The Voice of the Channel


There's No "I" in Sales

By Karen Falcone

"Doing More with Less" is the mantra at many organizations today. Revenue goals continue to rise, but too often resources don't follow suit! With only so much time in the day, it's getting harder for sales reps to keep up.

But what if sales reps had their own team of "hunters" working for them, finding opportunities and filling the funnel? Companies that have strong channel programs in place understand the force multiplier effect of building a sales engine with a strong partner focus.

According to recent statistics, as much as 80% of Tech revenue comes from the channel. More and more customers are relying on trusted advisors, such as MSPs, to make their buying decisions, with the vast majority — 90% by some accounts — seeking outside assistance with cloud strategy and implementation. That's why building a partner ecosystem and cultivating strong relationships with partners can quickly become a force multiplier.

Think about it: If you build an ecosystem of 5-10 partners and develop relationships with their respective sales teams, you will have 20-30 people looking for deals. With goals going up every year, there's little question that companies can no longer afford the go-it-alone sales rep approach.

True, this type of transformation requires an investment of time in the beginning, but an organization's channel team can help open doors within the partner environment and drive enablement and training with partners' sales teams.

"Chug and Hugs" as they say in Boston are a great way to build relationships. You can also strengthen relationships through joint events, other team-building activities and executive support. The results you see — and how quickly you see them — are directly related to the investment in the relationship. At the end of the day, we gravitate to — and want to work with — those we like!

The 1-2-3's of Building A Channel Ecosystem

I've always found that a little bit of TLC goes a long way in creating the results I want to see.  Being in the channel for over 15 years, I have seen some very successful sales reps crush their number by working with partners.  Here are some best practices I have learned from the best!!

  1. Create Your "A" Team —  Ask your customers and prospects these four questions to identify the best partners for your ecosystem:
    • Which VAR do you use for infrastructure purchases?
    • Who are your Network Providers?
    • Do you have a Consultancy firm with whom you engage for big decisions?
    • Do you have an SI?

  2. Feed the Partner — Bringing an opportunity to a partner will:
    • Ignite the relationship.
    • Create good will and show a win/win mentality.
    • Demonstrate the type of opportunity they should look for in the future. As the saying goes: If you bring the partner a deal that closes, you can be sure they will bring you 3-4 others!

  3. Engage, Engage, Engage — A regular cadence of meetings (lunches, dinners, etc.) with your partner ecosystem will pay dividends over the short- and long-term, allowing you to gather key pieces of information such as who is issuing an RFP, an upcoming hardware purchase that may be an opportunity for an OPEX cloud solution working with your partner, etc.  These conversations are gold!!

  4. Celebrate Successes — The best way to gain partner mindshare is to celebrate joint wins.  Overcommunicate within the partner organization about the win, highlighting "What Was in It for the Sales Rep?" from a compensation/quota retirement standpoint. Good news travels fast!
To sum it up, having a partner-focused sales mindset, ups your success rate. Close ratios are typically higher when partners are involved in the deal for the simple reason that they are already the trusted advisor.  This shortens the sales cycle as trust and credibility are already there. Go forth and partner!

Karen Falcone, Vice President, Global Partners, is responsible for managing and building GTM programs for Sungard AS global and national partners. Karen has an extensive background in building channel programs and developing relationships with alliance partners to drive joint go to market (GTM) activities. She was recognized by CRN as one of the "100 Most Influential Women in the Channel" in 2018, 2017, 2010 and 2009.

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