By Marissa Krupa
Let’s face it, in today’s business world, companies can no longer be individual islands unto themselves carving away in a sea of markets. In order to survive, and thrive, in the current global economy, companies must join forces with other vendors to add value to customers throughout the supply chain.
But, how does a company go about building an ecosystem of vendors it can trust and rely on?
One primary way is to meet with representatives of the partner face-to-face. Just last week, Wind River held a series of sales meetings in Europe that included several hardware and software partners. Consider the benefits from these efforts:
1) Trust is still most often built face-to-face
When it comes to building a partner ecosystem, trust is a key factor for success. Partner organizations are dealing with sensitive issues like passing lead information or customer information back and forth between the field sales forces.
Paramount to building trust within sales organizations of partner companies is to have the field sales reps meet with partner representatives face to face.
2) Clearly communicate the partnership business model
During face-to-face meetings with partners, it’s critical to explain the business model you have with the partner. Whether it’s co-selling, re-selling, or what have you, if your team better understands how they can grow business together with a partner, the more prosperous your partner ecosystem will become.
3) Establish buy-in from sales and marketing management
Understand that sometimes it may require sales and marketing managers to help lead field sales reps to the watering hole to reap the benefits.
During our series of meetings last week, after partners had a chance to present, regional managers made sure to connect several field sales reps with particular partners following the presentations. This kind of direct vouch for the partner’s technology sent a strong message to all the reps. When the managers outline the benefit in joining forces with the partner for joint sales, the reps will soon see the benefits too.
4) Share success stories with co-workers
One of the best ways to build trust amongst sales reps is to highlight a customer success story. We required every partner at our European meetings to highlight a customer story.
This provided two things for our reps to think about: 1) the partner company was able to stand on their own and successfully sell to the same customer, and 2) the Wind River rep who sold to that joint customer now has an edge for future sales by working with the partner.
All it takes is one field sales rep to speak about their success when working jointly with a partner, for others to be encouraged.
5) Building personal relationships can also build intelligence
Gathering intelligence on customers can often be challenging. However, growing personal relationships between your sales team and partner representatives can overcome some of these issues. By creating opportunities for field sales reps to meet partners’ reps face-to-face, tremendous insights about customers can be gained. Simply learning about the organization’s structure and management, or general strategies straight from the source, at a customer location, is invaluable to enhancing the sales effort. It also helps field reps to reach beyond their traditional contacts to gain more new design wins.
Although it can take effort to pull all the appropriately important parties together into one room, the benefits of doing so are tremendous. Just in the two days of partner presentations in last week’s meetings, our field sales teams are already hot on the trail for several new customer opportunities.
Face-to-face meetings help grow the potential for more business and in today’s global economy, it’s worth the effort.