How to Leverage Service Partners to Close More Deals
When it comes to closing more deals, most sales reps focus on getting more leads or improving their cold calling strategies. There’s another opportunity that you might be missing out on–leveraging service partners to solve objections and close more deals.
Over the past several years as the sales partnership manager at Close, I’ve helped turn our service partners from teams we work with into win-win-win partnerships for us, our customers, and our service partners.
One of the biggest misalignments between sales and partnerships is failing to leverage service partners to close deals, create sticky customers, and influence expansion revenue. I’ll share a few of the strategies I use to do that so you can create your own structured plan.
What is a Service Partner?
A service partner is someone who does not work for the company (Close, for example!), but knows Close really well and offers a service that supports Close customers in a specific way.
A few examples:
- A service partner can set up automations within Close or integrate other tools with Close for a fee.
- A service partner can offer a specialized, done for you, sales process and operations setup within Close. They set up this prescriptive sales process and train sales managers and teams how to leverage the setup.
- A service partner might support Close customers in other languages that we don't support. We have German partners that offer a Close setup/training in German for a fee.
- A service partner could service a specific sales process for a niche market. Our best partner, Sam Queen, sets up sales processes and training for education/coaching service companies.
- A service partner could build an entire business around creating a tech stack that supports starting your revenue engine and only uses specific tools to do that--Close being one of them.
How to Encourage Partner Involvement in Deals
How can you help your sales team remember to leverage a service partner in sales conversations? As a partnerships manager, you should be communicating with your sales team on a regular basis. Most importantly, you should consistently reiterate to your sales team when to consider looping in a service partner on a deal.
A simple way to do this - focus on objections they face to close deals. If a lead is requesting a service your success team does not offer, your sales team should immediately consider service partners that can deliver the service your customer or lead needs.
Overcoming objections is painful, but they become an opportunity when you have a solution to help them solve their problem. Service partners should live in the mind of sales reps when they face an objection that their internal success or support team cannot provide for them.
Remember, the goal is to create a win-win; your customer gets a solution to their problem, you get to look good (and solve an objection), and your service partner hopefully gets a new customer.
Example of Sales Leveraging Service Partners
Here’s what this can look like in action:
Lead: “My business is in the coaching/education sector and we have a lot of lead volume but terrible process to engage and close those leads. Do you have a model of success for a business like ours? Can you set this up for me?”
Of course, your sales rep should speak to using your platform as an expert and make expert recommendations, but when someone asks for a specific type of solution, it's either an opportunity to find a partner that can deliver that or refer to a partner who already does.
Sales Rep: “Actually, we have a partner who supports businesses like yours and they have seen incredible growth results with our customers that they’ve supported. Any interest in an intro to that partner?”
I’m sure you are thinking, that's great and all, but how do I get my sales reps to have that kind of intimate knowledge about partners? Here are some guidelines on that:
If you want to encourage sales to recommended service partners, your first step is making sure they’re aware of who your partners are and what they do. Here’s a few tips on how to make this work:
- Sales and Partnership Teams Must Communicate: A partner manager should schedule a bi-weekly or monthly call to align sales and partnerships. In the beginning, you should create awareness of your best service partners to your sales team. Make them aware of what they do and how they can help them Close deals. As these calls mature, these calls should be used to share success stories leveraging service partners (these stories lead to great content as well), talk about current challenges or objections sales reps are facing on high priority deals to see if a partner could help. Make sure to create an awareness of any new partners.
- Async Brainstorming: As a partnerships manager, make yourself available to your sales team to brainstorm partner recommendations for a specific objection that your success and support team cannot service. Slack or whatever tool you use for this is best, sales reps should reach out to partnership managers as a lever to pull in closing deals leveraging service partners.
- Document: Make it easy for sales reps by creating a distilled menu of partners you trust and recommend for specific challenges and objections. This list should not be overwhelming; instead it should be small and prescriptive. This document should include: who the partner is, what they do, when to recommend, and how to get in touch with them. Reiterate using that document on every sales <> partnerships call you have.
Implement Education and Training
Successfully leveraging service partners to close deals requires reps to have a deep understanding of what each of your partners do. This won’t happen overnight, but can be accomplished by:
- Schedule Introductions and Training: If you have a service partner that has successfully supported 10 or more of your customers, you have testimonials to back that success, and this partner solves a problem that your success and support teams cannot, schedule an introduction and training with your sales team. Getting some facetime between your partner and sales team to learn about what they offer, and do some Q&A that gets the relationship warm enough so reps feel comfortable looping them in on deals.
- Create Menus and Async Training: We all know a meeting with every partner (especially at scale) is unrealistic, so it's important to ask your partner to produce a menu of what they offer as part of their service, when to recommend their services, along with a pricing range, and a Loom video running a 5-10 minute overview of their offer and examples of success implementations. These can be hosted on an internal document/wiki for service partners that your sales team can refer to when they are facing an objection.
- Put It on Your Service Partners to Educate Your Sales Team: If you believe that you have a service partner that can benefit your sales team or a segment of your sales team, give them the option of reaching out to your sales team via email to educate them on their services and run optional webinars to educate them. If they can truly help reps close deals, create sticky customers, and influence revenue, sales reps will buy in.
Get Buy In From Sales Reps (and Sales Managers)
This one is actually pretty simple. If you can get a sales rep to see the value of a partner service once by helping them close a deal and acquiring a sticky, happy customer, that sales rep will become a service partner evangelist.
Keep in mind, if your success or support team can solve a challenge or objection for a lead, then you should leverage those teams; that's why they are there.
However, there are numerous scenarios where your success and support team might not be equipped to solve. When these teams cannot solve for what the lead is asking for, it's a no-brainer to refer to service partners that can solve that problem.
Service Partners and Sales is a Win-Win-Win For Customers and Revenue
What do you do next?
Create a top 5 or top 10 list of your best service partners and ask yourself, is my sales team familiar with these partners? If the answer is no, you know how to start. 😎
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