The Doyle Report: Co-Selling is Hot, But Is It new?

Looking for a little lift when it comes to selling? Then try “co-selling,” which is the practice of pursuing customers in close coordination with software and services vendors.

If you’re working in the channel, you’re probably heard that “co-selling” is all the rage today. But is it new?

The answer is obviously “no.” Solution providers have been selling with vendors for years as a go-to-market strategy. The growth of cloud solutions, however, has shifted how services are provisioned and sold. In today’s market, customers buy what they want, when they want and from whom they want, which has put pressure on the channel to find better routes to market. This has given rise to a new form of co-selling.

Instead of deal registration and MDF, the new co-selling involves jointly pursuing detailed go-to-market blueprints, sharing customer insights and connections, and building joint plans for improving customer experiences. To some, co-selling may be the fastest path to cloud revenue with little or no overhead or costs.

On Tuesday at ChannelCon 2017 underway in Austin, Texas, I’m moderating a session on the subject, “Business Success: Leveraging Co-selling for Success.

Along with me, the panel will feature:

  • Brent Combest, General Manager, Central Region Small & Midsize Business Division, Microsoft
  • Marc Monday, Vice President, Partnerships & Ecosystems, SAP
  • Nate Olsen, Managing Director of Business Development & Channel Programs, Insperity

The goal of the session is to peel back the layers on co-selling, and get to the bottom of what is new with the practice today.

After pursuing 20 years of co-selling, Microsoft, for one, has learned plenty on the topic.

“Selling has matured over the years. It’s more efficient today, and there is a clearer division of labor,” says Combest, who spent six years of his career at Microsoft working to enable and co-sell with Dynamics partners. “Among the tools available, there is deal registration, CRM and, in our case, heat maps to identify deals the right partners to bring in. We can bring in three really strong partners to almost any deal. Instead of conflict, we get coordination.”

Then there’s another perspective, courtesy of Nate Olsen, managing director of business development and channel programs at Insperity, an HR software technology company that has sold its product directly for the better part of the last 30 years. In the past few years, however, it has built a robust channel comprised of technology consultants and insurance brokerages.

“The reason we began to build a robust channel that featured co-selling was because we had partners coming to us and saying ‘we want help selling your technology to our customers,’” says Olsen. “The reason these companies have come to us seeking sales help is because their brokerage fees have commoditized and they realize they need more upside. That’s helping us shape our view of co-selling and going to market.”

Co-selling and go-to-market execution came up on Monday during a session on SaaS channel development at ChannelCon 2017. John Scola, global vice president of cloud channels and transformation at SAP, said his company does capacity planning each year and aligns its partner strategy based on its technology needs, vertical market demands and more. When it comes to working with individual partners, Scola says SAP looks for partners who have developed their own intellectual property (IP), scalable, repeatable business processes, in particular.

“These are the types of partners that succeed best with SAP, and the ones we build our sales and channel programs around,” Scola says.

TAGS: The VAR Guy
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