You’ve just landed a huge strategic partnership. After daydreaming about skipping through fields of lilies with your partner’s sales reps, it dawns on you: Although you’ve gained the trust of your partner, you still have to gain the trust of a sales team of thousands.
So, what’s your game plan? Host a one-to-many enablement session? Or send each sales rep their favorite treat and ask them to hop on a call? Without proof of the success of your partnership, tactics like these will only elicit temporary results.
In our e-book, “No Opportunities Lost”, we cover the five phases of co-selling for rolling out a new tech partnership. Spoiler: Co-selling with every sales rep and CSM right away can do more harm than good. Instead, it’s best to start by driving adoption of your integration among your mutual customers with the help of your CSMs. Then, use the proof of your integration’s success to educate and get buy-in from your account executives (AEs).
Recently, we’ve learned about a helpful tactic that goes hand-in-hand with the five phases of co-selling framework. By mapping your partner’s org chart, you can get buy-in from your partner’s entire sales team over time and drive a long-tail of recurring revenue. In fact, SaaS companies like Aircall are mapping their partners’ org charts and boosting partner-sourced revenue by 40%.
Below, we’ll discuss the benefits of mapping your partner’s org chart (with examples). Including:
#1: Build trust with your partners’ sales reps
In co-selling, it’s easier for a prospect to say, “Yes”, to a first call with a sales rep if they have a mutual connection between that sales rep and an advisor they trust and respect.
The same goes for getting buy-in from your new partner’s sales team. Let’s say you want to start co-selling with Fred, your new partner’s AE. Fred hops on a call with you, but he’s still unsure about co-selling together. On the call, you talk about your relationships with his teammates and manager. Suddenly, Fred’s ears perk up.
By referencing your sales rep’s colleagues, they begin to see you as trustworthy. Think of it this way:
→ Your partner’s sales reps trust their peers and higher ups.
→ You inform your partner’s sales reps that you have relationships with some of their peers and higher ups (even if those relationships are in the beginning stages).
→ You build trust with your partner’s sales rep by sharing your association with their peers and higher ups.
It’s okay if you haven’t participated in any co-selling motions with the sales rep’s peers or higher ups. Simply knowing who they are is a step up from starting from scratch. (It’s a similar idea to a partner lead versus a cold lead — partner leads can have a 40% higher chance of booking a demo.)
An example: When the partnerships team at cloud-based call center software company Aircall launched their strategic partnerships with Salesforce and HubSpot, they struggled to get buy-in from their respective sales teams.
They quickly shifted their strategy away from conducting outreach to every sales rep to focusing on a select few. On their first call with a sales rep, they would reference various members of their team to help show their relationships within the org and to validate their hunches on where each member sat in the org chart.
Aircall’s partner account managers (PAMs) and AEs would ask their partner’s sales rep questions like, “You’re on Katie’s team, right?” or “I spoke with Rejan recently. Do you work closely with him?”
These questions helped them gain the trust of their partner’s sales rep more quickly than if they went into the call cold, and they were able to map their partner’s org chart behind the scenes (More on this in #2!).
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#2: Identify internal champions
By working with just one sales rep to start, you can focus on nurturing your one-to-one relationship with them and on perfecting your co-selling motions. Once your partner’s sales rep understands the value of your partnership and integration, they can serve as an advocate to encourage other sales reps to get on board.
When Aircall’s partnerships team would generate a win with their partner’s sales rep, they’d ask for an introduction to their higher up. Together, they would show the higher up the results from the co-selling motion. Then, Aircall’s team would ask to host a short, 15-minute enablement session for the higher up’s entire team during one of their pre-existing internal sales meetings.
Once they generated a significant number of wins with the higher up’s sales team, they’d ask the higher up for an introduction to their higher up. All along the way, Aircall would be gaining champions within their partner’s org who would advocate for them and encourage buy-in throughout the rest of the org.
As they began enabling and co-selling with each new member of their partner’s sales team, Aircall’s partnerships team would continue mapping their org chart using Monday.com, a project management tool. Aircall uses a separate Monday.com dashboard to track the org chart in each regional office. They also use the Monday.com Salesforce integration to send the org chart data to Salesforce and tag the relevant partner AE to the open opportunity.
Take a look at an example of Aircall’s Monday.com dashboard for tracking their partner’s org chart below. In the third column, titled “Penetration Rate”, they track which of their partner’s sales reps are fully bought into the partnership and which aren’t bought in just yet. Here’s a breakdown of what each color represents:
- “Blue” represents AEs who are already internal champions of Aircall
- “Green” represents AEs who have completed Aircall’s sales enablement sessions.
- “Red” represents any AEs not interested in co-selling with Aircall.
Tracking their partner’s org chart in this way enables Aircall’s partnerships team to quickly know where they have internal champions within their strategic partners’ orgs and where they need to invest more in enabling and gaining advocates.
You can use any project management software, like Notion, Asana, Wrike, or even Google Sheets, to begin mapping your partner’s org chart right away.
Spectrm, a conversational marketing automation platform, shared a similar story about winning over their strategic partner’s sales and CS team. The partnerships team helped one of their strategic partner’s CSMs and account managers (AMs) lead an account expansion among one of their existing customers. Spectrm’s team published a case study celebrating the win and shared it with the CSM and AM. The CSM and AM then shared the case study among their internal team, which resulted in many of their partner’s other CSMs and AMs requesting introductions to Spectrm’s partnerships team to co-sell.
“And they start reaching out to that salesperson and saying, ‘How did you do that?’. And then you start to get some introductions [to other salespeople],” says Thomas Ränke, VP of Partnerships and Business Development at Spectrm.
He adds, “Ultimately, they’ll always go with a partner they trust the most and who they hear from their network and their peers that they’re the best partner to work with.”
Generating co-selling wins with just a few of their strategic partner’s sales reps and CSMs enabled Spectrm to expand their co-selling motions to other CSMs and sales reps in the same office. It also led to introductions to their peers and higher ups in other regional offices, enabling them to expand the partnership to new markets and catch the attention of their partners’ C-suite executives.
#3: Expand your partnership to new markets
As a result of mapping their partner’s org chart and getting buy-in strategically, Aircall and Spectrm were able to expand the reach of their strategic partnerships across markets.
In Spectrm’s case, generating wins with their partner’s CSMs and AMs led to introductions to other CSMs and AMs in their other regional offices. As a result, more than half of Spectrm’s net new deals are influenced by partners, including major enterprise deals. They’ve also began working with local agency partners via introductions from his partner’s CSMs and AMs in various regions. To manage their expansion across markets, Spectrm has hired additional partner managers in the US and EMEA.
“You work with one [CSM or AE] in retail in the UK, it works very well, and then you ask them to introduce you to a retail person in Germany,” says Ränke.
Aircall’s partnerships team has also expanded their partner motions across markets with their partners Salesforce and HubSpot. Within two years of launching each of the two partnerships, they’ve gained access to customers in new verticals and markets.
As a result, they’ve increased their sourced revenue contribution from partners from 10-15% to more than 50% of new sales per quarter. To keep up with their global expansion with partners, they’ve
- Increased their partnerships team from 15 to 50 employees globally to manage their expansion with partners
- Shifted from a “star network” to a “mesh network” to enable each GTM team to work directly with their counterparts in their partner’s org at scale
- Launched a “global taskforce” calling on each of their GTM teams to prioritize their strategic partnerships through quarterly initiatives
As part of Aircall’s new global taskforce, each GTM team is responsible for various initiatives that contribute to the success of the partnership.
For example: On the product team, they’ve hired a dedicated product manager to oversee the development, health, and expansion of a particular integration. And on the marketing team, they’re rolling out sales collateral covering vertical-specific use cases and pain points for their sales teams to use at scale.
Additionally, when they first launched their partnerships with Salesforce and HubSpot, Aircall’s PAMs served as liaisons between their sales team and their partner’s sales team (think: a “star network” where Aircall’s PAMs communicated with each member of their partner’s team).
With their new “mesh network”, Aircall’s AEs take the lead in co-selling with their partner’s AEs, and other GTM teams have direct connections to their counterparts. As their partnerships scale across markets, each GTM team can initiate their respective partner motions immediately, drive results quicker, and build on the processes they’ve already established in the early days of the partnership.
Much of Aircall and Spectrm’s success in growing their strategic partnerships began with gaining the trust of a select few individuals on their partner’s sales and CS teams. Mapping your partner’s org chart can help you build relationships with influential members of your partner’s team, establish strong ties across your partner’s entire org, and see the full potential of a partnership with high revenue potential.
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