For Sales Leaders

Episode 2: Matt Fox, CRO, Oculus360

Matt talks about the best partner channels to leverage as a startup, the power of co-selling, his band 'The Dad Bods' and more


 

Matt Fox, CRO at Oculus360, joins us on The CoSell Show.

 

Topics Discussed:

    1. The best partner channels to leverage as a startup

    2. The power of co-selling and the process for getting started

    3. The drivers for creating a successful partnership program

    4. "The Dad Bods", Matt's neighborhood band that he is the lead singer in

Your Host and Podcast Producer: Taylor Baker

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Follow Along With The Podcast Transcript

Taylor Baker:

Hello and thank you so much for joining us here at The Co-Sell Show, I am your host, Taylor Baker and we are on today with Matt Fox from Oculus360, thank you so much Matt we are so excited to have you here!

Matt Fox:

Excellent, thanks Taylor, really glad to be here!

Taylor Baker:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you landed at Oculus 360 and what it is you do for them?

Matt Fox:

Sure. So I had with the CEO of Oculus360 at a previous company, he started the company in 2012, that was the year that our previous company was acquired, and he left and started the company with the VP of innovations from Pepsi who had been a client of ours. By the time I joined in 2017 they had already built strong technology platform and some innovative IP that really enables marketers to use artificial intelligence to better understand their customer and marketplace based on all the volumes of user generated content online, and reviews and blogs and forums, social. In my career, you know, up to then I've been in sales, marketing, business development, pretty much across the spectrum of the sales cycle from demand generation to customer success. I also did several years in a GM role, but I really gravitated towards the roles that interacted directly with the customers. So I was excited to come into the CRO role at Oculus360, where I lead sales, Biz Dev, marketing and customer success, making sure that all those elements work together holistically to grow the business.

Taylor Baker:

That is amazing, you are quite the aficionado in sales, aren't we so lucky to have you, thank you. To get us started on a little fun note, we also like to ask our guests, what is maybe a fun fact about you that would not be found on your LinkedIn profile?

Matt Fox:

So I am the lead singer of a cover band called the Dad Bods with a few guys in the neighborhood. All the guys live within about a block so we have a great time you know just practicing, putting on a show for the neighborhood families, and backyards, we've played the club pool. You wouldn't see this about me otherwise though, we try to keep this off the social medias.

Taylor Baker:

I don't know, I think that that should be the shining star of your LinkedIn profile. I mean you have a good name there, it really paints quite picture, and so you're basically selling and your band with the name the Dad Bods, I really like that. What do you play?

Matt Fox:

The box, otherwise known as the voice, and I do play the kazoo on a few songs.

Taylor Baker:

I myself have once had a pretty stellar kazoo solo in a kindergarten show so nice to meet a fellow kazoo enthusiast. Back on to sales business partnership, can you tell me while you're at Oculus 360, what would you say is probably the biggest sales or marketing channels that you and your team utilize?

Matt Fox:

So about 60-65 percent of our revenue comes from partners. Primarily agencies and consulting firms. So we'll co-sell deals where our solution is used to drive services revenue engagements that our partners deliver. Most of our marketing tactics involve partners as well. For events at south by southwest for the last couple of years, I had 2 different partners involved in each of those events. And our webinars we always leverage a partner as well, just works out better tto share the cost, increase the number of people that we're reaching out to as customers, and the variety of customers that we touch.

Taylor Baker:

Yeah that's amazing, and the 65% of your sales going through co-selling you're definitely utilizing the power of co-selling. How do you normally determine who you're gonna partner with in these deals?

Matt Fox:

It's an iterative process, so we have lots of companies that approach us, and we proactively approach companies that are similar to partners that we've had success with in the past. We'll meet partners at events and sometimes, you know, we'll be at a customer and the customer will introduce us to their agency or to a complimentary technology that they're using that they'd like to have us integrate with. So you know, we'll then go and vet the partnership from there.

Taylor Baker:

Interesting. So you've had a lot of- sort of organic partnerships grow.

Matt Fox:

Yeah but it's something we're seeking out as well. When a partnership works well we'll go and look at what other companies in the marketplace look like that company that might have a similar benefit to working with us.

Taylor Baker:

So what is the typical process like for initiating the partnership? Once you've actually made the connection, how do you go from "Hey this sounds like a good idea." to an actual working relationship?

Matt Fox:

So we are a smaller company, so we don't have big blown out partner programs and lots of structure there. Usually we're starting off with initial discussion to qualify and determine fit, discuss partnership terms, understand how we mutually benefit from the partnership, and then from there we work to - as quickly as possible get to initial opportunity so we can start having joint meetings and really, get in front of some customers. You may have all kind of discussions that look good in concept but the marketplace ultimately decides if there's value in your partnership and in your joint solution. Also once you have customer meetings set, it creates urgency to really get that joint value proposition worked out and clear, and build those joint presentations and assets.

Taylor Baker:

That's amazing. In that respect, I mean I totally understand the tango of having all the talks and everything looks good on paper, but when you're actually initiating the partnership, how is it throughout that experience that you measure whether or not it's providing value to you and your partner?

Matt Fox:

It depends on the type of the partnership. With services partners, it's ultimately the volume of opportunities and revenue, and both sides should be happy with how this is tracking. With some of our software vendors, it's similar metrics, but sometimes a partnership is used to increase win rates over a competitor with a differentiated offering and value prop that we bring as a joint solution. In most cases with complimentary offerings, often times those partners aren't bringing opportunities to the table or we're not bringing opportunities to that partner, you know we'll be engaged and we'll help their team drag more success.

Taylor Baker:

You have a pretty wide variety of types of partnerships and you don't just stick to one model, but they've all had, you know sort of different role in your company and it's worked out all around.

Matt Fox:

Yeah, for the most part. I mean, I think that systems integrators and services partnerships, agencies, et cetera, as a good market and they are the types that will have strong customer relationships, that they can identify opportunities, et cetera. And then there's also partnering with other ISV's.

Taylor Baker:

The business dictionary called, and we are happy to answer. If you are new to the Co Sell Show, welcome to our micro-segment where we de-mystify notable business vernacular. Today we have ISV, which in the text space stands for "Independent Software Vendor".

Matt Fox:

And that's more the ladder where I said “we each really are focused on selling our own solution, but when our solutions work together, our odds of winning increase."

Taylor Baker:

To piggy back off of that, what drivers have you seen that have made the largest impact on the success of your partnership?

Matt Fox:

A senior level management commitment to the partnership I think is really important. At the rep level, you might get some tactical wins but to really scale you need leadership to be championing the partnership on both sides and promoting the successes and pushing to create similar successes across the organization. So it's also really important to document and promote this joint successes as they come. They take things from a hypothetical vision to reality and make future wins much easier to come by.

Taylor Baker:

That's great. In that respect, what types of activities are you usually utilizing in your partnerships? Because I know you mentioned co selling which - this is the perfect show so we get to extrapolate on that and also co-marketing, re-seller relationships, what has worked best for you?

Matt Fox:

This again it depends on the type of partnership but with strategic partnerships and as a small company we can't have too many strategic partnerships you know, it's more like 5 partners or so that we can really dedicate that level or resources to. With those strategic partnerships, co-selling and co-marketing are both important parts. This can be especially valuable for smaller innovative companies partnering with larger organizations. When you have a strong joint value prop with a large company like Google or Accenture or Publicist, they provide provide a massive go to market engine to tap into for both co-selling and co-marketing. With smaller, more regional, or niche partnerships, I like to say "The juice might not be worth the squeeze". So it may come down to just tactically co-selling opportunities as they come.

Taylor Baker:

And then, in your experience with O360, do you have a healthy relationship between these different sizes of companies, do you target bigger companies or do you prefer working with smaller companies, or is it sort of a mixed bag?

Matt Fox:

It is a mix, but we tend to target the bigger companies that have established relationships that we can tap into. With a bigger company, they often have senior relationships and Fortune 50 companies that they can get to "Yes" in one meeting sometimes because they already are a known and trusted entity within that customer. That same morgue, if you try to approach it directly with reps and SDR's calling in et cetera, it can take them years to penetrate, and even then they might have an uphill battle when they are a lesser known startup.

Taylor Baker:

Amazing. In that respect, what has been your biggest surprise since building a partner ecosystem?

Matt Fox:

I think it is that how quickly some of those companies can get to a "Yes", like we've had good success with Accenture with Publicist, you know its always surprising when sometimes our sales cycles when you look att from -initial contact to close, they can be months and months, but often times when just the volume of business flowing through those companies with some of those Fortune 50 companies that they're working with, they can get to "Yes" in just a meeting.

Taylor Baker:

That is quite a feat. Must be nice to have those relationships I'm sure. Wonderful, thank you so much for talking so extensively with your vast knowledge of partnerships. To sort of zig-zag along your impressive skill set, one thing that while Dad Bob sadly is not on your LinkedIn, I do know you have House of Genius on there and you're the host here in Austin. Would you mind maybe explaining where House of Genius is and if you have any like - few takeaways?

Matt Fox:

Sure. So House of Genius is something that we started in Austin about 8 years ago. Friend of ours had started House of Genius in Boulder and he reached out to one of my neighbors, who had worked with CTO of Jasons Deli and my neighbor used to be CIO there, and he said "Hey you guys should start one in Austin." From there it's grown a lot to I think there's 33 houses worldwide in Asia, Pacific, in Europe. It's a structured format for giving entrepreneurs some out of the box ideas for their startups. So we'll have, some houses have 2 entrepreneurs per session, some have 3, and over the years, we've seen about 200 different companies or more come through. And for those companies we curate a panel of people from diverse backgrounds, and no one's allowed to tell their last name, or what they do, or really talk about work. So we create an environment where people can't lean on their titles and then we have a very structured way that people provide feedback in the session so that type A's can't take over and everyone has their chance to have the floor and give their ideas.

Matt Fox:

It's really cool, I mean, you know, ideas will build off each other, someone might have a cool idea that someone else latches onto, and adds onto, and you'll always leave with some really interesting approaches to a problem you might have been struggling with.

Taylor Baker:

Wow. That's an amazing community that you've created and curated here in Austin and all around the world now. I think one of the most exciting things about that to me is the sort of secrecy behind who you are, and you can't hide behind a title, and it really is like an equalizing opportunity for everyone involved. I bet that really brings some interesting color to those meetings.

Matt Fox:

It does, it does. And there's a reveal at the end, and if someone might be saying the most awesome things then you realize they're a volunteer fireman, and them someone else might be the head of Central Texas Angel Network, you know, we've had people in the audience, an FBI agent that happened to be packing heat. Some interesting things. Everyone's on level ground in there, and you don't really know who you're talking to until the very end.

Taylor Baker:

Wow, that is so interesting I kind of think that there needs to be more avenues, that way in the age of social media and rank everywhere, and just constantly measuring your worth by the amount of likes you get on something or the amount of followers you have I think there's something kind of humbling in the notion that we are all people, we all have ideas and interesting experiences, and if we put them together, whether that's in a meeting or in co-selling relationship, you never know what you're gonna come up with. Wonderful. Yeah Matt do you have any parting words for our listeners?

Matt Fox:

One of the most important things, especially for startups is focus. Just having focus on the right things that are gonna drive value. In the marketplaces tat we're working in, the ecosystems that we're working in are huge, there's so many different people that you could partner with, customers, and industries that you could target, but its important to quickly know what opportunities and partners are not worth pursuing, especially with those limited resources. There's not really time for Barney partnerships, where you know "You're great, we're great, yeah we could do so much together", but you know where's the customers? Lets get to customers as quickly as possible instead of just "I love you, you love me", and another thing, and I'm not a big fan of this, what I call "Science Fair Projects", which is where you say "Oh lets do an integration of our technology when we don't have a paying customer on the end, so lets find a paying customer that puts value in this before we go building out integrations and things like that".

Matt Fox:

I think that focus is something that I see again and again where people are excited about their business, excited about all the possibilities and you just gotta think big, but then narrow your vision to a lot smaller group of opportunities that you're pursuing.

Taylor Baker:

Thank you so very much Matt Fox, you have been a real pleasure here on the Co-Sell Show we are thrilled to have you and your endless nuggets of wisdom you have provided us with.

Matt Fox:

Well thank you Taylor I appreciate you having me!

Taylor Baker:

Hello listeners and thank you so much for tuning in this week to the Co-Sell Show. Be sure to check in next week for even more exciting content. Now go out there and get yourself some partnerships.

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