The modern business buying process has changed. With more information at our fingertips than ever before, buyers are researching and developing their decisions long before they engage with a sales rep. It is reported that buyers complete approximately 57% of their journey before even speaking with a vendor. Sellers then face a prospect who has already begun conceptualizing a solution
which puts them under pressure to build rapport, credibility, and trust and then to begin breaking ground with a prospect through thought leadership.

When they do engage, these educated buyers want an expert, a guide, to help them navigate the sea of content, education, and options. This is a tall order for all sales professionals. Still, this shift in buyer behavior also presents an excellent opportunity for professional sellers who are willing to put in the work and become experts not only of their craft but also of their prospects.

This is where the benefits of Collaborative Selling and Partnerships emerge. If you are introduced to a prospect by an individual who already has a trusted advisor relationship with them, you are more likely to be well received by the prospect and far better positioned to influence decision criteria before confirmation bias sets in and selection criteria begin to grow roots.

“Getting to the table” and becoming a subject matter expert to the prospect’s inner circle as early as possible sets the stage for a winning sales process. Sales professionals who work with partners seize the power of relationships and the accompanying benefits of behavioral and social psychology to create an advantage for themselves and the vendors they represent.

Collaborative Selling with partners has other benefits. Research demonstrates that partner referrals are more likely to close than leads from other sources. Additionally, the Amplifinity “State of Business Partner Referral Programs” report, shared that 69% of partners are actively making referrals to a vendor. Put simply, if you create high functioning referral partnerships then the majority of them will give you leads. If you compare those partner referral leads to leads from other sources, then your partner leads are more likely to close.

The modern B2B buyer journey makes it harder than ever to gain the buyer’s mindshare and yet, buyers want to buy from someone they trust. So, trust building is necessary for nurturing buyer relationships and especially critical for building partnering relationships.

Collaborations can produce something greater than the sum of what an individual party produces independently. To solve business challenges for our customers collaboratively as partners we must first create value-oriented partnerships anchored in trust.

Trust is defined as firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. So, partners seeking to build trust must prioritize communication and demonstrate behaviors that include: transparency, consistency, and value. Partners must communicate their goals, wants, and specifically their expectations for interactions initiated by and through the partnership. This communication serves as a means of protection and supports the growth of trust.

For example, if you intend to introduce a partner to a client, there should clearly communicated terms for how the introduction is handled, what is communicated to the client, and how the partnering reps will cooperate in tandem throughout any resulting sales processes.

Trust building is bolstered by cooperation and iteration. Trust is destroyed if any party perceives that the relationship is being used simply as a means to an end.

In our next post, we’ll discuss the changes to the modern buying organization and the fundamental ingredients for creating an execution edge.