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Image by Lyle Wilkinson
  • Writer's pictureGary Lam

How Can Salesforce Partners Build Trust With Account Executives?

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

Did you know that as a Salesforce Partner, you have two customers to sell to? If you’ve been struggling with getting traction with Salesforce Account Executives, your one-sided approach might be the one to blame. The foundation of any successful partnership is trust. Unless you’re able to build trust with Salesforce AEs, your lead generation efforts might go in vain. In this article, we will cover:

  • The importance of building a trusted relationship

  • Why hiring a partner coach might be the answer

  • How to be proactive

  • Implementing a plan of action

Why Trust Matters

This might sound obvious to say, but establishing trusting relationships with your clients is your business’s biggest asset. The whole sales cycle of lead generation, then conversion, then client retention cannot function properly without trust. By building this type of relationship with your clients, you are establishing a better work ethic for your business, improving its reputation, and most importantly providing something of worth to your clients.

If you are a Salesforce partner and you are reading this article, this is your sign to look closely into your relationship with Salesforce AEs. Are you struggling to get traction with them? Then keep reading.

The reason why I believe in the importance of establishing trusting relationships with your clients is due to the fact that I myself have experienced it first hand. You see, in the past, I took a one-year coaching program to become a certified life coach. It not only impacted my career but also changed me as a person and transformed my life perspective. To be honest, I was quite skeptical of the concept of life coaching at the beginning and didn’t expect to see a real transformation. Fast forward to the time I found myself mentoring young Asian IT professionals who were promoted into management. I learned that when dealing with people, you need to meet them where they are. Everyone has a different background, goals, and experiences that need to be considered. Getting to know them enables you to build a meaningful trusting relationship.

Hiring a Partner Coach Might Be the Answer

I recently had a conversation with a Salesforce Partner who was also the VP of Sales. He mentioned to me that his sales representatives were having a hard time getting traction with Salesforce AEs.

Believe it or not, this is the most asked question I get nowadays. How do you engage with Salesforce AEs and build a relationship with them?

The answer is simple. Once you understand who your clients - plural - really are, you will get a better grasp of their challenges and position yourself as the trusted solution provider. As a Salesforce partner, you actually have two clients to sell to. The first one is the Salesforce sales team and the second one is Salesforce customers.

The area where Salesforce partners fall short is the expectation they have from their sales team. Your sales team already has the responsibility of selling your products and services. And you are expecting them to build a relationship and credibility with salesforce as well? Coming from someone who actually does this full time, allow me to debunk this myth and bring to your attention that you are asking too much of them. They only get compensated for one job and that is to sell..

If you find yourself wondering how come large partners succeed in their sales process, the answer is hiring a fractional Alliance Leader. People such as myself who coach Salesforce partner’s salespeople and guide them in their sales approach. We all tend to have tunnel vision sometimes in the way we do things. The added value of an Alliance Leader is that they bring a third-party perspective to the table and educates your team on the ins and outs of the Salesforce ecosystem.

Be Proactive

The common mistake Salesforce partners make is not being proactive enough. Remember, this is a two-way relationship. Don’t simply come to sales representatives with your hands open looking for leads. Be proactive and bring your own customer opportunities to prove your ability to successfully generate leads. The goal is to seamlessly insert your expertise into the sales cycle. Give them a chance to see what you bring to the table, and assess how you can work well together.

If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’ve probably heard of one or two success stories that started just like this. A few years back, one of my clients was just starting as a Salesforce partner, but his eagerness to succeed paid dividends in leads from Salesforce. He implemented this very same strategy: he approached a Salesforce AE, arranged a meeting for him with a customer of his, invested in that relationship, and soon enough he was known as the partner who could successfully cosell with Salesforce. Over the course of a year, he brought 12 new leads to Salesforce representatives and in return received introductions to 50 new customers from Salesforce sales teams.

Moral of the story: being proactive pays off, quite literally.

Implementing a Plan of Action

Now that we’ve established the need for re-assessing your sales approach and bringing the expertise of an Alliance Leader, there are a few steps you can follow to implement this new strategy.

The goal of these steps is to uncover any concealed issues or challenges that might be in the way. I like to call it the onion analogy, which stands for sequentially removing layers that conceal crucial information. And yes, you are welcome to quote me on that!

Familiarize Yourself With the V2MOM Method

The V2MOM method is the ultimate approach to creating a strategic alignment process. First introduced by Marc Benioff who’s the Chairman & CEO of Salesforce, his main concern was to ensure constant communication and complete alignment within the organization.

V2MOM stands for

  1. Vision — what do you want to achieve?

  2. Values — what’s important to you?

  3. Methods — how do you get it?

  4. Obstacles — what is preventing you from being successful?

  5. Measures — how do you know you have it?

Understanding The Sales Goals & Objectives

Congratulations, you have scheduled a call with a Salesforce salesperson. Ask them to share their V2MOM goals with you and invest your time in learning about them. You can even offer advice or recommendations to help them achieve those goals.

And remember, whenever you meet your Salesforce representatives, consider the bigger picture. It is not about you, or your company, or the products/services that you sell. Walk-in there with a “How can I help you?” attitude, not “Here I am, what can you do for me?”.

Build Your Brand Before Working With Salesforce Sales Teams

If you stay laser-focused on generating leads from Salesforce AEs and adopt that as your primary strategy, you will not go very far. The reality is, partners need to build awareness, credibility, and preference in the marketplace before working with Salesforce sales teams. It is equivalent to building your brand. Define who you are, who you help, and what your added value is, then go after your target audience.

Ask Yourself “And Then What?

So you’ve secured a meeting with a Salesforce AE, maybe you hosted an event and shared your expertise and success stories with a room full of representatives. And then what?

This meeting or event is surely not the end goal. What happens after? How do you plan to follow up? What collateral will you provide to keep the interest of the sales representatives? How often will you show up in their inbox? You need to be just as strategic with your follow-ups as you are with your outreach.

Know Your Market Vertical

Once you get the attention of your Salesforce representatives audience, make sure you have customer stories and marketing materials that are aligned with your market vertical or customer segment focus. Did you do the research upfront to identify your market vertical and value proposition? If not, head to this blog post where I discuss Salesforce Partners using business verticals to stand out from the competition.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the vertical of your choosing should match your Salesforce representative’s vertical focus. For instance, if your market vertical is Manufacturing and the Salesforce team you are hoping to engage with operates in Financial Services, you will not resonate with them.

Final Thoughts

The secret to success is not just being able to sell. It is about building a trusting relationship with your clients and meeting their needs. It’s never about what you offer and what they can do for you, it’s about how you can serve them.

Still not sure how to approach it? Book a call with me today and let’s uncover any issues or challenges that might be in the way.


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