So, what happened to the central IT buyer and why did this shift take place?

The digitization of business was the most significant catalyst for the dynamic shift in modern buying behaviors. Innovation to automate and accelerate business processes, the need for functional owners to directly manage these new systems and the influx of as-a-service business models placed decision making into the hands of Line of Business and functional leaders.

Along with that shift of power was accompanied by three other changes that have significantly impacted sales professionals. First, the buying journey now begins before a sales rep even engages a buyer. Secondly, the buying organization incorporates more individuals than ever before. And finally, the metaphorical flood of high-quality educational content allows buyers to operate more independently. The rich educational and domain-specific content across a myriad of vehicles including video and podcasts, the availability of peer reviews, and powerful influence of word-of-mouth via social channels make buying groups extremely well equipped to go deep into a selection process without vendor support. If a vendor doesn’t have the high-quality ungated content prospective buyers will simply go to the next best competitor.

The consequences of all of this change mean that buying organizations are tougher than ever to access, influence, and they demand much greater value from salespeople who seek to become trusted advisors.

This is good news for the sales professionals who are willing to put in the work and who put the buyer experience in the highest order of priority. Business buyer prospects need a highly informed subject matter expert to collaboratively guide them through an increasingly saturated marketplace of options, to support them through a complex internal sales process, to build a compelling business case, and to offer credible insights and perspective. The sales reps who develop the subject matter expertise and soft skills necessary to provide an incredible buying experience have the greatest shot at success.

However, sellers who leverage partner relationships create the strongest advantage for themselves when attempting to reach buying groups. Why is this so? When a new sales professional is introduced to the prospect relationship by a trusted advisor there is a positive transfer of reputation, trust, and credibility. While leveraging this positive transfer, the introduced sales professional will then posess the immediate opportunity to skillfully apply collaborative selling techniques and demonstrate subject matter expertise for a prospect’s unique business situation.

Partner introductions cut through resistance to the audience and influence principles ready the ears of an otherwise out of reach stakeholder. From the very first moment of a vendor to prospect interaction, social, behavioral, and psychological elements work together to give an advantage to the new sales rep. As the relationship between the two partners grows over time, a clear execution advantage for those two partners emerges.

Wondering how you can identify when a partner has relationships with your prospect and client accounts?

Built for B2B collaborative partnering and selling, PartnerTap gives sales professionals visibility into the mutual accounts they share with partners, regardless of territory and regardless of CRM. In addition, PartnerTap also reflects the activities of partners within those shared accounts in real time so that communication and collaboration between sales partners can take place when there is the greatest likelihood of bringing value to the prospect/customer.

The common logistical challenges inherent to rep to rep partnering are removed by PartnerTap and replaced by transparency, insight, and accountability. Sales teams who understand “what’s in it for me” to partner and know exactly where to spend their time together trend toward the continuous engagement that strategic alliance and co-sell partnerships need in order to drive. Partners and direct sales reps can now work naturally and collaboratively to win business. The resulting agility and growth for Sales and Channel leaders was previously unimaginable. With PartnerTap, business to business partnering is transformed.

With mutual accounts identified, it’s imperative that you work in collaboration with your partners to get you introduced to the prospective accounts.  The partner introduction to a buying team member is an excellent means to navigate any potential resistance a prospect may have to begin working with a new sales professional. The introduction is also the key moment for the new rep to immediately begin developing rapport and establishing credibility with new stakeholders.

The ability to foster relationships and collaborate meaningfully can help to sway previously unengaged stakeholders within the buying process. Collaborative Selling with partners is the most effective at connecting with buyers and overcoming the challenges of influencing buying groups.

The emergence of multiple stakeholders within the typical buying process has driven the need for superior relationship building skills.  Relationships need to be developed with partners who can help to foster these connections to buyer stakeholders.  Read our next post to learn how to implement a Collaborative Selling approach to relationship building with partners.