Rajiv Ramanan, Director of Startup Program and Technology Alliances at Freshworks, noticed a trend in the partnerships industry: co-selling tends to get lost after the account mapping phase.
Imagine this: You map accounts with your partner, and you notice that 50 of your customer accounts overlap with your partner’s prospect accounts. Your customer success managers reach out to all 50 of those accounts to offer up introductions for your partner — but the majority of those contacts reply with a “No thanks.”
Your CSMs proceed to loop your partner’s sales reps in with the few customers that agree to an introduction. Later, they hear your partner had a poor closing rate on these accounts — and the accounts your sales reps got from your partner in return aren’t looking so promising either.
It’s hard to get your team on board if the results aren’t there. With a poor percentage of deals-won, your sales and leadership teams buy into your co-selling motions less and less.
It’s a cycle — but one that’s an easy lift to break.
To solve this problem, Rajiv Ramanan and his team at Freshworks have implemented a three-step framework for identifying and narrowing down their most strategic co-selling opportunities — a framework that their team and their partners’ teams operationalize in a flurry of same-day introductions.
By using this framework, Freshworks has received more than 120 pre-qualified opportunities from participating partners in 2020 — with their time to closure for these deals being 50% faster than any other sales channel. Conversely, they delivered more than 370 opportunities to their partners this year through direct introductions.
“In most cases, people do account mapping, through Crossbeam or Excel, — ‘Hey, these are my 20 prospects, these are my 20 accounts’ — we identify segments that people can introduce each other through. But it’s not an easy path to those intros actually happening,” says Ramanan.
So, Ramanan and his team added a few layers to their account mapping process to zoom in on and validate the accounts most likely to adopt a particular integration and convert with their tech partners.
It’s worth mentioning that his account mapping process is not a one-man (or even two-partner) show — Ramanan brings select members of his customer success and partner farming teams in to play critical roles and see their co-selling strategy to success.
Use This Three-Step Framework to Identify the Best Co-Selling Opportunities
Ramanan stresses that developing a shortlist of target accounts is critical for successful co-selling. To develop that shortlist, first, he maps accounts with his partner to discover overlaps between Freshworks’s customers and his partner’s prospects. His team then narrows that list down to determine which of those customers are most likely to be interested in the integration — and then which of those customers they have the best personal relationships with.
“Who we introduce is very important. That’s where most of the work goes in,” says Ramanan.
This process helps the Freshworks team to deliver the biggest impact for their partners — introductions to qualified opportunities that have a high likelihood of closing.
Fun fact: Ramanan proved the account mapping phase to be such a critical factor in their co-selling motions that his team invested in developing an algorithm that predicts integration adoption among their accounts. Take that to your next team sync. 😉
Step #1: Map Your Customer Accounts With Your Partner’s Prospect Accounts (And Vice Versa)
Pick the partner you’d like to co-sell with, and map accounts.
You can use Crossbeam for free to do just that. As a result, you’ll be able to identify a list of your customers that overlap with your partner’s prospects. These are the customers you should look at to help your partner close a deal with. However, many of the accounts in this list may not need a solution like your partner’s right now — or maybe your team doesn’t have the right relationship with them to properly sway them towards a new product.
That’s why you’ve got to sift through your list to bring your most strategic co-selling opportunities to the top (See step two to understand how).
At the same time, your partner should identify overlaps existing between their customers and your prospects. They can then analyze the resulting list of accounts to figure out which of them may lead to the most partner-influenced deals for your company.
When asking Ramanan how he guarantees the same amount of effort from his partners that his team delivers, he says he relies on trust — not contracts. “The most important thing is transparency.”
Have a conversation with your partner to discuss your expectations and the specific steps you and your partner will take to meet those expectations.
Step #2: Consult With Your Customer Success and Partnerships Teams to Identify Customers Who May Need the Integration
Ramanan consults with members of his customer success team and his partnerships farming team to learn which customer accounts may be the right fit for a particular integration.
His customer success managers look at the list from step one to determine which accounts are most likely to adopt the integration according to their industry, geographic location, and other factors.
For example, if the partner they’re working with has an e-signature solution and has many customers in the healthcare and construction industries, the CSMs may segment the list to hone in on customers in those industries. If that same e-signature company is currently targeting accounts in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), the CSMs will segment the list again to display only accounts in those regions.
The customer success reps then consult with members of their partnerships farming team and nominate the accounts they believe to be a good fit for adopting the integration.
Step #3: Identify Customers Your Team Has a Strong Rapport With
Of the lists you retrieved from step one and step two, identify which customers your customer success reps or farming team have a strong relationship with — especially the folks your team believes would be open to trying new technologies.
By this time, Ramanan’s team has narrowed their list of co-selling opportunities down to the top 15-20 strategic accounts — a shortlist of qualified opportunities with a high likelihood of integration adoption.
If you follow these steps, your CSMs may have an easier time getting an enthusiastic “Yes!” when asking customers if they’d like to learn about your partner’s solution — and that partner has a better chance of closing the deal.
Time to start making those intros!
What Next? Inspire Swift Action From Relevant Stakeholders
Once they’ve got the final list of accounts, Ramanan’s team acts fast.
Ramanan invites his customer success managers, his partner, and members of his partner’s sales team into a room (or Zoom). Each team spends about 15 minutes educating the other about their respective products. Then, they discuss the value of their joint solution and define the exact solution-selling messaging.
Ramanan says, “We do a very quick session where our sales reps talk about our product with the partner rep, and the partner rep does the same for their product, and we talk about the joint integration value.”
After that, it’s go time.
“We come out with a pitch that we’ll send to each of our respective customer lists on the same day, on behalf of our partner” says Ramanan. “We tell the customer, ‘Hey, we work with this partner, there’s a great solution that we have together, would you like to try it?’ If the customer says yes, we introduce the partner right away.’”
We like to think of same-day-intros as the cherry on top of the cake when it comes to driving efficiency through your co-selling motions.
What processes have you put in place to make your job more successful? We’d love to hear them. Send us a note on Twitter at @Crossbeam.
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