How CROs Can Use Ecosystems for Business Growth

how cros can use ecosystems for business growth

Last Updated on May 13, 2021

Shifting buyer behaviors have led companies to look for pathways to scalable and sustainable growth. While being first to market can put you at a significant advantage, continuing momentum requires deep insight into the needs of the customer as well as an ability to envision and execute on a long-term strategy for revenue growth across sales, marketing, and product.

Chief Revenue Officers are business leaders first. CRO’s need to understand the shifting marketplace, evaluate the best opportunities for revenue expansion, and increase the lifetime value (LTV) of their customers to the business. 

In order to create sustainable and predictable growth, every channel needs to be a high performing piece of your revenue portfolio. Successful CROs have found ways to leverage their company’s partner ecosystems as an extension of their own team. According to a recent Accenture survey of over 1,200 global executives, “Executives believe that ecosystem participation allows businesses to innovate (63 percent), increase revenue growth (58 percent), access new markets (55 percent) and access new customers (55 percent).”

Accenture Strategy: Ecosystems cornerstone of future growth

Figure 1: Chart from Accenture: Cornerstone of the Future Growth – Ecosystems with a survey of over 1,200 global executives.

Clearly, CROs know that their ecosystem strategy will be critical to their success in driving revenue for their company.  But how do you operationalize an ecosystem strategy in a way that’s predictable, measurable, and scalable?

Great question!  Here are three ways we are seeing successful CROs do exactly that:

1. Break Down the Walls Between Sales and Partners

In the past, there hasn’t been a way for partners and sales leadership to collaborate on their pre-pipeline cadence. Sales and ecosystem partners relied on one-way communication and manual processes in spreadsheets. This has led to low visibility, inaccurate forecasting and little to no collaboration.  

“Modern” Architecture: PRM + Ecosystem Cloud

Figure 2: With Ecosystem Cloud, sales teams and partner business managers are 100% aligned on partner activities across company boundaries in a single, shared network to accelerate pipeline and drive higher win rates.

By operationalizing and automating interdependent relationships in ecosystems, all players that have been given permission, have an accurate, transparent view into pre-pipeline activities as well as the opportunity to build multi-partner sales plans. While this is a huge win for sales, from the CRO’s perspective, this gives predictability and visibility to previously unaccountable and non-transparent processes.

As sales campaigns roll out and CROs can identify and scale best practices, pre-pipeline activity improves, ultimately resulting in better quality opportunities and better customer experience—and, of course, more closed deals from your ecosystem.

2. Mobilize Ecosystem Partners to Help Drive Your Goals

Traditional partnerships are prone to a lack of transparency or hesitation to expose pre-pipeline information. The inability to view data and communicate quickly slows down deal flows. 

According to Constellation Research, over the past two years, the B2B sales cycle has lengthened and the number of decision-makers involved in a sales opportunity has risen from five to seven people. Without an ecosystem single source of record, you’re bound to have multiple partners working on the same opportunities without collaborating, creating redundancies, and leading to wasted resources and lost deals.

With an Ecosystem Cloud platform, everyone has access to the data they need, when they need it. Even more important, this system of record is the single source of truth for all partners, so no one is left in the dark about opportunities or updates they should know about. 

Now, rather than working in isolation on the same opportunities, each partner knows their contribution and can leverage their unique skillset to close business. And when the time comes to evaluate which partner is best for a new account, it’s easy to look at partner contribution data and invite the right partner into the next sales engagement.


pipeline reviews: nominate accounts

Figure 3: With WorkSpan, all partners working on closing a shared opportunity have a single place to collaborate and drive the business to close.

This creates a seamless, powerful process that accelerates deals, establishes a secure system of trust, and records all partner’s contributions from deal inception to closed-won.

3. Build Trust and Drive Revenue Together

Many partnerships begin with lofty goals of combined vision to build innovative solutions together, but often fall victim to fragmented processes and frustrating blind spots, leading to failure. As Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP has often said: “Trust is built in drops and lost in buckets”.  

As a CRO, you have to put the right systems in place to operationalize best practices, provide visibility and accountability, and ultimately build and grow trust across your sales teams and your ecosystem partners. Only by doing this, will you make sure you don’t have a revenue-killing “bucket-drop moment”.

Partner relationships that function in a way that consistently build and grow trust can’t scale with a traditional, manual system. They require an Ecosystem Cloud platform like WorkSpan. WorkSpan supports you and your partner’s needs to stay tightly connected on deal cycles and status, implement best practices across the organization, measure and report on joint pipeline and revenue, and close more business together!

Moving Forward

Today, it’s imperative for CROs to maximize all channels at their disposal to grow revenue and be successful.  Yet the world of partnering has changed dramatically from the old days of turning on a reseller channel and letting it fly.  CROs and their partner teams need to be agile, aligned and operating at the top of their game across a variety of go-to-market motions with partners.  Ecosystem Cloud enables your teams to do that consistently, measurably, and predictably.  

Good selling!


Nick Sarles
Nick is the Chief Revenue Officer at WorkSpan. He is passionate about developing high performing sales organizations and establishing new SaaS categories.

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28-Page Ecosystem Maturity Guide and Self-Assessment

Inside You’ll Find:

  • The 5 Ecosystem Maturity stages
  • What stage you are in
  • How to move to higher stages and reap the rewards of a business ecosystem