It is rewarding and sometimes’ a huge relief when something that you have spent time doing in the past achieves validation and industry recognition.

When the idea of ‘solution selling’ first emerged, we were expected to talk about ‘solutions’ knowing full well that what we were really providing our customers with was hardware, software or components that, with a bit of luck, a following wind and the help of some clever tech guys, could become a solution to a business issue.  Of course over time, real solutions became possible and the norm in our industry.

The world of selling and business relationships has become more complex – the key to success lies in collaborative selling – building alliances and partnerships with specialist skills, technology and service providers.  No longer can any one party claim to offer the entire solution – not that we ever did but we perhaps liked to think so!  However, this approach done well often requires a new mindset, a new set of tools and techniques,  and higher level skills that test our way of working on a daily basis.

In light of the emerging ISO standard for Collaborative Business Relationships, ISO 44001, we need to think and act differently.  According to extensive qualitative research conducted by TCC-Achieve and Masterclass, over  50 years of collaborative channel sales experience; and having trained having trained thousands of sales professionals including consultants, SEs, CAMs and Specialist sales Teams, Achieve & Masterclass are  looking at what it takes to build really powerful collaborative alliances with both your partners and customers that grow revenues.

Isobel Rimmer is often quoted in her classes, “Serve your customers the best you know how, relationships come first – deal or no deal.”  “I was working on a major deal with a large Financial Services organization.  It was a competitive situation and we were looking to replace the incumbent supplier.  It was high profile within the region (for that meant regular requests for updates from my Sales VP!) and it was exciting.  But there was a problem, one part of the project was – in my limited technical view (luckily I had a great SE to support me) ‘overkill’.    It would require the customer to buy over $250k of software and hardware – all of which would be redundant to requirements within a few months.  I struggled with this and recall sitting in the customer’s car park, with my SE, trying to work out an alternative.  We found one; it would involve a motorbike courier to provide an alternative physical back-up solution for a few months – but that meant waving goodbye to the $250k.  I broached this with the customer, in fact while I was in his office rang couriers for him and we got a couple of quotes.  I have never seen a CIO so thrilled.   How he would dine out on this with his Board!  For a few hundred dollars a week he could deliver what was needed for the next few months.   So where did that leave us?  No deal – at least not on that occasion.  But here’s the thing – 2 weeks later the CIO called me.  It was time to review their IT strategy and that could lead to a $2million + deal for us.  The door was open and we were trusted.  6 months later we completed that 2M deal.  What did I learn from that? The importance of collaboration, of relationships, the importance of serving your customer the best you know how and why trust matters for long term mutual benefit.

  • What is the number one ingredient for successful partnerships? Trust
  • What is the number one reason partnerships fail?  Inability to mesh people and cultures; trust is the number one ingredient underpinning this.
  • Trust is an attitude that allows people to rely on, have confidence in, and feel sure about other people in the organization.
  • Trust and values are linked; it’s important to understand others’ values and align those in a partnership when possible.
  • Trust building is focused on both the present and future cooperation of two people. In order to create trust, people must believe you are trustworthy. However, it can be destroyed in a minute often if earning trust is viewed as a means to an end versus a long term relationship.

In a 2016  article for HostingCon, Dave Gilbert, former CEO of SimpleSignal, talked about the lack of trust in IT organizations as a barrier to growth. “I believe the difference between companies that execute well and those that don’t make it is the leadership’s ability to build trust over time,” said Gilbert. “Companies with a high trust culture experience a far lower churn rate and much higher employee engagement with the enterprise.”

2017 gives us a new ISO standard that validates this ongoing conversation.  However it’s more than that – it now give us the ability to turn the art of collaboration and trust into a science and repeatable model we can leverage in our businesses.  We can  deepen our trusted advisor status in customer relationships leading to more revenue.  We can expand; our strategic vendor partnerships to be balanced and reciprocal.  We can train our sales and sales engineers, consultants, and customer service teams in a globally proven success model. Contact us to learn more!