Successful sales teams work with partners in creative ways to drive big wins for their teams. Building the right partnership takes time and talent.

Caryn Lee, VP of Sales at ADP, is an expert in driving new relationships with partner reps that contribute to major wins. Since joining ADP in 2010, Caryn has worked her way up the corporate ladder and now leads a team of leaders and last fiscal year her team finished second in the nation.

Autum Grimm, CRO and Co-founder of PartnerTap, spoke with Caryn about the lessons she has learned about building partnerships throughout her career. Caryn identified five areas where teams can focus their attention to build and maintain successful partnerships.

Find the Right Partner

ADP has done a great job of recruiting thousands of companies to go to market and partner with in the HR Tech space.  It is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of potential partners out there. As a sales leader for ADP, Caryn takes the initiative to help her leaders and reps develop partnerships with high-priority organizations that will bring the most value to her team and their customers.

“My job as a leader is to help filter the essential partners that we have available, and help my reps focus on the ones that will have the most impact on our bottom line,” says Caryn. 

Your partners will become an extension of your team, helping you to meet your sales goals. Caryn recommends seeking mutually beneficial partnerships with organizations that align with your goals by searching for organizations that are calling on the same people as your team.

“[Look for] mutual partnerships that focus on alignment in terms of who you’re targeting and then who is going to be the biggest bang for your buck,” says Caryn.

Implement Strategic and Structured Activities around Partners 

Caryn attributes her team’s success to the strategic activities they have implemented around ADP’s internal and external partners. In the beginning of fiscal year 2018, Caryn’s team identified ADP’s core partners that aligned with their strategic goals and connected with the same buyers in her regions.  She then implemented weekly activities around these key partnerships that resulted in increased funnel growth and revenue generation.

“Every quarter, each partner got one solid, focused week where we were dedicating our revenue generation to them,” says Caryn. “What we saw from that was not only more two-way partnerships between us and those partners, but we [also] drove more funnel growth not only for those partners specifically but also for ourselves. It really helped drive the revenue from those channels, and overall, it helped drive revenue for the organization as a whole.”

Caryn’s team focused on sourcing leads for partners to drive a “give to get” mentality.  When her team focused on sourcing leads for their partners they saw an increase in sourced leads  coming back to her team. 

Identify Opportunities to Bring Value to Your Partner

Communicating the value that you can bring to your partner is fundamental to maintaining a mutually beneficial partnership. Identify the core areas in which you can deliver value to your partner and communicate the value that you bring in an engaging and meaningful way.

“When you’re partnering, you need to have the mentality of ‘what can I do for you to move your business forward?’ because that is what is going to make them want to work with [you],” says Caryn. “If our partners are doing that for us, we want to be doing that for them.”

Caryn’s team collaborates with their partners using PartnerTap so that they can account map and identify opportunities to introduce one another to their key targets.

“One of the things that was really impressive and awe-inspiring was that [Absorb LMS] proactively uploaded all of their key contacts to the PartnerTap Software.” says Caryn. “It was so easy to identify who those were because we leveraged [the PartnerTap] technology. We could just pull it up and see ‘this is a client or target of mine and yours’.” 

Caryn believes that using collaborative technology can help sales teams grow their partner ecosystem and increase revenue long-term.

“I think the more we can be proactive about helping each other gain access, the more we are going to help each other weather the storm,” says Caryn.

Find Creative Ways to Work Remotely with Partners

Sales teams should work creatively to find new ways to maintain relationships with their partners while working remotely. Caryn offers two areas that partners can prioritize while working in a remote environment to maintain strong strategic partnerships.

Leverage Tools to Promote Powerful Networking

When working remotely, it is important to find new ways to co-sell and collaborate with your partners. Using a collaborative tool to share accounts with partners can help bridge the gap created by a lack of face-to-face communication.

“Leveraging tools like PartnerTap that have that more frequent mindshare is going to be crucial because that helps you stay in front of the reps, top of mind for the reps, and add value to the reps on a regular basis,” says Caryn.

Focus on Value-Added Communication

Effective communication with partners is crucial to maintaining partnerships. Make sure that the conversations you have with your partners communicate the value that you can bring to them.

“Blanket emails are getting ignored right now. More personal, value-added communication on a regular basis is going to help set you apart and maintain those partnerships long term,” says Caryn.

Form Partnerships Fast, Early, and Often

In B2B environments, partnerships can help to drive wins for your team. Caryn shares that the most fundamental thing sales reps can do—no matter where they are in their career, prioritize partnerships and effective collaboration.

“The best reps have an open and collaborative mindset all the time. When you’re new and you come into the workforce, the more you can learn from other successful sales reps—be it within your organization or partner organization—the faster you’re going to ramp,” says Caryn. “As you continue to collaborate and share information, you’re going to see the reward that brings and continue to do it even more. I would do it fast, do it early, and do it often.”

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