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Start Small. Focus on One Co-Selling Motion. Then, Replicate Its Success.

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New partnership. 1,000 overlaps. Let’s get to work! 

Wait, wait, wait. Actually, let’s take a step back and think this through.

If you target too many opportunities too fast, not only will your co-selling motions be less productive, but you’ll also find yourself on everybody’s “blocklist”.

Select one co-selling motion to start in order to build trust among your go-to-market (GTM) teams, identify areas of improvement, and replicate the success for future co-selling motions. 

“If the two organizations don’t trust each other, it’s problematic,” says Tom Williams, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at SugarCRM. “Every interaction you have is going to be less productive.”

Recently, Williams and his team launched a partnership with their channel partner, Technology Coast Partners (TCP) Miami. By targeting just one strategic co-selling opportunity with TCP, Williams and his team observed how the partnership could positively impact the sales cycle and support each of his team’s respective business functions. Additionally, Williams was able to observe what an effective and collaborative channel partnership should look like and apply that process and his learnings to other channel partnerships in SugarCRM’s ecosystem.

“[TCP Miami] never deferred from being the leader,” says Williams. 

We’ve compiled three steps for implementing a single, exemplary co-selling motion with a new partner (plus, a co-selling checklist for troubleshooting a failing co-selling motion and for getting internal buy-in).

Step #1: Identify One Ideal Customer

To identify your first co-selling opportunity with your new partner, start with account mapping. 

Map your “prospects” list with your partner’s “prospects” list. The resulting overlaps are the prospects you and your partner have in common. Use a partner ecosystem platform (PEP) like Crossbeam for free to avoid swapping spreadsheets (and remove the word “headaches” from your vocabulary).

Hopefully, you have a large number of overlapping accounts, and that in itself is a good sign! But co-selling to all of your overlapping accounts will stretch your team thin, and you don’t have the foundational trust yet to ensure each team is invested in the partnership.

Tip: You can also map your prospects to your partner’s opportunities. With the resulting overlaps, you can ask your partner to include you in their requests for proposals (RFPs). Or map your prospects to your partner’s customers, and ask for intros into their existing customer accounts. 

Williams suggests the following process for identifying your first co-selling motion with your new partner: 

  1. Identify your partner’s total addressable market (TAM) 
  2. Identify the serviceable addressable market (SAM) within your partner’s TAM that your team could feasibly sell your product into 
  3. Identify accounts that match your ideal customer profile (ICP) within the serviceable addressable market 
  4. Identify the buying personas within the ideal customer account 

For example: SugarCRM’s partner TCP Miami is a distributor that behaves like a system integrator (SI) — meaning TCP Miami would sell SugarCRM’s product to their mutual prospects and then provide their own services to help customers get the most value out of the product. SugarCRM’s goal in partnering with TCP Miami was to expand its customer base in the Latin American (LATAM) region. 

(Want to learn more about system integrators? In Crossbeam Explains, you’ll learn how SIs act as trusted advisors for their clients and how they help their tech partners grow.) 

Williams thinks about the TAM, SAM, and ICP in terms of industries and/or categories. From there, you can consider the attached revenue to each industry, category, or individual company. 

Identify the TAM. For TCP Miami, the TAM includes manufacturing and construction companies. These are some of the types of companies that SugarCRM could hypothetically sell into by partnering with TCP Miami.

Identify the SAM. The SAM — or the types of companies that SugarCRM could feasibly sell into by partnering with TCP Miami, given SugarCRM’s internal resources and the product functionalities they can provide to customers — includes specific types of manufacturing and construction companies like automotive companies and medical device companies. Williams suggests identifying the SAM for a given partner according to criteria like: 

  • Geography (e.g. Maybe you can’t sell to the manufacturer on a global scale, but you can sell to a regional distributor or local dealership.) 
  • Company Size (e.g. the number of employees or annual revenue of the companies that typically find value in your product) 

Identify your ICP. For SugarCRM, an example of an ideal customer within the SAM with partner TCP Miami is “bicycle dealerships of a defined size that employ Epicor Kinetic’s enterprise resource planning (ERP)”. SugarCRM has an integration to Epicor Kinetic’s ERP, and TCP helps many of its clients with this particular ERP’s implementation process.

total-addressable-market-serviceable-addressable-market-ideal-customer-profile

Identify the stakeholders. For a particular company that fits the above criteria, Williams then identifies the types of stakeholders with the most buying power that are common within the SAM. In SugarCRM’s case, these personas could include the: 

  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
  • Vice President of Sales
  • Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) 
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  • Head of Procurement 
  • Head of Logistics
  • And more

Now, you’ve identified an ideal customer from your partner’s prospect list, and you’ve identified exactly who you and your partner should be selling to at the company. 

Step #2: Roll Out Your GTM Tactics (and Iterate) 

With the particular company and buying personas in mind, Williams suggests developing custom messaging that will resonate with the prospect. Identify the outcome your target persona wants and how your solution will help them achieve that outcome. If you’re targeting a VP of Sales, for example, how will your product help them generate more leads and solve additional business challenges? 

SugarCRM’s team developed the following collateral for the co-selling motion:

  • Blog posts
  • Case studies 
  • Data sheets
  • Presentation decks
  • Videos
  • Press releases
  • Webinars 
tcp-miami-sugarcrm

The homepage on TCP Miami’s website, featuring SugarCRM

When introducing a new partnership to your internal teams and planning your GTM efforts, it’s helpful to have advocates from the leadership team down. Williams says that SugarCRM’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Clint Oram, has played a critical role in rallying their internal teams to go to market with TPC Miami and other channel partners. 

Struggling to get your GTM teams bought in for your first co-selling motion with a new partner? Skip ahead for tips on how to overcome this challenge. 

Step #3: Replicate the Success

Williams and TCP Miami are currently in the “opportunity” stage of the sales cycle with the particular target account. However, Williams says the partnership is already a success, and he and his team are in the process of replicating that success within other parts of their partner program. 

“[TCP Miami is] raising the bar,” says Williams. “It’s not one call, demo, quote. There’s a lot more discovery, and they’re doing that kind of work.” 

For example: TCP Miami asked SugarCRM for support regarding a particular integration functionality for the prospect. SugarCRM brought in its internal solution engineer to assist with this part of the sales cycle and collaborate with TCP Miami’s team. 

“We were able to figure out how to work with each other and determine who leads and who follows in what circumstances,” says Williams. 

He adds, “It gives our other partners a model for us to say, ‘Directionally, this is where we’re going, and this is what the new Sugar is about. If you’re not at this level, it’s going to be a problem.’”

If the deal closes, or if you’ve observed a win in regards to the process, share the success with your team in the following ways:

  • At the top of your company-wide standups and All Hands meetings
  • In your company-wide Slack channel and your sales-specific Slack channel 
  • By asking the internal sales rep who championed the win to share their story in Slack or in-person with the rest of the sales team 
  • By asking the internal sales rep to train more junior sales reps on how to co-sell with partners successfully 
  • Drafting a quick e-mail/document outlining why the win was successful, explaining the tactics used, and including the result, so that your internal team can learn about the process and so that your partner can share the information with their team

Your Co-Selling Checklist

Part 1: Areas to troubleshoot if your co-selling motion is failing

If your first co-selling motion with a new channel partner is failing, it may be an issue with: 

Communication. Does your partner and your internal team know their exact roles and responsibilities when it comes to co-selling? Consider hosting a meeting or drafting documentation to define each stakeholder’s responsibilities. 

Process. Does your partner’s team know when and how they can reach out to your team for support? Are you using the right tools, like PRMs, PEPs, and Slack (like Gorgias does), that create space for your teams to communicate effectively and track progress for each stage of the sales cycle.

crossbeam-slack-connect-process

Crossbeam for Slack Connect

Resources. Does your partner have the information and collateral they need to sell your solution effectively? Resources may include information about your joint value proposition, examples of use cases for your integration or joint solution, one-pagers your partner’s sales team can hand off to the prospect, etc. 

The partnership as a whole. Perhaps the partnership just doesn’t work, and it’s time to put your efforts on pause. Consider revisiting the partnership when you or your partner have more headcount or resources for investing in the partnership. (Or, know that it simply wasn’t meant to be.)

Part 2: How to rally your internal team behind your first co-Selling motion 

Even your first co-selling opportunity with a new partner requires a certain level of time and resources from your GTM teams. If you’re facing challenges getting buy-in, try these tactics: 

Reveal a high overlap count. Map accounts with the partner to prove that there’s a high overlap count and that there are overlaps among your most strategic target accounts.

crossbeam-account-mapping-high-overlap-count

A high overlap count in Crossbeam

Start small with your GTM tactics. Implement the crawl-walk-run framework to initiate a single co-selling motion (ahem, this is Williams’ entire philosophy!) or an ad hoc co-marketing effort — like a newsletter mention with a CTA to generate ecosystem qualified leads (EQLs). Launching a small co-selling or co-marketing motion can serve as your “proof of concept” and can help you get a bigger internal investment in the partnership. 

crossbeam-crawl-walk-run-comarketing

The “Crawl Walk Run” framework

Rethink your communication style. Speak to your internal teams in the metrics they care about. For instance: Identify an account your sales rep is struggling to break into, and show them how the partner can help them get the demo on the books, accelerate the sales cycle, and/or close the deal. 

crossbeam-communicate-effectively-with-sales

An example of how to communicate effectively with your internal teams

Consider partnership-related OKRs. Speak with your leadership team about implementing partnership-related objectives and key results (OKRs) that encourage multiple teams to work towards common partnership goals.

Participate in sales meetings. Join your sales team’s meetings and host one-to-ones to ensure that you’re getting facetime with your sales reps. Keep your partners top of mind for them by offering support in the areas of the sales cycle where they’re struggling. 

Once you’ve got one win with the partner, it’ll be easier to keep the momentum going.

Looking for more co-selling tactics? Check out the “Execute” section of the second edition of the Partner Playbook below.

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