How to build a co-selling revenue engine

It’s tough out there, folks

We can all feel it. The current economic environment is brutal. Ecosystems are growing in size and complexity. Revenue targets are getting harder to reach. Partnership teams are under enormous pressure to deliver much more with much less. And unlike our colleagues in marketing (*shakes fist in the direction of marketing*), PAMs have historically been chronically undertooled. In the context of tools for co-selling, we might as well be tapping away on typewriters and sending messenger pigeons.

But that’s changing. The rise of automated account mapping is one of the biggest opportunities to emerge for co-selling in the last decade. AI and automation have reached a point where they’re fit for purpose, and ready to convert, convert, convert! Partnership people have a major opportunity to leverage automation and AI to drive productivity and achieve more.  

Whoa, wait. Are the robots coming for my PAM job?

Relax, that’s not going to happen. There’s no way a bot is going to take over and build your relationships at scale. But, if you don’t adapt and adopt the evolving technologies available to you, you’re going to be left in the dust.

PAMs need to become proficient with the best-in-class co-selling tools available to you right now, including things like Reveal, Crossbeam, and Superglue. It’s all about that automation, baby. And here’s why.

Building and maintaining hundreds of relationships

When I built my first partnership ecosystem I had a major realization. This insight transformed the way I managed partnerships and was instrumental in driving 8 figures in partner-led revenue, year over year.

Building partnerships is not something that happens between two organizations – it’s something that happens between people. The single-point-of-contact, PAM-to-PAM model is a total bust. You need to stop thinking that your main point of contact is going to deliver 80% of what you need from them, because we’ve got news for you – they’re not.

The people who bring you into deals are ultimately the AEs, the CSMs, and the consultants that work for your partners – the ones that own the relationships with customers you want in on. If those people don’t know you, trust you and feel valued by you, quite frankly, you’re screwed.  

For co-selling, you want to build a sticky, integrated web of relationships between your organization and your partner’s organization. Not only does this 10X the chances that someone in this network is going to remember and recommend you for a co-sell, but it also makes the chances of another company coming in to replace you much lower.

So, how do you go about this? It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Literally.

The 3 stages of co-selling

There are generally three stages to how organizations co-sell:

  1. Manual,
  2. Process-driven, and
  3. Programmatic.

The manual stage is a painful place. This is where a vast majority of organizations are stuck. You’re casting around, looking for opportunities, manually mapping accounts. Driving revenue from this stage is really hard. Everything sucks. But it’s also an important stage for finding out what works and what doesn’t. The fastest way to get to Stage 2 is by over-indexing things that are working in Stage 1, and brutally cutting out the things that aren’t. But this means you need to be tracking data, doing post-mortems, and quickly identifying and discarding activities and relationships that aren’t productive for you. Fail fast. Keep moving. And soon you’ll find yourself well on your way to Stage 2.

By the time you approach Stage 2, process-driven co-selling, you’ve done a good amount of work to figure out what activities are delivering dividends. Now you can set up some processes around these findings. Build these processes out as if you were going to hand the whole shebang over to someone else – that’s how efficient and self-contained they need to be.

Who’s who in the zoo?

A big part of this is understanding your key personas and their needs.

Too often, PAMs treat everyone as if they’re the same. But they’re not. Every single contact within your partner's organization is driven by their own needs and goals, and you need to speak directly to them on their terms. If you hit them all with the same messaging, you’re going to fail. Embarrassing.

Once you’ve defined your personas and thought about what drives them, you can get to work activating them. Everyone starts out as a prospect. The goal is to turn them into advocates. These are the people who are making things happen for you.

With the right messaging, sent at the right time, you can move your partners’ customer-facing reps from prospects who don't really know what your company does all the way through to advocates.

The first bucket is your prospects. These are the partner customer-facing employees that potentially manage relationships you want in on.

The first step often is to get them to book a meeting or take some kind of action. You can move these people from “prospect” to “engaged” based on them having gotten on a call with you for example.

For them to move from “engaged” to “activated”, they need to have sent you a lead. This doesn't happen overnight but requires nurturing in most cases. You need to make sure they know you, trust you, and feel valued.

The final step is to get them to close a deal with you, moving them from “activated” to “advocate”. In most cases when partners send over referrals they are no longer part of the actual sales process. I believe that is a huge mistake. Keeping your partners involved in the sales process will not only help increase close rates, shorten sales cycles, and increase deal rates, it will also help you build a relationship and foster trust. This is an essential part of co-selling and  tools like Superglue can easily help you manage deals sourced from partners that require their involvement.

The migration of these contacts through this activation funnel can (and should) all be assisted by automated triggers, notifications, and customizable messages. There are tools specifically built for this purpose, so don't despair.  

Suddenly, BOOM… PAMs manage not just 5 partnerships, but 500 partner contacts, each and every one a potential source of co-selling leads. Forget 10X, we’re in 100X territory now. Ok ok I may be a little too excited but this is something I have seen happen!

And the beauty of this system is that it can all be tracked! If you have too many contacts stuck in the activated stage, budget time to go back to those contacts and follow up. If you don’t have enough leads, focus your time on your engaged bucket.

At the end of the day, all you need as a start is 3-5 advocates per partner. That’s it. Then you have not just 10 partners who can refer you deals, you have 30-50 contacts who can refer you deals. And this, my friends, is when the magic starts to happen.

This process is most effective with partners for whom you can quickly articulate a genuine value proposition. This clarity aids in moving between funnel phases. In fact, I'd argue that if you cannot clearly define a joint value proposition with certain partners, it's best to put those relationships on hold and prioritize the ones with higher potential, i.e., those with evident joint value.

Note: Much of what I described in this chapter is based on a conversation I had with Chris Lavoie and Justin Zimmerman recently. Both Chris and I had developed almost the same partnership playbook, independently of each other. We both used that playbook to drive millions in revenue within a very short timeframe.

Now it’s time to automate!

Taking people from prospect to advocate is a process, and you can map that process, touchpoint by touchpoint.

Think about types of partners, personas/roles, and tiers. Decide what triggers you need, and what action they’ll set off. There are loads of different touchpoints – more than you may think – that you can track in your CRM and that can help you decide exactly what to do next.  

Remember, keep communications simple, short, conversational, and relevant. There’s a fine line between spam and neglect, and you’ve got to walk it like a kung-fu master. Done is better than perfect here. Keep it simple. Keep it moving. Get it done.

The programmatic stage

Time for you to pursue the holy grail – Stage 3: programmatic co-selling.

If you want to scale co-selling, you need to automate more than just account mapping.

You can tweak your existing marketing or sales tech stack to build a programmatic setup. It’s possible (if you have the resources and technical skills required). We’ve done it before. But it’s not perfect. Better than nothing though! If you manage to pull this off, you'll join a select group of co-selling scale masters.


You can use a purpose-built solution. Yes, we’re biased, but this is what Superglue was specifically designed to do. Creating a programmatic co-selling setup in Superglue takes 30-60 minutes. You’ll be up, running and, most importantly, closing in no time at all.

Why automation is au-some

We’re entering a new era of co-selling. More than ever before, PAMs have access to a range of tools and automation possibilities that can help you supercharge your ecosystem, drive revenue and maximize your own productivity. It’s doing more with less, but in a good way.

The answer is automation, and automation at scale. It’s easier to achieve than you  may think. It just takes a little initial legwork to get your programmatic setup up and running, then you’ll be well on your way to co-selling millions.

If you feel overwhelmed with automating co-selling, remember that your time each day is always limited. Automation is the only way to truly drive revenue at scale and (almost) not be limited by the size of your partner team.

Now, make it happen

If you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to email me or schedule some time for us to discuss. Driving more revenue through co-selling is the top issue on my mind every day, so I'm always eager to talk about it. I don't care if you are a Superglue customer or not.

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