Why a partner activation funnel is the key to co-selling at scale

Life is full of uncertainties. This is not one of them:

If you want to achieve co-selling at scale, you have to build an engaging, consciously designed partner activation funnel that systematically carries your contacts from the lunch-and-learn all the way through to referral, and (and this is important) beyond.

Here’s the problem: Because partner teams are chronically overloaded, this is what the usual partner journey looks like for most contacts in your ecosystem, such as the partner AEs, CSMs and consultants.

There’s usually a flurry of engagement with partner contacts at the beginning of the relationship, and then again around the referral. But your funnel has holes in it, and your partners are falling out the bottom in the dead zone between onboarding and referral, and the engagement wasteland post-referral.

In an ideal world, people you’re interested in engaging with enter the funnel at onboarding, and, if all goes well, slide along smoothly to the point where they send you a referral, and, hopefully, close you a deal. But the problem with the model above is that it lacks the consistent, effective, consciously thought-out activation touchpoints to make sure this happens every time.

So what do we do to change this? We fix our funnel!

An avenue to revenue 

By applying a systematic approach to engaging your partner contacts consistently and effectively through a consciously designed partner activation funnel, you’ll find yourself in the co-selling Promised Land – programmatic co-selling at scale, with more referrals, more closed deals, and ultimately, more revenue, revenue, revenue, baby! 

So roll up your sleeves and pour yourself another cup of coffee, because we’ve got work to do, and it starts in the gap between onboarding and referral. 

Fixing your funnel part 1: partner activation

After onboarding, you’ve got to get to work turning your contacts into advocates – people who will remember you, understand (and be excited by) what you have to offer, feel valued, and trust you. Advocates recommend you. Advocates bring you referrals. Advocates help you close deals.

Most companies have an okay-ish onboarding process. Usually, they’ll do a lunch-and-learn, then send a long follow-up email (and the login details to their portal) and call it a day. From that point on, partner contacts are either neglected entirely until (maybe, if you’re lucky) they send you a referral, OR they’re subject to a barrage of random, disorganized communications that have no clear objective, and achieve very little, indeed. 

Spend some time carefully mapping touchpoints in this section of the funnel so that you can keep your partners engaged and keep your business top-of-mind. These will correspond with various milestones, which need to be defined for each contact. Segment these touchpoints by partner type, partner tier, contact role, and so on. Mapping should be granular and specific, and touchpoints should be triggered by pre-defined actions/non-actions. For example, one touchpoint may be one-on-one follow-up calls with people like AEs, CSMs, and consultants in your top partner organizations. This is an intensive process, but the work you put in now will pay off big time later. 

Work on touchpoint enablement, nurturing, and activation. Make sure they’re consistent, relevant, and well-timed – short and to-the-point is always best! The goal here is to build relationships in a systematic way, as opposed to a random, scattershot approach. Your focus is to scale the process consistently. 

Fixing your funnel part 2: co-selling

Next, we need to fix the section of the funnel that happens after a referral has been made. 

What often happens once a referral has been handed over to your AE is that the partner contact is not systematically involved, engaged, leveraged or excited during the deal-closing process. Yes, they may be able to go and look for information about how the deal is progressing in a partner portal, but nine times out of ten they won’t do this. Neglecting our partner in this phase is a mistake!

Why? Because if you keep your partner contacts engaged during this phase of the co-selling process, they feel excited, valued, and included. They see your success, leading to more referrals in the future. And, most importantly, THEY CAN HELP YOU CLOSE! 

If a deal stalls, they could make a quick call and get it back on track. They could use their relationship with their customer to help get the deal over the line. They can give you pointers, or info you need to close. They need to be invited to the party. 

It’s extremely important to map post-referral activation touchpoints designed to keep your partner contact up to date with what’s going on with the deal, and inform them if you manage to convert. 

It’s also important to let your AE know that the referral was partner-sourced, and that it’s more valuable, and needs to be treated as such. Getting your AEs to understand and buy into the power of co-selling with partners is an incredibly important part of achieving co-selling at scale. Part of your job is to proactively support your AEs in closing these deals, getting them excited about the potential of partner-sourced revenue, and equipping them to work successfully with partners in the future. 

What happens if you get this right? Higher win rates, shorter sales cycles, and bigger deals. Oh, and on top of all that your partners will source more referrals. In a way it's like a flywheel – once it’s rolling, it snowballs!

Sounds like a lot of work…

Yeah, it is work, but less than you may think. And it’ll be worth it, trust us. We see the results every day.

With a GOOD partner activation funnel, you can turn your partnership ecosystem into a predictable revenue engine. And the beautiful thing about a partnership ecosystem that starts generating predictable revenue? It self-reinforces in a kind of snowball effect – if you get it right, the more partner-sourced revenue it generates, the more referrals roll in, leading to more partner-sourced revenue, and on and on it goes. 

And here’s more good news: a large portion of this process can be automated. 

The world's first partner activation & co-sell orchestration platform

Superglue, for example, was designed for exactly this purpose – to help you build programmatic multi-stakeholder partner activation and co-sell funnels. Superglue has disruptive capabilities to build for example co-sell workflows that align your internal stakeholders (like AEs or CSMs) with your partners. In real-time!

Don’t take our word for it, we’re biased. Reach out to have a chat or watch a this demo. We're sure you'll love what you see!

PS Want to calculate the impact of this approach on sourced revenue? Check out this blog post on how to build the business case.

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