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What you need to know about co-selling as a digital agency or with digital agencies

This article details the strategy for mapping account and co-selling between digital agencies and SaaS companies.

This is two articles and videos we've produced to help both sides of the partnership understand how to engage in an effective (ROI positive) co-selling motion with the other persona (SaaS or Digital Agency).


What is "Co-Selling"

Co-selling is the action after the process of "mapping accounts" wherein you work with a partner who is selling to the same or similar accounts and:

  1. Connect your CRMs to an account mapping solution.
  2. View overlapping totals.
  3. Decide if you'd like to share company names / URLs.
  4. Decide if you are comfortable with warm referral intros on the overlapping accounts (accounts you both are selling to).
  5. Then go about retargeting using ads using content you and that partner created together... on accounts you want that your partner also wants.


WHAT SAAS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CO-SELLING: (skip to the latter half if you are an agency)

Accordingly, a poll we ran in The Agency-Partners Collective, 42% of agencies have no clue what co-selling is. And, only 1% have an active co-selling routine with a partner.

And yet, co-selling with a partner who has already sold or is in the process of selling that same company is the most efficient way to sell.

These are the underlying issues:

  1. There isn't a SaaS out there helping to educate agencies on co-selling through marketing, blogs, or training. So they are not being helped.
  2. Most agencies don't have a trained sales leader who learned to co-sell at a previous tech company or other agency.
  3. And according to the poll we ran recently, only 4% of agencies map accounts with a tool like Reveal, Crossbeam or Partnered.

Below are three of the most-asked questions I get around co-selling with digital agencies to help your team create a strategy and grow revenue with your partners:

Q: What are some best practices for getting agencies involved in co-selling and what would you advise to consider about the agency persona?

Simply speak their language and put your agenda in line with the track they are already on.

What I mean by this is that agencies [successful agencies] are first and foremost working to make their clients happy, and create repeatable systems they can use to increase the impact of their services, margins, lead generation and conversions incrementally.

So partner managers trying to get an agency to map accounts and eventually co-sell need to do it in phases:

Agencies know marketing so start there with a co-marketing agenda. Let's use an amazing example of the recent release of Operations Hub from HubSpot. Without knowing all of their roll-out steps and strategy, what I do know is they asked top agency-partners to product applications inside this new hub to be completed by the time they announced (they gave them 3 or 4 months to build whatever they could). The agency-partners are then mentioned during the PR and are able to market their app to all HubSpot users in return for traffic/conversions and thought leadership. That's great in itself. But, what's even better is:

> Tech company timelines a PR launch (product feature, integration...).

>> Partner manager creates a list of agencies they'd love to be involved.

>>> On those calls, the partner manager sells the co-marketing agenda, potential impact and gets the agency to commit.

>>>> After they receive commitment, the partner manager presents a way to track the ROI of the PR from this co-marketing... which is has to be mapping accounts pre and post-launch of this campaign. Speaking about attribution is the agencies language so you are putting yourself in a better position to convert them to a co-selling partner.

>>>>>> Finally, after you both load your accounts to Reveal or whatever tool you use, then you snowball into this routine:

  1. You mention what you are going to do to get this campaign to the accounts you have that they do not have.
  2. In return, you ask them to send the campaign out to the leads they have that you do not have.
  3. When there is overlap, you ask to share URLs or company names so you can go through them and see if there isn't an easy win or a warm intro.
  4. When a deal is in your pipeline early stage, but closed/won in their CRM, you make them a no-brainer offer to send to that company that will hopefully push them over the edge.
  5. If the agency agrees to do that intro, you make sure they are rewarded - this could be as simple as a discount for that client for being a referral from your partner. But it may need to be commission... depending on the agency.
  6. Finally, if that conversation goes smoothly, you ask the agency to set a repeating monthly event for you and their team to review company accounts and look for low hanging fruit. Quarterly if they deny monthly.

Q: How do you secure buy-in from agency partners?

I answered part of this in the previous question. But in short:

  • Don't force it - square peg round hole so to speak - if the agency is not a sales-driven agency, don't expect them to be interested.
  • Respect the fact they are very very worried about letting wolves into the hen house - putting you in touch with their clients.
  • Fall into their routines using strategy they understand - marketing-first strategy, not sales first. It has to be a combination of marketing and sales, but start with marketing.

Q: Any more tips on how to effectively engage agencies in co-sell motions?

  • Talk about your successes co-selling as you get them under your belt with agencies like theirs in your partner newsletter.
  • Look for agencies with a sales team.
  • Project manage the routine on the co-selling project inside Partnerhub so you are both in sync throughout the process.
  • Even better - top partners of a CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot because they are more likely to want to do CRM-based operations.
  • And on that note, Revops agencies should be more likely to co-sell because they need to know about it to be a stronger resource for their clients.
  • Start with your easy wins - those agencies you are actively co-marketing with and present that attribution conversation I mentioned.


What to do now if you are an agency interested in starting to co-sell with partners?

If you are excited about running these routines with partners for the first time, here's what to do now:

  1. Start with your collaborations - do you have "things" going on with tech companies or agencies - partners or otherwise?
  2. If so, start with those relationships.
  3. Make a list of those names and contacts.
  4. Set up a Reveal (formerly Sharework) account (it's free).
  5. Reach out to Alex with questions.
  6. Reach out to them with the proposition of creating more content together and running account-based sales routines.
  7. Share your account mapping link in this email so they can quickly set up and see the overlap.
  8. When there is overlap, go down the list of client names who use both of you and find a relevant value add strategy as well as what you are going to say to each of them to make the intro successful.
  9. Ensure "reciprocity" before you doing anything for your partners - 1:1 lead for lead, intro for intro. If you are building more value for them, ask them to come to you with more content collaboration, events, sponsorship $$...


An email template to send partners inviting them to map accounts: 

Hello ((Name)),

Before we start co-marketing together, I think we should map accounts to set our benchmarks and have a source of attribution to gauge success.

I use a product called Reveal which allows us this transparency, automation, and opportunity without causing security or compliance issues.

If you’re open to it, reply with questions or confirmation and I will send you an invite to map accounts.




Links to more articles: 

Effective Co-Selling with Agencies with Jason Yarborough: https://collective.partnerprograms.io/posts/the-partner-programs-accelerator-effective-co-selling-with-agencies-w-jason-yarborough

Co-selling strategies and guidance with CRO of Crossbeam with Jess Waldeck: https://collective.partnerprograms.io/posts/agency-partner-sales-strategies-co-selling-strategies-and-guidance-with-cro-of-crossbeam-jess-waldeck

A co-selling routine for your top partners:https://collective.partnerprograms.io/posts/agency-partner-sales-strategies-a-co-selling-routine-for-your-top-partners

Building and Launching Sustainable Co-Sell Programs Through Agency Channels - CLA: https://collective.partnerprograms.io/posts/building-and-launching-sustainable-co-sell-programs-through-agency-channels

Agency Poll:https://community.partnerprograms.io/posts/account-mapping-and-co-selling-what-is-your-experience-we-have-some-opportunities-for-agencies-who-are-interested-in-trying-it-dm-me

Accounting mapping

Alex Glenn


Founder and CEO of Partnerhub. Proud father. And proud of what our team has built!