23% of Companies Co-Selling are Going All In. Here’s Why They’re Right.

23% of Companies Co-Selling are Going All In. Here’s Why They’re Right.

Olivia Ramirez 10 min
By Olivia Ramirez

It’s 2023. Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) are asking for more. Sales development representatives (SDRs) and account executives (AEs) are doubling down on prospecting. More pipeline means more deals closed — right? Only if your pipeline is packed with Ecosystem-Qualified Leads (EQLs).

An EQL is a net new lead that comes directly from partners in your ecosystem. This could mean getting a referral or warm intro from your tech or channel partner.

While 73% of SDRs reported missing their quotas in 2022, 74% of partnership professionals reported hitting their goals most quarters. And those goals include an increase in lead and revenue targets.

In response, 23% of B2B SaaS companies are going all in with 100% of their sales reps co-selling. Rep-to-rep co-selling is still a relatively new sales motion compared to traditional sales tactics, and, with anything new, there’s bound to be a group of early adopters and late adopters. While 23% of companies are embracing Ecosystem-Led Sales, another 17% of companies lag behind with less than 10% of their reps co-selling. (Scroll down to see a visual breakdown of this gap and where your company might fit in.)

Modern SaaS companies going all in on co-selling report that deals close 46% faster and have a 53% higher likelihood of closing. Additionally, partners contribute 32% of total pipeline.

Source: 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem Report

*These numbers are averages across all company sizes and were collected by surveying more than 500 partnership professionals in the 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem report

Below, we’ll share how co-selling is gaining in popularity — plus, the business impact of co-selling among B2B SaaS companies.

Ecosystem-Led Sales is Gaining in Popularity

The amount of SaaS companies adopting co-selling and Ecosystem-Led Sales has been rising since 2020. 51% of all sales reps co-sell with partners in 2023.

Since 2020, the number of companies participating in rep-to-rep co-selling with partners has also risen (from 62% to 72%). This rise tracks alongside the increase in companies who have adopted Ecosystem-Led Growth as an org-wide strategy

Above: 10% of B2B SaaS companies in the US use Ecosystem-Led Growth, up from slightly more than 0% in 2020. 

On average, deals close 46% faster and are 53% more likely to close when a partner is involved. Those who are co-selling have a better chance of winning the deal over competitors who aren’t. This competitive edge is due to partners contributing to sales motions by: 

Generating EQLs for the sales team. These high-quality leads close faster thanks to partners recommending your product to their existing customers, educating your prospect about your integration and its value, and providing valuable intel to your AEs (like which stakeholders have buying power)

Encouraging their prospects and customers to buy your product over your competitor’s. Your channel partners can help share success stories with your prospect about their clients who have used your product and help educate your prospect about how to use your product to meet their business needs. Your tech partners can recommend adopting your integration during their new customer kickoff sessions and help educate your prospects about your joint value.

Providing warm intros to your sales team. Your partner can introduce your SDRs and AEs to stakeholders they have existing relationships with. Rather than relying on cold outreach, your sales team can get same day intros and even revive deals gone dark.

Some SaaS sales teams are fully bought in, while others are slow to catch on.

On average, 51% of sales reps among B2B SaaS companies co-sell. But there’s a huge gap between those who are going all in and those who aren’t. More than 20% of partnership teams have reported that 100% of their sales reps co-sell. But approximately 17% say that less than 10% co-sell. The rest fall somewhere in between.

Source: 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem Report

Crossbeam CEO Bob Moore and VP of Content Sean Blanda dive into the data in our recent 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem webinar. Catch a clip below, and get the on-demand webinar here.

Ready to get started with co-selling? Below are a few examples of B2B SaaS companies co-selling today and the results they’ve seen. 

Everflow shaved four months off of their enterprise deal cycles. Everflow uses partner ecosystem platform (PEP) Crossbeam to understand which open opportunities are customers of their partners. They then send the data into HubSpot to create custom dashboards and reports. This enables them to track partner referrals per quarter, the number of partners in each lifecycle stage, and more. Sales reps can review the dashboard to see which partners have relationships with their prospects and opportunities. They can then “Request help from partner” directly in HubSpot. The data automatically updates in Crossbeam, and their partnerships team facilitates an intro. 

“By account mapping in Crossbeam, it shrinks our sales cycle in a large organization from nine months to five months. That’s a lot,” says Ed Ceballos, Head of Partnerships at Everflow. “You get more sales weeks per year because you’re closing deals faster…it’s more deals in less time.”

“The close rate for deals where partners are involved compared to other inbound or outbound deals is 10 to 1,” says Ceballos. 

Census uses partner data to pursue 34% higher annual contract values (ACVs). Using Crossbeam, the partnerships team at Census identifies which tech partners have an existing relationship with their prospects. They then contact their tech partners and gather intel about how their prospect typically buys software, what the procurement process was like for them, and more. Knowing these details early on in the sales cycle helps Census’s partnerships and sales team get an idea of how likely the deal is to close. 

For example: If a prospect tells their tech partner they’re not interested in purchasing Census for another six months, Census’s sales team knows exactly when to reach out with next steps. And via Crossbeam, Census knows exactly when a prospect has purchased their tech partner’s software. This sends a signal for Census’s team to begin the sales conversation. 

“Having sales intel from Crossbeam allows us to be more in control of a deal. This means we can be more confident in our negotiations and pricing discussions with clients. We don’t have to anchor ourselves to a lower contract value,” says Sylvain Giuliani, Head of RevOps and Growth at Census.

Former account executive turned partnerships leader Alex Richards said leads he received from a particular partner were almost 100X more likely to close compared to cold leads and in just 34% of the time. By establishing a relationship with a particular partner, Richards received a steady flow of 15 leads per month from the partner. These EQLs had a 40% booking rate, up from the 1% rate of booking leads when partner’s weren’t involved. 

“It’s like talking to a stranger versus talking to a friend,” says Alex Richards, the now Director of Partnerships at Aventus. 

Getting Started With Co-Selling

Start small. If you’re rolling out co-selling motions with a new partner, focus on generating one win to start. If your co-selling motions are with a new tech partner, first drive adoption of your integration among your mutual customers to get feedback, develop case studies, and gather value statements. Then, use the evidence of your integration’s success to help one of your internal AEs close a deal with your partner’s existing customer. It becomes a lot easier to get buy-in from your entire sales team when you have a top performer or respected peer sharing their success and advocating for the partnership. Suggested read: 8 Times Sales Reps Won the Deal by Co-Selling With Partners.

You can use a similar mindset for getting buy-in with your partner’s sales team and to expand your co-selling motions to multiple markets via your partner. Suggested read: How to Win Over Your Strategic Partner’s Customer Success Team Right Away.

Consider using incentives in the early days. If your sales team is unfamiliar with co-selling, offering incentives can help get them excited about co-selling until they start seeing the results for themselves. Keep in mind: The most popular incentive among partnership professionals is no incentive at all. 45% offer no incentives to their sales team, 30% off sales program incentive funds (SPIFs), and 24% offer quota relief. 

However, of the companies that have 80% or more of their sales reps co-selling with partners, not offering any incentive and offering SPIFs are equally popular. 57% of these companies use a partner ecosystem platform (PEP) like Crossbeam to map accounts in real time, and 30% send partner data (“second-party data”) to their customer relationship management (CRM) system or their data warehouse. Suggested read: How Hatch Boosted its Close Rate by 24% by Incentivizing its Partner’s Account Managers)

Work with your sales leader to set expectations. If your sales leader is bought in, your sales reps will follow. (After all, co-selling with partners has led to promotions.) A member of the partnerships team should join in on pipeline meetings and help their AEs identify opportunities to accelerate their sales cycles. You and your sales leader should work together to show the impact of co-selling to the sales team (Tip: Use the stats in this article!) and to ensure that your sales development representatives (SDRs) will get credit and compensation for leads generated by partners. If not, they’ll be more incentivized to work alone. 

As you roll out your first co-selling motions, join every call between your sales team and your partner’s sales team. Serve as a liaison until your sales team has established relationships with your partner, they’re well-versed in the co-selling process, and they’re just as excited to help your partner close deals as they are excited to get their support. Suggested read:No Opportunities Lost: The Crossbeam Guide to Co-Selling With Tech Partners

Want to learn more about Ecosystem-Led Sales? Sign up for Crossbeam Insider, a weekly newsletter sharing the latest Ecosystem insights, playbooks, and interviews with those who are embracing Ecosystem-Led Growth.

Plus, catch the latest edition of Crossbeam Insider, where Hami Neisari of Aircall shares how his team got buy-in from thousands of partner sales reps to grow their co-selling motions at scale.

Olivia Ramirez 10 min

23% of Companies Co-Selling are Going All In. Here’s Why They’re Right.

Early adopters of Ecosystem-Led Sales are going all in with 100% of their sales reps co-selling — while late adopters have less than 10% co-selling. Those who are co-selling are seeing benefits like 46% faster sales cycles.

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