It’s getting harder to get the attention of prospects and customers in the digital world. And to make matters worse, 50% of those prospects won’t even be a good fit.
Not to worry!
A partner ecosystem can help you break the ice and get the attention of the right prospects and accounts.
But how can you get the most out of your partner program to meet and exceed your sales goals?
How can you ensure that you are setting yourself up for success?
We’ve put together 5 simple ways for you to do just that and get the most out of your partner ecosystem today.
Let’s dive in.
#1 Embrace Reciprocity
Do you have a friend that you always buy coffee for, but they’ve never returned the favor?
Doesn’t feel great, does it?
Just as friendship is a two-way street, the same principle applies to sales partnerships.
Reciprocity is key to making a sales relationship flourish. Let’s say your partner has given you five leads that led to sales this month. Make sure you are returning the favor.
Seems simple enough, right?
One way to ensure this is manageable is to partner with companies that are not just similar in size but also in the way you conduct business.
Partnering with someone much larger or smaller can create a poor power dynamic.
Simply put, when your relationships are flourishing, you’ll have a much easier time asking to collaborate with them on a key account.
So if your relationships are flourishing with reciprocity, what’s next?
#2 Structure & Processes
Work smarter, not harder.
It’s all about integrating a partner ecosystem, not replacing your existing system.
Take the sales processes that you already use and infuse partnership components into them.
Marne Reed, Chief Evangelist of Brand Experiences at PFL.com explains how they did this successfully on The Partnered Podcast (we’ve summarized the main points below):
- First things first, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the sales team.
- Walk with them as they navigate through the sales funnel to discover where partnership processes fit in smoothly.
- If, like Marne, you use Salesforce, add a mandatory field for partner-specific information to get partnerships top of mind by integrating them into the existing process.
Seems easy enough, right?
But don’t forget, to avoid friction, communicate the following:
- Why is this important?
- Why are we doing this?
- How this benefits them.
When the funnel is running smoothly, you’ll see results, and more importantly, Sales will see results and want in.
Once you’ve smoothly integrated partnership processes into the sales funnel, it’s time to dive into sales enablement.
#3 Sales Enablement Strategy
Sometimes you need to go back to the basics.
Implementing a sales enablement strategy isn’t about educating your sales team on the entire partner ecosystem.
Just start with the key points they need to get going:
- Standardize reporting - clearly communicate what parts of partnerships will be measured/reported on.
- Simplify the sales process - show how partnerships integrate into the process.
- Qualifying leads - show how using partnerships allows you to qualify leads.
As Hubspot points out, having too much data with no guidance can be overwhelming for Sales. Focus on how the ecosystem will not only benefit the salesperson but also the consumer.
Using an account-based partnership platform like Partnered in your sales enablement strategy helps curate the data and bring key insights to the forefront.
Create an account map in just a few clicks and use automation to turn your overlaps into revenue.
Use Collaborative Inboxes to connect your sales teams and partners to break into accounts and fast-track deals.
Understand every partner touchpoint to make better decisions.
Once you’ve got your sales enablement strategy in place, it’s time to take a closer look at your partners.
#4 Audit Your Partnership Ecosystem And Cut When Appropriate
Sometimes you need to take stock of your current partners. Make sure you aren’t holding on to one just for the sake of it.
Maybe you’ve drifted apart or outgrown each other.
Check in and ensure your goals and expectations are still aligned.
Norma Watenpaugh, CEO of Phoenix Consulting Group, advocates the following to maintain a successful partner relationship:
- Crafting a combined vision statement to act as a “guiding North Star of the partnership”
- Shared values help people to collaborate effectively. Your values don’t need to be identical, but they should be complementary.
- Creating business objectives for your partnership that are stated in clear metrics.
Once you’re confident in your partnerships, it’s time to hold everyone accountable.
#5 Don’t Be Afraid to Hold People Accountable
In the world of sales, accountability is everything, and sometimes partners come up short.
So how do we avoid this?
The best way to hold your partners accountable is to:
- Be upfront about expectations, and discuss alternatives.
- Create a process and stick to it.
- Come from a place of empathy and respect, but be direct.
What can be done in the future to ensure partners don’t leave you hanging?
- Lay out what your goals are out of the partnership/relationship.
- Define clear expectations and deadlines.
- Make sure to check in on progress often.
Getting the most out of your partner ecosystem doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Just make sure you’re:
- Putting in as much as you’re getting out to make sure you’re nourishing your relationships.
- Integrating partnership processes into existing sales processes to make them second nature for sales teams.
- Making sure your data is being used properly by using a platform like Partnered to give your sales teams key insights from partner data.
- Curating your list of partners to make sure you are aligned with values AND expectations.
- Holding your partners accountable.
Now, go out and make some magic!
Using a network like Partnered is the simplest and most effective way to allow your sales team to reap the rewards of a partnership ecosystem. Partnered is a fully automated platform that crunches partner data and pushes key insights into the laps of your sales team, allowing your team to save time prospecting and use powerful insights to close more deals.
If you’d like to check out how Partnered can help you and your team track your partnership data, boost sales and close more deals, get started for free!