The coronavirus pandemic has created a global shift in the way sales teams meet and network with their partners. Adapting to this “new normal” requires teams to consider new ways of engaging and communicating with partners and customers to maintain strong relationships that will make it out of the storm.

HackerOne has been well-positioned to respond to this digital shift. HackerOne is a San Francisco-based cybersecurity company started by hackers and security leaders to surface the most relevant security issues for customers before they can be exploited by criminals. 

Gina Segadelli is the current Vice President of NA Enterprise and Federal Sales at HackerOne. With a 20-year track record of leading successful sales teams in the computer software industry, Gina’s focus on developing strong relationships with partners has helped to create a partner-centered culture at HackerOne.

Autumn Grimm, CRO and Co-founder of PartnerTap, and Gina discussed how sales teams can adapt to the “new normal” and drive sales success. Gina identified four areas where she sees sales teams bringing the most value to both partners and customers during this time.

Empathize with Customers

Times are tough as companies are facing a loss of revenue and potential reductions in staff. Gina advises sales teams to avoid treating this period as though it is “business as usual.” Instead, approach clients with empathy to understand their needs and identify areas where you can bring unique value to them.

“I have really been insistent upon not selling right now,” Gina says. “I think it is really critical that you are consultative at this point and that you are not selling. As a company, you should be trying to provide as much consultative perspective as you can without expecting anything in return.”

When things return to normal, customers will remember that you were empathetic and not pushing to sell during this time of struggle. Rather than focusing on selling, Gina advises sales reps to look for areas where they can find new opportunities to connect with customers and provide them with solutions that address current pain points.

“Be empathetic and do what you can to help other people at this point,” Gina says.

HackerOne is currently offering 90-day free trials to their Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDP) to bring value to their clients. By doing this, HackerOne can meet the current needs of its audience while providing a future incentive for customers to sign up when things bounce back. 

Manage the Partner Playbook

Sales leaders should take the torch internally to turn the spotlight on partnerships and bring value to their team. Sales leaders can be pivotal in helping their teams find new partners that have complementary solutions and build relationships that are mutually beneficial.

“There is a whole diverse ecosystem in terms of how to use different partners depending on how you complement each other,” Gina says. “Find those partners that you can complement, and then have someone who can help build what that relationship is going to look like.”

Gina sees this as an opportunity for channel executives to help establish the type of partnership that will take place between their company and other organizations. Bringing in someone who has a critical understanding of the industry you are working in will help your team to move in the right direction with partners.

“Once you have that in place and you have those partners that you are bringing on board, leveraging a [tool like] PartnerTap to build those relationships is critical,” Gina says. “What is most important are the feet on the street and the ground-level relationships so that the reps, when they are talking to prospects, are asking a question or two that is going to help uncover whether there is an opportunity there for one of your partners.”

Sales reps are the connection between their customers and partners.  Enabling sales teams to have close connections with their partners helps sales reps gain valuable insights on accounts.

“The most important thing is educating and enabling those reps and that is where the channel VP or whomever is running the channel needs to focus enablement efforts,” Gina says.

Use Partners to Retain Customers

Identify opportunities in which you can share intel and data with partners to bring value to current and potential customers. Putting your partner into contact with a current customer who can benefit from your partner’s solution will help to “build the moat.”

“It helps to strengthen the relationship if we can give them easy wins from customers that we already have that we know could benefit from their solution,” Gina says. “Then we are going to go ahead and get them introduced.”

Adding value to your partners and knowing what they need to succeed will help you create a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship that you can both depend on.

“You start to feel this sort of collective chain that is building where they are happy. The happier your partners are, then the more they are going to try to uncover opportunities for you as well,” Gina says.

Be Authentic and Transparent with Partners

Approaching partners with an empathetic mindset and prioritizing frequent communication will help your team to retain partner relationships.

“You want to be authentic, open, and transparent,” Gina says. “Not being sneaky or deceptive—I think those are the things that quickly deteriorate partnerships.”

In tough times, the relationships your sales reps have with your partners are what is going to drive the best outcomes long-term. Building value through frequent check-ins with your partner will help bring value.

“That rep-to-rep relationship is what is going to move the needle,” Gina says. “Having that personal relationship and building trust so they know you are not just waiting for them to bring you something but you are actively trying to support their goals as well. Those are the relationships that move the needle.”

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