Xactly is a portfolio company focused on leveraging partner channels to drive top-line revenue. In just a year, Carrie’s team has about quadrupled, so she’s been seeing a ton of opportunity.
“We are agnostic in terms of how we go to market,” Carrie said. “It doesn't matter based on what we sell, we can sell it almost into any industry.”
Without being limited by industry, Carrie views anyone as an alliance. “We have a phenomenal opportunity to work with multiple partners,” she said. “And the ecosystem for us is quite vast and wide.”
The Power of Three
Carrie’s approach to working with vendors across industries is based on a three-pronged approach.
An ISV partner (example: Salesforce)
An SI partner (selected for size, industry, and relevance)
“If we are better energize and synergize as well as collaborate with our partners, both on the SI and the ISV side, then we are going to bring to bear a much greater opportunity and ecosystem,” Carrie said.
It’s not a one-stop-shop anymore. If you’re not leveraging your whole ecosystem, you’re not fulfilling your potential.
“Every time that we have an execution, any type of plan, any pipeline at all, ideally we want to engage early and engage often,” Carrie said.
Besides the power of three, Carrie uses two other major techniques to build alliances.
So, Xactly is industry agnostic. But its partners aren’t.
“Some partners have very specific verticals, so we will absolutely try to go to the market and do some cold marketing as well with them with respect to industries like manufacturing or hospitality,” Carrie said.
Identify industry accounts, develop an industry-specific campaign, and roll out a joint co-marketing and go to market approach.
This shows true alliance — the recognition that success for one partner is a success for you, too.
The third technique is local events called Xactly Exchanges, leadership events in which shared insights and recommendations from leaders in the industry are the focus.
“We collectively bring to bear a VIP level experience for some senior-level executives that are really looking to transform their sales, their revenues, and really do a transformation effort, and bring all three together in a very focused evening,” Carrie said.
Sharing ideas and insights
Learning something new and relevant
Differentiation within the market
“There is no one single buyer anymore,” Carrie explained. “Organizations are still very, very siloed and as much as they say they act as a buying unit, we typically don't see that happening.”
These exchanges help partners learn to sell internally or cross-functionally. But, bottom line, they just help partners learn.
“One of the big things that I love about being a representative of this company is that what we sell and what we deliver is really the capability to unleash human potential. It doesn't matter if it's a salesperson, a field salesperson, a channel person, a distributor, even a doctor or a nurse — everybody has key performance indicators that they need to meet in order to achieve and drive profit or meet company goals,” Carrie said.
3 Techniques for Working with Alliances
1) Have a strategy.
“You can have a whole ecosystem of myriads of partners and people, but if you don't have a focused strategy to be able to identify who you're going in for, why you're going after them, and what the business outcomes are going to be, then you tend to lose focus.”
It’s easy to get lost in relationship building and networking.
If those things don’t have a concrete strategy behind them, then you’re liable to start wondering why you’re hosting this golf event or that two-day forum.
What's the strategy?
What's the purpose?
What's the outcome?
What are you trying to accomplish?
2) Keep yourself organized.
Whether you’re using a CRM, a spreadsheet, or an old-fashioned Rolodex, you need to stay on top of the details.
Not just who works for which company, but the human details.
How old someone’s daughter is.
What their previous company was and how long they were there.
Who has which connections?
“Those kinds of intangibles are tough to keep track of, especially if you deal with a lot of partners,” Carrie said. “It's keeping organized and making sure that you leverage those insights and those tidbits to be able to forge relationships.”
3) Be a bulldozer.
Look, someone can say they’ll introduce you to the VP of operations, hang up the phone, and never do it.
“I’m going to knock on their door or ring their phone — you said...” Carrie laughed.
Following up and holding people accountable is essential when dealing with alliances. And if that gets you called a bulldozer, well, it’ll also extend your network.
And here’s a bonus technique.
And... Remember what’s in it for them.
“I need to evangelize, explain, and demonstrate the value of what the partnership means for them and their business and their outcomes,” Carrie said. “Not only for the business, but also that individual whom I'm interacting with.”
If you as a channel or partner director don’t get that, it can be hard for you to form new relationships.
“What might be important to me and to us might not necessarily be that important to them,” she said.
How is your capability or service helping them sell more of their own so that they can have a broader impact on their customers?
Focus on what you're good at, then build and leverage your partners for the other elements. “No one company can do it all,” Carrie said.