Most people are familiar with the two major selling models that permeate the SaaS ecosystem, outbound and inbound. However, there is a third that many are not familiar with, the partnership driven sales model. This model boasts higher conversion rates and an efficient sales team. This week on our podcast, we discussed the secrets behind the partnership driven sales model with Bill Tyndall from inDinero. inDinero is a cloud-based accounting business that has expanded to 200+ employees and tons of happy customers. In our podcast, we discussed the basics of a partnership driven sales model, the systems and processes behind it, how to hire for a sales team with this model, and tips for onboarding. Below were 4 key takeaways that Bill brought up on our show.
(1) Learn The Partnership Driven Sales Basics – The partnership driven sales model is a relationship based selling technique. Essentially, it is based on how company A provides value for company B, and vice versa. Most important in this model is that “vice versa.” In this sales model, the companies send each other leads and the relationship is two-way. A key factor to developing this model is getting past the superficial relationship of simply adding to each others’ sales statistics. Both sales teams wants to develop a relationship with their contacts and understand how their company can come in and provide an equal value exchange. If your sales team can find where your company can add external value, you will be able to develop a good relationship with the customer and move past a simple exchange of leads.
(2) Community Should Power Systems & Processes – A main focus of the partnership driven model is the value add for the partnering company. Bill mentioned in the podcast that one of the best values he has seen with this model is the community aspect innate to many of the partnerships they do. By developing a strong partnership with a community, they will usually in turn let you know what is happening and needed in the industry. Bill talks specifically about some of the work they have done with various incubators, accelerators, and other communities. By transforming this information flow into opportunities, your sales team will yield high conversion rates. Bill recommends finding a community manager, a sort of rep for your company, to educate others on how your company is a partner and working alongside their business. Everyone that now knows about your product will then become part of your “SDR” team as they will naturally come across leads that they can turn to you. After finding these customers, however, it is essential to maintain the relationship. Bill strongly suggests keeping communication alive so that customers know that you are always available if something happens. A mistake he commonly sees is a team launching a partnership and then not being able to deliver, or a lack of communication on what is working and not working. This ultimately leads to the partnership dying. To avoid these errors, Bill recommends a consistent cadence and uses the “lunch and learn” as an easy way to keep in touch. Do it 1x a month and keep it open to find out what people are struggling with or loving about your product.
(3) Hire Based On The Yoga Pitch – To find a team member flexible enough to develop relationships with a variety of clients may be difficult, but Bill provides a few tips to ensure you are finding suitable candidates. Of course, it is crucial to find someone that has the same values as your company, but it is most important in Bill’s opinion to find someone that does not assume anything and has no conceived notions around sales. In this model, every partnership is different, so the candidate needs to be able to adapt to the situation and be enormously flexible. For his interview process, Bill uses what he calls a “yoga pitch,” where he gives the candidate a persona and asks them to give a cold-call to an inDinero employee to sell a yoga class. It will be clear when a candidate only has numbers and quotas in mind. An ideal candidate will ask questions in response to the information they take in to make the customer feel like they are being pitched a product that will truly help them. Bill recommends the book Secret of Question Based Selling by Thomas Freese to help train the sales team in selecting what questions to ask.
(4) Build A Unique Onboarding Approach – After describing the hiring process, Bill goes into detail on how inDinero trains and retains their new employees. After being hired, employees are sent to their largest office in Portland where they can observe all the different departments and learn the culture. They can see how everyone interacts and are effected by each other’s job functions. After the first month, inDinero then places the new employees into their offices elsewhere such as New York and San Francisco to shadow actual members of the partnership driven sales model teams. This allows them to understand the difference between this model and the traditional outbound or inbound models and observe how a veteran interacts with prospects and customers. Once they are acquainted with the process, the offices, the culture, and other elements the new sales team members are encouraged to work together instead of compete against each other. Each member has their own relationships that others do not interfere with at all, so there is not tension within the teams. This promotes a friendly team environment, so members are highly unlikely to leave.
All in all, the partnership driven model is very different from the typical outbound and inbound strategies, so you should consider Bill’s advice above when implementing it. For more information, please listen to our podcast with Bill. Thanks to Daniel Pak for the research for this post.