Every Partnership Manager in every B2B tech company on the planet wants to understand how to enable their sales team. They know that if they could get their account executives and business development representatives on the train to P-town, partner-influenced revenue would skyrocket.
PSA Partnership Managers: it’s not them. I don’t want to be too aggressive by saying it’s you. Instead, I’ll suggest that perhaps there are some things you’ve missed. I know, it’s a hard pill to swallow. But, it’s fair to assume that every Strategic Alliances Manager is struggling with sales enablement because what is being missed is recurring for so many. It’s a paradox. Partnership professionals are misunderstood (as we highlight here). Also, partnership professionals misunderstand how to make their colleagues understand them. It’s a conundrum, and there’s a solution.
Before, getting directly to what sales care about, partnership managers need to get to the root of the problem. This article is not about getting to the root to the problem, but getting to the root is how you get to the solution.
Like all problems, the first step is admitting that there is a problem. You’re here. You know there’s a problem. You didn’t know, and what I blindsided you with, is that the problem-ball is in your court.
Then, you have to identify the problem. This is where things get interesting. Partnership Managers, often, have never been in Sales. Or, if they have been, they may be so removed that they have forgotten an important characteristic. Sales teams have information filters. When they receive information, if it does not touch one of three categories, it gets filtered. These categories are the three things that Sales care about. So what are they?
There’s a great win in recognizing this because Partnership Managers care about these things too. If you care about the same things, you may be wondering where the disconnect is. It's in the delivery.
The information from Partnerships to Sales is missed because Partnership Managers don't know how to get information through the Sales filter. Partnership Managers have to recognize that when Sales teams receive information, it has to be about LOD and it has to have two qualities:
There is no doubt that the information you are giving to your sales team has value. But, this is where the word enablement comes in. What do you want to enable sales to do? The information has to be actionable. If a Salesperson has to dig and sort and take time to figure out what to do with the information you gave them, they are not going to use it. Nor should they. They’re busy, and they don’t have the time or the capacity to do the digging. If you were a Salesperson with a list of accounts a mile long and 20 kilometers high, would you take the time to sort through information, or would you just keep going down the path you already knew? The latter.
To enable your sales team, partnership managers have to have a new approach. The steps are the same for each concern. I’ll give a brief overview and then break it down further to drive it home.
Partnership managers must attend Sales meetings. They have to talk about target accounts with Account Executives, and they must take all the measures necessary to understand what priorities and plans are in the works. Once you fully understand what matters to your Sales team, you can take the following steps to fuel their fire.
Your ecosystem has all of the answers. It’s as simple as that. Take the list of accounts that you received from the Sales team. Open your account mapping tool. (If you’re using spreadsheets and VLOOKUP, you deserve better than that). Look at the accounts that the sales team needs help with, identify the partners that can help you.
This is the part that matters - the enablement component. When you deliver the information you discovered from your account mapping, take this three-step approach:
To simplify it, Reveal’s CEO, Simon Bouchez, also made this chart to help you map the course on the fly.
Now that you know how to get through the filter and make a mark with the sales team, there’s an extra step you can take to really hit a home run - PDA. Public Display of Attribution. Drop a line in the Slack group and say good job to Carol for leveraging the partnerships to close that deal. Get crazy and put an emoji after it. If you see Jerome in the hallway and the CRO is walking by (or even if he’s not), tell him congratulations for snagging that account that wasn’t responding before. Attribute the wins to the people who are making the wins and include their leveraging of partnerships. It makes them look (and feel) good for working interdepartmentally, and it casually expresses value in the partnerships. If you’re using the right tools (and I hope you are), you’ll be able to track partner attribution and partner-influenced deals to support that further.
The thing about Sales Enablement is that when it is done correctly—no matter how many three-step approaches are taken, it is also partnership enablement. We concern ourselves so often about having mutually beneficial deals with our partners. Still, we have to remember that we have to have mutually beneficial deals with our team as well. Sales enablement may be called “Sales,” but really, it’s revenue enablement. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what you are— revenue builders.
Learn from the most notable leaders in partnerships and alliances. For example learn how to leverage your ecosystem from Jay Mcbain, how to plan your partner program with Mike Brigman, and what to include in your KPIs with Elliott Smith.