The 5 Phases of Co-Selling for Rolling Out Your New Tech Partnership

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling for Rolling Out Your New Tech Partnership

Olivia Ramirez 18 min
By Olivia Ramirez

This post offers a glimpse into our e-book No Opportunities Lost: The Crossbeam Guide to Co-Selling With Tech Partners. No Opportunities Lost will help you understand which stakeholders to engage in co-selling and when in order to build trust among your sales team and drive the best results with your tech partner throughout your integration’s lifecycle.

You’ve mapped accounts, you’ve built the integration, and now it’s time to use your integration — ahem, your secret power — to convert customers and improve retention. Get “No Opportunities Lost” and its two predecessors here: 

You launched an integration with a tech partner just three months ago. You go to your office kitchen and peruse the snacks, and your sales leader pulls you aside. She asks why your tech partner hasn’t helped your account executives (AEs) close any deals. You know it’s too early to ask for this kind of support from your tech partner, and your AEs don’t know enough about your integration or your tech partner’s AEs to collaborate. Still, your sales leader is looking at you with intense seriousness while grinding coffee beans. (Are you the coffee beans?). 

So, how do you answer your sales leader in a way that sets the right expectations while instilling trust in your integration (and in you)?

The answer: Share your plans with your sales leader early on for phasing the rollout of your co-selling motions with your new tech partner. Explain that if you ask too much of your partner or your sales team too early, the partnership will fail and it will negatively impact your team’s ability to sell your integration and increase revenue. Engage specific members of your sales team in co-selling over time, and it’ll have a cascading effect that positively impacts revenue and retention.

We recommend rolling out your co-selling motions in the following order following the launch of a new integration: 

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling, from the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book

(You can also share word-for-word copy and screenshots from our e-book No Opportunities Lost.

In the sections below, we’ll cover the exact co-selling plays to initiate during each phase and how to set your sales team up for selling and winning with your tech partners.

Skip around: 

Phase #1: Introduce the “Adoption” Play

In the early days of your integration’s lifecycle, focus on driving integration adoption among your mutual customers.

To note: We categorize this play as a “co-selling play” because driving adoption can result in upsells and expansions.

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling, from the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book

To get started, identify which of your customer accounts overlap with your partner’s customer accounts in Crossbeam.

The account mapping matrix in Crossbeam: the Customer <> Customer overlap

The resulting overlaps are the customers who are using your tech partner’s software as part of their tech stacks. Consult with your customer success managers (CSMs) to understand if your customer may benefit from adopting the integration. You should also check the customers’ health scores to understand if your integration could improve how and how often the customers are using your product and if your integration could prevent churn.

For customers who are actively using your product, develop custom messaging in-app to encourage adoption. For example: 

  • Create in-app messaging via tools like Intercom to announce the integration’s launch and ask the customer if they’d like to learn more 
  • Customize the customer’s welcome dashboard to include a call-to-action (CTA) encouraging them to adopt the integration 

You can work with your Partner Ops or Growth team to automate this in-app messaging and also with your CSMs to engage their accounts in custom-tailored webinars and one-to-one conversations.

For customers with poor health and/or who are inactive in your product, your CSM will need to engage the customer directly to show them how your integration will help them get more value from your product.

Other factors to keep in mind: 

  • Your customer’s stage in the product journey. A customer who’s just starting out using your product may not have a need for more complex integrations compared to customers using your product for more advanced use cases 
  • Whether the integration is free or paid 
  • Your CSM’s relationship with the customer  

Once you’ve seen success with the “Adoption” Play, you can expand your co-selling motions to include the “Double Win” Play.

During Phase #1, gather the following evidence to help educate your AEs about your integration and improve buy-in among your sales team: 

  • Anecdotal wins, including any customers who were at risk of churning but stayed because of your integration
  • The percentage of your customer base who have adopted the integration 
  • Customer case studies about winning with your integration 
  • Value statements from customers using your integration 

All of the above will help make Phase #2 much easier to facilitate!

Use the first three months following your integration’s launch to drive adoption among your customers. If Phase #1 is successful, roll out Phase #2.

Phase #2: Introduce the “Double Win” Play

For the “Double Win” play, your AEs and your partner’s AEs will team up to close their open opportunities.

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling, from the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book

To get started, identify which of your open opportunities overlap with your tech partner’s open opportunities in Crossbeam. 

The account mapping matrix in Crossbeam: the Open Opp <> Open Opp overlap

In the early days of Phase #2, try working with an AE you have the closest relationship with and who focuses on commercial accounts. Their sales cycles are typically shorter, so you’re likely to generate wins earlier. You’ll need these early wins to get more of your AEs on board with co-selling with your tech partner. 

Work with your AE individually or in their sales pipeline meetings to select a handful of overlapping opportunities to work on with your tech partner. If your tech partner is sharing account-level details, you can choose to select accounts that only overlap with one of your tech partner’s AEs to start (or vice versa). 

Then, reach out to your tech partner via email or using Slack Connect to suggest that your AEs work together on closing the opportunity. If your partner agrees, connect your AEs for an initial game planning call. Join your AE on the call to ensure the two AEs can speak to the value of each of your products and your joint value proposition.

Next steps can include: 

  • Your respective AEs discussing the value of each other’s products and your integration on their respective calls with the opportunity
  • Your AEs teaming up on a call with the opportunity to showcase how the opportunity can use your integration to hit their goals 

By working with your tech partner, your AE is more likely to: 

Take this time to iterate on your co-selling process with your AE, double down on what’s working, and improve what’s not working. Then, use their wins to roll the “Double Win” Play out to more AEs on your sales team.

Phase #2 should last about three months. Once you’ve seen success with Phase #2 (think: a better close rate with partners than without, faster sales cycles, and general excitement among your AEs and your partner’s AEs), you’re ready to roll out Phase #3.

Phase #3: Introduce the “Acceleration” Play

For the “Acceleration” Play, your AEs will work on closing their open opportunities with the help of your tech partner’s CSM (or AE — whoever has the better relationship with their existing customer). Your tech partner’s CSM serves as a trusted advisor for their customer and can educate them about the value of your product and integration — ultimately influencing the deal for your AE. Meanwhile, your CSMs will support your partner’s AEs in closing deals, too.

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling, from the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book

This time, you’re looking at open opportunities that overlap with your tech partner’s customers. 

The account mapping matrix in Crossbeam: the Open Opp <> Customer overlap

As a result of Phase #1 and Phase #2, you can enter into this new phase knowing that: 

  • Your respective AEs understand the value of your integration/products 
  • Your respective AEs can speak to their open opportunities knowledgeably about your joint value proposition
  • Your AEs are incentivized to work with your tech partner since they’ve already established relationships with your tech partner’s team and generated wins together (and vice versa)
  • Your respective CSMs are willing to help your respective AEs out because they’ve seen your customers achieve value from adopting and using your integration

In your resources hub or directly in Slack, put instructions for your team in writing so they know when and how to reach out to a particular partner. Take a look at how Gorgias, an e-commerce customer service help-desk platform, put instructions for their sales reps directly in Slack: 

From a case study on how Gorgias increased its tech partner program’s revenue by 30%

For AEs who already have a relationship with your tech partner’s team, you can enable them to reach out to their counterpart directly. By using the Crossbeam Slack App and Slack Mentions, your team can learn about new overlaps instantly and can either initiate next steps immediately or ask you for support.

Census, a reverse ETL platform, gets alerts from Crossbeam to their email whenever a new overlap is found between their open opportunities and their partner’s customers. After they receive the alert, Census’s sales team will reach out to their open opportunity to educate them about their integration with their tech partner, or Census’s partnerships team will engage their tech partner directly. 

For example: Sylvain Guiliani, Head of RevOps and Growth at Census, might say something like, “Hey, we just saw that you closed Acme Corporation. What’s the state of the account? Do you think it’s time for us to get into there? Do you know what your customer’s strategy is to get all their data into your platform? Because we’d like to help accelerate that onboarding process.”

Friendbuy, a referral marketing platform company, provides their tech partners’ CSMs with integration enablement materials to ensure the CSM knows how to communicate their “better together” story with their customer. In some cases, Friendbuy’s partnership leader will form a direct relationship with their tech partner’s CSM, enabling them to build trust with external stakeholders.  

“The biggest advantage of getting in front of a partner’s CSM is to say, ‘Hey, here are some recommendations for how you can communicate Friendbuy and the partner’s better together story to your customer.’” says Samantha Samuels, Head of Partnerships at Friendbuy.

Keep in mind: co-selling should continue to be mutually beneficial for both parties. Monitor your sales and CS teams’ relationships with your tech partner’s sales and CS teams to ensure each party is helping the other out.

Greg Unruh, Vice President of Partnerships and Channels at Shipware, developed a scoring system in Salesforce to enable his sales team to score their relationships with their partners’ counterparts.

“I give [my sales rep] a scoring mechanism from zero to four. Four means, ‘Hey, this is really active, this is a great partnership, we’re on a weekly cadence with one another,’” says Unruh.

If Unruh’s sales rep gives their counterpart a score of “0”, then Unruh has a conversation with the partner to understand what’s not working and then finds his sales rep a better match to co-sell with.

Phase #3 should last about three months. After three months, if you’ve seen great results (think: your CSMs have actively helped your partner close deals and vice versa), you’re ready to roll out Phase #4.

Phase #4: Introduce the “Warm Intro” Play

For the “Warm Intro” Play, you’ll be engaging your SDRs in co-selling for the first time with your tech partner. During this play, your tech partner’s CSM (or AE) will help your SDR get valuable context about their prospects (like buying timeline, etc.) and help them break into new accounts.

We’ve waited this long to engage your SDRs in co-selling because they have the highest barrier to entry. Here’s why: 

  • Your SDRs may not receive compensation for leads generated by partners, thus incentivizing them to work alone (Tip: Work with your sales leader early on to ensure your SDRs will receive the same compensation for generating leads with partners as they would on their own)
  • Your SDRs are typically more junior relative to the rest of the sales team and may be less likely to experiment with new tactics 
  • Your SDRs are not involved in the later stages of the sales cycle and thus have less exposure to the nuances of their prospects’ tech stacks and technical needs 
  • Your partner’s AEs/CSMs are more likely to want to help your SDRs break into new accounts after seeing success with your AEs/CSMs first
  • Your SDRs are more likely to understand the value of your integration/working with your tech partner if your AEs are already bought in and sharing their wins

As a result of rolling out Phases #1-3 successfully, your tech partner has gained trust in your sales team, and your SDRs have gained trust in your joint solution. 

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling, from the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book

To get started, identify which of your prospects overlap with your tech partner’s customers in Crossbeam. 

The account mapping matrix in Crossbeam: the Prospect <> Customer overlap

Check in with your SDRs during your sales pipeline meetings and individually to see which accounts they’re stuck on and which partners can help. For example: if your SDR has stopped hearing back from a particular prospect, identify which tech partner has the closest relationship with stakeholders in the target account and which partners could recommend your integration as part of their customer’s tech stack. 

As next steps, you and your SDR can hop on a call with your tech partner’s AE/CSM and your SDR can: 

  • Ask your partner’s AE or CSM questions to qualify their prospect, like around the prospect’s buying timeline 
  • Ask your partner for a warm intro into the account
  • Ask your partner to put in a good word on your behalf to their customer
  • Ask your partner to help educate the customer about the value of your integration
  • Include details about your integration in your SDR’s sales outreach to prospects who are using your tech partner’s software as part of their current tech stacks (You can even automate some of this process by pulling partner data directly into your sales outreach tools

Check out this instance of how customer data and marketing platform company Ometria initiated the “Warm Intro” Play for their business development representative (BDR): 

  • The partnerships team identified a list of accounts their partners could help their BDR break into
  • They reached out to their partner via email to ask if the partner would be willing to put in a good word to their BDR’s prospect, who was a new customer of their tech partner 
  • The partner agreed to set up a call between Ometria’s BDR and partnerships lead and their onboarding CSM 
  • On the call, the BDR confirmed details about their prospect’s tech stack, relevant stakeholders, and more with the tech partner’s onboarding CSM
  • The tech partner’s onboarding CSM offered to include Ometria as an integral part of their new customer’s recommended tech stack during their customer kickoff meeting
  • The BDR immediately shared how successful the call was with Ometria’s leadership team, and now more BDRs are asking the partnerships team for support! 

Phase #5: Introduce the “Pipeline Generation” Play

As a result of Phase #4, your SDRs now have a working relationship with your tech partner, and vice versa. Your SDRs have learned more about the value of your integration and working with your tech partner. Now, you’re ready to engage your SDRs with your tech partner’s SDRs to sell to their mutual prospects together. 

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling, from the “No Opportunities Lost” e-book

To get started, identify which of your prospects overlap with your tech partner’s prospects in Crossbeam. 

The account mapping matrix in Crossbeam: the Prospect <> Prospect overlap

Your SDR and your tech partner’s SDR can hop on a call to: 

  • Discuss what’s resonating in the market for each party to open new leads
  • Gameplan next steps to team up to pitch your integration to mutual prospects 
  • Work together to iterate on your “better together” story and custom-tailor their messaging 
  • Include details about the integration in their email outreach and, if the prospect is interested, loop in the respective SDR 
  • Educate the prospect about your integration at the prospect phase, thus improving the number of partner-soured deals your team closes

How to Set the Right Expectations Around Co-Selling

The most common key performance indicators (KPIs) for partnership professionals in 2022 were “Leads generated by partners” and “partner-sourced revenue”. However, less than 50% of partnership professionals meet the goals tied to their KPIs most or all quarters. 

There’s a disconnect here! There are internal expectations to produce ecosystem qualified leads (EQLs) and revenue from the get-go, but the tech partnerships with the most successful co-selling motions prioritize adoption and accelerating sales cycles first.

Below are a few tips for ensuring your team expects and can deliver on the right results throughout your integration’s lifecycle: 

Inform your sales leader about the five phases of co-selling. Explain how you plan to gather evidence of your integration’s success from early adopters in order to educate customers and your sales team about your integration’s value most effectively.

Once you have evidence that some members of your team can facilitate a particular result with the help of your integration/tech partner (e.g. a “Double Win” facilitated by your AE and your partner’s AE), then you can use that win to educate and engage other members of the sales team for facilitating other types of wins (e.g. through the “Warm Intro” Play). 

Work with advocates among your sales team to start. When you begin to launch co-selling motions with your AEs, we suggest starting with a commercial AE since their sales cycles are typically shorter than enterprise sales cycles.

Some partnership leaders choose to work with the AE they have the closest relationship with, the AE who is already the most bought into partnerships, and/or the AE who has the highest amount of overlapping accounts with your tech partner (or just one strategic account to start).

Initiate a few wins with your AE, and then they can show the rest of your sales team the value of your integration/working with your tech partner by celebrating their wins and sharing their favorite tactics.

Ensure your sales team will receive incentives for working with partners. Use monetary incentives to encourage your sales reps to work with partners. Work with your sales leader to bake these incentives into your sales team’s goals. You could offer incentives for closing deals with partners, helping your partner close deals, or for completing a minimum number of activities with partners in a given quarter. Sales program incentive funds (SPIFs) could include anything from a cash gift, a gift card, or tickets to a game (Get creative!). You can also consider incentivizing your partner’s sales team, like Hatch did

Olivia Ramirez 18 min

The 5 Phases of Co-Selling for Rolling Out Your New Tech Partnership

When and how to engage your sales team in co-selling with tech partners to generate wins, increase buy-in, and produce ongoing results.

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