The Voice of the Channel


Collaborative Selling, Part I

How to Deliver Better Outcomes for Your Customers

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

Business is moving faster, it is constantly changing and becoming more and more competitive. In this new reality, how do you, as a player in the IT market, keep up? How do you find and close more deals? How do you maximize and grow the partnerships you do have? Build others? What's holding you back?

We'll be addressing these questions and others in our new Collaborative Selling blog series authored by Achieve Unite, a strategic advisory firm specializing in partner performance management and channel thought leadership. Over the next six weeks, we'll cover a range of topics from partnering, to developing collaborative selling skillsets, to creating winning sales strategies that accelerate business. This first blog discusses process improvement and working with, not against, your "coop-atition."

I hope you enjoy the series and you find a tip or two that helps you close more business. We also encourage you to share your experiences. After all, "power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it."

Jim Schwartz, Sr Director, Global Channel Programs, Sungard AS

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With the advent of Cloud and IoT, innovation is changing the technology landscape and the way we do business. As a result, the buying process is evolving to be more inclusive of other considerations outside of the technology alone. In my work as an advisor on Partner Performance Management and Channel Trends, I see that the role of the Solution Provider has shifted from a provider of point solutions to a master facilitator of complex, cohesive multi-vendor and often multi-partner solutions.

This shift requires partners to have greater expertise in addressing customers' business and technical issues as well as the ability to identify and implement the solutions to help them achieve the business outcomes they seek. Further, with customers now seeking an on average 6-12-month ROI from the solutions they implement, business outcomes are far more critical to these conversations than ever before.

This is a tall order for partners—one that requires more than technology expertise, clear communication and business excellence. It also requires process excellence. Enter ISO 44001, a standard for collaborative business relationship management, recently formalized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Driven by the lobbying of various interest groups and vendors across industries like technology and pharmaceutical, the ISO 44001 standard establishes that achieving trusted advisor status with customers is critically important to doing business. The ISO standard gives clear guidance and a business model framework for building productive partnerships that can help you weave solution components together to address customer challenges and, ultimately, achieve trusted advisor status. It essentially helps you drive your partners to become your true partners. It also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate to customers that you understand the elements that drive a culture of collaboration.

For example, the standard provides a framework for clearly defining the value proposition that each party brings to the table. What does each party do well? What intellectual property can the Solution Provider bring to the client that will give them a competitive advantage or differentiation?

These strengths and intellectual property value elements can include service delivery capabilities or processes, expertise in cloud migration, knowledge of a specific industry or some other deep skill set. Being clear on each party's value-add will enable you to articulate the unique value to the customer, define the role you will play and ensure that a best-in-breed solution is delivered.

It's a win-win situation because your customer gets a solution that addresses their challenges and you get a piece of the business.

Of course, all this rests on strong partnerships, so read my next post in the series to learn how to build successful partnerships that will yield better outcomes for your customers while driving joint revenue growth.

Theresa Caragol is founder and CEO of TCC, LLC, and Achieve Unite, a strategic advisory firm that provides business acceleration services to global enterprise. She has more than 20 years' experience in building and managing multi-million-dollar indirect channel teams and strategic alliance business and programs from inception to sales success. Prior to founding TCC, Theresa held senior executive roles at Extreme Networks, Ciena and Nortel.

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