The Partnered Podcast

056: Educating Execs on Partnerships with Nancy Ridge

Episode Summary

Welcome to The Partnered Podcast Episode 056 with Nancy Ridge, Founder at Ridge Innovative. Enjoy!

Episode Notes

Join host Adam Michalski as he interviews Nancy Ridge, Founder & President at Ridge Innovative

Nancy and Adam discuss how she goes about educating executives on the value partnerships can bring to your company. We also discuss creating a culture of that promotes innovation. 

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Episode Transcription

Welcome to The Partnered Podcast, the podcast where we interview C-level enterprise partnership leaders from the world's best SaaS companies. The goal is to give you an inside view on how leading organizations drive the most partner sourced and influenced revenue out of channel sales, partnerships and alliances.

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Adam Michalski: [00:01:02] Welcome back to The Partnered Podcast! Super excited to have Nancy Ridge on today, Founder and President at Ridge Innovative. And Nancy, just to kick things off, can you tell us a little bit about your professional background and a little bit more about Ridge Innovative? 

Nancy Ridge: [00:01:14] Sure. Absolutely. And by the way, just want to start off by saying thank you, Adam, for inviting me to be on your podcast.

I really am a fan. I listen to this podcast regularly and I always get something out of it. So it's a big honor to be asked to be a part of it today. So thanks again. 

Adam Michalski: [00:01:32] My pleasure. My pleasure. Yeah. Thank you so much for joining. 

Nancy Ridge: [00:01:34] So my background is Ben in channel sales and technology. I've been serving enterprise customers in that space, going all the way back to my beginnings at Honeywell selling mainframe computers to the big three automotive companies in Detroit, back in the seventies.

So that dates me a little bit, but it's, it is interesting if anybody ever wants stories about that time period. You know, just ring me up, but you know, since then I've had the opportunity to continue in channel. I got to be a part of, of pioneering telecom, expense management back in the nineties. And since then, I've pretty much sat on all sides of the table and the channel.

I've been an agent partner. I've been a carrier, I've been a primary agent. And today I serve as a trusted. Advisor and consultant, and along the way, I've gotten to be of service in nonprofits and profits alike, serving on boards and found in the Alliance of channel women which is a, a nonprofit that's dedicated to women in the channel.

So it's been a great journey. So at Ridge innovative today, we are influencers we're affiliates and we're distributors of digital technology, mostly for. Some enablement. And I like to say our role is an ecosystem. Sherpa are our mission is to guide business leaders, to discover partnerships, technology, and resources that really enable them to either create or join or find their place in the digital world of ecosystems.

And we essentially do that. In two ways, one as a trusted advisor with access to over 150 different service providers across the spectrum, really of everything, including cloud connectivity, network software data center. And of course you can . And guided by customer business outcome requirements. We bring the solution and we support and deliver the results.

That's the first way. And the second way is through consulting services, either to organizations who are seeking to build a channel or ecosystem, or by working directly with CEOs and leadership, either a one-on-one or with their teams. And I'm so happy to say that. Original beta by itself is part of an incredible ecosystem that supports the latest in channel strategy and also in leadership development.


Adam Michalski: [00:04:05] amazing. Yeah. It's yeah. You definitely keep yourself busy. That's true. 

Nancy Ridge: [00:04:09] Yes.

Adam Michalski: [00:04:13] I mean, just a little bit more insight into like, who were the types of clients that you typically work with? Is it, you know, SAS companies? Is it, you know, just broader B to B, can you speak a little bit to that? 

Nancy Ridge: [00:04:23] I have it in my portfolio today, existing clients include really, I have carrier, I have a a connectivity partner a cloud services provider.

So I'd really kind of classify them as an MSP. And I also have a couple of agent partners who are independent agents who are out there, you know, just selling services directly to end users. Awesome. 

Adam Michalski: [00:04:46] Awesome. Okay, cool. So we'll dive, I'll loop back around to that for sure. Cause I have a bunch of questions, but what I'd love to start with is just some questions around kind of what you're seeing with revenue leaders and how they approach partnerships.

And more specifically, like, I mean, what do you see that that's working and what's. 

Nancy Ridge: [00:05:03] Well, you know, the pandemic of course, accelerated digital transformation, including the need for ecosystems. And yet what I'm definitely seeing is how many leaders are still under pressure in some cases to survive, but in many cases to grow.

New economy and as they are doing so you know, there has been challenges in embracing or implementing new approaches to partnerships and alliances. So on top of that, you have lots of issues like cybersecurity, which, what does that in the news every day now, like a new significant hack that governments have of IP.

Software adoption technology integrations are a big deal. And I'd say as well, really understanding the customer journey and how that's changed and dealing with their own real issues of adapting cultures within their, their organizations. So I think there's a, a real push to redefined channels and alliances right now, both internally and externally.

So. Just simply understanding like how the various types of partners work together or how they work at all. Like who is transactional who is more affiliate Alliance or influential, and also like how directly. Teams can work together with channel partners effectively. So all of these are breaking the traditional models across the board, really from contracts to marketing, to sales and to support.

So to give you an example, like one of the clients that I'm working with now, Is looking at how they can expand their alliances. They really want to take their brand and expand the recognition of their brand grow their market share and looking at the various alliances that are out there. It's like, how do we interact with them?

Particularly if it's a non transactional relationship. You know, what is the process, you know, for onboarding those types of alliances? How do we measure, you know, the KPIs? How do we also make sure that everybody's kind of got some skin in the game, whether it's through certification or, you know, enablement or even marketing funds.

So I'm seeing a lot of. Change along those lines. And what seems to be working best is where you have leaders who are really willing to allow these processes to be somewhat dynamic and to encourage the resources that they're working with, whether it's their legal teams or their operations teams to have a growth mindset.

In this process, as opposed to falling back on maybe the old ways of doing 

Adam Michalski: [00:07:56] things. I think it's so important because I think that, you know, and I talk about this frequently, but most organizations are just, you know, fantastic frankly at going direct and selling direct and they understand that motion extremely well.

But when it comes to ecosystems, you know, especially, you know, with growing or growth stage companies or, you know, frankly, even companies who've just been, you know, doing direct for so long. It may sometimes be like swimming upstream for them to understand, you know, w this motion and the benefits that it can bring and how to execute against it.

So H how do you go about educating, you know, revenue leaders at, you know, those types of companies, both growth and like established companies on the value partnerships can bring to their company. 

Nancy Ridge: [00:08:39] Well, you know, there is a lot of data out there. Thank goodness Adam and I lean on the analyst firms, you know, like Forrester and Accenture and gardener, they help a lot, even IDC, you know, there's, there's plenty of studies that are, are coming to the fore.

But it also takes, you know, boots on the ground. So, you know, I've recently affiliated with Janet shines over at the JS group and with her team, I get to be part of that. Highly experienced you know, group of channel experts who bring really gears of experience of leadership from all aspects of the channel to show revenue leaders like real time, examples of what's possible in the channel.

Also show them, you know, what are their competitors doing well and where are the opportunities. To fill those gaps and we really get to help them design programs that take into account all those players across the channel ecosystem, with specific guidance on how they can, they can serve not only those players, but leverage their own product and service in the process.

And, you know, I think it's, it's just a matter of, you know, rolling up our sleeves, looking at the data and you know, creating newly from there. Yeah, that makes 

Adam Michalski: [00:09:53] a lot of sense. And I think, I mean, yeah, huge shout out to all of those, you know analysts who are putting up such amazing numbers and data on exactly what partnerships can bring to organizations.

Because I think that that data is so important when you're having that discussion, particularly with the C-suite on why they should be investing in, in the ecosystem. What I also think you mentioned earlier, too, that's also really fascinating. It's just. Know, like, I think one of the things that's really important to talk about is, you know the culture of an organization and what I'd love to kind of ask you is how do you work with clients to essentially create a culture that promotes not only innovation from a leadership perspective, but also, you know, innovation from a partnering perspective.

Nancy Ridge: [00:10:35] That's a great question. And it's not easy to do. I do believe however, Adam, that you have to start at the top. The CEO really sets the pace for the culture in their organization. And one of the ways that I like to do that is starting with that, that leader, that CEO, if possible, or whoever is, you know, leading the charge on at the level I'm working with is to really help them take their own inventory first regarding their minds.

And that can be tough to do, but, you know, looking at ourselves to see, am I fixed in old ideas or am I focused on growth on learning on adapting? You know, recently I had a guest on my podcast, a guy named gray Chenowith. He is the CEO of a company called . And he spoke of trust as a platform, creating a culture where employees feel safe to put forth new ideas, to try new things and to ask for support both up the ladder and down the ladder.

And I also get to. The latest tools for assessments and some of them are built on AI today. Things that allow us to identify, you know, like what are our core drivers, what are our core values and how can we use those to get the most out of what we do? As well as what our teams do and really maximizing, you know, those human assets and minimizing the risks.

And, you know, there's a, there's a couple of things I wanted to mention in particular, one of them is there was this. A survey done by Forbes, in conjunction with Salesforce late last summer, where they surveyed like over 300 companies that were like $20 million in revenue and above. And they were asking them like, really you know, how, how are you addressing.

The culture with things changed so much, you know, with, with people now work from home or hybrid, you know, we're now in this new transition where, where people are going back and what they found in that survey primarily was that it really starts. Employee experience that, you know, building a culture that creates a good employee experience leads directly to a good customer experience, which leads directly to revenue for that company.

So, you know, I find that a fascinating report because there's no way to change that formula. You can't start. Revenue or customer experience. You really have to start with building that culture and acknowledging people where they're at and helping them find balance. I think, you know, that's and there has to be trust.

Both ways in order for that to happen. And if I could just expand a little further, I was speaking with a client in a large corporate environment where they were being advised on what was called negative bias to guard against. In their cultures to guard against the temptation to imagine that if your direct report doesn't respond back to your email or your text instantly, that doesn't mean that, you know, they're taking a nap or they've gone to the beach.

It means they just. Might be away for a moment from their, their desk or their computer. So we have to really guard against our own human inclinations, you know, to jump to those negative conclusions, which I found that fascinating and last but not least dear to my heart is diversity equality. And inclusion.

And I can't talk about culture without mentioning those things because they are top of mind for almost every organization that I know of today. And almost all of the, the larger enterprises have created. Programs internally to address those areas and to really, to put into action. Some of the things that we're learning that make a difference.

And I believe that without looking at these various aspects of culture, that you can fall into the trap of not performing on that formula for success. 

Adam Michalski: [00:14:45] Yeah. So many good nuggets of information in there. I think, I mean, to your point, right? I really love the anecdote about, you know, you have to start with the employee because if your employees aren't happy, you're, they're never going to do a good job at executing against the vision of the company.

So, but, you know, conversely, if they are happy and they're going to do, you know, the best that they possibly can, which will put you in the best position to succeed. So yeah, so much interesting stuff there. And I also think like yeah, I'd be remiss not to point out that. Nancy hosts the, a culture of innovation podcast, which I would highly recommend everyone 

Nancy Ridge: [00:15:18] check out.

We've got a guest on yourself, 

Adam Michalski: [00:15:21] which I've also been a guest on. But yeah, it's been, I mean, it's a really great, you know, just way of thinking about kind of the, the how impactful culture is on organizations and really well. I mean, ultimately how much it actually does drive the bottom line. So sticking with the topic of innovation.

Would I be curious to get your take on is you're obviously at the cutting edge of, you know, a lot of the partnerships space, what excites you the most about the innovation happening specifically in a partnership 

Nancy Ridge: [00:15:48] text-based? Well I know this might sound like it's coming from left field, but the flow of equity funds is pretty darn exciting.

There is, you know, Unprecedented amounts of money flowing through the tech space and it's flowing all the way to the partner level. I mean, this influx of cash is, is really fueling innovation and channels right now. I mean, you know, look at the tech data. Synnex merger 57 billion. Yeah, that's, that's pretty intense.

And the business model of distributors, you know, it, it is changing too. You know, like these funds are really having an impact now distributors who used to have, you know, a layer between them and the end user that has disappeared. And so we're really seeing how those partnerships are changing and how, you know, organizations who are distributing their product and service through distributors are basically entrusting a channel that in some ways is new at serving the end-user.

And, you know, we hope that some of these, these large cash infusions will help to fund some good changes within the organization so they can make. But, you know, you also have all this consolidation and the telecom channel with ongoing M and a activity, but you know, one of the other strategies, I think that's evolving is we're moving the transactional model to marketplaces in some cases, which is, you know, an outgrowth of ecosystem, right.

And that is going to aid traditional agent partners in serving their clients. But there's a lot of little bits and pieces to work through on that, on both sides. So, you know, we're seeing also huge MNA activity in the data center space, you know, which is also. You know, what's happening in the, in the tech environment, you know, there's just a tremendous amount.

I think last week there was a $6.7 billion deal that got announced in data center. And all of this is just rearranging how tech is arriving to the end user and how it's affecting the supply chain. And of course that cash is fueling all of these new partners and this new innovation. So I, I have to say I'm following the money a little bit right 

Adam Michalski: [00:18:05] now, and I don't blame you.

I mean, especially with numbers that large I guess so where do you see like the, the future of just B2B partnerships more broadly heading and I guess, you know, one follow up question to that would be like, how are you working with your clients to make sure that 

Nancy Ridge: [00:18:19] they're prepared? Hmm, well, you know, I see the movement to ecosystems, you know, continuing to evolve and begin to mature a little.

You know, just last week, I got to moderate a panel with players from kind of across the spectrum. One of them was a global software company. Who's building distribution through MSPs globally, you know, across across the globe. And they admitted that they're expanding their partnerships so they can focus on their core competency and expand the value to the end user openly acknowledging look, we're not good.

At everything. Another panelist was a consulting firm that is increasing their offerings to ISV like this company, as well as enterprise to help them kind of get over that initial hump of going beyond the monolithic ecosystem and tightening their governance of policies, you know, with IP, et cetera.

And then my friends over at tidbit, you know, who have a platform they're still. Really just pushing the boundaries of delivering enablement at scale to these highly dynamic and competitive alliances, which I think is so interesting. And of course, you know, in the telco and the mobility space, Which is where I've been operating quite a bit, you know, I've been helping those organizations really change their understanding of the roles of these various partnerships and, you know, really helping them understand like even how to compensate.

And support these distribution channels in a way that compliments their model and also gives them an opportunity to be disruptors in the innovations in the tech space, by, you know, bringing to market, you know, solutions that perhaps they have never even thought of partnering with before. So You know, at Ridge innovative, we're just really looking to come alongside our clients to help them understand, you know, how they can leverage this expansion and this morphing of channels, including direct, by the way, looking at direct, you mentioned direct earlier as just another channel.

So, you know, it's pretty heady stuff. 

Adam Michalski: [00:20:34] Yeah. That's it, it's a great point at the end of the day. Exactly. There's all different ways to, you know, run the, go to market playbook. Direct is one of those and directs another one. And I think under indirect, it becomes interesting because there's just so many different ways of, you know, leveraging partners in the broader ecosystem and marketplaces, you know, to, to really drive value for your organization.

And as we've seen, you know, most of the largest companies. You know, do this extremely successfully. So there clearly is, you know, a proper playbook to do that. But ultimately, you know, a lot of organizations need to rely on folks such as yourself to really educate them on how to do so. So I guess the final question that I had for you, Nancy, is I mean, if anybody is looking to kind of leverage your expertise or, you know, just want to partner or work with a orig innovative, like how do they get it?

Nancy Ridge: [00:21:19] Well, it's pretty easy. I've done my best to try to make it easy. We do have a website www dot Ridge, and I'm present on LinkedIn, Nancy Ridge. You can also email me and And of course I always say check. Culture of innovation on iTunes and SoundCloud. And, you know, and I want to end too by just adding one more thing.

Adam, which is, I think I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the part that companies like partnered IO play, because just today I was on a call with a client and we were talking about expanding their Alliance program. And I mentioned to them how important it is to look at. Software and the tech stack, like what you're doing to help organizations really determine like where those alliances can be practically utilized.

And so I want to just say thank you for being an innovator as part of this ecosystem to bring the technology, you know, to help with things like. You know, account mapping and attribution and all of those areas that give us the ability to be effective tactically and also to strategically understand attribution and how we can use that to grow as well.

So just a little shout out and a thank you. 

Adam Michalski: [00:22:41] My pleasure, my pleasure. And I mean, yeah, I would never, you know, never matter what that folks is yourself going out there and preaching, you know and why all of this matters. So it's always a partnership, you know pun intended between, you know, all the folks in the space to make sure that these companies can be successful.

So, Nancy, thank you so much for having you on. Thank you. And what I'll do is for the folks listening, we'll go ahead and we'll link out to a regenerated website as well. The culture of innovation podcast. But also, yeah, be sure just to reach out to Nancy on LinkedIn I can definitely vouch for the fact that she is a super responsive and just a, a pleasure to work with.

So, so, yeah, Nancy, thanks again for taking the time. My pleasure. Alright. Talk to you soon. Okay.

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