Leadership Insights podcast | episode 5
Generate more revenue with a co-sell program
Leadership Insights podcast
In this episode of Nintex CEO Eric Johnson’s Leadership Insights podcast, we hear from Nintex VP of Sales in the Asia Pacific, Christian Lucarelli. Listen in to hear Eric and Christian discuss the advantage of co-selling with partners and software vendors to generate more revenue for your business while providing better results for your customers.
Nintex VP of Sales, APAC
00:04 | Hi, everyone. Welcome to the leadership insights podcast by Nintex. I’m Eric Johnson, CEO of Nintex. We are a high growth automation software company with more than 10,000 customers, and 850 team members around the globe. Leadership insights came about when we recognize the need for more thought leadership expertise around process improvements and automation investments. Before becoming the CEO, I was previously serving as a chief financial officer here at Nintex and witnessed the headache that many leaders suffered after investing in automation software, or any technology that didn’t provide profitable returns for the business. I want to help change this pattern by offering more insight for leadership professionals or anyone who is making large technology investments. In each podcast, I will combine experiences from my leadership career, along with the knowledge of my peers who have been proven leaders in their space.
With me today, I have Christian Lucarelli, our VP of sales at Nintex for the Asia Pacific region. Christian’s team is working with a range of small to large scale enterprise customers. And since 2015, they have solved thousands of business problems, whether it’s digitizing Trinity grammar, schools, attendance processes, or ensuring operational compliance for the Australian City of Karratha. Christian, it’s great to have you on the podcast today.
01:25 | Thank you, Eric. And it’s great to be here. I’m very excited about what we’re doing as a business in AIPAC, our team continues to grow. It’s an honor to be on the podcast today to share insights of what we’re doing in the region.
01:39 | Christian, it’s just awesome to have you here today. Always love spending time together, you know. You’re a super fun guy, always bring great perspectives, and you’re out there in the market winning every day. And I think everybody’s going to love to hear from you.
01:52 | So our topic today, what are we gonna talk about? We’re gonna talk about Co-selling. So to give you some background at Nintex, we’ve always prioritized and invested in our global partner network, we know we would not be where we are today without our top channel partners and a big broad base of partners. But we’ve recently seen this concept of co-selling gain a ton of popularity and traction. In fact, thousands of Nintex customers are benefiting from successful co-sell motions. And we’ll share some theories about why we think that is.
Our guest today, Christian has a ton of experience with co-selling, he’s been on both sides of the coast selling relationship, whether that’s co selling his company’s technology, or co-selling with a third party technology, for example, like Microsoft or Salesforce, other big large software providers. So Christian, have you seen this shift in traditional partnering to co-selling with partners in APAC? And what does this mean for our channel going forward?
02:44 | Thanks, Eric. And yes, 100%, we’ve seen this shift. And, you know, it’s always good to start with defining what co-selling is. I like to make this simple. Essentially, co-selling is working together as a SaaS vendor and our partner and channel community to the benefit of our customers. And that’s the key aspect of what we’re seeing is our customers are demanding (and the market is demanding) that as a software vendor and a partner community that we work together in a cohesive manner that helps them as a customer solve problems, not only in their business, but also what they’re seeing and in their industry and what the industry is facing to be scalable, but also competitive within the market they operate in.
03:26 | If I look at this really into three factors of what’s driven the change, and also helps us define the opportunity as a SaaS vendor and a partner community of how we can help customers is. Number one, the actual customer has driven this change. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to identify that it’s not something we’ve just sat together in a room and made up. Our customers want to be partnering with SaaS vendors. They don’t just want to understand the technical capability of what we do. But they want to understand our roadmap, they want to understand our go to market, they want to understand how that drives benefit to them.
04:01 | The cloud is a second driver of change, you know, with the deployment of cloud solutions, but also how cloud revenue models have changed. And subscriptions are now in place rather than perpetual and maintenance-based licensing models. Customers are paying yearly. And they want to understand that the vendors that they’re engaging with, are investing annually with what they’re doing on their platform, but also then can support this scale as their business grows. That that’s a really important point. And lastly, the buyer within the customers as moved to actual divisional heads, or the actual, you know, owners of organizations and heads of industry within those customers. It’s not just IT anymore. So what we’re finding that we need to define and co-sell with our partners to actually drive the benefit for the customer which is ultimately who wins through this co-selling motion.
04:52 | Well it sounds like a lot of evolution Christian and I totally agree with you’ve seen very similar things in the last several years very much customer-driven from what people are demanding in the market. You know, so tons of evolution. You can also look at it as almost like disruption. You know, one of the things I think about the difference between evolution and disruption is, you know, it’s got everything to do with the customers experience, right? At the end of the day, is the customer satisfied, right, then that’s positive evolution. Now, if the customer is dissatisfied, that’s probably turning into a negative disruption. But I think from everything you just said, it sounds like coastline supernatural evolution for the channel business, and the customers are really benefiting from it. So when you think about, you know, this positive co-selling, you know, what are the elements that make co selling successful? And you know, where have you seen it work? Where do you seen it fail? What advice can you give our listeners?
05:41 | What a good question and a very big question. So, I’ll try to break this down into a few points by giving you guys some advice on what we’ve seen internally, and then how it flows through from a go to market approach. So, you know, what we’ve seen in successful is being able to really define internally as a SaaS vendor, what co-selling means in your sales team. And really setting out the rules of engagement and in guidance for your sales team to ensure that the customer wins through every touchpoint of the engagement in your sales process. Co-selling can be complex, because the customer is dealing with multiple stakeholders, vendors and solution providers in parallel. So it’s important to ensure that those rules of engagement are set up between ourselves at the SaaS vendor and our partner to ensure that, you know, the customer gets the best experience through that process. Having that set up internally is really a fundamental key to success.
06:49 | We’ve learned from this through all of our co-selling partner engagements. And we’ve done it well in some areas in other areas where we’ve had to analyze and look where we could have set better expectations with our internal teams and also our partners to actually ensure the customer benefits. Then that goes on to my second point when we’re dealing with our relationship with our partners. Communication is key. It can sound like a simple concept, and you’ll hear me talk a lot about it today. But you know, when we work with our partners, communication is paramount to build trust through the way we go to market together and also ultimately drive co-sell success. And also, when we get to a tactical level, with our partners, defining the solutions that we’re working with our customer, customers aren’t actually making them repeatable. That’s actually what drives co-selling to be successful. It’s not just a one-off, you know, engagement with a customer. It’s finding those repeatable solutions that together ourselves as a vendor, and also our partner network can actually take to market and scale for the benefit of industry and also our customers.
07:45 | Give me a great example of where this co-selling really well, you know, customer got great value, oh, we executed really well at the partner, you know, give me one of those examples.
07:55 | Yeah, look, that one comes to mind actually we recently we just completed. It was with a financial FSI customer based out of Australia. In fact, this customer actually came to Nintex understanding that they wanted to improve some lending processes that were sometimes manual and some integrations with some of the lending aggregators that they work with to create a point of differentiation in the market for them. Through us engaging with that particular customer, we’re able to identify that overall our technology stack was going to be a good fit, but the customer challenged us to provide an end-to-end solution for them, because they leveraged multiple technology and infrastructure stacks, and also wanted some breadth and industry knowledge from a financial services space.
08:39 | That provided Nintex as an opportunity to actually go and find a partner and we which we introduced into the account to help overall do the solution design and co-sell with our pre sales and services team. Going back to some of the advice I gave earlier, we made sure that through that engagement process that Nintex we drove over updates and progress to the customer as a singular point of engagement while our partner worked in parallel with the business units to gather requirements and also jointly develop a proof of concept.
09:09 | Nintex and the partner came together to provide the customer progress, and also feedback on where we’re going and how we’re delivering against their outcomes. And ultimately, Eric, we created a win-win situation for the customer and also gave them a cohesive and fully encompassed sales engagement process. Which number one, showed that we could deliver on against their requirements. And number two, we had expertise across our network within the financial space and then also showed that we had technical capability to deliver so you know, all those elements mixed together. That really defined a great example of co-selling and delivering an outcome for our customer.
09:49 | Yeah, no, that’s a great example and I think there’s a few points of learning right there. You know, one, you could boil it all down to the theme maybe being you get the best of both worlds, right. We have great technology you know, we have a lot of really good experiences. It sounds like our people were involved. And it was a really nice trifecta where it was like us, the customer, the partner, the partners deep in FSI, you know, brought a lot of domain experience also brought a lot of experience with our platform. You know, we all partnered together to give the customer the very best solution possible. And that seems like that’s just a homerun example of why co selling is so good for customers. I guess a follow-on question that kind of comes out of that would be, you know, for anyone who’s in this position of being a customer today, you know, is there anything specific they should be looking out for when engaging with SaaS vendors and systems integrators in this like this co-sell approach? What would you say?
10:40 | Yeah, no, that’s a good question. And just to your point earlier, the way you described as a trifecta of success, that’s exactly how we like to talk about co-sell. But look, if you’re a customer looking to engage in a co-sell motion, or, or you find yourself, you know, working with SaaS vendor and system integrators, to put together a solution. It’s really important and valuable to you, because it helps you sanity check the outcomes to your engagement, but it also gives you, as you mentioned, Eric, the best of both worlds: direct access to understanding the technical roadmap and capability of the vendor. But then also, you know: tying that together with industry expertise, and also the technical delivery capability from the partner that really key things.
11:23 | If I was a customer, engaging the market for a solution, you know, some of the key things that I’d be looking for, and that I’d encourage you to ask these SaaS vendors and system integrators? What’s their position on partnering? Do they have a partnering network? You know, at times, it might be appropriate, and other times it might not be appropriate, depending on what you’re looking for. But, you know, from a sales engagement perspective, ask that question to the sales representative that you’re working with, right? And ultimately assess, you know, are you going to be able to get the best value and industry expertise, you know, through the network and partnerships of those other vendors or integrators have. You may have existing integrators that you work with, can you leverage them to them, you know, understand the partnerships that they’ve got to actually help you solve solutions. Again, through all of this, it’s just understanding how the engagement framework is going to work against the solutions that you’re looking to deliver for your business, and then finding out who to engage with and how they’re going to engage with you to actually drive an outcome, the other key things at high-level that I would be looking for, but it’s that sanity check, and also pulling in the trifecta of skills to actually help you drive your outcomes as a customer. It’s what I really look for.
12:34 | Yeah, that makes total sense. I really appreciate you sharing those perspectives, I think those will be really valuable to customers looking to go into a co-sell type of scenario with their SaaS vendor and their partner. So on the flip side, what about SaaS vendors that are looking to set up a co-sell partner motion? What are some of the key fundamentals they should start with?
12:53 | I love this question, because it’s the same question that we as a business have to ask ourselves as we started to do this not only with our network, but also with our technology vendors with Microsoft and Salesforce and etc. One of the key things I mentioned this at the start of the podcast is really defining what co-sell means to our sales teams. As a SaaS vendor, we need to enable and define what co-sell means to our sales team and defining our rules of engagement. This ensures that we enable our sales team to help jointly navigate sales processes to the benefit of the customer. I know that’s a high-level answer. But it’s going to look different depending on you know what you’re selling as an assessment or but helping really define that. And the value to the customer through a sales process to your team is going to be is a key element.
13:44 | Partner enablement is also key. And I break that into three buckets. It’s sales enablement, marketing enablement and technical enablement, mixed with all that just ensures you have the right skill sets and go to markets to find. And then in that when you go to market, having joint marketing campaigns that are industry aligned is also key. So I hope I’m unpacking this slowly for you guys. And the two other points I just like to mention is that it’s also important that your partners understand your organizational structure and how as a partner, you’re going to be supported. How do they register leads? Who do they work within certain industries when they bring clients with us? Who are they going to work to our new customers or existing business? And also vice versa? How do we understand as a SaaS vendor who to work with within the planets it’s also very important. And ultimately Eric, you know what we look to do from a co-sell perspective is always be easy to work with. If we don’t get the fundamentals right from an expectation and communication perspective, things can fall apart but if we get them right, and help define these things it’s so rewarding in a coastal emotion not only for us, but ultimately for our customers.
14:55 | And what’s what I love about what we do here in Nintex and it’s something that we hold ourselves accountable to in our channel and partner network. And the cool thing is it just extends from our core tenants as a business. You know, we define the way we work with our channel by ensuring we deliver on our commitments to them, we act with urgency and support them promptly. And all through that, through our manner of working with our partners, and also to our customers, we will operate with respect and transparency to help deliver outcomes. Having those fundamentals really helps drive success. And I’d encourage organizations to have a look at that, and how that permeates through their sales process into the channel and ultimately to customers.
15:35 | You know, Christian, it sounds like it’s just super clear that co-selling partnerships are a great way to grow your business. If you’re a software vendor. I know in our case, we’re really excited to see more customers benefiting from these business alliances as we go forward. And I guess that kind of brings me to, you know, we can turn the tables now, you know, I’ve asked you a lot of questions. Can you think of any questions you have for me?
15:56 | Yeah, look, you’ve mentioned a lot of times throughout today that the channel and our partner network is a huge part of what we do. And obviously, co-selling is one aspect of it right. But overall, what are you excited about Eric in our channel as we continue to grow?
16:10 | Yeah, I would say there’s three things that make me really excited about that Nintex channel. Number one, I would say that the existing partners we have today. They continue to evolve. We are seeing their sophistication grow. We are seeing them solve a wider array of challenges for our customers, and we’re seeing their businesses, you know, really become much more cloud centric, much more business-value-oriented. A lot of our partners and price go back a ways, you know, maybe we’re a little more technical in nature. But I think the sophistication and the broadness of the capabilities they bring to market are much bigger. So I’m super excited for existing partners from that perspective.
16:52 | And then when I look at the new partners that we’ve been adding, we are just seeing some super high-caliber advisory firms and systems integrators come into the fold. You know, some of those may have deep industry or functional expertise, you know, others of them have a ton of scale, and, you know, multiple different practice areas. But I’m very excited to see the caliber of partners who are joining our network.
17:26 | And then the final thing is that the evolution that we’re under, you know, we keep doing more acquisitions, we keep doing more internal innovation. And so the number of automation challenges and process challenges overall, we can solve for our customers and the transformative impact together we can have on their businesses, continues to massively grow. And you know, the feedback we’re getting from our partners and customers is huge there. So I think the bottom line is we’ve got great partners today, we’re adding more, and we’re providing them with more capabilities to add more value for our customers. It’s hard not to just go flying out of bed in the morning, because we just got so much good stuff going on right now.
17:53 | That’s awesome.
17: 54 | Awesome. Well, Christian, you know, it’s been a super joy to have you on the show today and really appreciate you taking some time. I know that you’re absolutely slammed right now with customer demand, and co-selling efforts with partners and customers. So appreciate all you’re doing out for our customer base and our partner community out in Asia Pacific. And that brings me to today’s conclusion. So thank you everyone who is listening in today. We appreciate your time and hope that you found this insightful at Nintex. Our mission is to improve the way people work with process management and automation. We do that by listening to our customers, our community, and by building the software solutions the world needs to do its best work. To learn more about this leadership insights podcast series, please visit nintex.com/leadership insights.