4 Parts Of The Sales Cycle Where Partnerships Can Help

4 Parts Of The Sales Cycle Where Partnerships Can Help

Zoe Kelly 8 min
By Zoe Kelly

When partnerships and sales team up, sales professionals can see results like: 

Additionally, Partnerships are a factor in SaaS purchasing decisions. According to the 2022 report “Inside the SMB SaaS Technology Buying Process,” from Bredin, partners influence the SaaS purchasing decisions of companies at the awareness (35%), research, (48%), and decision (40%) stages of the sales cycle. 

Despite being a lever of influence for closing deals, partnerships are often underutilized by sales professionals. Partner managers struggle to get buy-in from their sales team due to a lack of awareness around the power of partnerships as a sales tool. The good news? Early sales adopters of partnerships gain a competitive edge over their peers when it comes to crushing their quarterly sales goals

Partnerships can be an asset at the major points of the sales process. We are covering four of them today that span from sourcing to closing: 

Generating ecosystem qualified leads

Ecosystem qualified leads (EQLs) are net new leads that you or your company get from partners. Typically they come via: 

  • Direct referrals (your partner introduces you to someone and they become a prospect).
  • Account overlap via data sharing (your partner shares a list of their customer accounts with you).

In either form, EQLs can help with the sales process:

  • Referrals help save time. You get to skip over the cold calls or emails and go directly to the part where you and the prospect are already connected. 
  • Account overlaps unearth prospects that already exist in your ecosystem. Not only is this a great way to get a (free) list of new leads, but those particular leads already have a connection to your product via your partners. Are they a customer of an integration (or tech) partner? You already know that your product is compatible with at least one part of their tech stack. 

Tapping into EQLs creates a continuous cycle of new business. Partnerships are reciprocal by nature and your partner team most likely has already built a system of frequent lead-sharing with your partners. 

Read: our profile of Business Development Manager Ella Monarch who, within eight months of working with her partnerships team, was receiving two referrals monthly and 18% of her pipeline from partner referrals.

Get started

The most common key performance indicators (KPIs) for partnerships professionals are

  • Leads generated by partners
  • Partner sourced revenue (revenue from deals that are brought to the company 100% by partners) 
  • Partner influenced revenue (revenue from deals that are partially attributable to a partner)

If you communicate to a partner manager that you want to prioritize EQLs, it is in their best interest to help you do so. We recommend:

  • Setting up a meeting with your partner manager to learn more about the partners they’re working with and to identify any EQLs that might be coming from those partners.
  • Establishing a consistent method of communication (a weekly meeting or a dedicated Slack channel can suffice) to make sure you’re kept up to date, as partner data can change quickly. 
  • Expressing your interest in working with EQLs.If your partner manager sees you as a partnerships champion, they will most likely prioritize sending you leads. 

Getting an intro

Anyone who’s ever dated or worked in sales knows that getting ghosted sucks. And while we can’t promise help in the love department, we do have a recommendation for how sales professionals can avoid being ghosted by prospects in the first place or even bring their would-be-deals back from the dead. 

Warm intros, like referrals, personalize yourself to your prospect and create an in-road for follow-ups if the prospect starts to ghost. They haven’t responded to your first message? Your partner can give them a nudge. They’ve stopped answering all of your emails and calls out of the blue? Your partner can check in with them to see why. Maybe they’re swamped and you should wait a week or so before trying again. Maybe they wrote a response, thought they sent it, but it’s actually sitting in their draft folder (Anyone else do this? No? Just me?).

Read: How an AE at SEO platform Botify went from being ghosted by a prospect to closing the deal just two weeks later thanks to an intro from a partner. 

Get started

As with generating EQLs, the first step to securing warm intros for your future deals is establishing a regular cadence of communication with your partner manager. How frequently do you want to check in about your current accounts? How do you want to communicate with them? Do you want to stick to Slack, email, or set up a recurring meeting? These questions might seem tedious, but building a partnerships routine into your workflows can help ensure you don’t miss an opportunity for a warm introduction. 

When a warm introduction is needed, work with your partner manager to create the following to send to your partner:

  • A short blurb that explains the status of the account. Was this a communication gone dark? Have you not been able to get any response at all? 
  • A draft of what you want the intro to say. Not only does this make the assist easier on your partner, but it ensures the intro reflects your sales pitch. 

Timing the sell

Your partners that are already working with your prospects can provide valuable insight into what’s going on at that prospects company. Did the company just greenlight a bigger budget for expanding their tech stack? Have they started looking into purchasing a product that you provide? 

Having access to this kind of non-public information can be the difference between you shooting your shot at exactly the right time and unknowingly walking into a dead-end deal. Plus, partners can do some of the groundwork for you by providing validation of your product to the prospect. Then, you can make sure your outreach occurs after the prospect is warmed up to the idea. What others might call lucky timing, we call partner insight. 

Read: How the sales cycle at video marketing platform Spirable is shortened when partners validate their product before their initial sales call. 

Get started

Work with your partner managers to identify any partner contacts already working with your prospects. Then, reach out to the contact and ask them to flag any circumstantial changes on the prospect’s end including:

  • Expanded or decreased budgets. 
  • Changes or possible changes in tech stack. 
  • New leadership or business direction. 
  • Layoffs or new hires that impact purchase decision makers at the company. 

Adding context to a pitch

A stack of wooden planks, a bucket of nails, and a hammer isn’t that appealing. But throw in a blueprint and an old oak tree and suddenly the interest in your new treehouse project takes shape. 

Without the right context it’s hard to see tools as part of a larger solution. When it comes to pitching, partners can help you show your product in the context of your prospect’s tech stack.

Does your product integrate with a tool your prospect already uses? You no longer are just selling your product; you’re selling the ease that the integration would bring to your prospect’s existing workflows. Is the prospect already working with one of your agency partners? That agency partner already has the expertise of your prospect’s tech stack, plus the knowledge and resources to implement your product with ease. 

Read: How BDR at DigitalOceans increased a deal size by bringing in multiple partners to showcase the different customer use cases made possible by those partnerships. 

Getting started

One way to provide the maximum amount of context and expertise during your sales pitches is by inviting the partner already working with your prospect onto your sales call. 

After working with your partner manager to identify the relevant partner for your pitch, set up a meeting with the partner contact. During that meeting, determine your joint proposition:

  • For tech partners: Demo your integration to highlight how easily your product will fit into the prospect’s tech stack. 
  • For channel partners: Share a case study that outlines a previous success story from your partnership.

For sales professionals looking to expand their use of partnerships, consider Crossbeam Sales Edge. You can use Sales Edge to: 

  • Easily contact partners and loop in anyone who needs to be involved. 
  • Get alerts when a partner closes your prospect.
  • Quickly find out every partner who has already closed your prospect. 
Zoe Kelly 8 min

4 Parts Of The Sales Cycle Where Partnerships Can Help

Partnerships can help sales professionals accelerate deals, increase deal size, and bring in warm referrals. In this article, we are covering how partnerships can be used to drive results throughout the sales cycle.

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