Your sales team is trying to hit its Q4 target, and every deal matters. As a partnership leader, you love racking your brain to find solutions that help your sales team push their opportunities across the finish line. Some opportunities’ needs are easy to satisfy; the right integration from your tech ecosystem can make your software an integral part of their tech stacks and can influence the deal. But in other instances, the solution isn’t as straightforward.
At Close, James Urie, the Senior Partnerships Manager and a previous member of the sales team, saw an opportunity to turn an inbound lead with a low likelihood of closing into a “closed-won” opportunity. All it took was some creative thinking and help from the right services partner.
How a Services Partner Helped Close the Deal
Close’s inbound lead had specific requirements for integrating a piece of software unique to the home services industry with other parts of their tech stack — including Close’s customer relationship management (CRM) software.
“The [lead] was using a piece of software that doesn’t integrate well with a lot of [tools], but it was a standard software the home services industry uses,” says James Urie, Senior Partnerships Manager at Close.
Urie knew that:
- Close hadn’t done well selling into the home services industry previously
- Close didn’t have an existing integration in their tech ecosystem with this particular software
- Requesting that Close’s Professional Services (PS) team complete custom development work wasn’t a good use of their time or a good match for their expertise, since they didn’t have other customers who would also benefit and since the customer’s technical needs were complex
- Developing a new integration with this particular software for the customer wasn’t scalable since they didn’t have any other customers who would benefit from the integration
However, Urie knew that if a services partner could help integrate Close with the lead’s tech stack, then Close and the services partner could work together to close similar opportunities in the future as well. So, Urie reached out to his services partner, Michael Dominick at Alice, to see if they’d be up for the challenge.
“The problem [the lead was] looking to solve was not difficult in theory. They just needed the integrations to get done the right way and to be native,” says Urie. “There’s a huge opportunity for this customer to grow and for other customers like this to come through our funnel.”
Alice assembled a proposal to integrate the lead’s entire tech stack, including Close’s CRM software. This led to Close and Alice closing the deal together. And just six months after the services partner integrated the customer’s tech stack, the customer reported significant revenue boosts across its business functions.
“[Alice] integrated the customer’s entire tech stack. It went so well that the customer said, ‘In the first six months of tying this tech stack together, I brought in more revenue than I did all of last year.’”
Share Your Wins, Find Your Sales and CS Advocates.
Urie joins calls with his sales and CS team to discuss new customer handoffs from sales to CS and post-sales challenges the CSMs are facing. During these calls, he listens to identify areas where tech and services partners can provide support.
When Urie heard from one of Close’s CSMs, Forrest Dwyer, that his customer wanted to integrate a piece of technology specific to a particular industry with other pieces of their tech stack, Urie knew the story sounded all too familiar. Again, the software the customer wanted to integrate did not have existing integrations with most of the tools the customer needed. Urie shared the story of how he had worked with the services partner, Alice, to win the opportunity in the home services industry. Then, Dwyer replicated the process of enlisting a services partner to help his customer.
Dwyer immediately saw the value of bringing in a services partner to integrate the customer’s tech stack. He also asked Urie about other services and tech partners to see if they could help meet other customer needs.
“[The CSM] raised his hand,” says Urie.
Together, Urie and Dwyer developed a resource on their wiki platform for their CSMs and account executives (AEs) to reference whenever they encounter a prospect or customer need they can’t solve on their own or with the support of their PS team. The resource would help them identify which partners to reach out to for help closing an opportunity or for supporting an existing customer.
Now, Close’s sales and CS team can reference the resource to learn which partners can help them and when, and they can reach out to Urie directly if they need more information.
Introducing Your CSMs and AEs to Working With Services Partners
Your first win with your services partner will help to establish trust between your team and your partner (and equally as important, trust in you!). Trust is necessary for developing and scaling a successful partner program. We’ve compiled a few tips for rolling out your first co-selling motions with services partners to your sales and CS team:
Work with just one CSM or sales rep to start. Urie meets with the CSM who showed the most interest in working with partners to help advocate for partnerships to the rest of the CS team. They meet biweekly to update their resource page on services and tech partners. Then, the CSM helps to educate the other CSMs on the updates so they know which partners can help them.
You should also identify an advocate on your sales team to launch your first co-selling motions with tech partners (Check out the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book for more).
Give your CSMs and AEs autonomy, while keeping your door open. Urie’s CSMs and AEs can reach out to their services partners directly for help. However, many of his CSMs and AEs reach out to Urie directly to gut check whether a particular services partner is the right fit for their prospect or customer’s needs. From there, Urie can tell them “Yes” or “No”, or he can work on filling a particular gap if no solution exists just yet.
It’s up to you if you feel that your AEs and CSMs are ready to engage with your services partners directly. Some partnership leaders choose to connect their AEs and CSMs with their partners via Slack Connect, while others prefer to serve as a conduit. Work with an advocate on your sales or CS team to facilitate a win. Then, use that process to lead by example.
Urie tells his services partners to expect direct introductions from his AEs or CSMs to their prospects or customers. He assures them that his team has educated their AEs and CSMs about their respective services prior to them reaching out.
Don’t overwhelm your CS or sales team with information. Urie only includes their most trusted services partners and highest quality integrations in their wiki resource page for the sales and CS team. He segments the information by product gap and includes easy-to-parse information on:
- How their integrations, including links to documentation for each
- Each services partner’s capabilities (e.g. expertise in integrating software for the home services industry)
- Instructions for how to reach out to each services and tech partner
- Information around which introductions include sales program incentive funds (SPIFs) for the sales team, referral fees for services partners, or a discount for the customer
“Our goal is to keep this document lean,” says Urie. “We don’t want to have a menu that’s so robust that it’s difficult for our CS team to make the right recommendations.”
Tech and Services Partners Win Together
When Urie reached out to Alice for help, Alice hadn’t yet worked with any clients in the home services industry. However, once Alice completed the project for their new client, they were then able to apply similar dev work towards helping others in the same industry.
“[Dominick] Slacked me and told me he had a whole pipeline of home services companies lining up for this service based on the recommendation from this customer we helped close and from targeting these types of companies,” says Urie.
The collaboration helped:
“We’re seeing if it’s sustainable [first], and then we can position our marketing campaigns in this direction,” says Urie.
Curious to know how many of your partnership peers work with services partners? Download our State of the Partner Ecosystem Report, and get stats like:
- 73% of respondents have channel partner programs
- Most partnership professionals aren’t using a partner relationship management (PRM) tool
- Of those who offer their channel partners incentives, 82% offer a percentage of sale
Get the report here. 👇
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