it, it’s really great timing because Partner Hacker is putting on Plex and I want to know a little bit more about that, where our audience can learn a little bit more about that. But it has to do with this, right? The getting buy in from multiple departments and then it’s really just a matter of that’s the company strategy. That’s a piece of the company strategy. So tell us a little bit about PL [X] and what it’s about.

Isaac Morehouse: Yeah, it’s really cool the way that this unfolded. So we launched Partner Hacker officially in April of this year. The newsletter started a little before that and the podcast had been around for about a year. But and so, you know, we’re out there doing little events and putting out content and talking about partnerships, ecosystems. And as I said, we kept we kept realizing that. There’s not just one conversation. There’s multiple distinct conversations that are happening and that need to happen. And it’s kind of like partnerships as it affects this department, as it affects us. And they’re so different, they’re so unique, like, you know, talking about how partnerships can impact a customer success department in terms of like, Hey, we’ve got customers that need help. Let’s refer them to service partners. That has almost nothing to do with how integrations and tech partners can work together, right? They’re both called partners because they’re companies outside of your own that you’re working with, but they’re so different and so trying to like, funnel all those into a single conversation. We were kind of like, Oh, there’s something really interesting here. And so Jared actually had this sort of like late night epiphany. Like one morning he was like, Hey, check out check out what I made last night. It was this massive slide deck. It was like 50 slides, long of the Plex summit. We’re going to do it. Isaac. We’re going to bring everyone together. And I was like, This was in like July, and we wanted to do it in November.

Isaac Morehouse: And I was like, Jared, you’re crazy. But but it’s brilliant. I love it because the idea is partner led everything right? So X is the variable. And so we sort of put it in this format and it just happened to work out really nicely over five days where it’s a five day remote experience and it’s day one. Every day is a different theme partner led startup, which just means the entire company. It means like founders, venture Capitalists, Day two, partner led product partner LED marketing Day three Partner LED sales day for Success Day five. So that we have five distinct conversations now, of course, partnerships, people, partner managers, they’ll be a part of all of those. But each of those allows you it gives you a really easy way to bring in people from other departments to go to that head of product and say, Hey, you should check out this session day to partner lead product, all about partnerships being a leading part of your product strategy. So we’re trying to kind of bring these these audiences together and have a two way conversation. So we’ve got partnerships, people. Yeah, they all want it. They all want to tell marketing people how they should be changing things and do it more partner centric. But we want partnerships, people to also be listening and bring in marketing people to say, Look, this is what I need.

Isaac Morehouse: This is what matters to me. If I’m going to if I’m going to try to involve partners, it’s got to look like this, right? And kind of creating that, creating that conversation where everyone’s aligned that, hey, we realize this is something we need to do. We realize we need a more robust go to market that’s not so reliant on our own direct efforts. How do we make that happen? How do we do it? So that’s what the Plex summit is. It’s Allbound is a part of it. You’re going to be you guys have some sessions there you’re speaking at and you’re sponsors of it working with us on this thing, partnering with us, which is really, really awesome. But we’re really excited because I don’t think anything like this has happened yet. There is events and things for partnerships people. There’s events and things for revenue people, salespeople, marketing people. But to create one around the concept of partnerships, not the department and have all these conversations is really something that it’s interesting because it’s like it’s breaking new ground and it’s it’s kind of like the partnerships people are all in. Yeah, cool. This is great. I love it. People from these other departments, they get it and they’re interested, but it’s such a new way of thinking for them that it’s we’re kind of trying to, like, blaze some new ground and lay the groundwork for an ongoing conversation.

Tori Barlow: It’s really exciting. You guys are revolutionizing bringing everyone together in this partner world, from technology to everyone who’s leading a program. You guys are doing amazing things and this will really bring everyone together virtually. But not only to mention it’s also physical because you guys are sending out handbooks to everyone for the workbook sessions and to take notes. So it’s as if we’re all physically in this together, which is really nice.

Isaac Morehouse: Yeah, it’s funny, like when Jared and I started talking about whether or not we would want to do events with Partner Hacker, I was like, Man, I just don’t know, like webinars and virtual events or whatever. I’m just had this like there’s a lot of them. I’m not sure there’s something there. But there’s something new. There’s something better that needs to happen. And this is like another sort of, I don’t know, we’re trying to push some things in that direction, too. Like, I think there’s an opportunity. And you’ll see more of this to create truly unique, remote experiences that aren’t just let’s take a conference and let’s slap it on a video. You know, it’s like it’s like the digital world. In the early days when you take physical paper or you scan it and you slap it in a PDF and you’re like, Look, now it’s on a computer. That’s not the best experience, but like made for digital things that have a nice UI, that’s, you know, that’s a whole different world. And so I think we’re sort of in that transition phase where let’s just take the physical slap it online has been kind of the first wave of, especially when the pandemic started of virtual everything. I think we’re starting to see some really cool ways. So so there’s multiple ways in which we’re trying to create something more than just a typical virtual one.

Isaac Morehouse: As you mentioned, we have a physical workbook that everybody coming can get has space for note some takeaways. It’s got little QR codes with offers and information about each session, each speaker. So you’re kind of tying that together. I’m holding this book in my hands while I’m sitting here watching the sessions and in the live chat too. We’re using air meet and they have like a sort of a really cool platform. They’re partnering with us on this that is kind of pushing some really interesting new features and possibilities there. There’s like one on one speed networking. There’s sort of various ways for dedicated rooms where you can have interactivity with the sponsors. They can have people there in a live chat or even a live video session. You have kind of like a lounge with tables, some things that like and they’re just doing it in a really interesting way, some of the interactivity there. So that’s going to be cool. And then finally, this is kind of fun. The the partner hacker team, we’re all remote team and there’s six of us as well as the emcee. We’re all flying down and we’re going to have the Plex house and we’re going to have we’re all going to be in this. We like rented on Airbnb. It’s like this huge house as like a zip line and.

Tori Barlow: Like a hype house.

Isaac Morehouse: It’s totally a hype house. It’s like the real world or something, but it’s way cheaper than getting like an office space the whole time. So we got this big house and we’re going to have multiple rooms that are like studio rooms for when we’re on. But we’ll also so we’ll be able to kind of be together. Like when we’re on sessions together, we’ll be in the same room, we’ll have backdrops, we’ll have like some physical interactivity, trying to create a unified experience. So it’s not just a whole bunch of people in their own little boxes. And then, like, my vision is, as we continue, is to create like little regional on on site hubs for some of these virtual experiences. So the whole thing is virtual, but you also have 50 to 100, several hundred people in a room together in Boston experiencing it and in Chicago experiencing it. And they have physical breakout groups combined with what’s being streamed on the screen and to kind of try to bring these together. So anyway, I’ve got I’ve got a lot of ideas of where this could go, but we’re trying to kick it off with just a few unique ways to make it more, more memorable than just a a webinar.

Tori Barlow: And anyone wanting to see the envision, where do people go to register or find out more about it?

Isaac Morehouse: Yeah, go to plex summit dot com. It’s 100% free thanks to sponsors we’re working with because again, we want to make these conversations as easy for people to enter into as possible. And you can attend all five days. You can register for just one day that you’re interested in or share it just with somebody in Plex summit dot com slash marketing. Send that to someone in your marketing department so anybody can go and register and and hopefully we’ll see a lot of you at the event.


Tori Barlow: Part of this is going to be a revolutionary event. Thank you to our guest, Isaac, co-founder of Partner Hacker. And thank you to you 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.