abstract blog hero image for a blog post / review of Bob Moore’s Ecosystem-Led Growth: A Blueprint for Sales and Marketing Success Using the Power of Partnerships.

A Review of Bob Moore’s “Ecosystem-Led Growth”: Partners are the Future

On a team call a few weeks ago, our CRO recommended that I check out Bob Moore’s new book, Ecosystem-Led Growth: A Blueprint for Sales and Marketing Success Using the Power of Partnerships (2024). 

Despite working as an ISV marketer for 2 years (and various B2C and B2B2C startups for the past 6+), I only partnered with the Cloud Alliance team once, on a project announcing our launch on the ServiceNow Store. As a marketer without much partnership experience, I was immediately drawn into Moore’s broader argument: future B2B revenue growth will be driven by ecosystems of partnerships, not the traditional marketing, sales, and partnership tactics that have grown stale.  

Moore, who candidly admits how he could have seen more success with his first company, RJMetrics (acquired by Magento in 2016), if he had stopped trying to be everything to everybody and solidified a lane and focus that solved a unique problem for his target audience.   At RJMetrics, Moore explains, the company tried being the all-in-one solution – both the data warehouse and the analysis. His business was later wiped away by data warehouses that were better integrated with other solutions. 

When Amazon Web Services launched Redshift in 2012, it quickly became the gold standard for data warehousing. An economy built around APIs emerged. And the appeal of all-in-one solutions faded. With the tech boom underway, businesses were looking to build strategic tech stacks, which meant choosing solutions that 1) integrated easily together and 2) offered best-in-class, specialized capabilities. You might, for lack of a better phrase, think of ecosystem-led growth as a boom in strategic middleware. 

A headstart didn’t save RJMetrics from effectively being wiped out by AWS and Looker. Moore sold his once high-flying company for parts. From the rubble, he and his business partner developed Stitch Data, “one of the first players in the ETL layer of the modern data stack.” The irony, of course, is that the second time around, Moore quickly “formed huge partnerships with the likes of Looker and AWS, the exact products that had precipitated our demise.” 

Moore’s cautionary tale is illustrative of a larger point: there’s no point in doing everything, or doing it alone. A payroll company is going to be much more successful with a network of best-in-class benefits and 401(k) providers. A small business trying to get you to create an online account will fare much better if you can sign up through your existing Google, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. And B2B platforms have the highest chance of succeeding if they seamlessly integrate with the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce, as well as the complementary solutions in their ecosystem. 

Growth by partnerships might seem obvious when thought of in the context of building your tech stack, but the cloud alliance and partnership function is weighed down by baggage. “Historically, partnerships are kept around not because of what they deliver by existing but because of the fear of what would happen if they did not exist at all,” Moore writes. Partnerships were associated with “hugs and chugs,” that expensive but necessary glue to keep certain lights. Partnerships were thought of as unscalable, a function that – unlike sales and marketing – you just couldn’t measure. 

If Bob Moore’s name sounds familiar, it could be because he is now the CEO and co-founder of Crossbeam –  “an Ecosystem-Led Growth (ELG) platform that generates leads, closes deals, and grows companies by leveraging partner ecosystems” – strategically makes the case for his own product, as well as solutions like Invisory’s own Partner Success Tracker™.

  • What would happen if more businesses began tracking the ROI on various partnerships, from PDMs at hyperscalers and PAMs at Salesforce to system integrators (SIs) like Deloitte? 
  • How can Partner leaders make the case to the CRO to invest in Partnerships, including cloud marketplace relationships? 
  • What steps do organizations need to take to develop Partnerships into a steady revenue stream, with data showing which human relationships drive the most value? 

If Moore is right, then it makes sense that businesses need to start investing in solutions like Crossbeam and Invisory to take their partnership strategy to the next level. You might say that Moore (along with Sam and Jason Yarbourough and Mac Redding on a recent episode of the Friends with Benefits Podcast) agrees that we need to put the R, relationship, back in CRM, customer relationship management. 

Throughout his book, Moore also provides an overview of contemporary marketing and sales strategies and why they’re failing businesses today. We all know that targeted ads are annoying and that SEO has prompted too much unhelpful, noisy content to fill Google’s gutters. And don’t even get us started on the current state of SDRs and cold calling, which Moore describes as “a dying game.” 

In making the bold case that SDRs should become PDRs, or partner development representatives, Moore misses an opportunity to explain how we might use ecosystem thinking to re-invigorate the spammy tactics of many revenue teams. Develop SEO-driven thought leadership that is so intriguing, it’ll be captured in search engines and shared widely by your network. If your prospect reads a brilliant or helpful article on your company’s blog that came up on a Google Featured Snippet, you’re already taking the first step in partnerships: helping others without asking for anything in return. And sure, cold emails from inexperienced SDRs are annoying and largely useless. But what if you created a cold email sequence that provided real value – that left readers walking away having learned something new about themselves, their business, or the world? Just last week I met with a vendor who sent me 3 well written cold emails and left 3 kind cold voicemails (my phone is always on Do Not Disturb). Thanks to good timing, that sequence might lead to a fruitful partnership.

For marketing and sales professionals who are newer to partnerships, Moore’s book is a helpful, albeit occasionally polemical, introduction to the world of partnership – acronyms, the key players, fascinating anecdotes from B2B solutions I’m familiar with (Tableau, Gong), as well as brands I hadn’t heard of (LeanData and Procore). For more seasoned revenue leaders, Moore’s book offers advice for developing an organization-wide partnership strategy, including helpful tips to get buy-in from executives and ideas to push existing revenue methodologies to the next level. I could even see the book appearing in a business school syllabus for a course on marketing, sales, or big tech’s impact on the economy. 

The question Moore leaves us with, then, is not about whether businesses should invest in Partnerships (emphatically, they should). Rather, it’s a larger question – both practical and philosophical – about what it means 1) to formalize Partnerships as a function in a revenue organization and 2) to build a business around what matters most: our relationships with other humans.

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