It’s the early days of your new partnership, and so much possibility awaits. Your partner has customers in the US, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and they can all benefit from your joint solution. By helping your partner grow their existing accounts, you’ll become their go-to partner for new co-selling opportunities. But first, you have to win the trust of your partner’s customer success (CS) and sales team.
Gain the trust of just one of your partner’s CSMs, and they might just become your very own partnerships influencer. They can inspire other CSMs and sales reps across verticals and markets to want to work with you before anyone else. (They might even call you BAE.)
In 2020, Spectrm launched a new strategic alliance with a company that has global offices and CSMs and sales reps in each. Typically, the conversational marketing automation platform prioritizes partnerships with companies that run messaging channels, like Messenger or Google’s Business Messages. Rather than hosting one-to-many enablement sessions or meeting with each regional team individually, Spectrm decided to kick off its new partnership by growing one existing account with just one partner CSM to start.
Thomas Ränke, VP of Partnerships and Business Development at Spectrm, helped guide the CSM in delivering more value for their mutual customer, which led to an account expansion. The customer adopted more of the partner’s marketing channels, and they adopted the channels for more of their internal teams.
Ränke’s team published a case study to publicize the win, which their partner’s CSM and the account executive (AE) who helped facilitate the expansion then shared with the rest of their internal team. Shortly after, the partner’s CSM received a promotion. As a result, other CSMs and AEs in the regional office began asking for introductions to Spectrm’s partnerships team, and those CSMs and AEs began introducing Spectrm to CSMs and AEs in other regions.
“From [that win], other salespeople become aware,” says Thomas Ränke, VP of Partnerships and Business Development at Spectrm. “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].”
Now, Ränke works with his strategic alliance partner’s CSMs and AEs across markets and regions, and more than half of Spectrm’s net new deals are influenced by partners, including major enterprise deals. Spectrm has since hired additional partner managers to manage the U.S. and EMEA regions.
We’ve compiled Ränke’s step-by-step process for winning over a new strategic partner’s CS team so you can nurture a mutually beneficial partnership. What to expect:
#1: Identify a Mutual Customer With Your Strategic Partner’s CSM
Ränke started small. He knew that by trying to work with every CSM and AE at their strategic alliance partner’s company, he wouldn’t be able to develop long-lasting relationships with any of them. Instead, he identified one mutual customer and began working with the partner’s CSM to grow the account.
By helping the CSM guide their mutual customer in driving more revenue, Ränke knew their customer would be more likely to adopt their joint solution among more of their internal teams. For example: if the customer was using the partner’s tool for the marketing team, they might expand to using the tool for their sales team as well. Additionally, the customer may want to adopt more of their partner’s marketing channels, like expanding from using a messaging tool on one social media platform to using messaging tools for multiple social media platforms.
“You never want to be demanding and ask for more opportunities” says Ränke. Instead, approach your partner’s CSM with an opportunity that can show the value of your partnership. Once you’ve established trust between your teams, the co-selling process will become mutually beneficial by nature.
On identifying the potential value your can bring to your partner, their CSM, and your mutual customer, Ränke says to consider:
- How collaborating with your partner’s CSM can lead to case studies
- How you can help the CSM or salesperson advance their career
- How you can increase the spend of the customer and help the CSM hit the goals associated with their key performance indicators (KPIs)
Ränke uses Crossbeam, a partner ecosystem platform, to identify mutual customers with his strategic alliance partners. To get started with Crossbeam, connect your customer relationship management (CRM) tool as a data source, set up Standard Populations, and invite your partners to connect. To replicate Ränke’s process, you’ll want to share account-level details so you can see which CSMs and AEs own which accounts you have in common with your partner.
Choose a customer account that you believe has potential to grow. In Spectrm’s case, if their customer is only using one of their partner’s marketing channels or if only one of their customer’s internal teams has adopted the integration, there may be an account expansion opportunity.
If you’d like to identify accounts your partner is currently trying to expand, start by mapping accounts between your customers and your partner’s customers to identify mutual customers. Then, map that list of overlaps against your partner’s open opportunities list. This will reveal your partner’s existing customers that they’re currently selling into for account expansions and upsells.
Tip: Before engaging your AEs and sales development representatives (SDRs) in co-selling your integration, it’s important to first drive adoption among your existing customers to help show the value of your integration. Then, you can use the evidence to get buy-in from your sales team and your partner’s sales team and to help them maximize their co-selling efforts. In our e-book No Opportunities Lost: The Crossbeam Guide to Co-Selling, we provide step-by-step instructions for when and how to involve each of your tech partner’s internal stakeholders in co-selling.
#2: Identify a Pain Point for Your Partner’s CSM and Help Them Hit Their Goals
In 2020, Ränke saw an opportunity to help his partner’s CSM adapt their strategy for helping their customers engage and convert shoppers during the pandemic.
“Chat and messaging was becoming a big trend because it was an easier and more personalized way for brands to connect with their customers,” says Ränke. “So, naturally, [CSMs] were looking for more ways to help their customers adopt chat and messaging. This was an opportunity for us to come in and help them with the education [piece].”
Ränke knew that his partner’s CSMs were looking for nontraditional tactics for helping customers achieve their revenue targets during the pandemic. To help his partner’s CSM improve results for their mutual customer, Ränke pulled a success story from a similar customer to show the CSM what was possible.
“This is what we’re doing with this retail customer in Germany, this can help your existing customers,” says Ränke.
Ränke showed the CSM that if they could deliver more value to the customer account by perfecting one use case, the customer would be less likely to churn and more likely to:
- Adopt more of his partner’s marketing channels, to engage their shoppers
- Adopt his partner’s marketing channels across more of their internal teams (e.g. if the marketing saw great results, the customer may want to adopt the same channels for their sales team)
- Use the marketing channels in more markets and regions, and thus use their marketing channels in more languages
All of these instances would help improve retention and could influence account expansions and upsell opportunities.
Ränke educated the CSM on how to replicate the results Spectrm had helped facilitate with their other partner. He and the CSM chose one use case for improving results for the customer relevant to just one part of the customer journey for their shoppers. For example: Ränke and the CSM helped their customer launch a virtual assistant for a particular clothing item to improve response rates from shoppers. The virtual assistant would showcase the clothing item that matched the customer’s style preferences and latest online shopping habits while the customer browsed social media platforms.
In this instance, Ränke knew that if he and his partner’s CSM could improve click-through rates for the customer’s marketing team, the customer would be interested in replicating these tactics for their sales team, too.
“You’ll always come to the point where you’ll hit a ceiling with some of the traditional [ways] of selling,” says Ränke.
Think about how you can help your partner’s CSM grow their accounts using your integration. In many cases, partnerships outperform outbound sales and shorten sales cycles. It’s a win-win-win for your partner’s CSMs, their AEs, and you.
You can help educate your partner’s CSM by:
- Sharing case studies, value statements, and success stories from mutual customers who have used your joint solution
- Sharing documentation on your integration with your CSM
- Sharing common customer roadblocks and how your team and other CSMs can help prevent or navigate them
- Sharing research-based insights to help your CSM understand their customer’s current and future challenges and adopt innovative strategies for setting their customer up for success
- Hosting one-to-one meetings or one-to-many webinars to keep your partner’s CSMs up to date on your software and latest features
- Working with your partner to put partner data in your CSM’s tech stack, including directly in your CRM
- Providing your partner’s CSM with resources and/or your presentation deck, like Reputation did, ahead of time so they can identify areas of importance for their customers and come to you ready with questions
- Identifying a common language to use among your team and your partner’s CSMs so that you can quickly identify areas for improvement for your partner CSM’s customers and additional customers they may be working with, like LeapPoint did
#3: Celebrate Your CSM’s Win
After Ränke helped his partner’s CSM and AE facilitate the account expansion, Ränke published the win in a joint case study. His partner’s leadership team celebrated the case study internally, and the partner’s CSM and AE used the cases study to showcase their work and help educate other CSMs and AEs on how to replicate their results.
Many of the CSM’s and AE’s peers reached out to Ränke proactively to ask for his help in growing their accounts and closing open opportunities. Ränke also took this opportunity to ask the CSM and AE he had been working with if they would introduce him to their counterparts in other markets and regions.
“If they have a good experience, they’re going to refer you [to other CSMs and sales reps],” says Ränke. “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.”
Ränke adds that the case study helped to elevate the CSM’s and AE’s careers. His strategic alliance partner promoted the CSM shortly after they published the case study.
Let’s look at an example partner case study from Spectrm and the results that followed:
In the above case study example with Spectrm and their partner Meta, Ränke and Meta’s CSM influenced the following results for their mutual customer:
- An 85% click-through rate for the Messenger experience
- 30% more incremental purchases than business-as-usual campaign of link ads
- A 23% decrease in cost-per-additional conversion for campaign that included ads that click to Messenger
Spectrm published the above case study in 2020, and the partnership continues to grow. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Meta, shared the case study during Meta’s 2022 Q1 earnings call and personally reached out to Ränke to recognize Spectrm’s work with Meta and its agency partners.
“The CSM and the AE received a lot of praise from this, because it is still today one of the biggest deals,” says Ränke.
Today, Ränke works with CSMs and AEs from his strategic alliance partners across regions and markets. As a byproduct, he has also expanded his partner strategy to working with local agency partners via introductions from his partners’ CSMs and AEs working in each market.
“Build relationships with people across different verticals, across different markets,” says Ränke. “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.”
“It’s a snowball effect,” says Ränke.
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