An Open Letter to Partnerships, from Sales

An Open Letter to Partnerships, from Sales

Simon Bouchez 8 min

There’s a narrative among partnership pros that they are misunderstood—that it’s the shortcomings of Revenue leadership and their misconception of what you do that causes misalignment and lack of buy-in. 


I’m here to offer you another perspective, one that’s rooted in my experience as a sales leader and now CEO of a company whose product fosters collaboration between Partnerships and Sales teams. 


Partner Managers are right. The work you do is essential to your company. You hold the key to increasing revenue, win rates, deal size, and time-to-close.  


But being right on your own isn’t going to change a damn thing. 


The truth is that your Partnership team is probably isolated on an island because you’ve put yourself there. You haven’t figured out how to build the bridge between what you’re accomplishing, and what your Sales team actually needs. 


The irony is that PMs can hit every single KPI they set their sights on and not make any tangible impact on the funnel. So, inevitably, when it comes time for the Partnership team to go toe-to-toe with Sales during budget season, you lose every time, putting your program even more on that lonely island—or worse, putting you out of a job. 

A quick story

A few weeks ago, I was invited by one of our top customers, a large publicly traded company, to give a talk about nearbound to their Sales team. My goal was to tell them why embracing partnerships is critical for their success and emphasize the fact that they have a much higher win rate when selling to partner customers or attaching partners to deals.


Toward the end of my presentation, a Sales Manager raised her hand and said: 


"This all sounds great, but my experience with our Partnership team is that they mostly call me to attach partners on deals that I know I am going to win. No surprise the win rate is higher... Best case scenario it does nothing for me, worst case it creates complexity and jeopardizes the deal." 


I’ll be completely honest, this statement caught me off guard. I was (probably visibly) uncomfortable because I realized that we had a major gap in how we are enabling PMs to drive value to Sales. 


I’m here to rectify that, not to drag partnership pros through the mud, but to acknowledge the reality we live in, and empower you to thrive. 

The state of the B2B sales funnel 

So, why is it that Sales teams view Partnerships like the kid sibling their parents are forcing them to take to the party? Because, as the Sales Manager in my story shared, Partnerships aren’t creating influence and impact where it matters.

  • 72% of all new sales opportunities stall in the middle to late stages of the B2B sales pipeline process. (SellingPower)

  • 68% of B2B businesses struggle to generate leads. (SalesMate)

  • Roughly 80% of leads are lost in B2B. (Multiple sources)

These statistics are likely true in your organization. And if your partner initiatives are not directly linked to improving them, then the battle of Partnerships vs Sales will continue until you eventually lose the war. 

The Sales-Partnerships Paradox 

At Reveal, we’ve been guilty of saying that the lack of buy-in from Sales departments is because we aren’t adequately communicating the value of partnerships. I’ll be the first to admit that I started 2023 with this belief. I told myself that if we had the right tools, the right data, and even the right metrics, Sales teams would see the light. 


I am not starting 2024 with this belief. 


Because there’s a paradox between Sales and Partnerships that we will need to work together to undo. Sales agrees with Partnerships. They know that outbound and inbound are weaker every day. In fact, few dispute the need to deploy nearbound—reaching buyers through those that surround them. 


We’ve even aligned the planets for sellers, so to speak. We have a wealth of data they can leverage and simple processes they can use through tools like Reveal and your CRM


But guess what? They still aren’t taking advantage of it. At least not at scale. 


They know they should try to tap into the ecosystembut they also know they should meet quotas if they want to pay their bills. Because of this, they will always, without question, do the thing they KNOW works before they test the waters with a new strategy.


They can’t afford to have faith. They need to see it to believe it. 


So, how can partner pros get Sales to believe? 

Start with business objectives, not partner objectives 

The first step is to ditch the, “If we build it, they will come” mentality. It’s been built. You’ve nurtured stellar relationships with your partners. You have the tools and workflows ready. 


Stop waiting for Sales to come to you. It’s time for you to take ownership of the pipeline. 


Instead of waiting for a Sales Rep to ask you for an introduction to a partner, actively follow what’s happening in deals and show up where it matters most. 


In this way, we can think of (re)building the relationship with Sales as a return to the basic objectives of the GTM funnel: 

  1. Identifying the companies that are a good fit for your product

  2. Understanding when and who to engage with at these companies

  3. Providing your prospects with a great value proposition and buying experience

  4. Retaining and delighting your customers


Partnerships can and should be an activation lever that is directly embedded in the momentum that is already present in the Sales team for these four stages. 


This doesn’t mean creating a new initiative that you have to shove down sellers’ throats. 


This also doesn’t mean placing partners in deals that are already on their way to closing. 


And this definitely doesn’t mean waiting for them to pull on the levers. 


This means finding what matters most to your Revenue teams and transforming your program into a proactive support system for accomplishing it. 

The opportunity is real

Stop trying to help on the deals that are working. Use ecosystem intel, influence, and intros to open the accounts no one else can activate. Win the deals that would otherwise be lost. It’s something only you can do, and only you can do it before it’s too late. 


The trust and relationship you have with partners isn’t something any other Revenue teams tend to have. It’s a gold mine. 


But you will get ignored or fired if you’re not unlocking it and proactively bringing it to the right accounts at the right time.


If you can, you have a chance to be the hero of your company. You have the chance to be the defining leaders of this era. You have the chance to be the linchpin that Sales and all other GTM teams rely on to surround deals with partner influence and improve efficiency.

Our plea (and commitment) to you

Deploying the full power nearbound to transform GTM requires a renewed trust between Sales and Partnerships. And I’m going to be honest, Sales isn’t going to make the first move. We’re neck-deep trying to save and win deals.


We may never fully understand what you do, the value of all the trust you build, or the ways you build it. But we do understand its impact on the sales cycle and bottom line. 

When you start to reveal the partners who surround our buyers, tap into them when there’s a genuine need for help, and come to us with a lifeline, that’s when you gain believers. 


Most Sales leaders recognize that more of the same isn’t going to win enough deals. We need help. Right now, even though we may be skeptical, we’re open. You’ve got a chance to win with us.


At Reveal and, we commit to creating resources, like the ones listed below, that help you flip the script, take ownership of your activities in a way that speaks to Sales, and bridge the gap between your departments.


We’re up for the challenge. Are you?



Case studies 

  • How Box got to $1 billion ARR through Sales and Partnerships collaboration. 

  • How Payfit had an increase of up to 60% in lead-to-demo conversion rate and an increase of up to 50% in demo-to-customer conversion rate. 

  • How Rydoo had a 3x increase in pipeline. 

  • How Contractbook generated 2x to 3x more demo meetings. 

  • How AssessFirst had an increase of 4x in client integration and increased their lead generation by 100%.

Forthcoming (stay tuned)

  • The CRO Report: What Your Revenue Team Really Thinks of Partnerships 

  • How to Earn the Respect of Your Sales Team in 60 Days

  • Good Partner Managers, Bad Partner Managers 

  • The Ultimate Partner Manager Library 

Simon Bouchez 8 min

An Open Letter to Partnerships, from Sales

Reveal CEO & Co-founder, Simon Bouchez, gets real with Partner Managers on why Revenue teams don't take them seriously, and what to do to fix it.

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