Working with the right partners can add great leverage to your company. If you team up with the right industry experts and know how to work your partner relationships effectively, your solutions, products and/ or services are more likely to be chosen than those of other vendors’ to address your partner’s customers’ business needs.
However, when working with partners it’s important to always strive for balance between two goals:
- Working towards new business (i.e. closing the deal with the customer); and
- Strengthening the long-term relationship with your partner
It’s helpful to realize that achieving this balance can be challenging, but if you prepare well, take a few extra considerations into play, and come equipped with the right tools, winning deals and relationships in partner-client opportunities can be done.
Here are five tips for successfully closing deals in partner-client opportunities:
1. Leverage your existing relationships within your partner’s company.
The more trust is built, the smoother the process will go. If you don’t already have strong relationships with your partners, make them stronger… and do so now (and always), not right before walking into a meeting with the prospective customer.
2. Enter with expertise and confidence.
Understand your industry expertise (for example, for SugarCRM it’s CRM – obviously) and don’t be shy to highlight your expertise during the sales cycle – that’s where you add the most value. While your partner may be an expert in his or her industry, make it clear that you are the right person with the right knowledge about your specific industry and product offering.
3. Keep in mind different stakeholders have different goals.
Understand that in most partner deals you will be faced with multiple key stakeholders – both within your partner’s company and within the customer’s company. Be mindful about different agendas, deliverables, timelines and goals. The better you understand and prepare for each of your stakeholder’s desired outcomes, the happier everyone will be in the end.
4. Consider working relationships.
a) First, understand the customer is always the highest-valued point of contact in the business relationship you’re entering. Even if your partner brought the opportunity to you, you both should understand that the goal is to provide the best possible solution to the customer first and foremost.
b) Second, it’s imperative to involve your partner’s client account executive(s), as well as any of the partner’s subject matter experts (SME). The account executive will likely know their customer the best. Any SMEs will be valuable in helping understand all of the elements involved and moving the process along (e.g. the process of a CRM implementation).
c) Third, take advantage of any of your partner’s internal trusted advisors; they will be able to assist you in navigating the client-relationship, as well as around any “intangibles” that may affect the sales cycle.
5. Last but not least, develop a strategic sales engagement process.
As we explained in part one of The Core CRM Features That Every Organization Needs series, having a reliable sales engagement strategy in place is essential for every business interaction that include the goal of a sale. At SugarCRM we have proven sales engagement processes in place for customers of different sizes and different industries in order to engage with them most effectively. However, be prepared that both your partner and the client might have different approaches in mind, so it’s important to be patient, yet confident and clear about your process, and how it fits into the overall deal structure. It’s a good idea to put together your ideal sales engagement process in your own mind (or on paper/ screen) before relaying to the external teams.
When trying to close deals in partner-client opportunities, we recommend you describe your process to your partner first. The goal here is to showcase a successful implementation process (the end-product) and to build momentum with your partner’s internal champions. Once you have your partner’s stakeholders on board it will be much easier to go into a successful pitch with their client.
At SugarCRM, we are thankful to have some of the best partners in the industry.
See who our partners are, and learn how you can become one in our designated Partner Community Space*.