How AWS Partners Can Optimize GTM Strategy with the Co-Sell Development Framework
This is the second post in our blog series to help AWS Partners accomplish their co-sell business objectives.
By Tyler Althoff, Sr. Partner Business Development Manager – AWS
Co-selling with Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a myriad of growth opportunities for partners. Benefits include access to AWS’s growing customer base while leveraging AWS technical expertise and co-branding opportunities that significantly amplify your reach.
Developing a sustainable and effective co-sell program with AWS demands a comprehensive understanding of your AWS collaboration objectives, and a keen focus on empowering your sales team to effectively work with AWS stakeholders.
As mentioned in our post covering best practices for developing an AWS co-sell program, the synergy between your sales team and AWS is critically important to accomplishing your co-sell business objectives. Ensuring efficient and productive interactions at scale is a product of comprehensive education and enablement.
Sales teams that are well-informed about AWS’s culture, sales and go-to-market (GTM) stakeholders, and sales processes can co-sell more efficiently, especially when equipped with resources such as pitch decks, call scripts, and case studies.
This post in the series dives deeper into the “Co-Sell Development Framework,” exploring the pillars of Educate, Enable, and Engage with guiding questions to get you started and feedback from AWS Partners.
Understanding the Co-Sell Development Framework
The Co-Sell Development Framework is designed to offer a simple yet potent methodology to executing co-sell effectively. It serves as a guide that AWS Partners can follow to ensure their collaborative selling efforts with AWS are systematic, effective, and optimized to deliver results.
Figure 1 – Co-Sell Development Framework.
The Co-Sell Develpment Framework’s purpose is multifaceted:
- Streamline collaboration: Co-selling can be complex given AWS’s decentralized organization and unique sales processes. The framework provides clarity and a step-by-step methodology to ensure co-selling efforts, be it internal or external with AWS, are aligned, organized, and effective.
- Enhance cloud sales skills and knowledge development: One of the core components of the framework is to educate your sales team about AWS’s peculiar culture, our sales structure, and the benefits of various co-sell programs. This ensures your team is equipped with the necessary knowledge to work effectively.
- Promote effective AWS engagements: By emphasizing engagement, the framework aims to nurture and enhance the relationship between your sales team and AWS. This includes facilitating both formal and informal interactions, which can lead to a deeper understanding and better collaboration.
- Ensure continuous improvement: The framework isn’t a static model but rather emphasizes gathering feedback, assessing the effectiveness of co-sell efforts, and adjusting strategies based on insights. This ensures your efforts evolve with changing dynamics that inherently come with collaborating with AWS.
Educate: Building a Knowledge-Driven Sales Team
The Co-Sell Development Framework’s first pillar is about fostering an environment where your sales team is well-versed in AWS’s peculiar culture, our innovative approach to solving customer challenges, and the nuances of co-selling.
To effectively collaborate with AWS, it’s essential to bridge knowledge gaps and ensure everyone’s on the same page.
Figure 2 – Educate pillar.
Getting Started with Education:
- Assess current knowledge: Your initial steps should involve an honest evaluation of where your sales team stands in terms of AWS knowledge. Do they know the incentives offered for co-selling inside AWS, the structure of the AWS sales and GTM organization, and the roles of key stakeholders? This understanding lays the foundation for what needs to be tackled in your educational endeavors. Pro-tip: Conduct periodic quizzes, knowledge assessment sessions, and surveys to gauge the understanding of your sales team.
- Conduct historical training review: Delving into the past can offer invaluable insights for the future. Reviewing previous training sessions can reveal gaps in understanding, aspects that worked well, and areas that need more emphasis. Answering the questions “Have we undertaken co-sell education initiatives with AWS before?” and “How did we measure its effectiveness?” can provide a clear path forward. Assess the results of these initiatives, gather feedback, and understand the impact on sales performance. Pro-tip: Maintaining a repository of past training materials and feedback can be an effective way to track the evolution of your training modules.
- Integrate into training: It’s not just about isolated sessions on how to co-sell with AWS; it’s about integrating this knowledge into the very fabric of your training programs. Consider how co-sell education fits into your overall training matrix. For instance, onboarding activities for new team members should have a dedicated section on AWS co-sell education. It’s also vital to ensure your sales enablement team is aware of and aligned with your AWS collaboration objectives. Their role is essential in creating content, resources, and tools tailored to support and complement the AWS co-sell process. Pro-tip: Collaborate with AWS to leverage their expertise. Our experts may offer training resources, webinars, or workshops that can benefit your sales team.
Education is not a one-time activity of a co-sell program, but a continuous effort. Regular updates, refresher courses, and feedback loops with AWS ensure your sales team is ready to engage. Emphasizing a culture of continuous learning helps keep the sales team agile, knowledgeable, and ready to tackle co-sell dynamics.
“We collaborate with AWS to add value to the Tenable sales organization, our global partner community, and our customers. Together, we’ve assessed our AWS co-selling expertise and identified key areas for growth,” said Dave Feringa, Chief Revenue Officer at Tenable. “These insights have helped us to design targeted education and enablement initiatives. We’ve elevated our co-selling efforts, leading to an increase and improvement in the consultative cloud security expertise we can offer our customers.”
Enable: Arming Your Team with the Right Tools
Co-selling with AWS requires theoretical knowledge and the right set of practical tools to convert knowledge into action. The Enable pillar is a strategic move from understanding to execution and revolves around ensuring your sales team is equipped with the right resources, making co-sell interactions efficient and productive.
Without the right tools, even the most knowledgeable salespersons may leave opportunities on the table. This is where the Enable pillar comes into play, focusing on tangible resources tailored to address specific activities challenges.
Figure 3 – Enable pillar.
Getting Started with Enablement:
- Conduct resource audit: Begin with an introspective approach and take a detailed look at the current resources available to your sales team. These could range from pitch decks, success stories, and objection handling scripts to customer relationship management (CRM) features that track AWS-specific leads and deals. By asking questions like “What enablement resources are currently available?” and “What does our salesforce need to work better together with AWS?” you gain clarity on what’s already in your arsenal and what gaps need filling. Pro-tip: Organize periodic review sessions involving both newer and experienced salespeople. Their perspectives can help pinpoint gaps and redundancies in the available resources.
- Gauge comfort levels: The best resources are of no use if your sales team isn’t comfortable leveraging them. It’s crucial to gauge how confident your team feels when armed with these tools in a co-selling scenario. Conduct regular check-ins, preferably after significant pitches or sales meetings, to understand their comfort levels. Do they feel they have everything they need, or are there tools they wish they had? Pro-tip: Utilize anonymous feedback platforms. Often, team members are more forthcoming with feedback when they know their identities won’t be disclosed.
- Solicit feedback: What worked a year ago may be obsolete today. Regularly solicit feedback from the front lines–your salespeople. They are the best source of information on what resources are invaluable and what might need a revamp. Using this iterative feedback ensures enablement tools are not just up-to-date but are laser-focused on maximizing co-sell. Pro-tip: Consider hosting monthly or quarterly feedback and brainstorming sessions with your AWS partner team and key sales leaders in your organization. These can be collaborative spaces where the team discusses the successes and challenges faced, paving the way for resource innovation.
As your collaboration with AWS evolves, the tools your sales team needs will change. An active commitment to evaluating, adapting, and expanding the tools in your enablement toolbox is paramount. Keeping your sales team enabled with the right tools is more than just a strategy; it’s an ongoing commitment to their success and, by extension, the success of your co-sell program.
“In collaboration with AWS, we identified a valuable opportunity to enhance co-sell education and enablement. The result is a custom AWS Co-Sell training module, now central to our Learning Management System and available to our global team on-demand,” said Michael Kneip, Worldwide Director of AWS Marketplace and Business Development at NetApp. “By making this module essential for our new sales talent, we establish a consistent co-sell foundation from the onset. It’s not just training; with a wealth of best practices, our sellers are well-equipped to navigate co-selling engagements with AWS. It’s a strategic edge.”
Engage: Cultivating Productive Interactions
It’s not enough to just educate and enable. Active engagement between your sales team and AWS is the linchpin that brings all efforts to fruition. Through the Engage pillar, the emphasis is placed on nurturing genuine, productive interactions that pave the way for fruitful collaborations and long-term relationships.
While education provides knowledge and enablement offers tools, engagement is where the rubber meets the road. It’s the arena where knowledge is tested, tools are applied, and true collaborative synergies are established. For engagements to yield desired outcomes, however, they must be strategic, consistent, and measured for success.
Figure 4 – Engage pillar.
Getting Started with Engagement:
- Establish engagement metrics: The adage “what gets measured gets managed” is apt here. It’s crucial to have clear metrics in place to gauge the effectiveness of your team’s engagement activities. This could range from the number of joint meetings held and deals closed-won to the time taken from first contact to final sale during the co-sell process. By addressing questions like “How are co-sell engagements being tracked and measured today?” and “Is sales leadership aligned with the importance of co-sell engagements?” you set the foundation for continuous improvement. Pro-tip: Employ CRM tools and features that give you granular insights into each engagement. This helps in understanding not just the what but also the why behind each metric.
- Build feedback loops: A key aspect of refining engagement strategies is understanding what’s working and what’s not directly from your sales team. Instituting structured feedback mechanisms after every significant engagement with AWS stakeholders can be instrumental. This real-time feedback provides direct insights into areas of improvement and highlights successful strategies. Pro-tip: Use technology to your advantage, such as CRM systems with feedback modules or even simple widgets where salespeople can indicate engagement status or sentiment can streamline this feedback collection process.
- Incorporate KPIs: If engagement is to be treated with the seriousness it deserves, it must be ingrained into the very fabric of performance assessments. By incorporating co-sell KPIs into sales performance reviews (like Quarterly Business Reviews), sales leaders send a clear message about the importance of effective AWS engagements. Moreover, a KPI-driven approach offers team members clarity on what’s expected and how their contributions align with broader organizational goals. Pro-tip: Establish a balanced scorecard approach. While focusing on quantitative KPIs like the number of engagements, also consider qualitative KPIs such as downstream account mapping sessions and the quality of relationships built with AWS stakeholders.
Engagement is more than just interactions; it’s about building trust, understanding mutual objectives, and working in harmony towards solving customer challenges. In the grand scheme of co-selling with AWS, effective engagement acts as the heartbeat, ensuring both education and enablement translate into tangible results.
As you foster this culture of meaningful interactions, you can drive immediate co-selling success and lay the foundation for sustainable, long-term collaborations.
“Adopting AWS Co-Selling into Pluralsight’s sales performance strategy is a testament to the value we place on meaningful engagements. Through our collaboration with the AWS Partner team, we’ve refined our approach to enabling and engaging AWS sales teams, setting ourselves apart from traditional co-sell methods,” said Jon Dugan, Sr. Director of Global Ecosystem Solutions at Pluralsight. “By weaving co-sell KPIs into critical reviews like our Quarterly Business Reviews, we emphasize the significance of this collaboration and its impact to mutual customers. This KPI-driven approach offers clarity on success metrics to our sellers and aligns our team’s efforts with broader organizational goals, fortifying our relationship with AWS.”
Navigating the co-sell journey with AWS can seem intricate, but with the Co-sell Development Framework in place AWS Partners can programmatically address challenges and scale their co-selling efforts effectively.
By focusing on the trifold approach of Educate, Enable, and Engage, organizations can better position themselves to extract maximum value from their AWS partnerships. Remember, the road to co-selling success is an ongoing journey of learning, adapting, and growing. Utilize the framework and guiding questions above to optimize your AWS GTM strategy.
Follow our blog series to help AWS Partners accomplish their co-sell business objectives.