Hey, got a second before your next call with a prospect? Take a seat by the fire, you’re going to want to hear these stories.
Recently, we explored how junior to mid-level sales professionals can show their leadership skills by tapping into partnerships — a traditionally underutilized channel that can help sales teams close deals 50% faster, boost their close rate by 24%, and, like, a lot of other cool metrics.
But what about the everyday wins? We set out to investigate how sales reps were engaging their partners to help them close a deal and what the effects were. You know, their play-by-play of co-selling.
We spoke with sales professionals at various stages of their career to hear their most memorable wins with partners. Including:
- Austin Park, an enterprise account executive (AE) at Botify, who was promoted from strategic BDR in 2020
- A services account manager (AM) who transitioned from an account executive role selling software at a 150-employee company to selling services to larger clients and more c-suite executives at a large global enterprise in 2020
- Aaron Geller, director of sales at Cypress.io, who previously led GTM strategies at DigitalOcean earlier in 2021
- Aaron Huish, a senior sales manager at Spirable, who was promoted from sales manager to senior sales manager in August 2021
Here are their wins. Alley-oop! 🏀
Story #1: That Time When a Partner Revived a Deal Gone Dark
“It reached a stall for the first time in the entire deal cycle,” says Park.
Park spent the next week following up with the prospect but had no luck. Then, Park’s agency partner reached out to inform him that the prospect who had gone dark was now asking the agency for guidance around their SEO strategy and which tools to adopt. The partner offered to serve as an advocate for Botify. The partner had firsthand experience implementing the SEO software for their clients, and so they offered to talk about relevant use cases and success stories with the prospect on Park’s behalf.
“They reached out and said, ‘Hey, we love you guys. We want to be an advocate for you here. What can we do to actually help you guys get this across the line?” says Park. “They were huge proponents of the prospect purchasing Botify directly.”
Park closed the deal with the help of his partner just a couple of weeks later.
He adds, “When I’m in the proposal stage of a deal and that prospective client has their already trusted advisor say ‘Hey, these guys are actually going to be good.’ They’re going to be the tide that raises all ships, they’re going to make our efforts and [their own] efforts better.”
Story #2 That Time When Working With Multiple Partners Increased the Deal Size
Aaron Geller, Director of Sales at Cypress.io and previous GTM Lead at DigitalOcean, recalls a time when a sales rep increased the deal size for an account by bringing in two other partners. While selling DigitalOcean’s cloud services, the sales rep worked with Geller to bring in an implementation partner (to conduct analysis and show the benefits of the migration) and a tech partner (to satisfy a custom use case for the potential client).
“We saw a risk, and we brought in that third partner to bring it home,” says Geller.
“The original commitment was X. Once they started working with us closer, it jumped up significantly. Once they saw that trust, and they only wanted to move a subset of products [originally], they were like, ‘Wow, this is awesome, we’re getting better service, better support.’ There were three great partners working together to help them out with what they were doing.”
The implementation and tech partners that the sales rep teamed up with helped to show the big-picture value of migrating the prospect’s cloud infrastructure, and the prospect decided to migrate more of its products as a result.
Story #3 That Time When Knowledge of Partnerships Helped a Salesperson Boost His Reputation With a Prospect
A services account manager at a large global enterprise says he once joined a company’s sales team without any technical knowledge of the software he would be selling. However, when he hopped on a call with a strategic prospect, he listened to the prospect’s needs and responded in a way that kept the conversation going. That first conversation was scheduled for just 15 minutes but lasted an hour.
He attributes the success of the call to the hundreds of conversations he had had with partners previously and his knowledge of the B2B SaaS space.
“It was a conversation about their needs and what we could do and what we’ve seen elsewhere,” says the AM. “You need an entire tool kit of experience that you then leverage in a conversation.”
Bring your knowledge of successful partner use cases, workflows, and operations that you’ve gleaned from your partners to transform a standard sales conversation into a thoughtful dialogue.
He adds, “No one wants to be sold. They want to have their problems solved.”
Not only are you more likely to get a second call with the prospect, but you’ll also build your reputation as a trust-worthy and consultative resource.
“Fundamentally, I was able to change the perception of ‘me as a salesperson’ to ‘me as a value-added contributor’ to [the prospect],” he says. “Calls after that were returned. I wasn’t the smarmy salesperson anymore.”
Story #4: That Time When a Partner Boxed Out the Competition
Aaron Huish, Senior Sales Manager at creative performance platform Spirable, says his prospect was about to go with a competitor’s product because they believed the competitor had a better solution for a specific use case. Huish knew the competitor didn’t actually have the functionality the prospect needed, so he turned to his partner for help.
“The partners have an intimate knowledge of what each vendor can and can’t do,” says Huish.
Huish voiced his concern to the prospect that they might not be able to achieve the goals they were hoping for with the competitor’s product, and he recommended the prospect reach out to Spirable’s partner for validation. The prospect was already working with the partner on their strategy and knew they would have their best interest in mind.
After the call with the prospect, Huish contacted his partner and said, “This is the situation, these are the conversations we’ve been having. This is what the brand thinks is the case. We both know that’s not the case. Next time you have a meeting with them, can you raise this and clarify the capabilities.”
The partner flipped the odds in Spirable’s favor. In fact, the prospect went from being sure that they were choosing a competitor’s product to instead only considering Spirable’s request for proposal (RFP) — not its competitor’s.
“Now, we’re the only vendor standing,” says Huish.
Story #5 That Time When a Partner Opened Up a Direct Line to the Top Stakeholder
Austin Park says his partners have helped him turn prospects into opportunities in an instant.
“I’ve been prospecting this one account for ever, and I couldn’t get into it, and then all of a sudden we happened to connect with one of our partners, and it turns out [the prospect] was a customer [of that partner] and the partner had a direct line to the chief marketing officer.”
He adds, “All of a sudden, I went from being frustrated and not being able to break into this account to being able to go straight to the top through this partnership we had.”
Psst! To uncover which partners have your prospect as a customer, you can use a partner ecosystem platform (PEP) like Crossbeam. Just map your list of prospect accounts to your partner’s list of customer accounts.
Look to your partners to learn which stakeholders you should be talking to, understand what your prospects care most about, and get more context that can help you increase the deal velocity.
Story #6: That Time When a Partner Shortened the Sales Cycle
Aaron Huish at Spirable says his partners at Twitter and Facebook often bring net new prospects to Huish. This is because partners like Twitter and Facebook have seen improvements in their clients’ ad performance when implementing Spirable’s live rates in their ads.
Huish says that when he spoke to a prospect Facebook sourced, the sales cycle was much shorter.
“We spoke once or twice, and then that was it,” says Huish. “It was an easy contract because Facebook had already handled that validation.”
Huish says for any sales rep working in B2B SaaS, it’s common to encounter skepticism from a new prospect. That prospect needs to determine whether the sales rep is trustworthy, if the product is valuable, and so on. When the partner can clear the air and validate you and your product before hopping on the first sales call, it lowers the barrier for the sales rep. Rather than spending time building initial trust, the sales rep can skip ahead to making thoughtful recommendations to the prospect to suit their needs.
Story #7: That Time a Partner With a Competitive Product Opened the Door to New Business
The right kind of competitor can be your joint solution soul-mate.
Aaron Geller says his team began co-selling with a partner they previously viewed as a competitor. The competitor satisfied a particular use case that helped his team at DigitalOcean expand their pipeline.
“We started working with a partner who had a competing product, and it actually started helping us close more deals,” says Geller. “They offered one service, and we offered another. They actually brought us in on deals that needed our services, so it became this very helpful back and forth. It started small, to test if the partnership made sense, and then from there it became something that’s up and running today in a much larger way.”
Geller says the success they saw in working with the partner who had a competing product helped his sales team think strategically about how partners could help them bring a deal that was unlikely to close through to the finish line.
“‘Hey, I might not capture the whole thing, but I’d rather capture some of it, than none of it.’ It became very apparent from the sales perspective that this was smart for them to think about.”
Story #8 That Time When a Partner Jumped in to Provide a Competitive Edge
After identifying the needs of a particular prospect, Austin Park had to think constructively about how to fill an existing product gap. He thought of his tech partner, which provided the solution Park needed, and asked the partner if they’d be interested in pitching their joint solution to the prospect.
“If there’s a way in which we could work together and co-sell this as one, it’ll improve our chances significantly to closing this deal and not losing to a competitor,” says Park.
Park says this was a new idea he was trying out with a partner, and now they’re in the process of fine-tuning their joint solution pricing and proposal.
“This is something I never would have thought to do even three months ago, without my recent work and communication with the partners and with [our partnerships leader],” says Park. “Because of being able to do that and get that experience, it led me to want to try new things and try this strategy with this deal that came up.”
Want to make your own partnership stories? Work with your partnerships leader to try out new partnership strategies and see the magic unfold. Subscribe to our Ecosystem Sales newsletter to get co-selling tips delivered to your inbox every other week, and check out our Partner Playbook below for many more actionable tips.