Partner Co-Selling: How to Drive More Revenue with Your Ecosystem Partners

partner co selling how to drive more revenue with your ecosystem partners

Last Updated on August 19, 2021

The Era of the Ecosystem is officially here. IDC, Forrester, Gartner, and Accenture all point to Ecosystem Business Management (EBM) as the new standard for driving partnerships and maximizing revenue together. 

Today, the revenue opportunity for companies co-selling with ecosystem partners is estimated to easily exceed $300 billion. Already capitalizing on this opportunity, companies in the know are now actively participating in ecosystems of others or creating their own.

Nonetheless, effectively managing an ecosystem is difficult — not to mention ensuring its ability to scale and be agile. We at WorkSpan are happy to take that pressure off of you. We’re sharing how to understand, deliver, and grow ecosystem value for your organization in a complex and competitive world.

A Strong Operating Model Delivers Ecosystem Value

Jay McBain, Principal Analyst at Forrester, has declared this the “Decade of the Ecosystem.” Today, ecosystem leaders are all thinking about how to best deliver ecosystem value to their company. 

Ecosystem value is made up of 3 key elements:

  1. Ecosystem Strategy
  2. Ecosystem Business Model
  3. Ecosystem Operational Model

Ecosystem strategy is the foundation of your ecosystem. In this stage, you’re considering which partners you want to work with, the markets you want to be part of and the offerings/packages that you want to co-sell with those partners.

As you develop your ecosystem business model you’re starting to flesh out the process of your strategy, to ensure your ability to execute and the viability of the financial model. In this stage, you’re thinking about the solutions you want to sell with partners, the price at which you want to sell each offering, and the incentives you will put in place to ensure you attract the best partners.

Your ecosystem operating model is where the rubber meets the road. The ecosystem operating model is how you make sure your ecosystem is sustainable in the long run. This includes considering how your ecosystem can be agile and responsive to changes in the industry, secure for you and your partners to share company data, and scalable to guarantee continuous growth.  

The model below is based on Ecosystem Business Management defined by IDC in a recent research report. This is a modern framework for thinking about how to build an ecosystem operating model and how to execute key shared business processes that are essential to co-selling and successfully working with partners. Shared business processes for Ecosystem Business Management are:

  1. Co-Sell Referrals and Opportunity Management
  2. Co-Sell Joint Account Plans Management
  3. Co-Sell Marketing and Leads Management
  4. Co-Sell Solution Catalog
  5. Co-Solution Build Management
  6. Funds and Incentives / Proposal and Claims Management
  7. Funded Heads Management

operating model

Figure 1: The Ecosystem Business Management operational model defines the major processes for managing and driving revenue with your top ecosystem partners.

Co-Sell Referrals and Opportunity Management 

The cornerstone of Ecosystem Business Management is co-selling with your top partners! All other processes are there to support the point at which you’re working with your partners to co-sell and drive revenue together. 

And how does co-selling happen? You’re working with your key partners to propose and accept referral opportunities and then managing a continuously evolving joint pipeline of opportunities to close business together. These become shared business processes that need to be scalable and flexible enough to support co-sell motions with all of your ecosystem partners across industries, geographies, solutions, and segments.

The figure below dives a bit more deeply into the process of partner referrals and managing and driving your pipeline of co-sell opportunities to closed-won.

workflow

Figure 2: Co-Sell Referral and Opportunity Management Process. This is the cornerstone of driving revenue with your top partners. Start with mapping accounts with your partners, then decide where you can help each other out in target accounts, and then drive a joint pipeline of opportunities to close.

This is a process we’re all familiar with. But, many partner managers today are relegated to managing with spreadsheets that they share with their counterpart partner manager. While managing with spreadsheets, partner managers tell us they typically spend close to half their time just trying to reconcile data with each other and between their CRM, their partner’s CRM, and both their and their partners’ field sellers. It’s inefficient, slow, prone to errors, prone to security failures, and impossible to scale as the number of joint accounts and joint opportunities grow.

Recommended Watch: [On-Demand Webinar] Co-Selling With Partners Has Evolved, And How!

The co-selling process needs to allow you to easily and rapidly share referrals with defined workflows, a clear process for connecting with the sales team to collaborate with them on the value of the prospective opportunity, and then accepting or rejecting whether to pursue the referred opportunities.

Once accepted, you also need a mechanism to allow sales teams from each partner to collaborate with each other, securely share appropriate information, track status and activities, and manage these co-sell processes to bring the deal to closure.

As the deal progresses, it’s critical to keep included parties informed and updated so the teams can bring all the right resources to bear to knock down barriers, resolve customer objections, and close business together. Doing all of that on spreadsheets is a recipe for inefficiency, slow execution, and lost opportunities to grow revenue.

Shared System with Shared Data

Is there a more effective way of managing co-selling with your ecosystem partners? 

Yes! That’s exactly the question our founders asked when they set out to create WorkSpan. These shared business processes can be made exponentially more agile, simple, and scalable when you and your partners have a shared platform where all the relevant data from each partner is visible, cross-company business processes are defined and executed with precision, and all parties are able to work together in a shared space.

co sell data integration

A shared platform with clearly defined business processes and data governance improves accuracy, accelerates collaboration in real-time, makes your partnering efforts more agile, and allows you to scale your partner co-sell pipeline and grow revenue together.  

To learn more about how you can scale your partner co-sell revenue, our co-sell specialists would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Chip Rodgers
Chip is passionate about building strong customer/partner communities around enterprises to amplify brand and market impact. Prior to WorkSpan, Chip was with SAP for over 13 years, most recently growing the SAP Community Network to over 2 million engaged customers, partners, and developers. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and an engineering degree from Northwestern.

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