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15+ Questions to Help Your Sales Reps Master Their Co-Selling Motions

Your sales rep and your partner’s sales rep walk into a room. Now what? 

Your partner’s time is precious. Your sales reps need to be prepared to make the most of those coveted co-selling syncs while nurturing a symbiotic relationship that drives a steady momentum of co-selling opportunities. 

After all, effective co-selling can lead to a 50% faster time to close and a significant increase in the amount of opportunities qualified by partners when it’s done right.

Co-selling begins with account mapping. Typically, your sales rep and your partner’s rep will connect when: 

Your prospect overlaps with your partner’s prospect...

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Or your prospect overlaps with your partner’s customer...

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Once you’ve account mapped once, you’ll have a steady stream of co-selling opportunities, and you’ll likely pass some of the co-selling responsibility on to your sales reps. If your sales reps typically sell competitively, selling with a partner may be unfamiliar territory. Let’s change that. 

Below, you’ll find a list of the top questions your sales reps should ask their partner counterparts to qualify opportunities, accelerate deals, and keep the EQLs flowing. 

Keep in mind: All of the following questions are applicable to one or both of the above account mapping scenarios. Grab the most relevant questions for your existing co-selling needs, and run with them!

Question #1: What is your current relationship with the customer? 

You’ve done the account mapping, and you know your prospect is your partner’s customer — but there’s more to it than that. What’s the context of your partner’s current relationship with the customer? Is the customer beta testing a new integration? Is your partner currently expanding the account through cross-selling or upselling? In either scenario, if your partner is in an active conversation with the account, they could have a lot of influence in helping you close the deal. 

Picture this: Your partner chats with your prospect on the regular via Slack. One day, your partner is getting feedback from the customer about their latest integration while debating with the customer about the meaning of Tenet. When your partner claims defeat and finally agrees with the customer’s theory about the movie, there’s a lull in the conversation and your partner says, “Hey, have you tried using so-and-so’s product with ours? There’s a really great use case you should know about.” 

In this case, so-and-so is you, and four months later you’re closing that deal.

With the answer to this question, you can...

If your partner has an active relationship with that customer, you can: 

  • Ask the partner to recommend your integration to their customer (This could lead to a potential upsell for your counterpart and a potential customer conversion for you).
  • Discuss how the joint solution between your product and your partner’s product can help the partner with their expansion strategy — and ultimately help you close the deal, too. 
  • Ask your partner to put in a good word for you and to check if the customer would be interested in a joint meeting or an email intro. 
  • Offer to introduce your partner to a relevant stakeholder for cross-selling, and ask your partner to introduce you to the stakeholder with the most buying power at your prospect account. 
  • Ask the partner to educate the customer about relevant use cases for using your products together

If your partner doesn’t have an active relationship with the customer, find out if they or any of their colleagues would be comfortable reaching out to the customer to put in a good word or make an intro. 

Question #2: What is the customer’s most pressing pain point? 

You already know some of the general use cases relevant to the prospect and similar companies in their category, but maybe you’re missing another critical use case that would resonate with their unique business needs. Your partner could have insight into a specific pain point that your product already solves or could solve with the help of a new integration or a low-lift shift in your product roadmap.

With the answer to this question, you can…

Use the intel from your partner to develop your most compelling demo that addresses the customer’s current pain points, and make a plug for the integration you have with your partner if it helps make your case. Meanwhile, get brownie points with the prospect by showing your tech stack knowledge and serving as a consultative resource for the customer. In other words, gain their interest and their trust! 

If you don’t have an existing integration with your partner but should, give the feedback to your partner manager so they can prioritize the new integration as part of your integration roadmap. 

Alternatively, if the customer has expressed dissatisfaction with a competing or overlapping product, that’s an opportunity for you to re-engage the prospect immediately in the sales conversation.

Question #3: What are you working on with the customer right now? What are you and the customer working towards together?

How your prospect is using your partner’s product can help you navigate the sales conversation. For example, if your prospect is currently using the sending platform Sendoso to target only enterprise accounts, you should focus the sales conversation around how your product can help them target similar accounts. If your prospect is planning to target a subset of highly strategic accounts six months into their usage of Sendoso, think ahead about how your platform can fit into that strategy. 

With the answer to this question, you can…

Re-engage the prospect with a more focused sales pitch around their upcoming strategy or existing use cases with your partner. Use this strategy forecasting to show your expertise in the specific use case and build trust with the prospect. 

If your partner is recommending specific integrations as part of the customer’s integration adoption roadmap, discuss if and how your integration can fit into that roadmap. Perhaps the integration needs low-lift adjustments to satisfy more use cases, a simple tweak in your integration messaging tailored to the customer, or it’s ready to go as is. 

Question #4: How far along is the customer in implementing your product? 

Your partner has insights about the business goals their customer wants to achieve by using their platform. If your partner has an integration adoption roadmap like RollWorks does (below), your partner can help you figure out where and how your platform could fit into various use cases for the customer. 

Roadmap-Rollworks-DropshadowAn example of RollWorks’s integration adoption roadmap

In the example above, the customer’s initial goals involve display advertising, and later they’re planning to leverage direct mail marketing strategies. If your platform specializes in online surveys, you can frame the sales conversation around how your integration triggers e-gift sending while also collecting opportunity qualification data (like SurveyMonkey does).

With the answer to this question, you can…

If you’re speaking with an independent software vendor (ISV) partner that manages implementation directly, find out if the partner’s professional services team can recommend your product as a joint solution as the customer’s usage of their platform advances. The partner can also educate the customer around specific use cases for using both products together and, if relevant, can literally plot your product into their integration adoption roadmap

If you’re speaking with an ISV partner that works with a systems integrator (SI) or agency partner to implement their product, you should:

  • Ask the partner to recommend your product for specific use cases the agency or SI is currently working on with the customer.
  • Chat with your internal partnerships manager to see if partnering with the SIs or agencies could be a good fit. If those reseller partners are working with your ISV partner’s customers, it’s likely those customers could benefit from your product as well.

Question #5: Who else is the prospect considering in our category? 

The prospect may tell the partner which of your competitors they’re considering, especially if that customer is evaluating a handful of tools and how they can integrate with their entire tech stack.

“Usually the prospect will tell the partner something they won’t tell you,” says Nouras Haddad, Vice President of Alliances at Firebolt.

With the answer to this question, you can…

Position your product competitively by highlighting how your product stands apart. Work that information into the sales conversation and relevant sales collateral. 

Question #6: What do we need to know upfront before our initial call with the customer? 

For partners that have a consultative relationship with your prospect, ask that partner what’s most important for you to know about the account. Maybe the prospect had a poor relationship with another platform in your category, they’re in the middle of a funding round that’s sucking up all their time (but also potentially good for their upcoming budget), or the top decision maker loves Carolina-style barbeque. 

(Whatever you do, don’t send the stakeholder a bottle of Texas-style BBQ sauce as a thank you for taking the meeting.

An example: John Smit, Channel Sales Manager at Introhive, says oftentimes their partner reps will share information with their internal reps about who the key decision maker is. Sometimes, it’s not the most senior role but rather someone who has a long-standing relationship with members of the leadership team.

“There’s always those bits of outlier info that we’d never find out unless we worked with the customer in the past,” says Smit.

With the answer to this question, you can…

Get five steps ahead in the sales conversation. Edit your sales deck to match your prospect’s needs, and tailor your pitch so that it resonates with the most influential stakeholder. Get specifics about the prospect account’s team structure, business goals, projected growth, or even their burned bridges. 

What you include and what you don’t include could make all the difference in closing the deal.

Question #7: How can we tailor our joint solution pitch to meet the customer’s priorities? 

Sometimes an initial call with a partner is like the huddle before selling your joint solution to your shared prospect. Your typical joint solution pitch is a good baseline, but you and your partner will need to tailor that pitch for each prospect according to the prospect’s specific business needs. Discuss how you can tell the best “better-together” story, and make sure you’re on the same page so that you maximize your chances of closing the deal — while finishing each other’s sentences. 

With the answer to this question, you can…

Map out your exact talking points and next steps for once the call ends. You should finish the call with a clear game plan of: 

  • How you’re going to engage the prospect together
  • Who owns which responsibilities (like who sends the follow-up emails and when — no duplicate outreach!)
  • What deliverables each of you needs to produce in preparation for the meeting

Question #8: Who are the stakeholders I should be speaking with at the target account?

There are a lot of job titles out there. While the VP of Sales might have the most buying power for one prospect, the Director of Sales might have the most buying power at another. You could spend weeks reaching out to the wrong stakeholder, when you could be getting the right point of contact and even an intro in a matter of minutes. 

“What you’re trying to assess here is if there’s one person, two people, three people, or are you missing out on who you’re supposed to be engaging with?” says Darragh Fitzpatrick, SVP of Sales at RollWorks

With the answer to this question, you can…

Ask for an intro to the right stakeholder, or reach out to the stakeholder directly to accelerate the sales cycle for the particular account. 

Question #9: What’s going on in your industry right now, and how can I help?

Your partners are your best allies, so be an ally to them! The more open you are to listening and helping your partner, the more top of mind you’ll be when new co-selling opportunities arise. 

Tyler Meckes, Account Manager at Connection, says he tries to learn as much as he can about the partner’s product, use cases, and industry trends so he can help the partner co-sell. He asks about the partner’s current pain points, the competitive landscape, and how the partner’s product and/or industry is changing. 

For example: Meckes co-hosts a podcast called TechSperience where he asks partners about their latest product innovations and new industry trends. On a recent episode, Meckes interviewed Logitech’s Bob Knepp, Head of Alliances, Americas, and Jen Jakubowicz, Head of Channel Marketing, Video Collaboration, AMR, about how the software company known for its mouse and keyboards has expanded into the conference space. Through the interview, Meckes was able to learn more about Logitech’s products and business priorities and can reference the information in future conversations with prospects and customers who are looking for conferencing solutions. 

 

Learning more about the partner: 

  • Fosters a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the partner 
  • Keeps you top of mind for future co-selling opportunities with the partner 
  • Helps you grow your tech stack and industry knowledge so you can serve as a consultative resource for the prospect or customer 
  • Helps you identify new opportunities for the partner to co-sell in accordance to the partner’s changing business objectives 

With the answer to this question, you can…

Check your notes about your partner’s updates, and cross-reference the new intel with your list of existing opportunities. If any of those opportunities are a customer of your partner, this could be a chance to re-engage them with new information to improve their workflows or business outcomes using your partner’s product in tandem with your own. 

If you have a call scheduled with a prospect, use your new insights to ensure the prospect is getting the most out of their tech stack while solidifying your value as a consultative resource. Gathering industry knowledge from your partners can help you stay top of mind when new opportunities arise, and inserting that knowledge into your everyday sales conversations can help you make a good impression with prospects. 

This could also be a chance to influence a deal or upsell opportunity for your partner. 

“‘I know you’re using X product for this side of things, but we never talked about what you’re doing for this particular use case — What are you doing for that?’” says Meckes. “I’m providing value for the customer by saying, ‘Did you know this bit of industry knowledge?’ In asking that question, I’m also getting information back that I could leverage later on.”

If a prospect is interested in learning more about a partner’s solution, Meckes will ask the partner if they’d like an intro or if he should gather more information on the partner’s behalf. Oftentimes the response is something like, “Tyler, that’s perfect. Could you ask them more about what they’re doing, because our product could potentially be a good fit.” 

You should also feed relevant information to your account manager about your partner’s new product functionalities, competitor insights, or other context. The account manager can use the information to provide thoughtful workflow recommendations to existing customers or simply put in a good word for the partner when the opportunity comes up. 

Question #10: Is there anybody you’re looking to target that you need help with? 

We’ve already talked about mapping your prospects to your partner’s prospects and your partner’s customers — You should also map your customers to your partner’s prospects. The resulting overlaps are the accounts you can help your partner close. Come to the meeting knowing how you can help your partner with specific target accounts, and your partner will be excited to meet with you time and time again. Next time, they’ll be just as prepared as you, if they’re not already (And the crowd roars: E-Q-Ls! E-Q-Ls!). 

Meckes learns which target accounts his partner needs the most help with and, if he can’t help the partner directly, refers the partner to a colleague that has the in with the account. 

“‘If I see that somebody else at my company has a relationship with the customer, I’m more than happy to introduce the partner to them so they can work together, and the partner can get introduced to that customer.’” says Meckes.

With the answer to this question, you can…

Connect your partner with another rep at your company who can help your partner accelerate the deal. Keep fostering that bidirectional co-selling relationship, so you’re the partner’s go-to for any new co-selling opportunities. 

Question #11: Can I quickly go over the BANT qualification criteria to make sure we’re getting the same information? 

Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline — a common framework for navigating a possible sale. While these elements should only serve as a jumping off point, it’s important to get them right. If you think your prospect’s budget is much lower than it actually is, you’re underselling your product. If you think your prospect’s budget is much higher, you’re likely going to lose the deal. Verify what you already know to make sure you’ve got it right. 

With the answer to this question, you can…

Get confidence you’re moving the sales conversation forward in the right direction, or pivot your game plan. If the latter, make sure to adjust your upcoming demo to focus on the right information, update your sales collateral, or re-engage the prospect with information most important to them. 

Question #12: Do you know anything about my prospect’s buying timeline? 

If your prospect is looking to adopt a project management tool like yours in six months and you’re launching an integration with the prospect’s email service provider (ESP) that same month, that’s a really good piece of information to include in your sales pitch. Ask your partner about the prospect’s timeline so you can develop the most compelling sales pitch and make sure to reach out to the partner at the right time.

With the answer to this question, you can…

If you learn that your prospect is getting more budget in three months, set a reminder on your calendar to reach back out to the prospect around that time. If your prospect has plans to invest in additional resources, figure out how your product can fit into their business strategy and growing strategy. 

Question #13: Which of your colleagues should I also connect with?

Treat this question like match-making. You’ve got a lot in common with the partner rep you’re speaking with, but who else could you swap intel with? Perhaps your partner has colleagues targeting accounts in a region that you’re also targeting, or maybe there’s another rep who’s struggling with specific accounts that you can help with. 

You should also use this opportunity to tell your partner about additional accounts you’re working on to see which of their colleagues have existing relationships with the accounts.

With the answer to this question, you can…

Set up introductory calls with the additional partner reps. They’ll likely come to the call with particular accounts in mind. You should also work with your partnerships manager to map accounts beforehand, and discuss the resulting overlaps with other members of your sales team to identify the best strategy for helping your partner with those particular accounts.

Question #14: Which other accounts are you working on right now?

You’ve got your partner rep on the phone — make the most of it! Find out what other accounts the partner is working on to see how you can help and potentially turn those accounts into ecosystem qualified leads (EQLs) for your company. 

“Never leave the call without getting three other account names,” says Haddad. 

With the answer to this question, you can…

Identify which of your colleagues can help influence the deal for the partner rep. If the accounts don’t exist in your pipeline, chat with your sales leader and outbound sales team to see if they should. This simple question could lead to more opportunities and partner-sourced revenue. 

Question #15: When are you next available for us to have a preparation call for a joint meeting with the customer? 

If you’re teaming up to sell your joint solution to a particular account, you’re going to need to prepare talking points, co-selling collateral, a return on investment (ROI) calculation, and more — in addition to scheduling the meeting between your team, your partner’s team, and the prospect.

Lock a meeting in to touch base about your upcoming meeting before the call ends. 

With the answer to this question, you can…

Immediately book time on your partner’s calendar, and then inform other internal stakeholders — like your marketing team, your designer, your sales leader — how they need to support your joint pitch. For example, make sure your partner marketers are aware of the time they’ll need to dedicate towards preparing co-selling collateral before your preparation meeting.

Question #16: How did you approach the conversation with the prospect/customer? What do you think resonated most with the prospect during your conversation?

Learn from your co-selling successes. For any deal won with a partner, ask the partner rep what they think worked. 

“We’re trying to coach our sales reps to overshare when those sales conversations happen,” says Darragh Fitzpatrick at RollWorks. “‘How did it go?’ ‘What did you do?’ and ‘How did you and the partner rep approach it?’ ‘What was the outcome?’” “We will share the successful co-selling motions right across the org.”

Gather as much information as you can so that you can implement similar co-selling tactics with other partners and teach your team to do the same.

With the answer to this question, you can…

Share your most successful co-selling tactics in a team collaboration tool like Slack. Get your entire team excited about co-selling while showing your leadership team your success. 

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Got any other co-selling questions we should add to our list? Let us know by Tweeting @Crossbeam.