Posted: February 15th, 2022

The Strategies For Revenue Executives

The Subtle Art of Building Partnerships: Strategies For Revenue Executives

The writing has been on the wall since they started selling KFC’s with Pepsi back in the day- partnerships are the way to go.


Since then, co-selling has become a powerful force in lead generation and conversion. Co-selling is only destined to grow even stronger with the rise of tech stacks, extensions, and interactions.


What’s even more apparent is that companies rely on you, the revenue executive, to build a vibrant partner ecosystem that empowers your sales team and puts them in a position to deliver. 


Often, this requires you to build partnerships as diverse as the market you serve. Above that, you’ll be responsible for establishing your brand as a trusted partner and executing new revenue opportunities.


What is Co-Selling

Co-selling refers to a type of partnership where two sales and marketing teams bring their resources together to sell to the same existing or prospective customers.


This could be anything from:

  • You and your partner selling your products together to a mutual buyer
  • A reseller packaging your product together with theirs as a solution package
  • Companies that sell to your buyer or those whose buyers you sell to



Why Build Co-Selling Partnerships in The First Place

If partnering with a company has been on your mind lately, you’re not alone; 85% of B2B owners believe that partnerships are necessary for success.


Which brings us to the question, why?


You’re kicking ass in your industry, and the way things are going, it’s only natural to think along the lines of “Anybody needs me more than I need them, why partner?”


Well, the answer is simple, partnerships allow you to do what you do best, grow your audience and sell even more. This is code for kicking ass even further.


Above that, a solid partner ecosystem comes in handy both when business is booming and also in tough times when you’re clutching for straws and desperate for a lifeline.


Some of the reasons to consider strategic partnerships are to:

  • Build A Wider Audience

It’s simple maths. The more leads you have access to, the more sales you’ll make, even at the same conversion rate. 


Well, co-selling exposes your business and sales team to another enterprise’s audience and is one of the ways to generate leads.

  • Stimulate Revenue Growth Without Acquisition

Strategic co-selling partnerships are an excellent way to increase your sales and revenue without significant investment.

And it shows in the numbers, according to a Wakefield research, almost 77% of companies in a survey agreed that co-selling positively impacted their bottom line.


You don’t have to build a new factory, acquire a competitor, or launch a new product. Instead, you get to channel leads from your partner into your sales funnel and increase conversions.


  • Fill a Gap in Your Product Deliveries

Gaps exist throughout product delivery, from marketing to product choices and delivery. Often, they provide unsealed loopholes and opportunities that competitors can exploit to gain a competitive advantage.


Partnerships allow you to use the sales resources of other teams to seal gaps in your sales marketing. 


For example, if you’re not advertising on Facebook, you can partner with a sales team that markets on Facebook.



  • Reduce exposure and investment from non-core parts of your value chain

Not all parts of your business operation were created equal. In fact, there are lots of non-core parts of your value chain that you’d very much like to get rid of.


Strategic partnerships, including offshoring and outsourcing, are excellent avenues for you to reduce interactions with non-core aspects of your value chain.


Who To CO-Sell With

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of options you have for co-selling. The opportunities are endless, but it’s usually best practice to co-sell with:


  • Companies that play a role in your delivery
  • Companies that sell your products
  • Companies with a shared or vested interest


  1. Collaborate Within Your Industry

Some of the best places to hunt for possible co-selling ventures are right in your industry. Many executives make the mistake of going far and wide, oblivious to the opportunities lying right under their noses. Don’t be them.

Some of the firms that you can build partnerships with in your industry are:

  • Firms that complement what you offer
  • Niche firms that specialize in offering specific products 
  • Firms with goods that fill gaps in your service delivery

That said, there is a caveat- not all people in your industry will make good candidates to align your sales and marketing team with.


  1. Partner With Large and Established Firms

Established firms are another viable option ripe for your co-selling partnership. Large firms, due to their internal bottlenecks, struggle to innovate. As a result, they can see your startup as a hotbed of innovation.


On the other hand, your startup could see an established firm as a source of market exposure, expertise, and infrastructure that enables them to grow.


  1. Build Alliances Outside Your Industry

Another unexploited frontier when building partnerships are alliances with businesses outside your industry.


This one doesn’t need much explaining; you’re familiar with Uber and Spotify, have drunk Pepsi at KFC, and visited Starbucks on a Target trip. 


Questions You Need To Ask as You Scout For Partnerships

As a revenue executive, building and scouting for possible co-selling partnerships soon become a passive job. 


You could be at a dinner with associates where everybody that shakes your hand is a potential partner.


That said, you always have to have the basics at your fingertips and the ability to discern between who’s a viable candidate and who isn’t. 


This way, you’ll be able to make up your mind by the end of the pleasantries, or better yet, halfway through the “have you heard about this Startup” conversation.


  1. Do your customers overlap with your potential partner’s opportunities?
  2. Do your potential partner’s opportunities overlap with your customers?
  3. Do your prospects overlap with your potential partner’s customers?
  4. Do your customers overlap with your potential partners’ prospects?
  5. Do your sales and marketing techniques align?

One of the best tools to help you answer these questions is an account map. This tool helps you discover the amount of overlap between your customers and a potential partner’s customers.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to find one, as Partnered has an account mapping tool on standby and at your disposal.


The Next Stage: Getting Deeper Into Knowing Your Potential Partner

Finding a partner is often a slow process. With that in mind, if it seems to be taking ages, that’s when you know that you’re on the right track.


Once you’ve zeroed down on a possible partner or found a prospect that has caught your attention, you can then move on to the next stage, which is digging as much dirt about them as possible.


Some of the questions that can help you navigate this part include:

  • How compatible are your potential partners with your company culture?
  • How has your potential partner fared in past partnerships (if any)?
  • How successful has your potential partner been in their previous endeavors
  • What are the reasons for your prospect’s failure or success in previous relationships?

Once you’ve put these questions to rest, it’s then a good time to get on the phone or plane and talk to your prospects’ existing partners.


Strategic Partnerships Best Practices For An Executive

It takes a lot of work to create a partnership that gives Nike and Apple a run for their money. There isn’t any co-selling bible out there. 


However, these tips and best practices are consistent in brands that build working co-selling, branding, and marketing partnerships.


  1. Seeing Beyond What’s On The Table

Play the long game. One of the best ways to build partnerships is to delay instant gratification and have the future in mind. 


Look at your co-selling partnership five or even ten years from now, and use your conclusions for informed decision-making.


  1. Keep Your “Why” Close

Of all things in your co-partnering journey, intent is the most essential. That said, from the beginning, consider having your reasons at the back of your mind each time you make a decision.

Why did you enter into a co-selling agreement? was it to:

  • Expand your outreach and target audience
  • Increase sales 
  • Expose your sales team to expertise and infrastructure


  1. Keep The “Why” Of Your Partners Even Closer

Another aspect you should consider having at the back of your mind from the get-go is the intent of your partner.


There’s probably something in it for your partner, and it’s essential that you know what they benefit from your partnership in the first place.

Besides playing a role in informed decision making, this will help you know:

  • How long the partnership is going to last
  • Whether the partnership is long-term or short-term
  • How much your co-selling partner needs you


  1. Seek Shared Ground and Commonality


At the beginning of a partnership, purpose to choose a partner whose business has a lot in common with yours.

This doesn’t stop at similarities in products and customers only; it should spill over into :

  • Culture
  • Vision
  • Perspectives and beliefs

Once you start doing business with your partners, make your partnership more than just a business partnership.


Building partnerships are some of the most challenging tasks you’ll ever handle as a revenue executive; you might as well make a few friends while at it.


Next Step: Making Mutually Beneficial Partnerships 


Be it co-selling or marketing, many executives struggle with creating relationships that are both durable, reliable, and profitable.


Often, relationships lack one of the above criteria, which will eventually frustrate either of the parties.

Once you’ve come up with a reliable candidate for your partnership, go ahead and:


  1. Do Your Due Diligence

Don’t take your potential partner at their word. If marketing and outreach are anything to go by, all businesses are wildly profitable, ethical, and extremely efficient.


However, we all know that’s the furthest thing from the truth, and this is where due diligence comes in.

Research your potential partners:

  • Previous partnerships
  • Core values and principles
  • Customer relationships


  1. Make the Partnership explicit. 

The next step after due diligence is putting the partnership down in pen and paper or at least approaching your co-selling partner with the idea.


Write a compelling proposition explaining what you’ve seen in their business and why a joint venture is a good idea.


In some instances, you may have to sell the idea to your fellow c-suite executives before presenting it to your potential partner. 


Having everything neatly written down in pen and paper, infographics and videos go a long way in making you sell the idea.


3. Establish Measurement Criteria

Another crucial aspect that often gets left behind is developing measurement criteria. Often, you may have to undertake this part jointly with your partner.

When establishing measurement criteria:

  • Define what success means for both you and your partner
  • Come up with both short term and long term goals for your partnership
  • Develop metrics and KPI’s for your partnership

It doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve developed the necessary KPI’s prepare for the case scenario where your goals aren’t met.


This way, come up with actions that you’ll take if and when your goals are not being met, or the metrics aren’t desirable.


4. Define and Establish Parameters 

Any partnership is only as good as the rules and parameters that guide its existence. Any relationship aspect that you don’t define will come to bite you in the future.

That said, some of the parameters you should develop are:

  • How many leads each partner is to bring every week
  • Team training and HR investment
  • The communication protocols that will guide the partnership
  • Sales team motivation and engagement
  • The number of meetings that should be held every week

Above that, come up with corrective measures whenever parts of a team don’t meet said protocols.


5. If Anything Don’t Forget Your Customer

Read any resource on co-selling or partnerships, and you’d be shocked at the number that fails to mention the customer.

This gives a false impression that partnership building has nothing to do with the customer.


Nothing could be further from the truth, the rules of customer-centricity still apply to co-selling, and the customer should always be at the center of your decision making.


That’s Quite A lot of Work; We Can Help.

Resource executives wear many hats in an organization; having to put the role of developing relationships entirely on your back is being unfair to yourself.


That’s why we creedPartnered. Our solution automates the redundant processes in your partnership management like account mapping, data collection, and metric analysis.


We do the heavy lifting on your behalf so that you can focus on everything else. For more information, contact us today, and our teams will be more than willing to help.







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