You remember the 3 “Relationship Sins” that we all tend to fall victim to in our deals:
- We over-invest in the wrong people,
- We under-invest in the right people, and
- We miss key people in the deal altogether.
The greatest relationship sin we commit, however, is failing to leverage our Partner Allies!
I worked with an account team recently that had successfully created a Partner Ally in a Chief Operating Officer (COO) for a mega services deal. The COO’s boss, the CEO, had just joined the company 90 days prior and was working with his leadership team to establish the company priorities. One day, he called the COO into his office to discuss the opportunity. The COO, unfortunately, was unable to adequately “sell” the opportunity to the CEO, and in an instant… the deal was dead. The account team had failed to leverage their Partner Ally.
The definition of a Partner Ally is someone who sells for us on our behalf when we are not there. Therefore, after we have successfully created a Partner Ally and collaborated with them to develop our win strategy, we then have the responsibility to train them to sell for us in our absence. This includes ensuring they can effectively communicate our value proposition, are prepared to address any objections, and can successfully execute the strategy.
The other critical area where we oftentimes fail to leverage our Partner Allies is in gaining important sales intelligence. There is no possible way for you to accurately know where you stand on any of the 6 Sales Vulnerabilities that the StormTracker™ Suite measures without the crucial sales intelligence that a Partner Ally can provide. Otherwise, we are just guessing and violating a key Revenue Storm principle around Level 3 selling, “What we don’t know in a deal will kill us.”
Of course, we always want to verify what our Partner Allies are telling us is accurate, and that they are not guessing themselves, mistaken, or actually intentionally misleading us. (I saw another account team lose a mega-deal when they trusted someone they thought was their Partner Ally, who turned out to be a Partner Ally of their competitor.)
Remember, the first job you have in EVERY deal is to create a Partner Ally.
Follow this process for creating and leveraging your Partner Allies to help increase your win rate:
- Target Them—Usually you start with our “strongest” relationship on the Relationship Barometer. The higher their Political Score the better.
- Recruit Them—Tie your value proposition to their Personal Agenda, and confirm with them that they believe the value you offer is superior to all other competitors.
- Test Them—Ask them to take political “risk” for you by supplying key sales intelligence, sponsoring you into strategic meetings, or making important introductions to ensure they are not just a Supporter (who may also be supporting others).
- Leverage Them—Collaborate with them to craft a differentiated value proposition. Review the Revenue Storm pursuit tools with them to create a win strategy. Then train them to sell on your behalf when you’re not there.