A co-selling partnership is aptly named. It’s when two companies team up to bolster sales in their current markets and develop inroads to new market spaces as well-positioned partners. 

On their face, co-selling partnerships may seem counterintuitive, because each partner is investing time and capital to sell the other partner’s products and services in addition to their own. 

Here’s the thing: co-selling partnerships are not just about converting a few more sales here and there through your partner’s website, but are a multi-faceted strategy that can address many different issues on the sales end of business. For instance, a company might seek out a partner who can give them visibility in a potential market to flood their funnel with new customers for reciprocal services. 

Because these partnerships often involve measurable revenues generated by a partner, it’s vital that all stakeholders on both sides of the aisle have a clear understanding of the intended benefits, how those benefits will be achieved through the partnership, and what each partner’s obligations to the other will be. 

When done well, co-selling partnerships can be some of the most exciting—and lucrative—partnerships out there, and we’re here to break it all down for you. Our community of experts at Firneo knows the ropes of building successful co-selling partnerships, as well as how to avoid getting tangled up in their knots. 

Cisco and Dropbox—a Co-Selling Masterclass

Cisco is a tech firm that provides customers with networking, cloud, and cybersecurity services. The challenge they faced in the marketplace is that all their technology tended to require high levels of customization for each business.  

Dropbox makes file sharing easy, so the partnership between Cisco and Dropbox was a natural marriage. Dropbox allowed Cisco to create value for customers and stakeholders by making it easy to compile and share their information, and Dropbox benefitted from an increase in users for their business services.

Yet their relationship wasn’t a simple integration partnership.The file sharing marketplace is highly competitive, and many companies were already committed to using other file sharing services instead of Dropbox. So both partners had to make the case to customers that using each other’s products and services was the best (read: only) way to take full advantage of their capabilities, and that meant extending the partnership into the realm of co-selling. 

By aligning sales teams and sharing appropriate strategic marketplace information, Cisco and Dropbox were able to co-sell Dropbox Business and Cisco Cloudlock as hand-in-hand services. By teaming up to sell their products as a pair, they have solidified their market stature, boosted revenues, and most importantly, generated greater value for their customers. 

Developing Co-Selling Partnerships

If you’ve recently found yourself in a partnerships role where you need to pursue co-selling partnerships but lack the expertise and experience to identify and nurture them, we know exactly how you feel. Firneo’s legion of partnerships leaders and experts have learned the hard way about how to develop successful co-selling partnerships to maximize value. 

We’re going to share some of the secrets they’ve discovered so you can start pursuing value for your company and advancing your career. 

1. Map Your Accounts

The whole point of a co-selling partnership is to up your conversion rates, and that begins by identifying the customers you have, the customers who are in the pipeline, and the customers you want to get into the funnel. Once you understand what your stakeholders are looking to improve, you can compare that to a potential partner’s goals and see if there is enough to form the foundation of a co-selling partnership. 

2. Identify Your Strategy

When you and your potential partner are aligned on the value you’d each like to extract from the partnership, you can begin forming a strategy for achieving your mutual goals. This will necessarily involve a lot of input from both sets of stakeholders. A partnerships leader needs to be mindful of what they value and let them guide the process of defining value for the partnership you’re developing. 

For instance, if you’re assembling a co-selling partnership, does your sales team believe they can sell your partner’s product? It might seem mundane, but it’s actually critical. Perhaps leadership thinks their sales team can, but if the people who have to actually do the job don’t believe in the partnership, the best theoretical co-selling partnership will fail in the real world.  

3. Orient Your Sales Team Around Expectations and Goals

In order to be successful, it’s critical for a partner manager to give stakeholders a clear understanding of what their obligations are to the partnership, what they can expect in return from the partner, and identify a clear path to achieving those outcomes. Remember: a co-selling partnership demands action that leads to customer conversion, and if every critical stakeholder doesn’t understand their role, your well-laid plans may end up in the dust. 

4. Execute and Market your Success

Finally, when the ink is dry, you can set about executing your co-selling partnership. After all, a partnerships leader’s job is only half complete at this stage, and there’s plenty of value left to be extracted! 

Once the partnership is active, enablement will need to be an ongoing priority. Sales teams will need to be provided with resources, training, and support to empower them to engage with customers and close deals. Also, you and your team will need to monitor the success of the partnership, and engage in partner marketing to attract new partners to your ecosystem

Why Wasn’t I Told This When I Got my Partnerships Degree?

Partnerships are tricky and it’s common for professionals who are new to the field to feel lost. That’s why Firneo’s here. We’ve cultivated a community of experts in the field with decades of partnerships experience, and they’re here to help you get up to speed and flying down the track to partnerships success.

Click here to join the waitlist for our April cohort and kickstart your partnerships career!

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