Archive for September, 2010

If you’re looking to increase you efficiency as a sales professional it is paramount to your success to create relationships with complimentary service providers. For example, I have forged strong relationships as a software provider with key hardware and software providers in the market.

Why do I do this?

The reason is simple, I know if a customer is looking for mobile hardware he also needs mobile software and vice-versa. Our products are interdependent of each other. If my customer doesn’t have hardware they can’t run my software. For this reason, I invest in building relationships with complimentary providers.

This strategy has proven very successful. Over 20% of the sales opportunities on my plate have come through complimentary service providers with whom I’m selling collaboratively.  Collaborative selling provides the added benefit of extending my reach as a sales person. As my partner hunts for opportunities, in different but overlapping waters,  knows where my solutions compliment his and recommends me at the appropriate time.  I likewise cross promote my partner and products. By tackling sales this way we both extend our net and opportunity for new sales.

There following are a few lessons learned building collaborative selling partners:

  1. Ensure your products are complimentary and not competing
  2. ALWAYS have a joint call with your partner when introducing them to your customer. This provides you the opportunity to personally make an introduction. Take time to review customer needs and goals with your partner and customer.  Address why you’re bringing this partner to the conversation. Manage a smooth hand-off while keeping yourself in the conversation.
  3. Communicate regularly with your collaborative selling partner.  Everyone likes to know the progress of an opportunity.  Don’t you appreciate news about the progress of a sale? Often sales are interdependent and including selling partners on progress allows them an opportunity to promote your product in their conversations.
  4. This may seem like a “Duh?” statement, but involve the customer. When you involve the customer in conversations with complimentary business pieces he begins to see that you are working for him – not just selling. You will gain his trust and he will transition from a prospect to a partner in the process. As a partner your client will begin to tailor his decision around your recommendations because he sees you working for him as opposed to working for the sale.
  5. Understand your partners products abilities and limitations.  It’s an awkward moment when you bring a customer a recommendation and it falls short of both your expectations. Take the time to fully understand your partner’s product offerings.
  6. Commit to the long term – find partners that you can work  with far into the future.

Remember the definition of collaboration is “the act of working jointly”. Collaborative selling is working jointly with your partners to achieve the best solution for your customer – and ultimately your sale.

If the old adage “two heads are better than one” is true doesn’t it make sense to bring the right heads together to sell your customer?