On this week’s episode of the Investible Partnerships podcast , we talk to Kelly Griffin, a Senior Partner Sales Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS) , about solution and value definition, aligning partners with customer outcomes, and how he identifies partner potential across the ecosystem. Kelly has two decades of experience in partnerships and is uniquely position to help partners be successful because he has walked in their shoes.
00:00 - Introduction
05:00 - The ingredients for mutual success in partnerships
06:37 - What an investible partnership looks like
10:33 - Communicating with your vendor
14:40 - How partners can maximize their relevance and value
17:27 - Partner managers need to position their relevance and value
21:52 - Why you should say no to a vendor before you say yes
25:47 - Know whats in your wheelhouse
28:41 - Know how your vendor organises themselves
“How you communicate to a customer is very different to how you communicate to a vendor”
“Partners are reluctant to say not to a vendor because they are fearful if they do, then they wont get asked again ”
Hey, everybody? Um, it's Des Russell chief partnership officer at Partner Elevate and also your host of the investible partnerships podcast I'm super excited today for 2 reasons The first reason is um, it's our first podcast. Of the investible partnerships. Um ah podcast series. So super excited. Super nervous. But also, at the same time I'm just so grateful thatI've got the opportunity to kick something off like this in the partnerships universe. Um. The second thing that I'm really excited about is I get to break the ground with Kelly Griffin from Amazon Web Services, so um Kelly why don't you give us an opportunity to understand a little bit more about who you are your role at Amazon and a little bit of your background how you got into partnerships. Always think the way people get into partnerships is kind of a great story on its own so over to you? okay.
Yeah, sure first and foremost um congrats on kicking this off as well. Um, man it's an awesome feat kicking off a podcast. So, I mean I can't wait to see where this goes up and again mate. Thank you so much for having me I really do appreciate it. It's an absolute privilege.
Um, so yeah, bit of background on me I've been in the industry and channel I suppose now for over 20 years probably twenty-six years thereabouts so definitely showing my age. Um I got into partnerships, and I've been in in the channel or in sort of vendor channel land. Um. Pretty much. Yeah, my whole career. So for me working inside the channel has just been a natural thing and moving in to my role within AWS has just been this natural progression of where I want mycareer to go and where I'm hoping that my career is going to continue on in side the. World of partnerships.
So, within Amazon I am a what they call a senior partner sales manager. So, what that means is I get to work with our sales teams and our partners um driving customer outcomes, so I make sure that whatever our sales teams are doing whatever they're talking to their customers about. Um, making sure that there's a partner that's aligned to that particular customer outcome and making sure that the right partner for the right outcome is chosen right? So, by that I mean yeah, looking at culture fit cost fit solution fit.Um. You know do they have capability. Do they have the experience does the value prop match up and things like that conversely, I sort of get to also work with a lot of our partners around solution and value definition. Um, which is really exciting. So, you know I'm sort of that that custodian if you like around partner pipeline and driving that.
So, moving towards co-solving solution or problems for customers instead of that whole co-sell motion across you know, multiple different types of partners SI’s and ISV’s so lots of fun. Lots of hard work.But we get to? yeah, be immersed in some amazing. Partners in the ecosystem.
Yeah, and um, if anyone wanted a definition of partnerships.That's probably a really strong definition of partnerships which is um, it's everything. It's a bit of this It's a bit of that. But there's a lot of things that that go on there and um I think that. You know when um I ah spend 7 years at Microsoft and so you're also thinking you know building um, working with partners and grain partners that um, you know it's not really just the.
Ah, select a partner I'll work with a partner. You're thinking about a lot of things outside of just the partner conversation. in particularly the customer. Why do you think the customer conversation is so important or why do you think aligning their customer. Outcome is so important when you engage in a partner.
Ah, it's absolutely necessary right? because if you think about that that customer outcome is kind of the flagship. That's the thing that they're trying to do now that outcome could be um, driving new business revenue. It could be customer acquisition. Whatever it is. That's really meaningful for their business. So, what you want to be able to do and what It ry and do as well and the stuff that we you know massively try and do every single day is go that outcome that they're trying to deliver How do accelerate that outcome because if I can accelerate that outcome through a partner engagement. It means that whatever that business metric or kip that they're trying to drive towards or that thing that they're doing gets done aster and it's going to be meaningful for their business I Want to make sure that the value that comes from a partner being included and executing that.
Yeah, yeah, so.
Um, that particular outcome or that challenge or what ever that customer is doing absolutely matches and making sure that you know yes, I know for a fact that that partner that we're putting inside that you know in front of that customer is trusted. It's got the experience. It's got the exposure. It's got the right value prop. But it's also meaningful back to the partner as well, right? So, it’s helping their growth. It's helping their partnership. It's aligned to their business goals as Well. So, trying to do you know Mutual Um Mutual success more than anything else.
Yeah, and um, so I think every partnership leader the way I think about it is every partnership leader knows that not all partnerships will succeed right? Um, but what every. Partnership Leader once is an investable partnership a partnership that they can invest time energy and resources in um when I think about investable Partnerships I Think about um, it's all about trying to maximize your relevance and your value. So how would you describe given that this is a podcast about investable partnerships. How would you describe your? Um, how would you or there goes a great say. Um, well perfectTiming. There's an ambulance coming through. Um, ah.
Perfect timing. Hey.
So back on track. How would you describe in your words or how would you define or describe. Um, what an investable partnership is for you.
Cool. So, for me, there's probably a couple of different as that I look at in terms of that and you've hit the nail on the head right joint Partnerships because some are going to be. You know, beneficial and equal. Um, and that's what we're looking for is where is it where is it equally beneficial. Right? So that investible component to me means that we're working together towards like mutually beneficial outcomes, right? So, the vendor has very specific goals that they're driving towards right and depending on who you talk to inside the vendor right? if I talk to a salesperson, I know exactly what their goals are if I talk to our partner.
Partner team I know exactly what their goals are and so on and so forth. It's got to be the same from a partner, right? So, we have to have a very clear understanding around what their goals and what their drivers are and what their growth and go-to-market capability is and what they' retrying to do as well because I want to make sure that if they're aligned to thethings that we're doing. As well. That's absolutely mutually beneficial. But also want to support some of their areas as well. So, when I think about you know, investing into a partner I'm going right? Where do you want to grow. What do you want to? do? What does you go to market look like how we do matureize that where is your gaps. What can't you do today that you want to be able to do tomorrow.
How can I help because if I can then help and then provide input from our side and go well here's a whole bunch of data points of an area where I believe you've got skills in um, you should invest in this area here and then I'm going to help you with a go-to-market approach to be able to you know, leverage us. As a vendor of choice or as a sales motion to add a target more customers. So again, that's mutually beneficial as well. Um, value prop as well is huge I know you and I have spoken about that a couple of times in the past around defining what a value prop is so in my mind. You don't want to be that that that partner that says we do all the things, and you don't want to come out and go well. But our value prop is um, you know? Well, we've got skills.You know we've got people that have got skills, Everyone does and everyone's going to say the same thing so that's where again investing in how you.
Traffic. Yeah, the athlete.
How you talk and how you communicate to a particular vendor.Um, whether that be us whether that be you know Microsoft Google doesn't matter. We have a very particular way of communicating and again investing in that. And understanding how you communicate together how you go to market together how you co-solve together that to me is what investible partnerships mean because you're going to get benefit out of it both ways.
Yeah, so um, this an interesting point is um, ah how do you think when Partners show up for you. What does a good partner.
Showing up in front of you look like and what does a yeah, what does a bad partner showing up in front of you and I don't want to use these. We use these words. Good and bad partners investable or not investible partners but actually when a partner shows up for you. Um, what.
Gives you? what are the things you look for that give you the aha they've got they clear on their value prop. Ah what does that look like for you or feel like for you as a partner manager.
So, I've got.
Yeah, it's a really, that's a really good question and i love the analogy good and bad I probably go These is what good looks like and here's what probably an immature thing looks like in what we say as well because.
It's just something that like you need to matureize. Ah as a partner as you build your business and as you build your practices um to be able to have that communication strategy with your particular vendor that you're working with so for us like for me when I when I look at a partner and go wow.
They know what they're doing. They've got a very clear valueprop in in certain aspects. They have very clear understanding around how they go to market and how they communicate to customers right? So, they've got products and in that could be a SI partner for example, like a services partner like or a consulting partner. You're still selling Products. You still got something that you're selling um and same as an isv.. They're very different but the motion of you know, understanding your capability. Um, how you differentiate yourself. Differentiation is key in in.
In all of this as well. So that goes down to value prop and differentiation. But if you can articulate how, you differentiate yourselves and again differentiation isn't oh, we've got skilled people or and I've heard this numerous times from other partners. Oh, we do migrations. It's like ah ha. Awesome. So's everyone.
Yeah, yeah, I think I think you and I yeah, we you and I had this conversation on LinkedIn with there was a couple of posts that Asher from partnership leaders posted.
How do you do it better and differently.
And it was like the yeah, I'm different but why are you different and I think you kind of had this long post of like I just can't have another conversation of ah someone telling me that they're different because they've got a particular.
Um, skill set, or technical skill sets alone.
Yeah, ah 100% differentiation isn't you've got skillset, or ou've got a competency from ah from a vendor or something like that. It's apoint of differentiation. But it's becoming almost saturated now where you knowyou've got partners that that tick a couple of boxes.
The differentiation comes where how do you articulate what customers get from you right? So, and the way I sort of frame that is explain to me. Why did a customer choose you right? What was what was the key point and be really specific. Why did they choose you? um.
And not only that what can they do now because you were there. That's differentiation. That's value you provided value for that customer. You know if it's security if it's Ira if it's you know some form of compliance. Whatever the case may be.
Um, there's differentiation in that you're just got to be really crystal clear around what that is because yeah, the amount of the last thing you want to do and talking insight like you're coming to a vendor for example or going to ah a different partner and saying we do all the things you're going to get a blank look. Unfortunately, it's just not a.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely and um, like for you if you had to put a scale of 1 to 10 and you had to say um, how good are partners at nailing that value prop. Um.
Great conversation to have.
Ah, that is outcome focused for the particular customer on average. Where would you say partners kind of are in that 1 to 10 one being no idea 10 being the absolutely clear and articulated.
There's ranges like I speak to yeah, some really great partners that I would say are about the 8 or 9 is like oh we could get it just a little bit better. But then I'm speaking to some partners that are 2 or 3they are the ones that go but we've got skilled people and we've got.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, we do Migrations, or we do data. It's like ah no I get that you do fantastic, but no.
Yeah, yeah, exactly yeah and its ah I think it's the point of differentiation is how do you differentiate? Um, not only within your own business but within the segment that your kind of is.
Are focused on as well for me I use these 2 words relevance and value. So as a as an um if someone's differentiated, they have a lot more relevance with their target market. Um, and they offer a lot more value.
Um, to that target market um, how do you How do you think from a partner point of view partners engaging with Amazon um, and you and your team. How do you think. Um, they look at relevance and value. Um, and how do how do partners maximize that relevance and value is at first having been clear on understanding how Amazon and the Amazon strategy or the Amazon go-to market or what your business focus is. Is it more about that to have relevance for you r is it more about them being super clear on their target market first. Right?okay.
It's a bit of both really because if I give you so a background on the on the Amazon ah, you know how we're sort of segmented in Aws we are very much industry focused right? and we've got specific segments as well. So that's where relevance comes in There's certain partners. Go. We don't operate in you know in certain areas or certain industries or certain segments ,but we do focus on this particular segment. So, our snob business. For example, we've got several partners that go we only operate in snob because we understand s and b e g relevance.
Yeah, they've got a focus now that is.
Ah, we know, and we can empathize they got very clear focus that's brilliant because then we know okay, excellent. Do you understand and then we work backwards with them to go. Do you understand the challenges or here's our challenges that we see from the SMB market and here's how we'd lovey you to be able to help. So again, that's where relevance and value come from, so we provide that insight back and go we have all of these challenges these 4key challenges within the SMB business. For example, across ANZ here. They are great now. Come back to us with your point of differentiation and your point of view.
So yeah, it all right.
That's really key as well, right having a point of view and going. Oh, but we've got all these use cases and we can solve all these problems. It's like I get that you can but give me a point of view on employee engagement give me a point of view on customer retention. So that point of view is.
Here's how we deliver that here's how we provide that and that's value and it's relevant to that particular segment as well because thenI'm not going to expect or that partner is they're not going to go on now. But if I go and speak to you know a large retailer. It's going to be the same because it's not they're very different. So.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, got you I'm going to put you on the spot now because we we're very much talking about partners, right? So, I'm going to put the vendor on the spot you and I'm Going to go because I think as much as the partner needs to and.
Terminal or position themselves to be relevant and valuable.How does how do you position your relevance and value to partners.
Oh I like that? Um, So it's a really good, good Question. So, the way that I look at how we can provide that relevance and value is by giving them insight to the challenges that we have right. And then going. Okay I understand what our sales team is challenged with every single day of the week right? So, I have very intimate knowledge around what's going on within a particular segment I say cross our a NE business as a whole right? So, Then the.
Ah, okay I.
And I hear what problem.
Best relevance and value that I can provide our partners is providing them with is a couple of things one here's the challenges that we have here's the data points that prove that as Well. So that way when I'masking a partner to please provide something back to me. Um, with like a go-to-market approach or something that you know shows demonstrated value. Um, it's not just made up. It's not a oh maybe we should you know go to market with generative ai why is that relevant to this particular cohort of customers.Probably not.
Bit afraid stop? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes, Well so.
Um, it's probably more relevant over in the Enterprise agreement at the moment but it's going to be relevant anywhere but that's the thing is me providing that information back to them and then coaching them around what does that look like from our side right? So, it's.
There’re 2 angles. There's one how you then communicate that to your customers and then your other customer however is us and how youcommunicate to us is very different to the way that you communicate with your customers. So
I Love that I love that it's so sorry to put ah put you off there. But that's so ah, real because there is there is a language but there's also a particular focus and I think what your kind of us is saying is like.
I'm going to give you the um code to the safe. Okay, but you've still got to remember the code. You've still got to make sure that you put the right sequence together and you've got to open that safe right? Yeah.
Hundred percent 100% yeah so, I'm going to give you all the keys I'm going to give you the codes I'm going to give you everything I'm just going to give I'm going to give you the door to the gate and if you want to open that you've just got to do this in a particular way. But as soon as you do that, and we've seen this.
Yeah, I'm just going to need. Yeah, yeah.
When partners when we coach partners in a particular way, and we go please communicate like this ah like solve problems like this do this with this and that's just for us right? It's just how you communicate with us as a particular vendor if you do that, I've seen Partners escalate.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely and um, you know when we think about in when I think about investible partnerships, I think like um to be investible, um in in partner elevate. We talk about.
Key outcomes. Um that partners need to ever focus on um, the first outcome is this and I'd love your understanding of how this plays out the first outcome is we talk about being decisive in the action that they take so how decisive can you be in taking action. Um.
And this is an element of um I'm going to be able to sit in front of a vendor who's presenting the opportunity in front of me and I'm going to be quick and go yep online. That's my target market. That's my customer I have the skills. Let's go.
Or um, no, that's not my focus. Um, and ah, how many times do you think that the size of action is not what you see um and that slows you down.
Ah, 99% of the time consistently. So, I'll give you a great example. Um, and I'll leave names out but there's a particular partner that we've been working with that I'm working with at the moment. Um, and there's other teams that are asking them to do things and they're like.
We want to say no, but we but we don't know how like, and hang on a second. Let's just be really clear. It's not something that you want to do There's no value in doing what you've been asked to do but you're continuing to do it because X y Ed person has asked you to do this thing.
My first question is where's the data to back this up for 1thing like prove to me that that like your default answer should be no and the default answer of being no is because a does it provide any sort of differentiation for us. Where's the value. Um, and where's the data.
Yeah, yeah, like that's. This all Pin is.
Back this up So for vendors asking you to do X Y Z say well that's fine. But I'd love to see an ah Roi on that can you show me the commercial construct around why I need to be doing this because at the moment that if it doesn't fit within.
That Yeah, that's what.
Your value prop or your differentiation or your product set or your practices. Um, yeah, you must ask serious questions. Um, so yeah, I see that all the time.
Yeah, and ah, but what why do you think? why do you thin people don't say no, why do you think? Partners don't say now I'll give an example from um, my days of Microsoft um, and how I pinpointed I actually pin pointed that.
Um, they wouldn't say no to me when I asked them to do something, or you know put an opportunity forward because I think that they feared if they said no to me, I would never ask them again. I would go No, you're um, like.
Like you said no to me last time. So, I'm not going to bring an opportunity to you I'm not going to talk to you about what I'm thinking is that valid I mean is that.
Yeah, a hundred percent it is what that's it’s the outcome of that is not valid, but the fear is valid right? Absolutely um I had the exact same question. It's like well why aren't you saying? no, it's like ah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Because we don't want to say no because we don't want to be seen as that partner that says no I was like well don't be the partner that says yes, all the time because what are you delivering like how are you going to deliver that like what's the outcome here fit for you guys as a business is it actually going to grow your business and make you more profitable. No.
Says that yeah you a? ah yeah, and this is where it comes to the second part. So, the first part.
About being invest about partner in terms of an outcome are always um, you know you got to be able to take decisive action and there's awhole bunch of things you need to do within your business to be able to dothat. The second part that kind of goes to what you just spoke about is wellactually um.
I Need predictable I need some predictability about my business to be able to make these decisions and the predictability is more than the operational side of how I run my business and what we typically see is thatUm, there are a lot of.
Technically focused I mean the technically focused partnering ecosystem in channel is very technical heavy business. Ah business doesn't come naturally and a lot of the time they spin in 150 different plates.Ah.
Partner Leadership teams and management teams. So, it’s really hard for them to make those types of types of decisions because it's like well I don't really know but I'm going to do this because it feels right?But what I'm hearing from you is actually. We Want you to say no as a vendor and we want you to just give us clearer a clearer focus for where we where you are best situated so we can get you in to those types of opportunity where customers are that right? So.
Correct that's a hundred percent absolutely I would muchrather a partner be flat out and go that's not in our wheelhouse or that's notsomething we're focused on right now. Um, so no, um. We are focused over hereand we've got clear differentiation. We're very good at what we do over hereand don't be afraid to say no as well I would much rather a partner say no thansay yes and be overloaded with a whole bunch of stuff that they're doing thatis a isn't actually providing any value to them. As you know in terms of thepartnership or be their profit or just taking them away from doing other thingsthat they should be focused on um and b it's just it's just too much stuff andthey just don't deliver anything at that point, or it's not delivered. Well so yeah,I agree with you I think being decisive.
Your ah you are perfectly able and please say no if there issomething that's being asked of you that doesn't make sense or question it atthe very least and say why like and then come back to and say you want me toInvest X amount of my time to do X Y Z why.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and really that is not something you as a vendor can help with, right? So, you can't really help with that decisiveness that's something that actually has to come.
Simple as that. Yeah, get more data.
From within ah the particular the particular partner and Ithink that there's a lot that um partners need to be able to unpack themselvesand get clear on before they can be decisive. Um, so we covered decisiveness wecovered predictability around the way they operate the business. The third thing we think about investible businesses or investiblepartnerships is um this thing around. We've probably touched on it around therelevance side. But um, how do what's your advice or guidance for partnerswhere you know Amazon. You know, global vendor industry focus. Um, you're inthis quarterly cycle this annual plan. You're delivering a massive amount ofrevenue with the results that you just released now. Um, you're going to changetax right. You're going to change industry focus. You're going to changeproduct focus or segment focus. Um, what do you think? Partners need to be goodat to be able to um, follow the bouncing ball with you if that's a way to do itluck.
What should they actually be focused on to make sure thatthey are in a cadence with you guys’ and.
Yeah, it's a really good one. Um you hit the nail on thehead regular cadence is key so staying very close to the relationships that youbuild right? Relationships are key for a particular like particularly for usbut understanding who to have a relationship with as Well so um, the account Team's definitely great group of peopleto have relationships with but your partner management team and if you've gotit partner sales team because they're the ones that are really close towhatever's going on inside the business. Um, and then having the ability to.
Not flip and change what you're doing because you need tostay relevant to your own business and things like that. But that relevanceaspect is really key. So, if you know that you know yes, we are you know goingdown the industry lens. For example, then come out to us with industry-focusedsolutions or industry Artifacts. Suggest. Well, we focused on these industries,and these are our touch points. These are how our products and capabilitiesalign to those particular Industries. So, there’s the relevance aspect to it.Um, and then the segments as Well. So being very close. Um, you know towhatever that. But.
Whatever the vendor that you're aligned to is working on. So yeah, I always say maintain relationships ultimately.
Okay, excellent, excellent. So, we coming to the end of ourfirst podcast and it's kind of I think it's gone. Okay, how do you feel thisbesides the um.
But it's been fun. It's been fun I can't believe it's goneso fast to be honest.
Besides the sirens they were they were in the backgroundthere. So yeah, I um will be known for the first. Ah first podcast where webrought some emergency services but there's 1 thing I wanted to kind of end on.Um when I think about investable partnerships.
Um, how do you in your role. Um I think driving partnerimpact is every partnership leader’s kind of it's that goal. It's like how Istop battling for success and how do I drive more.
Partner impact. So, what do you? What do you do to? um inyour in your role in your job. What do you do to drive more partner impact.
Ah, well, um, oftentimes I actually feel like Cupid A lot ofthe times where you're doing a bit of matchmaking and a bit of relationshipbuilding and stuff like that. So, there is a lot of that. Um, where you'rebuilding those relationships, but it does it continues to come down to thatrelevance thing. So, I want our like. So
As I said before like I've got intimate knowledge around andwe all do right within us like my colleagues for example, will have intimateknowledge around certain parts of our Ans business or you know our globalbusiness as a whole I want to make sure the way that I'm driving impact and umthe way that I want our partners to drive impact is.
Use the information that we provide you. So, if I'm tellingyou that we've got these types of challenges these 4 key challenges within thisparticular segment use that come back to us with here's how we're helpingcustomers do that? Um, but I'm also then going how do I help. From a salesmaturity perspective inside our partners because as you said before a lot ofthem are very tech heavy So helping them mature their sales process and theirsales vernacular to be able to then have you know great conversations with usbut even better conversations with them with their customers.
Because I also want these partners to build growth likebuild themselves as a growth Engine Absolutely be profitable. Um and have youknow great relationships with not just us but with any vendor that they have asWell. So, I want them to succeed desperately I want them to Grow. We can help you. In certain aspects of that but to yourpoint a lot of the time you actually have to take that first step as well toyou know, go through that motion. So, but we're here to help.
Ah, oh lovely. Okay, so you here to help So for the audienceum in if they're in the as in region. Um, how do they get a hold of you. Okay.
Best ways on LinkedIn absolutely look me up on LinkedInKelly Griffin, you'll see me on that from AWS I'm absolutely here to helpanytime in any way that we possibly can.
Okay, excellent. Kelly thank you so much. Um I'm soappreciative for you to come on the first show. So, um when we hit themilestones of um. we can always say we at least we did one decent show. Ah okayman all the verse. Thanks very much right cheers by.
Ah, right? we kicked it off mate. It's been an absoluteprivilege man. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you, bye.