Before Ryder acquired eCommerce company Whiplash in January 2022, Business Development Manager Ella Monarch had never worked with partners.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t bought into partnerships, I just didn’t fully understand them,” she told us regarding her quick strategy shake-up. But after learning more about the value partnerships bring to sales from Whiplash’s partnerships team, something clicked for her. “My goal is always to give my clients the best possible solutions,” she says. “[Partners] help clients do better business.”
Now, just nine months later, 18% of Monarch’s sales pipeline comes from partner-sourced leads and she gets around 2 warm leads a month directly from partners.
This is because Monarch started bringing partners onto her new sales calls, something that she says is a big value add for her clients. Partners not only bring expertise on an additional product to the conversation but can also speak to how Monarch’s product fits into the larger tech stack of her clients.
“After the first introductory meeting, I never go back to a second call with a client alone,” Monarch told us. “I always bring another subject matter expert into the conversation, someone who will add value to the discussion and build credibility with the client.”
In addition to benefiting her clients, bringing partners into deals has helped Monarch:
Build credibility with potential customers. “Working with partners is an amazing way to build credibility with your clients because it puts you in a position to be their subject matter expert about their tech stack,” Monarch explains. “[Having credibility with clients] is going to help you forge relationships better. It is going to help you close business faster. It is going to help your clients do business.”
Create a channel for new, warm leads. The reciprocal nature of partnerships encourages frequent lead-sharing. “Bringing partners into deals creates a continuous cycle of new business,” Monarch says. “Plus, our partners are already educated on the type of clients that we’re going after and know when something would be a great fit for us and vice versa.”
Before that second call, follow these steps:
Step #1: Read up on your partner list
It’s important to build a basic understanding of who your company’s partners are and what services they offer so you can best recommend them on the fly (more on that later).
The good news is, your partnerships team is most likely eager to help. For starters, reach out to them. Ask for:
- A list of your company’s big partners and a description of what services they offer
- A short blurb for each of the partners about the what type of your partnership y’all have
- A name and email of a good contact at partner
- Instructions on how to make sure you always have an updated partner list (partner data can change quickly)
In a pinch, you can also look up your company on partnerbase.com and see all of the public partnerships.
Some partner teams will also offer additional educational sessions for their go-to-market teams.
Monarch started attending the sessions put on by her partnerships team and was quickly able to put that knowledge to use. “[A potential customer] told me about a pain point and my first thought was, ‘We just had this lunch and learn about [a partner who can help] last week’. This adds up let’s make an intro.”
Her advice? The next time your partnerships team invites you to an educational session, go.
Our tip: Schedule weekly check-ins with a member of your partner team to stay up-to-date on your company’s partner list.
Step #2: Ask about pain points on your first sales calls
On your first one-on-one call with a potential customer, listen for all of their pain points, not just the ones your product can fix.
“Ultimately, I’m listening to see if there is a problem that a client has identified that one of our partnerships could ease,” says Monarch. “The more I can shut up and listen to what the customer is saying, the better. [Then I know] how we might be able to jump in and help.”
If you have an overview understanding of your partner portfolio (thanks to Step #1), you can recommend their service as a solution in real time.
Our tip: Take notes of the potential customer’s pain points. Then, at the end of your call, let them know that you have a partner that can help and you’ll be making an introduction.
Step #3: Bring your partner to your second call
Once you have a partner in mind, reach out and ask them to join your next sales call with the client. Make sure to include:
- Background on the client and their pain point. No need to write your life’s story, keep it simple and short.
- How you think the partner can help. Is this a warm lead for your partner? Or is there also an opportunity to co-sell?
- An offer to return the favor. Reciprocity is the best practice in partnerships. Remember, this is about building a long-term relationship.
Then, set up a quick meeting between you and your partner contact before your second client call. Establish a loose game plan that covers your joint proposition. In other words, what makes speaking to the two of you together better than the two of you separately? For example, if you have a working integration, you can demo that together to the client. You both get to make your pitch and the client sees your product in the larger context of their tech stack (win, win, win).
Our tip: Intro your client and your partner over email with a quick summary of what you’ll be sharing so the client can come prepared with any questions.
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