Microsoft Partner of the Year Winners Announced

Congratulations to all the Microsoft 2019 Partner of the Year Award finalists and winners. These partners have delivered meaningful business results while differentiating themselves within the Microsoft partner ecosystem.

I’m excited to share that Competegy placed 3 Finalists this year (Competegy has helped partners win 10 Microsoft Partner of the Year awards to date).


Winning partners will be recognized at Microsoft Inspire (July 14-18 in Las Vegas). Inspire is a great opportunity to learn about Microsoft’s product and channel strategy, engage Microsoft partner teams, and accelerate your channel. Once again, there is an overlap day with Microsoft’s internal kickoff (“Microsoft Ready”).

The Inspire networking tool should go live next week. Everyone who has opted-in will be able to schedule meetings (and book meeting tables). Use the Inspire connect tool to facilitate new channel partner connections, renew existing partner relationships, and reconnect with Microsoft stakeholders. See the Maximize Microsoft Inspire article for tips on getting the most out of the event.

Maximize Microsoft Inspire

Microsoft Inspire will be held July 14-18, 2019 in Las Vegas. Inspire is a great opportunity to learn about Microsoft’s product and channel strategy, engage Microsoft partner sales teams, and advance your own channel development objectives.

Inspire is also the forum where Microsoft recognizes its most productive partners with awards. Winning a Microsoft Partner of the Year award provides credibility for customer, channel, and Microsoft engagement. Over 2,900 award entries were submitted this year (Competegy clients have won 10 Microsoft Partner of the Year awards).

I’ve attended 12 Inspire/WPC events and have always found them to be the most productive days of the year. Inspire will take you far if you prepare using the suggestions below.

Define Event Objectives

Inspire provides a host of learning and networking opportunities including keynotes, product and marketing sessions, evening receptions, regional lounges, side meetings, scheduled networking, and exhibits. Most valuable of these is the capability to set up 1 on 1 meetings with other attendees. In general, prioritize side meetings because most of the session content is available afterwards.

Recruit New Partners

There are over 40 half-hour meeting slots available and a scheduling tool (MyInspire) to locate and organize meetings with prospective partners (SIs historically represent the largest group of partners attending). If you wish to recruit new partners at Inspire, I recommend the following preparation steps:

  1. Define your target partner criteria based on the MyInspire parameters (including Microsoft competencies, company size, geography, and company type).
  2. Develop your partner prospecting pitch (including projected partner revenue). Consider a short term offer to motivate new partners.
  3. Research potential partners by mining the MyInspire networking tool and correlating with LinkedIn.
  4. Leverage the MyInspire tool to identify individuals to meet, secure meeting space (over 100 tables are provided), and propose meeting times. Contact partners outside of the MyInspire tool if you don’t get a response (MyInspire meeting messages are sometimes lost or ignored).
  5. Document key points during your onsite meeting and follow-up promptly with viable partner prospects after the event.

Exhibiting at Inspire is best if you sell to other partners. If your intent is to partner with other companies, focus your efforts on scheduling MyInspire side meetings.

See the Channel Development Best Practices whitepaper for insight on recruiting channel partners.

Refresh Marketing Plans with Existing Partners

Microsoft budgets and priorities reset July 1 (Microsoft’s new fiscal year) so Inspire is the perfect time to engage partners in context of those Microsoft directives. Meet with your existing partners at Inspire to discuss co-marketing plans and sales-coordination.

  1. Understand your own partner co-marketing objectives, budget, and campaign intentions.
  2. Identify your existing partners attending Inspire (using the MyInspire tool).
  3. Schedule onsite partner meetings to define CYH2 marketing plans.
  4. Understand Microsoft partner strategy and incentives as articulated in Inspire keynotes and sessions.
  5. Meet with partners to outline joint marketing plans.

Grow Microsoft Co-Sell Relationships

Over 4,000 Microsoft employees attend Inspire. Microsoft enterprise sales teams don’t attend Inspire itself so focus your efforts on meeting Microsoft partner roles including Enterprise Channel Managers, Industry Sales Executives, Marketing Managers, and your Partner Development Manager. Seek side meetings with product group speakers that align with your solution. If you are a managed partner, request Microsoft senior executive meetings via your partner manager (those nominations are due before June 1).

Prepare for Microsoft meetings as follows:

  1. Create pithy talking points summarizing your Microsoft fiscal year accomplishments (in context of Microsoft priorities) as well as what you want to achieve in the year to come. Your partner award nomination should be a useful input.
  2. Research relevant Microsoft attendees and schedule side meetings using MyInspire.
  3. Kick off preliminary go-to-market planning (Microsoft budgets won’t be finalized yet).
  4. Seek out and participate in side events including roundtables, meetings, meetups, and parties. Your partner manager can help identify relevant opportunities.
  5. Document meaningful conversations and follow-up.

See the Co-Selling with Microsoft Best Practices and 10 Tips for Partnering with Microsoft whitepapers for insight on maximizing your Microsoft alliance.

Learn About Microsoft Product and Channel Strategy

Use the MyInspire session catalog to determine top priority sessions to attend. Attend only sessions essential to your business (keynotes and select breakouts). Most content is available afterwards as files and/or video, so prioritize onsite meetings and set aside time to review content afterwards.

Engage presenters after their session if they are important to your business. Also look for opportunities to network with Microsoft attendees at side events. There are excellent contacts to be made everywhere at Inspire.

See the Inspire 2018 ISV Insights for key takeaways from last year’s partner conference. See the Microsoft Acronyms for Partners to decode Microsoft jargon.

About MyInspire

Unfortunately, many Microsoft attendees do not opt-in for MyInspire (they need to reserve time for their managed partners and sessions). Request Microsoft meetings well in advance through existing relationships and set meeting requests in Outlook (vs. relying on the MyInspire tool alone). The MyInspire networking app is published mid-June.

Save visits to the Expo for any meetings that fall through. The exhibitor area is typically nearby and serves as good filler for those inevitable schedule gaps.

For both Microsoft and partner meetings, have a defined “offer” in mind that encourages action. Follow-up promptly afterwards where there is partnering potential, summarizing common interests and next steps.

Next Steps

Competegy provides an Inspire Concierge Service for partner recruiting and evangelism at Inspire. Learn more about partnering with Microsoft via the Competegy ISV Strategy Blog and reach out to Larry Gregory to discuss how to optimize your Microsoft managed partner relationship.

 

Microsoft Business Applications ISV Program

Microsoft recently introduced a new program for Business Application ISVs that includes a 10-20% revenue sharing component. The justification for revenue sharing is to ensure high quality applications for Dynamics customers (through app certification) as well as to offset the cost of running ISV applications in Microsoft’s Dynamics tenant. Revenue sharing isn’t new to Salesforce partners but this is a significant departure for Microsoft which has always led with a platform pull-through strategy for ISVs.

Historically Microsoft has encouraged partners to drive usage of their cloud platforms in exchange for account management and sales & marketing support. This landed clearly with Azure ISVs (in January 2017), providing Microsoft field sellers quota recognition for selling Azure-based partner solutions. Note that Microsoft quota recognition is not paid by the Azure ISV partners but rather is factored into Microsoft’s internal quota setting process.

Microsoft announced the intention to extend field co-sell support to Dynamics ISVs at the July 2018 Inspire conference, but it did not roll out broadly due to overly narrow requirements for Dynamics embedded.

The benefits for new Dynamics revenue sharing are similar to what already exists for Azure co-sell ready ISVs (without revenue sharing). At the 10% standard tier, benefits are programmatic and better suited for small partners. The 20% premium tier offers co-sell support plus partner enablement & marketing programs. I am surprised the premium tier doesn’t include explicit marketing funding to justify the revenue share.

AppSource as a marketplace doesn’t produce substantial revenue for most partners. Enterprise customers require POCs for evaluation so are less reliant on a marketplace to make a purchase decision. Leads from “Contact Me” listings are minimal unless the partner spends substantial effort to promote the marketplace listing (instead of direct lead generation).

Salesforce has offered ISV AppExchange for many years and their revenue sharing model is well established. I suspect this new Microsoft approach will be a shock to Dynamics partners who have been championing Microsoft platforms and now feel they are being monetized. This may be status quo, but the initial reaction will be net negative.

The question for partners is whether the ongoing 20% revenue impact is something they can absorb. Another way to think of it is whether Microsoft will drive an incremental 100% company growth over the next 5 years. Partners will need to determine what the sales implications are of being an “uncertified” Dynamics application or if AppSource certification and the corresponding marketing and co-sell benefits warrant the revenue sharing proposition.

Note that some Microsoft partners are both Dynamics and Azure ISVs (they integrate with Dynamics and host on Azure). Those partners may choose to co-sell with Azure and defer co-sell for Dynamics.

The program is set to launch in July. I’m sure we’ll hear more about the program in detail at the Inspire partner conference. Inspire is also a good forum to confer with other partners on their approach.

Writing Compelling Win Wires

Win wires are partner-confidential summaries of influential customer deals. They serve as a valuable tool in alliance relationships, providing examples of sales success and accelerating joint business development. They apply to any alliance-channel partner relationship but I’ll describe the process in context of Microsoft due to their partner co-sell focus and momentum.

Inventory Your Customer Wins

Begin by considering what recent wins you’ve closed that would appeal to your alliance partner. Look for wins with a meaningful deal size (at least $25K) in enterprise or upper mid-market customers (where Microsoft has account team coverage).

The stories should include a co-sell element, where Microsoft played a role in your sales success. You can produce win wires without that co-sell story line, but it is much better to showcase how you are working together as a team.

You will want to represent all the industries that you play in. Align with Microsoft industry terminology as appropriate (Government, Education, Healthcare, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Retail, Media, and Automotive).

Also seek stories to represent each region where you have a local sales presence. For example, Microsoft US is organized as Northwest, Southwest, North Central, South Central, Great Lakes, Northeast, New York, and Southeast.

Lastly, consider how you are showcasing each of your top product or service offerings. Plug the data into a spreadsheet and you can keep track of how well you are representing product wins across Microsoft industry and regional stakeholders.

Develop the Story

Microsoft provides an online form for globally managed partners to submit win wires, but every managed partner should generate win wires on their own. These can be in a Word or PowerPoint format. PowerPoint is easier for inclusion in Microsoft-facing presentations.

The ingredients for a win wire are below, but key to a successful outcome is using a “Microsoft voice”: write succinctly in terms that resonate with Microsoft teams.

Summarize the customer situation

In a couple sentences, represent the customer industry, size, and offerings. Company LinkedIn profiles and About Us website pages are good sources for this information.

Represent the customer problem that triggered their search for a solution. Align with Microsoft solution map terminology when describing the scenario. Be sure to highlight any competitive products that represented a customer concern. Microsoft likes competitive displacement stories.

Describe the sales process

Where did the lead originate from? This is an opportunity to showcase your marketing engine. Also identify if the lead was sourced by Microsoft (a behavior you want to encourage).

Who did you compete against? If it is a competitor that uses a non-Microsoft platform, be sure to call that out. If the competition is with another Microsoft partner, decide if you have a regular pattern of winning against that partner and want to show that you are the better Microsoft co-sell partner in your space.

What was required to win? Describe the sales process including if an RFP response or pilot/POC was required. If your end to end sales cycle is less than 6 months, be sure to call that out as it shows Microsoft sellers can invest in the co-sell relationship midstream in their fiscal year and still realize the quota recognition benefit in that year’s sales incentive check.

What other partners were involved? Demonstrate your ability to scale through channel partners. Microsoft wants partners to work together (a core purpose of the Microsoft Partner Network).

Why were you selected by the customer? This is a chance to tout your unique product features, superior sales process, and/or deep Microsoft technology integration.

How did Microsoft help advance the deal? Identify if Microsoft sourced the lead, helped overcome customer technical objections, provided strategic insight into the customer needs, or otherwise championed you to the customer.

What insights or best practices can you highlight? Microsoft is a learning organization so if there is a bit of insight to share on how you worked with Microsoft or other partners, be sure to surface it.

Who from Microsoft was involved? Identify the roles that helped you on the co-sell journey (e.g., ECM, AE, ATS, SSP, TSP, ISE – see the Microsoft Acronyms for Partners if needed). Recognize (by name) those Microsoft people that were influential.

Represent the customer benefits

What benefits were realized by the customer? Quantitative results are better than “improved productivity” types of statements. It is okay to represent forecasted $ savings or % improvements. Most projects should have some kind of expected return or benefit (revisit the customer problem statement if unclear).

If possible, include a customer satisfaction statement as a quote. This can be difficult for confidential win wires, but Microsoft loves to see evidence of customer satisfaction.

Define the Microsoft co-sell benefit

Quantify the value to the Microsoft. You can easily represent Azure pull-through if you are a co-sell partner. You can further highlight expected actual Azure consumption if your solution runs in the customer’s Azure subscription. If you are a SaaS provider, you can represent the Azure consumption the customer represents to you internally.

Add the finishing touches

Create a compelling headline for the win wire that uses Microsoft terminology (e.g. from industry or solution maps) and include a footer that highlights the document as confidential.

Taking Action

The initial win wire draft can be formed from an internal CRM record and/or email summary. You then need about 15 minutes with the internal seller to validate the story and fill in the gaps. Lastly, run the draft win wire by the Microsoft account team so they can identify things they did to advance the sale. Internal sellers tend not to make note of Microsoft co-sell contributions, but this is an important part of the story and helps raise your profile with the Microsoft account team.

Once you’ve gathered all the feedback, use the resulting win wire in Microsoft-internal meetings to evangelize the success of co-selling with your company. Also ask your partner manager (PDM or PMA) to socialize the win wire internally within Microsoft. Post win wires in OCP Catalog for further Microsoft discovery.

Writing win wires sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves because it requires in-depth knowledge of Microsoft priorities and terminology. Competegy offloads this task with win wire writing services. Contact Competegy to learn more.

Co-Selling with Microsoft Best Practices – FY19

Microsoft rolled out significant new co-sell incentives in 2017 along with the “One Commercial Partner” organization . These changes aligned Microsoft internal sales incentives with those partners driving significant Microsoft cloud revenue.This whitepaper provides insight into effectively leveraging Microsoft’s ISV co-sell resources (revised for Microsoft’s 2019 fiscal year). In particular, it addresses how to align with Microsoft initiatives, grow your partnership with Microsoft, and engage in productive co-marketing and co-selling activities.

Complete the following form to access this document:

Microsoft Inspire 2018 ISV Insights

Microsoft recently hosted over 18,000 attendees at the 2018 Inspire partner conference. Inspire was hosted in Las Vegas and featured an overlap day with Microsoft’s internal kickoff (“Microsoft Ready”). As usual, it was a well-executed event with amazing networking and side meeting opportunities. Registration is now open for Inspire 2019 (price goes up $300 July 27) which will again be held in Las Vegas.

Most of the Inspire 2018 session content is available online. I recommend copying the PDFs locally for easy reference and watching relevant sessions you missed from the MyInspire video library.Microsoft Inspire 2018

Last year the recurring message was about digital transformation. That is still an underlying theme, with the enabling approach being articulated as Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge. Microsoft sees IoT and edge computing as enabling tremendous Microsoft and partner revenue potential in the years to come. “Microsoft Hosting” and “Windows Embedded” has come a long way since the 2000s. 🙂

Programs

In 2012, Microsoft eliminated the ISV Competency and directed ISV partners to the Application Development Competency. I’m pleased to see the ISV Competency has returned for FY19. Note that Microsoft is requiring AppSource or Azure Marketplace listing as a Competency and co-sell prerequisite going forward. ISV partners should assess the relative value of the ISV Competency as compared to the “cloud competencies” (Cloud Platform, Cloud Productivity, Cloud Business Apps, Cloud CRM), which are eligible for Microsoft incentives.

MPN Competency benefits will be aligned with Microsoft’s 4 solution areas: Modern Workplace, Apps and Infrastructure, Data and AI, and Business Applications. Benefits will be structured as Core, Earned, and Paid (by the partner). Expect these changes to roll out later in 2018.

Advanced Specializations will be introduced for some competencies. They afford a way to differentiate on specific solution areas within a competency.

Microsoft is also creating a new program for ISVs newly entering the Microsoft partner ecosystem (ISV Starter Kit instead of the Action Pack).

Managed ISV Co-Sell

Microsoft had great success with the IP Co-Sell initiative in FY18 so they’ve extended the Microsoft field seller Azure quota offset for co-sell ready partners into FY19. Enterprise Channel Managers remain the primary “sell-with” role for partners.

Microsoft has expanded the co-sell credit program to Dynamics 365 embedded ISVs. The corresponding ISV Cloud Embed program requires publishing to the AppSource catalog, customer references, CSP direct enrollment, and co-sell target commitments.

Microsoft is expanding their industry focus in the Enterprise, with Automotive and Media & Communications getting added to the existing industry priorities (Education, Financial Services, Government, Health, Manufacturing, and Retail). Industry Sales Executives are the primary sell-with role for vertical accounts.

Microsoft will continue to invest in co-marketing and proof of concept (ECIF) funding. Submit a Go-To-Market plan to request co-marketing funds before they are fully allocated. ECIF funding is dependent upon the Azure pull-through potential (it generally requires a 20:1 return).

Top actions post-Inspire include defining your GTM and Territory Partner Plan, engage ISV Co-Sell Days, and potentially participate in Digital Transformation Academy.

See the updated Microsoft Acronyms document, revised based on the new terms used at Inspire 2018.

10 Tips to Winning a Microsoft Partner Award

Receiving an award from Microsoft can serve as a valuable marketing tool: awards help attract new customer prospects, provide sales credibility, trigger new partnerships, and facilitate Microsoft sales collaboration.

Microsoft Partner Award

Microsoft has the largest software partner ecosystem.  They receive thousands of submissions for the partner awards, with winners recognized at the Inspire conference in July.

As a former partner award judge (and author of numerous successful award nominations), I offer the following helpful tips to improve your chances of winning:

  1. Understand the process
  2. Meet the criteria
  3. Follow the rules
  4. Answer the questions concisely
  5. Quantify your results
  6. Tell customer stories
  7. Write like a journalist
  8. Take Microsoft’s perspective
  9. Don’t wait until the last minute
  10. Leverage your nomination to evangelize Microsoft

A detailed explanation of these steps and the keys to writing a successful nomination are included in this whitepaper.

Complete the following form to access the document:

Innovation and Digital Transformation

In my early days at Microsoft, we used the term “Digital Nervous System to refer to the agility a superior IT environment provided for responding to customer needs and reacting to competitive threats. That was in the 90s, so IT infrastructure at the time centered on networking and email (yes, the wheel and fire were already invented).

I’ve worked with several innovation consulting companies over the years (e.g., Doblin, Desai). Their innovation models apply to the digital transformation journey many companies are now undertaking, helping identify the forms of innovation that support digital transformation.

Product Capabilities

Most people think of product when it comes to innovation. In the age of cloud computing, product innovation occurs in a less disruptive way. New capabilities must be valuable enough to sustain customer value, but not change so much as to incite consideration of and defection to competitors. Disruptive, “bet the business” product innovations are no longer required after the initial SaaS offering is delivered. Instead, it is better to innovate without introducing breaking changes. Focus major innovations on product extensions and adjacent areas instead (see Product Ecosystem).

Business Model

Subscription pricing delivers the gift that keeps on giving: recurring revenue. Steady growth with recurring revenues and high customer retention rates yields better company predictability and therefore higher valuations.

Product Ecosystem

The broader opportunity is to bundle products and services such that the combination generates more customer value that the individual offerings alone. This worked for Microsoft Office in the 90s (anyone remember Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect, and Harvard Graphics?) and applies to SaaS partnerships today. SaaS solutions are deployed quickly, and integration with other systems is exceptionally fast. Multiple SaaS solutions can even be deployed in parallel. Distributors have taken steps toward providing marketplaces for cloud products, but the innovation opportunity remains to aggregate a portfolio of related cloud solutions to target common industry scenarios. For example, where is the A-to-Z startup manufacturing company SaaS suite (beyond ERP)? Instead of innovating through just your own products, think about complementary applications and services that could enable holistic, customer-centric solutions. That is the line of business platform of the future.

Organization

Organization changes are necessary as ISVs transition to SaaS products. Salespeople will gravitate toward a bigger ticket perpetual license unless commission structures incent them for subscription licensing. It is sometimes easier to create a parallel sales organization with compensation models that account for lower, recurring revenues rather than force fit a traditional sales organization that is used to a higher touch/higher cost customer selling process. Note there are development-related organizational improvements (e.g., scrub, agile, low code platforms) that are covered elsewhere.

Support Systems

Providing too much or the wrong kind of support can eat up SaaS profits. Understand and implement the “minimum viable support” requirements for your products. Consider innovative approaches to support (e.g., AI/knowledgebase-driven customer service bots that escalate to human support) that can keep customers satisfied while keeping costs low. In addition, invest in post-sales support that accelerates adoption. These “customer success teams” should enable adoption of cloud solutions at existing customers to maximize usage and secure the recurring revenue stream.

Marketing

Opportunities exist to innovate through marketing including branding, social media, and lead nurturing. Traditional ISVs must adjust to SaaS marketing, developing more online qualification and transaction capability and relying less on direct sales involvement.

Digital Transformation is about leveraging the power of software and cloud economics to revolutionize business models, solutions delivered, and markets served. Software companies can innovate in ways beyond product development to affect their own digital transformation and better enable their customers’ digital transformation journey.

Charleston Offsite

I took a page from Brad Feld (Venture Capitalist) and decided to work offsite in another city for a couple weeks this month. I’ve never been to Charleston so my wife (also a consultant) and I packed up the car along with our little terrier (not a consultant) and ventured south from Connecticut to the land of excellent food, scenic views, and unique history.

I approached it as kind of “Microsoft think week” with daily “offsite topics”, meeting with local high tech contacts, and studying books by Tim Ferris. I managed to stay on top of client commitments while enjoying some strategic thinking.

The SaaS Threat to Systems Integrators

Microsoft has encouraged its SI community to embrace cloud products, citing higher profitability and company valuations generated by including “repeatable IP” alongside SI service offerings. This intuitively makes sense: smoothing your revenue volatility makes for a more predictable and therefore more valuable business. I previously translated the Microsoft message simply as “sell more Office 365”.

I met with the former head of Microsoft Consulting Services while in Charleston. He asked about several SIs that I happened to have reached out to recently as part of my ISV-SI matchmaking service. He was surprised they were still thriving given the shift to Software as a Service. When SaaS solutions are adopted there is configuration, but little to no customization. The customer trend toward SaaS solutions means SIs have less deployment work to do and have to find new business areas to drive growth. Cloud computing will disrupt systems integration consulting firms over the next 5-10 years because customers will require less customization and deployment.

I typically engage SIs (on behalf of ISVs), making the case for expanding their services into an adjacent practice area. I reference the financial benefits of reselling software but commissions are typically small relative to services revenue. The impact of SaaS provides a new lens to the SI recruitment challenge and ISVs should augment their SI partnering proposition accordingly.

Microsoft Inspire 2018 Update

The schedule is published for Inspire 2018, Microsoft’s annual partner conference in Las Vegas (July 15-19). The price for Inspire goes up $300 on March 1, so register now if you plan on attending. This year Microsoft’s internal sales kickoff event (Microsoft Ready) will overlap the partner conference, affording an opportunity to engage Microsoft teams where previously you had to sponsor and travel to Microsoft Ready separately

Stay tuned for the announcement of the Microsoft Partner Award nominations later this month. The final submissions will be due early April.

 

Executing a Partner Co-Sell Campaign

Selling with partners enables customer exposure, generates qualified leads for sales pursuit, and supports company revenue objectives. The challenge with such campaigns is to ensure the results warrant the time and effort to coordinate across partner organizations. This article shares best practice learning from executing co-selling campaigns.

Target Outcome

The desired result is to not only to drive customer awareness, but also to identify “sales qualified leads”. This is beyond the typical marketing function of attracting prospects and generating “marketing qualified leads”.

Partner Scenarios

The partner you wish to co-sell with must have a vested interest in your sales success. This could be a tandem partner who relies on your capabilities to successfully reach their target market. For example, a complementary software product that unlocks the enterprise suitability for an otherwise mid-market software product or an industry-specific enhancement that enables a broader product to penetrate a vertical niche. The partner could be a platform player (e.g., Microsoft) that wants partners to pull through their underlying technology (cloud services) and is willing to invest sales effort to penetrate a market segment (e.g., line of business solutions) they can’t directly address themselves.

Get Commitment

Once you’ve determined there is sales and strategic alignment for executing a co-sell campaign, the next critical step is getting support from the partner’s sales managers. Salespeople don’t naturally work with partners without a framework that provides compensation (quota credit or spiff) and motivation (sales managers). You’ll need a project manager to own coordination across the partners and to keep salespeople moving forward with prospecting and lead qualification.

You’ll find some salespeople resist partner co-selling. It can be more complex and takes people out of their comfort zone of selling only their own products. If you have the chance, test for receptivity among individual sellers so you’re working with willing participants. Position the co-sell initiative as “doing leading edge work” as well as an opportunity for success beyond the standard sales role.

Note that platform partners have a hard time selling outside of IT. If you represent a line of business software solution, align with industry-specific sales teams instead of general account teams. The natural inclination to sell IT-centric software and services usually supersedes the solution selling intentions of platform partner sellers.

Create a Co-Sell Guide

Develop a co-sell training kit to educate partner sellers and management. This should include the following:

  • A definition of the sales process including which partner owns which step and when sales handoff should occur. This handoff should happen after both a decision maker and an active initiative are identified.
  • An overview of each partner and their contribution to the completed solution. This helps the team understand why partnership is valuable from an implementation perspective.
  • A financial model of a typical deal including the benefits to the customer and for both partners. Sales management and sellers need to understand the revenue motivations for partnering.
  • Targeting criteria including geography, industry, workload, customer segment, and typical decision maker titles. This helps reduce the ambiguity of who the teams are targeting and defines the scenario for qualified opportunities.
  • Email templates with pithy messaging and customer references. Creating approved messaging reduces sales team inertia.
  • A sample call script or qualification guide for sales conversations. Reduce sales team fear and reluctance to engage customer conversations by modeling those conversations.
  • A target list of accounts to pursue. Identify net new prospects that align with the qualification criteria.

These materials can take time to pull together, but the process forces you to address important qualification issues and results in a guide that helps execute the co-selling effort.

Maintain Momentum

Educate the sales teams on these materials and set milestone expectations for sales actions (e.g., 20 emails and 4 customer conversations per week). Activity expectations will depend on other intitiatives the sellers are juggling.

Host regular meetings to capture insights from the sales teams and address additional sales support needs. Be sure to recognize individual successes in context of the broader group, including achieving milestones along the way to the final sale.

 

Contact Competegy to discuss how you can create or improve your own co-sell campaign efforts.

1 2 3 7