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Kristine StewartJun 11, 2024 4:53:28 PM4 min read

Co-Selling: Why Experts Agree the Joint Sales Motion is a Game-Changer

In August of 2023, in cooperation with Partnership Leaders, we introduced a groundbreaking piece titled, "Relationship Selling: A Guide to Accelerating the Co-Sell Motion." The guide sparked significant interest and spurred lively discussions within the industry. It included insights from a diverse array of thought leaders, including customers utilizing co-selling strategies, market analysts, platform vendors, and prominent partner leaders.

Ten months later, we're eager to assess its impact and performance. Are we meeting or exceeding the lofty expectations set forth? Where are we witnessing the most noteworthy successes? Equally important, what lingering obstacles hinder co-selling from realizing its full potential, as envisioned by sales and partner leaders? 

To discover the answers to our questions, we wanted to check back in with the original co-sell thought leaders who were featured in the guide. Discussions with these leaders revealed five new insights that we are eager to share with you: 

#1: More companies are transitioning from passive observation to actively engaging in co-selling initiatives. In addition, those who have already begun are leveraging automation to rapidly expand their efforts. #2: It's the marathon versus the sprint story. Executing it properly involves a highly intricate process that necessitates buy-in from various disciplines and alignment, which isn't always easy to accomplish. #3: Successful companies are venturing into entirely new markets that were previously inaccessible to them because of this new motion with specific partners.  #4: Adoption faces obstacles such as resistance to change within sales organizations, concerns regarding data sharing, and challenges in establishing the appropriate compensation structure. #5: Participation in hyperscaler marketplaces is a leading driver for adoption.

Account mapping remains critical

Another trend our conversations with co-sell thought leaders revealed is the consistent focus on account mapping. 

Account mapping remains a crucial element in driving successful co-selling efforts. It involves identifying and aligning the accounts and customers of multiple companies to find opportunities for collaboration and revenue generation. Traditionally, this process was achieved through sharing spreadsheets, but now we have advanced co-sell platforms that automate and facilitate this motion. Co-sell platforms fully integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) system, ensuring that all data is stored in your ultimate system of record.

The continued emphasis on account mapping is evident in Partnership Leaders’ 2024 State of Partnership Leaders Report, in which 50% of top industry experts reported account mapping as their preferred budget allocation for partner technology in 2024.

If they only had one budget for partner technology in 2024, 50% of channel leaders would spend it on account mapping, 41% on PRM/Portal, 6% on other, and 3% on cloud GTM.
“The preference for account mapping tools reflects a strategic focus on identifying and leveraging mutual opportunities with partners for targeted growth, and the traction that leading providers of this technology have seen in the market,” the report states. 

Checking in with our co-sell thought leaders

Here’s what the experts have to say about the current state of the co-sell landscape:

Most revenue teams today do “random acts of co-selling” which is impossible to scale. But it IS possible to build a high-performing co-selling motion that consistently sources new pipeline for your sales teams and resellers. We've seen companies move from one-off co-selling activities to a proactive and strategic co-selling motion that scales cross-sell, reheat, and refresh sales plays across thousands of sales reps and partners. Quote by: Cassandra Gholston, CEO, PartnerTap

Discover how to develop an effective co-sell strategy and build a high-performing co-sell program in our joint video with PartnerTap. Then, discover the tips, tricks, and strategies that will help cultivate a successful launch.   

We've witnessed several instances where our clients have leveraged the co-sell motion to significant effect. One notable example is within a mid-sized enterprise client we work with in the IT services sector. By engaging in co-selling initiatives with strategic partners, they managed to penetrate new markets swiftly and efficiently. Through collaborative efforts, they secured several high-value contracts that wouldn't have been feasible otherwise. This not only boosted their revenue stream but also expanded their client base exponentially. Quote by: Mark Rogers, SVP, Global Alliances & Partnership, Imparter Software

Companies are beginning to understand how to utilize real-time partner signals and insights. An example of a real-time signal could be an alert to an AE who is struggling with a deal (e.g., because it's been in its current deal stage for too long). Getting an alert that tells them who the partners are that can help unlock it (e.g., the partner who sourced the deal or partners with account overlaps). This alert would be sent via Slack or email, directly to the AE rather than to a busy channel. In this way, we move from noise to real-time internal enablement. Quote by: Rob Rebholz, CEO, Superglue

Marketplace co-selling is happening faster than predicted. Software as a service (Saas) / independent software vendor (ISV) partners are having co-sell conversations with their respective hyperscaler sellers (e.g. Microsoft, AWS, Google), uncovering customers underspent on cloud commitments. These partners are mining new sales opportunities with customers utilizing marketplaces to burn down their spend. Quote by: Vince Menzione, CEO, Ultimate Partner

Co-selling has undeniably gained considerable traction as a popular theme among our clients' sales strategies. While incorporating co-selling into my own organization, I found that it was imperative to ascertain the underlying motives behind the adoption of co-selling initiatives. Henceforth, co-selling with the right partners who bring unique strengths and competencies becomes the cornerstone of an effective co-selling motion. However, I'm relentlessly seeing a pattern of internal discord and logistical hurdles looming during the execution of this motion, placing a high emphasis on the importance of establishing robust teams and processes from the outset. Quote by: Harbinder Khera, CEO, Mindmatrix

There's no silver bullet for co-selling transformation, it's a three-year journey. Co-selling transformation requires change-agent leadership, best practices, and automation. It's important to address the issues of legal, security and IT teams up front, and then invest in the real work of transformation to see the long-term shift in your growth curve. Quote by: Cassandra Gholston, CEO, PartnerTap

Want to take a deep dive into mastering the co-sell journey? Check out our joint video with PartnerTap on how to approach co-selling, building and scaling high-performing co-selling programs, and creating a strong foundation for long-term co-selling success and faster growth.

The combination of AI, regulation, and cash scarcity are burning down every company's ability to predictably generate pipeline. Whether it's inbound, outbound, or ads, the ways of the last decade are crumbling. Co-sell rises in this environment as fully scalable and capital efficient sales motion. A remarkable shift in the last year is the amount of enterprise adoption and acceptance of account mapping and data sharing platforms. A few years back there was still an open question as to whether big companies would end up adopting this class of technology, and in the past 18 months they are at the forefront of the movement. Quote by: Bob Moore, CEO, Crossbeam

The quote below was originally stated at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in 2024:

The average enterprise or midmarket medium-size buyer today has seven partners they trust,” he said. “Six or more of those seven partners at the table will not be collecting the money in a resell fashion, but they're participating not for the margin, but for the services multiplier. The best co-sell companies today have a lot of direct business, but they understand there are seven partners involved in every deal. So regardless of how money changes hands, they're investing in co-sell so that instead of you making 10% or 20% of the deal, you can make 200% or 300% of the deal. The only way to do that is to be part of the seven trusted partners recognized, and in platforms that will allow you to go and take advantage of the $360 billion sitting on the future credits on marketplaces that can be spent right now on your services. Quote by: Jay McBain, Chief Analyst, Canalys

Canalys released a co-sell software leadership matrix in December of 2023. Check it out here.

Amongst our community of leaders we have found that co-sell has moved from proof of concept to a critical go-to-market motion for them. Success stories and use cases are being adopted into robust playbooks as we speak and the use of tried and true methodologies is resulting in faster time to revenue. Quote by: Asher Matthew, CEO, Partnership Leaders

While the co-sell motion has proven to be a game changer for many of our clients, there are still persistent adoption barriers that hinder its full potential. One prevalent challenge is the resistance to change within traditional team structures. Some companies struggle to embrace co-selling due to internal silos or entrenched processes. Additionally, navigating complex partnership dynamics and aligning incentives across multiple stakeholders remain significant hurdles. Despite these obstacles, we continue to work closely with our clients to streamline processes, foster collaboration, and overcome these adoption barriers effectively. Quote by: Mark Rogers, SVP, Global Alliances & Partnership, Impartner Software

Global systems integrators (GSIs) seem slower to the co-sell dance as they are not seeing the value for themselves within their go-to-market (GTM) role as aggregators for their advisory clients. Their primary focus is on the surrounding services, and they see this play as still a bit complex. Quote by: Vince Menzione, CEO, Ultimate Partner

End users are purchasing solutions in a different manner today, often engaging with a diverse array of partners. Our clients and partners are experiencing success by fostering closer collaboration and leveraging technology to ensure predictable revenue delivery. We hear it every day. Quote by: Frie Petre, CEO, Qollabi

Co-selling is proving to be both an effective and complex tool for collective market growth. A successful co-sell motion requires strategic alignment, intentional planning, the right tech stack, and an active willingness to overcome inevitable obstacles. Our experts also agree that by opening up new markets and driving sales in ways traditional approaches may not, the joint sales motion’s rewards vastly outweigh the challenges.

Discover how to navigate the co-sell landscape

We firmly believe the guide remains as pertinent today as it was upon its initial release. We invite you to join us in exploring the evolving landscape of co-selling and reaffirming its significance in driving business growth.

For sales leaders looking to embark on new avenues of market expansion through co-selling partnerships, understanding the go-to-market motion is paramount. In our comprehensive guide, we not only detail the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of co-selling but also provide actionable insights into the ‘how.’ We dissect the essential components of an effective partner co-selling strategy and offer a roadmap for executing a foolproof relationship selling plan.

Specifically, we delve into the indispensable realm of co-selling technology. Automation is key to attaining the level of success you envision, and understanding the co-sell technology landscape is crucial. We navigate through various technology stack categories, spotlighting top vendors in each, and provide industry expert recommendations for the ideal co-sell platform.

As with any impactful initiative in the industry, co-selling is multifaceted and demands a steadfast commitment and patience. Along the journey, numerous leaders, evangelists, and sales heroes will emerge, driving forward the collective pursuit of success.

Here’s what to expect:

  • A deep understanding of what co-selling is (and isn’t)
  • The underlying framework and key elements  
  • The importance of account mapping
  • The co-sell technology platform
  • Tons more: checklists, metrics, KPIs, and keys to success
  • And, finally, a look into trends shaping the future of co-sell

Co-selling is a strategic endeavor with long-term rewards. Through collaborative sales approaches, cultivating enduring relationships with co-selling partners becomes achievable, consistently delivering value to your organization. At Spur Reply, we’ve seen firsthand that the most successful partnerships hinge on meticulous partner selection, robust relationship nurturing, and ongoing performance refinement.

Ready to embark on this journey? Dive into our comprehensive guide or schedule a chat with me. I'm passionate about discussing co-selling and all facets of go-to-market strategy. Let's explore the opportunities together!


Kristine Stewart

Kristine, an IT industry veteran, leads business development efforts that help deliver outstanding results for our clients. Focused on strengthening Spur Reply's alliance partnerships, she is a partner strategy thought leader with an in-depth understanding of the unique needs of today’s evolving ecosystem-focused companies.