Leveraging the domino effect for agency growth with HubSpot’s Brian Garvey

Blog post image

“What should I be doing to grow my business?” 

That’s the question a few lucky agency leaders got to ask Brian Garvey, VP of HubSpot’s Solutions Partner Program, at this year’s INBOUND event in Boston. Lucky for all of us, Brian agreed to share his answer to that question – and more – in a quick conversation with Teamwork.com’s Head of Partnerships, Logan Lyles, earlier this month. 

Brian covers a new way of looking at a frequently used analogy, his delight in working with customers that are hungry for growth, and how he finds the time to think big and solve complex problems no matter how full his calendar gets.  

Listen to the interview or read the full transcript now. 

Wistia video thumbnail

Logan Lyles: Has your agency's growth hit a plateau? Are you looking to find the ways to unlock future growth and continue scaling your business? Then I think you're going to love this conversation between myself, Logan Lyles, head of partnerships here at Teamwork.com and Brian Garvey, VP of the worldwide solutions partner ecosystem at HubSpot.

We discussed the domino effect, a way for any organization, including an agency like yours, to find small areas of momentum to build on to unlock future exponential growth. 

Brian Garvey: We were on a call with a customer in the healthcare and life sciences space. We had brought some brilliant experts to the call, really smart folks, who were attempting to solve an email and deliverability challenge in that space. It's a notoriously difficult space from that perspective. 

The team got on the call and worked through some of the complexity and came up with a solution that seemed like it was going to work. What happened next actually was what was most interesting to me.

Everyone hung up the phone. We sort of air high fived and congratulated one another that we were able to make this work. Folks hung up the phone and went on to the next call. What struck me was the value of the solution that had just been created on that call: If you can take that value, that intellectual property, that had been created and package it up and repeat it – you can create something really compelling. I think there is an opportunity in that moment. We recognized that there were more customers who could grow better. 

It made me think back to a framework that I am fond of, which is the domino effect. And when I say domino effect, typically the first thing everybody thinks about is a series of equally sized dominoes. You sort of tip the first domino and the row of dominoes falls and it's fun.

What's actually really interesting to me about the domino effect and about dominoes [in general] is that a domino can topple another domino that's roughly one and a half times its mass, its size. So if you start with a domino that is five millimeters tall in a row of 29 dominoes – by the 29th domino, it's as big as the Empire State Building.

So, five millimeters and in just 29 dominoes you have something massive. 

I was thinking through this call with the customer about how that could essentially be a five millimeter domino. And if we took the opportunity to really package up and productize that solution into something others can repeat, we go from just toppling one domino to something that can have a massive impact on the industry or a segment, or just enabling lots of customers to scale better from that particular solution.

So, we wrote a narrative on that. (Before I joined HubSpot, I led strategy and enablement at Amazon Web Services and narrative writing is what we do.) We wrote a narrative on this concept and made the case that as HubSpot scales and helps customers scale better, one of the ways we can maximize the impact we're having in helping millions grow better is to package up that IP. Then partners can go out and deliver it on our behalf and sort of learn and grow together with us, and [we can] help lots of customers scale better.

Logan Lyles: Let's double down on what worked in that story. I love what you said there about unlocking a five millimeter domino – toppling over 28 more can get to the size of the Empire State Building. We’re talking less than 30 iterations there.

What did you do immediately after that meeting to kind of call a timeout and say, “Hey, hold on a second. There's something that we can bottle up here,” so that partners can start to think about [what they should do] if they have those “aha” moments. 

What should be the first or second thing that they should do right after that “aha?”

Brian Garvey: A couple of things happened. Internally at HubSpot we wrote the narrative on scaling better together with partners. It led to the strategy that we heard Yamini [Rangan, CEO of HubSpot] talk about in February. Our intent is to be the platform and our go-to-market [strategy] is to scale through expert partners, and that's what we're doing. 

For partners that are thinking,“How do I potentially replicate a domino effect in my business?,” a couple of plays that are helpful are things like taking advantage of the sales that partners already have.

I’ve talked to a lot of partners that are doing incredible things with some really recognizable brands and logos. I think that that's an opportunity for partners to drive up the ROI on their marketing and sales and servicing investments. Have those logos captured in case studies and in customer references. 

In my experience, I've found businesses can be somewhat risk averse. If you can point out how others in the industry are doing new and creative things, it can often help unlock that domino effect and what might otherwise be one sale turns into something that can create a cascading effect. 

I also think overlaying an industry framework over partner sales is something relatively straightforward that [businesses] can do.

This isn't necessarily investing a lot more time and energy or resources into creating an industry expertise or competency, but rather recognizing where it may already exist. I see a lot of partners who don't look at their sales with that sort of lens, and those scenarios can all sort of seem like disconnected individual sales. But when we overlay something like industry or vertical, you start to maybe see some clusters of opportunities, some expertise that has already been generated within the organization which, in my mind, represents that initial five-millimeter domino. 

For me it's a mindset of always looking for opportunities to drive up the return on the investment, in selling and servicing customers to help them grow better. 

Logan Lyles: What do you see some partners doing well to balance that need for repeatability (for scale) and creativity (to drive the best work possible)? 

Brian Garvey:We have this saying, I can't exactly remember where I read it, but it goes, “Work on the business while you work in the business.”

And the idea is that as you're delivering on that engagement for that client, make sure you're working on your business by writing it down, making it repeatable with playbooks, content, assets. What are those things that can be repurposed to drive, follow on, or domino effect value for future clients.

That's what I would [recommend thinking about] day in and day out.

Logan Lyles:[You’ve made] a really good point there. And something tactical that we did at the agency I helped run for a bit…We used EOS as a framework for our Level 10 meetings and [when we] identified issues, we’d put them on an issues list. If your leadership team has an L10 meeting every week, you hop out of that customer meeting where you say, “Hey, there's, there's something that we could replicate here.” You can put it on the issues list and literally ask the question, “How could we repeat this?” Or “What should we do to repeat this with other clients?” 

It’s very similar to what you're saying here – find a way to take the next step [when you’ve identified an issue]. And then park it somewhere that you're gonna come back to. For a lot of folks, that's an issues list on an L10 meeting.

Brian, again, coming back to what we were talking about coming fresh off INBOUND. I'm curious, you were having a lot of conversations, I'm sure with partners. We passed each other at one point and you were talking to three or four different partners. What was one question you got from partners that surprised you?

Brian Garvey: I think the question that surprised me most in a really sort of delightful way was, “What should I be doing to grow my business?”

I probably shouldn't have been surprised by that question. It makes sense. The degree to which our partners lean in and attempt to grow better with HubSpot and they're open to change, it demonstrates a growth mindset of our partner community and an eagerness to learn and grow better together. 

Logan Lyles:I would absolutely echo that. A lot of times in the agency world, there's this idea that most agencies want to get to a certain point and plateau and just maximize their profits. But I was also surprised in a lot of conversations I was having, at least with HubSpot partners as a segment of the agency world more broadly, there was a lot of hunger for growth.

Since the theme of growth has been a common thread throughout this conversation, what's one habit personally that's impacted your personal growth the most throughout your career?

Brian Garvey: I got some advice from a mentor when I was very early on in my career about setting time aside to think big and think strategically about priorities…carving out that time and being intentional. And that has really had an impact on my career personally.

I've tried to keep that up over time, and I think that's made a big difference. It's helped me think through complex topics and roadblocks to progress. In a way it's easy, so easy, for the urgent to elbow out the important, and by putting time on the calendar to [sit down] and focus it has made a meaningful difference for me. 

Logan Lyles: What does that cadence look like for you? For instance, if someone's saying, “Ah, I should take first steps there,” what would you recommend? [Set aside] 30 minutes of your time where you think you'll be most creative throughout the week? Put a 30 minute block on Friday mornings or something like that?

Brian Garvey: Having time on the calendar can be helpful. Being in tune with where you find the most energy throughout the course of the day. Energy tends to ebb and flow. Knowing yourself and experimenting to find when's the right time to be creative is helpful.

Also, just being open to trying different things to see what works. Creativity is a hard thing to productize. Sometimes you feel creative and sometimes you don't. So, try different times of day, different times of the week, and just be open to it and don't be afraid of failing. It's not always gonna work, but little steps forward and it'll add up to a lot of progress over time. 

Logan Lyles: Yeah, don't add it to your calendar and say, “Think of next big business transforming idea in this 30 minute block.” Don't set yourself up for failure that way. 

A great book on that topic I recently read by Alan Gannett was The Creative Curve. It was really interesting as he dug into what things folks can do to tap into their creativity. Because as you mentioned, it's not a one size fits all. 

Well, Brian, I think we've accomplished our goal of providing a little bit of a peek into you personally and allowing the listeners to connect.

As we close it out today, tell us a little bit more about what you and your team are up to in the weeks and months ahead, and what are the best ways someone could reach out to you to stay connected or engage with you and your team at HubSpot? 

Brian Garvey: We've got accreditations. We just announced some exciting developments there. Anybody that's interested can go to hubspot.com/partnercredentials to learn more. You can also follow me on LinkedIn

Logan Lyles: Awesome. I was excited when I saw that announcement. There's some cool stuff going on with accreditations, how that builds on certifications that HubSpot has had for a long time. I'm really excited about this new way to support partners, so it was a great call-out.

Anybody looking to stay connected or continue the conversation, definitely hit up Brian on LinkedIn. 

Brian, thank you so much for being our guest today. This was a fantastic conversation. I really appreciate it. 

Brian Garvey: Thanks so much for having me.

Related Articles
View all