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

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

Shawnie Hamer 25 min

We’re going to break down day-by-day how to win the respect of your Sales org so you can become a one-two punch for driving revenue.

 

If you think you can ignore what your Sales team thinks of you and keep going solo, you’re playing on hard-mode.

 

Lack of respect and trust between Partnership and Sales means lost customer value, wasted time, and reduced revenue.

 

But, let’s look at it glass-half-full instead. 

 

What is to be gained by earning the respect of your Sales team? 

 

For an example of that, we can look to Dan O’Leary, Senior Director of Partnerships at 

Box

 

In his recent Nearbound Story on nearbound.com, he shared that by developing a program that works in lockstep with his Sales org, they’ve been able to achieve: 

  • The biggest deals this year, last year, and the previous year were all co-sold with partners. Working with partners is the fast track to the President’s Club.

  • 92% larger average contract values (ACV), with a higher attach rate of their top product 

  • 55% higher potential ARR closed, meaning they win more of the seats. When they work with partners, the pie gets bigger, and everyone gets a bigger slice.

  • 27% shorter average deal cycles

But this kind of success and alignment doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen by Partnership leaders going rogue and building their programs in a vacuum. 

 

To bridge the gap between Partnerships and Sales, Partner Managers have to go to the source. 

 

We recently sat down with 6 Revenue leaders to understand what they really think of partnerships, including: 

We created this resource from those conversations, as well as the pulled wisdom of our community, to help you earn the trust of your Sales team in 60 days—and help you drive more revenue together. 

 

Let’s dive in. 

Who is this guide for?

But, before we do, it’s important to communicate who can get the most out of this resource: 

  • Partner programs with at least a few established partners 

  • Partner teams who feel siloed off from their GTM teams

  • Partner pros looking for tactical ways to build or improve their relationships with sellers and Sales leadership

  • Partner leaders with a nearbound mindset

If you identify with any of these characteristics, then this is for you. 

 

Your 60-day plan for Sales-Partnership alignment

Day 1: Evaluate honestly 

The #1 complaint sellers have of their partnership counterparts is that they have no idea what value they bring to the table. Sure, there are partner logos being tossed around in meetings or haphazardly being thrown into deals well on their way to closing, but what is the actual impact they have on top-line business objectives? 

 

“I worked with a company several years ago who was so fixated on their partner channel early on that all they wanted to do was set a target for how many new partners they onboarded. I remember sitting in the boardroom and them saying ‘We have 450 partners,’ and I was like ‘How many of them have ever referred a deal?’ It was sub 10% of them. And then you ask how many of them have referred five deals, and it was one percent of them. So, when you think about it that way, you’re spending all of your time on partners that aren’t contributing, and you aren’t giving any energy to the ones that could actually scale with you. It’s why prioritization is really critical.” —Liz Christo

 

To answer this question, Partner leaders have to take a step back and evaluate the current structure of their program. Ask yourself questions like: 

  • What are the company’s top objectives this year?

  • How does the program support those objectives (or not)?

  • Do my goals align with and support of those objectives in a realistic way?

    • If they aren’t realistic, how can I work with leadership to ensure we aren’t set up for failure?

“For partner leaders who are respected, what are they doing differently? They are setting really clear expectations. Too often, I see people put a really big revenue target on new programs for the first year that it’s in operation. It’s so rare that a nascent partner channel contributes real revenue in the early days. If you start out by telling the Revenue leader, ‘You’re gonna get 10 or 15% of revenue from this Partnership,’ and then it doesn’t deliver, the entire channel gets discounted in her mind and she assumes it’s not working.” — Liz Christo 

  • What are my company’s long-term goals? (Remember, partnerships is a long game. Many types of partners will have long-tail impact that should be documented.)

  • What can my team and company actually handle, time- and/or resource-wise?

  • What is the current status of my relationship with key leaders, especially my CRO or CFOs? How are those relationships impacting how I can do my job?

     

“I firmly believe that the first thing they need to do is to build that relationship with the CFO so that they aren’t being viewed quite so binary; sales - no sales or margin - no margin. It’s not revenue—or not revenue at the very beginning. It’s a conversation with a plan, it’s a discourse at the very beginning, as opposed to a line item on a spreadsheet or financial statement. It makes it easier to get the resources and time you need to get those early wins.” —Vaughn Mordecai 

 

To make partnerships an overlay in every department, rather than an isolated department on its own, you have to make sure you connect the right people. And it’s not just about making nice with the folks that write the checks. It’s about getting your top leadership to fully comprehend the long-term value you’re trying to drive through partnerships. 

 

Take a very honest look at what your program and team are doing well, what needs improvement, and what needs to be discarded so that you can remain focused on supporting the objectives your Revenue teams care about. 

 

“Partnerships go too fast and in too many directions. When you slow down and focus, you see the impact. Stop changing directions so much. You have to let things evolve for at least a year, including pay structures.” — Greg Theriault

 

Additional resource for day 1

When Sam Collins, Partner Manager at Reachdesk, moved over from a BDR position to take over their partner program, he needed insight into the health of his partner program: 

  • How many partners did Reachdesk have? 

  • What was the state and health of the program (KPIs)? How were partners being leveraged?

First, he looked at his account mapping software. He saw 19 connections, of which, only two were regularly engaged. This was an immediate red flag.

 

 “How can you be a partner when you’re not actually talking to people? That’s not a relationship.”— Sam Collins 

 

Over the next six months, Sam tapped into the power of nearbound GTM and Reveal to revamp Reachdesk’s partner program. It wasn’t an easy task, but the results were powerful: 

  • He got his entire GTM organization to buy into partnerships, 

  • He tapped into dormant partner value, 

  • He established valuable new partnerships, and 

  • He began driving partner pipeline.

Read Sam’s story here

 

Days 2-15: Set goals and understand rhythms 

Once you’ve gotten very honest about the state of your program, what you need to work toward, and what you can handle, it’s time to start setting better goals. 

 

Creating your KPIs

But before you go wild on your KPI spreadsheet, it’s important to avoid some very common mistakes. 

 

First up: don’t fall into the partner-sourced revenue trap

 

 

Next, be sure that any goal you’re going after is directly linked to top-line revenue and business objectives. Work with your Sales leader to create goals that support theirs. Every metric you follow should include an easily told story that links your activities to impact. 

 

“Partner teams have to stop operating in silos. Defining their strategy and objectives without aligning those to the go-to-market teams is something I’ve seen happen so many times. They’re creating their objectives and OKRs for the year and not cross-referencing that with Sales and the rest of the revenue. They’re focusing on areas that aren’t a focus for the rest of the company. Check-in with Sales goals quarterly and align your own. And then,  be metric-driven, just like the rest of the revenue org. Nowadays, data-driven decisions are how you win and how you get more resources. And so the more they can come to the table saying, ‘Hey, we, for example, impacted 41 % of new logo business by sourcing and or influencing opportunities in the last 24 months,’ that then gets all of the leadership, executive team, board, even down to the individual sellers on board and committed to partnering closely with the partner ecosystem team.” — Maya Connet

 

Lastly, be realistic. Nothing will burn bridges with your Revenue teams more than overpromising and under-delivering. 

 

“If you start it off with, ‘We’re gonna engage 20 Partners. We’re gonna spend the next quarter figuring out which five of them to invest in. Then we’re going to take those five and we’re going to embed them in x, y, z processes,” and set really clear milestones that are moving towards a revenue contribution figure over time, you can build credibility over time.” — Liz Christo

 

Nearbound and the Rhythm of Business 

Next, if you want to create a nearbound culture, you must establish the Nearbound Rhythm of Business (RoB). Overlay and weave nearbound into the cadences and rituals of your business, every year, quarter, month, week, and day with your Sales team (and ideally for every department) to drive your company culture. 

 

Nearbound layers onto every department, but it must be orchestrated by the Partnerships team. That means, more than any other role, Partner Leaders have to learn and understand the rhythms and cadences of the company and each department. To effectively run nearbound plays, Partner Managers need to be dancing to the same beat as the rest of the org. 

 

Put on your cartographer hat to explore, learn, and map the rhythms your Sales team is following. Ask them questions like: 

 

  • What is the journey you take from lead to closed won?

  • What does your day/week/month/quarter look like?

  • What is your team meeting schedule and how can Partnerships be involved at regular and consistent intervals?

  • What training and enablement are already in place around Partnerships?

  • What technology are you using?

  • What do you believe is working really well?

  • Where do you have the most trouble?

 

The truth is that any partnership initiative you create must be aligned with the Sales team’s current rhythm if there’s any chance of it sticking. Familiarize yourself with those processes and pain points intimately so you can figure out how to best work with them. 

Additional resource for Nearbound RoB

In Chapter 14 of his book, Nearbound and the Rise of the Who EconomyJared Fuller deep dives into step-by-step tables that outline how Partner Managers should be engaging with the RoB, as well as building out a “Rhythm of the Role” with their partners. 

 

Download Chapter 14 for free here.

 

Days 16-30: Nearbound Ops and enablement 

Nearbound Operations

Once you’ve mapped your Sales team’s RoB and developed a plan for how partnerships will fit into those rhythms, it’s time to build a solid operational structure for executing your plan. 

 

Nearbound Operations—also called Partner Operations—is one of the most overlooked and neglected aspects of Partnerships, but is arguably the most important. Why? Because without the workflows, processes, and technology in place to seamlessly run nearbound plays, Partner Managers will continuously come up short: 

  • They won’t have the resources to make partnerships a part of their Sales team’s workflows

  • They won’t be able to accurately track partner activities, making it difficult to both communicate impact and concisely attribute credit where it’s due

  • They will frustrate sellers and partners alike, making it even harder to maintain good relationships. 

     

There’s only so much Partner Managers can accomplish if you don’t establish the right processes around partnerships. They will be wildly inefficient if they don’t have the right setup. For example, is your CRM tracking partnership activity? It’s not about the size of your Partner team. It’s about the infrastructure. Partner Operations isn’t an extra—it drives the process.” —Latané Conant

 

Not only do Partnership Leaders need to prioritize setting up the systems for enabling their internal and partner teams, but they also need to prioritize the tools and operations that will enable them to drive the results they set out to achieve.

 

To be clear, it’s not just about running a few reports or connecting some software. Your Nearbound Ops team and goals should be about improving the ways in which partners are integrated into the experiences of customers and internal teams. 

 

As Aaron Howerton, Sr. Program Manager, Partner Ops & Experience at Samsara, explains: 
 

“I might be in Operations, specifically as an Operations Architect right now, but my main driver is ultimately tied to how people experience Partnerships. For me, that means Customers, Partners, and Colleagues.

 

Everything we do ultimately contributes to the improvement or degradation of this experience for these stakeholders.”

 

As you scale your program, expand your revenue metrics, and increase the size of your Revenue teams, you need someone who can articulate the value of your partnership program and improve the overall experience. 

  

“Everything becomes easier when you have a partner in crime that understands the data, how it all stitches together, your ICP, and how that’s different from the partners that you want to acquire, target, and manage, and so on.” — Elliot Smith, Head of Partnerships at 6sense

 

Suppose you want to understand where and how your nearbound strategy and partners are impacting everything from the build to the sale to the market opportunity. In that case, you definitely need PartnerOps in your team.

 

“PartnerOps is related to data, workflows, processes, and automation. They’re the ones who bring the science into partnerships.” — Jill Rowley, Head of Strategy and Evangelism at Reveal 

 

Nearbound Ops in action 

"The two most successful campaigns in 6sense’s history were executed with nearbound data and an ABM platform." — Elliot Smith

 

The best way to set up your Nearbound Ops is through a GDPR-compliant and SOC II-certified nearbound platform like Reveal.

 

Right now, the strategy Partner Managers often use for delivering nearbound data to Sales teams on deals is a lot like sticking post-it notes on sellers’ foreheads—it’s disruptive and, in their eyes, not very helpful.

 

The key is to build a seamless, trackable process between Partnerships and Sales that allows Sales to leverage the right ecosystem intelligence at the right time and in the right channels

 

Here’s an example workflow that shows how Reveal and Nearbound Ops can help with the collaboration between Sales and Partnerships: 

  • An AE in your company is assigned a new account. The moment they’re assigned, Reveal automatically sends a list of the best partners to work with for each account directly to the AE. The AE can see which of your partners their account is a customer of, who the decision makers are, how engaged the partner is, and who owns the account. This is key; the AE isn’t sent a long list of 10+ possible partners connected to the account. Instead, they are sent a specific list of a few top partners that will have a significant impact on the win rate. 

  • The AE clicks the “Get Intro” button with the best contact either directly in the account brief, in the CRM, or in their Slack channel notification—aka the channels they’re already working in. 

  • Once the AE clicks on submit on the introduction request, the Partner Manager is informed in two ways: by email and by Slack. After you receive the notification, you can define settings for how each partner will be notified. 

  • The “Get Intro” request goes directly to the relevant (internal or external) Slack channels and tags the correct stakeholders (AEs, PMs, etc.). 

  • With the help of the partner’s influence, the deal closes 2x faster. 

  • Every single activity completed by the Sales team is tracked, including the ones that happen before an account is opened. So, even if the AE speaks to the partner without you, you’ll be able to attribute that deal to your partnership’s revenue. 

  • When it’s time to check in on KPI progress, the Partner Manager can simply review the report of Reveal activities in their Salesforce to easily attribute partner revenue and prove value.

Additional resource for Nearbound Ops

 

Recently, 5 top GTM leaders gathered in one of HubSpot’s webinars, to discuss the importance of PartnerOps and how to better leverage nearbound data: 

  • Mary Vue, VP of Marketing and Partnerships at Syncari, 

  • Kelly Sarabyn, Head of Product Partnerships and Enablement and Advocacy Team at HubSpot, 

  • Jill Rowley, Head of Strategy and Evangelism at Reveal, 

  • Elliot Smith, Head of Partnerships at 6sense, and 

  • Mike O’Neill, VP of Partner Sales at Box. 

Read the key takeaways from the event here

Sales enablement 

Once you have your processes and Nearbound Ops in place, now it’s time to start training your Sales team about how to leverage them. 

 

Remember, sellers will be skeptical of what you have to offer. They have too much to do, and probably believe that what you’re proposing will make deal cycles even harder for them. Work with Sales leadership to rewrite this narrative. 

 

If you think about a siloed-team mentality, often Partnerships get set up alongside the other GTM teams. So you end up with the Sales team feeling like partners are ‘taking their deals’, they’re not getting paid when a partner works on something, or partners make deal cycles harder, etc. You really have to think about how to remove those conflicts from day one if you want the partnership model to be successful. That’s part comp plan, that’s part how you build your Rules of Engagement, but mostly it’s a leadership team setting the tone of a ‘one team’ mentality. It doesn’t matter where the deal comes from. I think that usually comes from a partnership leader who’s very good at engaging cross-functionally and thinks about themselves as a support function to the entire Revenue organization instead of as ‘I’m gonna deliver X’.” —Liz Christo

 

Come prepared to enablement sessions with responses to the following questions: 

  • How does your nearbound strategy support what sellers are already doing?

  • How does it make their struggles easier?

  • How does the strategy help support the metrics and goals they are held to?

  • How will collaboration be tracked and rewarded?

  • How does it fit in with their current workflows and tech stack?

  • How will they be trained on any new technology?

  • Who should they go to if they have questions or concerns?

  • How have partnerships been successful in the past?

     

Additional resource for sales enablement 

Francois Grenier, Head of Partnerships at Sendoso, needed a way to push nearbound data directly into Salesforce so his Sales team could win faster and more. 

 

Reveal’s Salesforce integration made it easy to connect the data, but seller adoption was another beast entirely. 

 

Learn how Francois implemented a two-prong adoption and enablement program with his Sales team to increase their win rate and ACV. 

 

Read his story here

 

Day 30-45 - Execute, nurture, & adjust 

Enablement is not a one-and-done event. Partner teams need to become a true installation in the lives of their sellers, consistently showing up for them, sharing key insights, and adjusting strategies as needed. 

 

A great way to start is through a weekly cadence with your sellers to review strategic accounts. Here is how Dan does it at Box: 

 

“With Reveal, I sit down with reps, and say ‘Let me filter by your strategic accounts’...’ I search by account priority status and I type in ‘equals A’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, looking at your A accounts, here’s what I know. Here’s what I can tell you about them. Here’s what I see from our technology partners. Here’s what I see from our reseller partners. Here’s what I see from our go-to-market partners, and our SI Partners.’ Then we also use the data to inform us on what partners we should pull into the account strategy and planning to surround the customer. For example, I have one partner who has a win rate that’s near 80% using these tactics with qualified customers in their target industry.”

 

There are some key characteristics of Dan’s daily processes to pay close attention to: 

  • Dan uses the tools he has chosen for his Nearbound Ops as the source of truth with his sellers. 

  • He meets regularly with each individual and filters the data so that it applies to that particular seller. 

  • He prioritizes the insight and partners for accounts that matter most to that seller. 

Another tip could be to rearrange the structure of your team to be in better support of your sellers. For example, creating PAMs that work directly with certain BDRs or AEs. 

 

“I’m a firm believer that PAMs need to be the bridge between partnerships and sales—continuity and knowledge on key partnerships are difficult enough for sellers.” —Greg Theriault

 

This is one example of many that could be implemented, depending on your organization’s needs and goals. Again, the goal is to find a way to set up your team and activities to support your sellers’. 

 

Be very clear about how these roles—be it a PAM or otherwise—can and will work with your sellers. 

 

“What separates AEs from the partnership managers? PMs are actually a door opener for others. Key account managers think in terms of their book, whereas the partnership manager should hopefully facilitate revenue conversations for others. The best PMs define and set these boundaries and expectations early.” — Alper Yurder

 

Lastly, create constant feedback loops with both your sellers and your partners so that you can get an accurate assessment of how your nearbound strategy is going, not just for them, but for the customers as well. 

 

Additional resource for strategic meetings  

3x5 strategy with partners & sellers 

 

In the Nearbound Sales Blueprint, Jared explains how Partner pros can make the most out of strategic meetings with sellers and BDRs on both internal and partner teams, including how to align up the ladder with partner leadership. 

 

Get your free blueprint here

 

Day 45-60 - Track, celebrate, & repeat

We’ve talked a lot about how to work with your Sales team, and how to meet them where they are to get their support and adoption. 

 

But if you take anything away from this resource, let it be this: 

Nothing will get buy-in from your Sales team faster than a good win. 

 

The trick is to share the right stories. 

 

“Sales is very emotional. Partnerships don’t create deals, deals create partnerships. So find one deal that everyone agrees that the partner helped a lot with and talk about that deal over and over again. Find the recipe for success and choreograph it again and again. We look at the deals we won and find the common elements. If we can say, ‘Deals that we won had partners and deals we didn’t win didn’t have partners,’ we can then easily say, ‘Maybe we should work more with partners. Or our win rates are this much more with partners.’” - Latané Conant

 

Remember that the role of partnerships, above all else, is to help. Find the stories of customers and sellers you’ve helped through the ecosystem, and spread the word far and wide. Make these updates and stories part of the RoB with your Sales teams. Make sure you are a part of their weekly meetings and that you are sharing every way partners are helping sellers get ahead. 

 

“I’ve seen partner teams do is like do all this great work, but then not share it with anyone else. Teach people! What is the best way to bring a partner into your deal? How do you bring them in super early versus more of an afterthought later? What are examples and stories of deals where partners were involved that were super successful? Highlighting those wins in a big way, I think is crucial. 

 

There’s sometimes a mystique for sellers around partners. They think that maybe they overcomplicate things or they are gonna derail your deals. And so the more we can just show real-life examples and let them know they are still the quarterback of this deal—here are all the ways that they helped to compliment, reinforce, and tangibly progress the deal alongside you—the better. Sellers need concrete examples that are then gonna encourage them to replicate those same behaviors in future deals.” — Maya Connet

 

Keep track of the wins, big and small, that are happening for sellers, buyers, and partners, and celebrate these stories at a regular cadence. 

 

“The best Partnership Manager is somebody who provides safety and service at the highest level. I trust you more than just buying from you. We are partners. We go to market together. We sell together. We’re in the ship together. That’s the ultimate goal. They are relationship builders, managers, complex problem solvers, and are customer-centric. They are there to solve. And sellers need to see that.” — Alper Yurder

 

For example, you can create a Slack channel that celebrates partner-attached wins, or you could send out a regular email to your teams, like Dan does at Box. 

 

Additional resource for highlighting wins

When Jeppe Bender Lasse joined Pento in 2022, he decided that the best way to celebrate and encourage Partnership-Sales collaboration was through gamification. He created a successful sales incentive program that resulted in 25% more intros made to different partners in one month than they do in a typical quarter.

 

Read Jeppe’s story here

Go get that trust

Earning the respect of your Sales team is not only possible, but something that your Revenue leaders are (not so) secretly hoping for. 

 

“Partnership teams can be a lot like Marketing teams. You don’t know what good is until you’ve had it. And once you’ve had it, you wonder, ‘How did I ever live without it?’”— Latané Conant

 

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. 

 

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. 

 

Show them that nearbound is the way forward. Because, if you do, you’ll change the game for your entire organization. 

 

“Partners impacted 41 % of our new logo business in the last 24 months. Opportunities that involved a partner converted at four times the rate of non-partner opportunities. Deals that had partners involved were 2.7 times larger than going at it solo. That’s HUGE!” — Maya Connet

 


 

Ready to take the next step in driving revenue with your Sales team? See how Reveal can help. 

 

 

Shawnie Hamer 25 min

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


Learn how to gain the trust and respect of your Sales team day-by-day in just 60 days. Discover the secrets to becoming a powerful revenue-driving duo with actionable insights from many industry leaders.


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