SalesTechStar Interview with Curtis Brinkerhoff, Chief Revenue Officer at Impartner

Curtis Brinkerhoff, Chief Revenue Officer at Impartner talks about the future of AI and salestech in this catch-up with SalesTechStar:


Welcome to this SalesTech Series chat, Curtis – tell us about yourself and what are you looking forward to as Impartner’s new CRO?

Ask my wife and kids this question, and they will tell you I am most excited about a challenge and making things better or faster, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. That is all true, but there are some additional details about this company and product that really light my energy and inspired me to return to Impartner for round two.

As CRO, I am laser-focused on driving a talented team as we help solve business challenges for modern-day ecosystem-led organizations such as Honeywell, Splunk, Vertiv, Proofpoint, and so many more. Partner ecosystems are the critical business strategy of the world’s most successful companies. IBM, Cisco, Microsoft…they are all capitalizing on the powerful partnership economy. Impartner stands as the product category leader for partner relationship management.

Pair that position with the market’s momentum around external sales and services business models, and we are about to make some waves.

We’d love to hear about your take on the modern-day B2B tech CRO: what are the core skills and work modes that today’s CROs in this domain need to pursue more? 

First and foremost, CROs in today’s markets must hold an absolute and unwavering focus on the personal development of their team. Nobody wins alone, and in today’s world, everyone works for a different reason. I want to ensure I support the goals, aspirations, and skills that my teams are looking to develop.

Second, I have seen what may not be a popular opinion, but data needs to be matched with a good gut sense of things. Data, AI, and models are, of course, immensely important, but interacting with humans is still very important. Your intuition will tell you what to do or say in a moment, and you need to run with it. I think we have lost touch with this a bit and believe it needs to come back into business.

Last but not at all least, CROs need to be 360°. We need to be accessible to teams within our organization and outside as well. Businesses are evolving and are finding ways to be flexible, efficient, and automated. They are going to market differently and oftentimes with partners. These scenarios put CROs in a position where they must be more dynamic than ever and have a much wider lens than day-to-day sales funnels. Nothing is written in stone in our age of executive leadership, and CROs need to take a front seat in driving and building strategy. My advice to any CRO today would be: to remain willing to learn, stay adaptable, and create agility in the process, especially the processes that deliver value-rich results for the end client.

When it comes to driving growth in today’s B2B tech-SaaS market: what are the biggest tactics that work well with targets / prospects?

Others may argue, but I would say that sales teams and people need to slow down a bit. So many times, they jump right to trying to solve the first-level problems and trying to get a signature on the first calls. Buyers aren’t following a set sales cycle like salespeople want them to follow. Wherever you meet prospects on their journey, provide insights and best practices along with value to their organization. That works better, in my experience, than jumping straight to the end.

To add to that, always do your homework and be genuine. Saying you can do everything is not a good thing. Being upfront and demonstrating what you can accomplish while connecting that to their business needs and time to revenue is central to closing deals.

Of course, I have to put a plug here for understanding how to diversify your sales strategy and leverage partner models and ecosystems. I met with an exec at Splunk a few years back that said: “You will not build billion-dollar businesses with direct sales organizations. Partners are the key to expansion, growth and customer collaboration. If you don’t work well with them, you are spread too thin at too high a cost.” This is so critical in the global economy in which we operate. If you want to lead and go far, you go together with those partners.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Kevin Green, CMO at Truent

In what’s looking like a tough market based on recent dynamics: what would you share with tech sales teams and fellow revenue chiefs?

Keep your head up, stay focused and intentional, and know that you have people cheering you on. Continue to develop yourself and your expertise to be the best at what you do in your field to make every discussion count. In a hard market, people still win and win a lot. They also take their unfair share of the market. Be that person for yourself and your company.

It is hard to march into battle each day and be the one that motivates, inspires, pushes, and then gets two seconds to celebrate the win before you take on the next goal. Don’t be afraid to be real and focus on your mental and personal health in that motion. Find joy in that journey of creating amazing outcomes, not just in the win.

We’d love to hear about some of the salestech you’ve relied on over the years to help power your processes and plans?

I am not sure if there is a sales tech I have not used to some level or another. I have used most major CRMs out there: Gong, Zoominfo, Impartner, and its competitors, of course. The list goes on. To me, the sales tech focused on speeding time to results and efficient revenue is the most significant. Tools like Gong, Zendesk, Databricks, and others that allow me to couple data with coaching, process, and client experience have been instrumental in building success and going back to the idea of matching data with sales intuition and purpose. I believe that those platforms help deliver that vision nicely.

If you had to share a few AI trends that will lead the salestech space in 2024 and beyond, what would you talk about? 

It is so funny that just this week SpotAI announced it would shut down APIs and abilities in the platform, which will kill some small businesses that were created. I think the AI companies and models are often still trying to figure out who they are and what they are going after in the market.

AI is a force to be reckoned with, though, for sure. In my mind, leading in 2024 with AI and sales is really how to make sales/indirect sales models more efficient and intentional, providing a very clear path to the best next step that will drive an outcome. AI will help create and replicate those steps and patterns to repeat successful outcomes across the ecosystem that you interact with. I just don’t see, in the near term at least, AI taking over the thoughtful and collaborative approach good salespeople go through with engineering and solution engineers to create meaningful examples and experiences for clients.

However, when you consider larger infrastructure decisions like Microsoft, Broadcom, AMD, or NVIDIA are looking at, I see immense potential in terms of impact. The AI engine and some problems that they are solving are very impressive. In the manufacturing, semiconductor, and telecom spaces, AI is also dynamically adjusting infrastructure and more. This is very impressive, and we can see where this can impact everything from your internet to traffic in your commute and the computer systems and phones we use. How the story of the tech you are selling plays a part in the new AI world is for most, a story yet to be written. At Impartner, we are collaborating with today’s leading companies to define and write that story in ways others have yet to imagine.

Read More: Here’s why sales teams are thriving in the AI era

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning provider of channel management technologies.

Curtis Brinkerhoff is Chief Revenue Officer at Impartner

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