Collaborating with Partners for Growth: Interview with Simon Bouchez

Kelly Sarabyn

Simon Bouchez is the CEO of Reveal, a collaborative growth platform that organizations use to drive more revenue with their partners. He shares best practices for partner collaboration, how to track and leverage ecosystem qualified leads, and why partnerships should be seen as an extension of sales.

Your product is in a new product category that does not have an official or widely adopted name. Your term is “Collaborative Growth Platform.” Can you explain why you chose this name over other options?

In the past few years, cloud-based companies have led the way in creating more connections and integrations between B2B partners.

The walls that once stood between businesses are being removed, and with that change, companies are realizing that there is a massive potential in joining forces for revenue.

This new trend is what led us to create the first Collaborative Growth Platform.

The name of our new category combines two important findings we made through our research and our experience: 

Firstly, we are seeing, and I believe what you are also seeing at Pandium, that B2B companies are ready to collaborate more together now that they are provided with tools that ensure security, simplicity, and reciprocity. 

And secondly, we now have evidence that B2B collaboration has a positive impact on revenue growth. Our research shows that when companies leverage the insights or influence of their partners, they can up to triple their win rates on prospects.

We envision a future where B2B companies increasingly collaborate to grow, where customers are the ultimate winner because they gain better service and products. And we envision our Collaborative Growth Platform as being the enabler of that future.

By looking at the market, we realized that no existing category captured our vision. We’re not the only platform that tackles the challenges of B2B partnerships. But we are the first platform that focuses on generating revenue growth based on the ecosystem.

We chose the words “collaborative” and “growth” for their symbolic meaning.

There’s an underlying implication behind the word “partnership” that they require years of effort, endless contracts, or a long-term commitment. We wanted a word that, on the contrary, connoted simplicity because we envision a world where collaboration is as easy for B2B companies as it is between teammates, now that technology facilitates it.

“Growth” refers to revenue growth, of course, which is the main value our platform provides. But it goes beyond that. We see companies growing together in many different ways through Reveal: learning from each other, understanding their customer better, creating a better service and product together. 

Are most of your users still on partnership teams? 

Most of our users are partnership, ecosystem, or business development professionals in B2B companies.

Today, they’re the ones that understand our value proposition the best. Partnership teams have long faced the challenge of not demonstrating the ROI they were generating, and Reveal is a powerful answer to that.

That being said, partnership professionals are learning more and more that their impact can only be game-changing if they ally forces with the rest of their revenue teams. This is why we’ve seen more and more Sales professionals being brought in by their partnership colleagues. They are the ones who can ultimately transform the relationships and insights created by partnership professionals into more pipeline and faster deals.

In parallel to that, we see an increased number of Marketing and Demand Generation professionals who understand the value of collaborating with other brands. Co-marketing has been trending for a while, but marketers are now in demand of efficient ways to choose the right partners and design their co-marketing campaigns for the right audience. And that’s where Reveal intervenes. 

Marketing professionals are also discovering that their ecosystem is one of the best resources for qualified leads. And more interestingly: it’s a cost-free channel. Over the past few months, hundreds of new Reveal users were primarily coming for our lead generation and lead prioritization features.

What role does RevOps play? 

RevOps are often involved in the implementation of Reveal and help establish processes. We are integrated with CRMs, and RevOps often own the CRM, as well as ensure security.

They aren’t currently the buyer for Reveal, but they could be in the future, with the goal of enriching CRM accounts and leads with qualified insights through a trustworthy resource: the company’s ecosystem.

How would you say your product is different from others on the market?

Our platform focuses on allowing partnerships to generate revenue.

We see data sharing between partners as a means and not as an end. At the end of the day, what will matter for a partnership professional is the ability to demonstrate ROI, and this is the mission of our Collaborative Growth Platform.

This is our key differentiation from other platforms that focus more on improving the process of data sharing itself.

When building our product, we constantly ask ourselves: will this new feature positively impact partnerships’ ROI? This is how we prioritize our roadmap and sometimes choose not to work on a feature even though our competitors are.

Some examples of features we have created to solve partnerships challenges are:

  • Reveal allows partnership managers to track and report on all partner-sourced and partner-influenced deals.
  • Reveal pushes back ecosystem insights into CRMs so that sales teams have easy access to their partners’ insights and support.
  • Based on the partners’ presence on these accounts, Reveal scores CRM accounts that have the best chances to convert. Using this feature, partnership teams know where to focus their sales teams’ attention to generate partner-influenced deals.

The second strong difference between our product and others on the market is how simple it is to use.

This is something we have focused on from the beginning because we know partnership professionals need ways to gain time; they can’t afford to lose time on a counterintuitive tool.  

Any partnership professional can easily sign up on Reveal, connect their CRM securely, and start mapping accounts with partners in a matter of minutes and without any complexity.

We often get the feedback that the time to value is the fastest with Reveal, and we truly pride ourselves in that.

For B2B SaaS companies, what types of partnerships do you think will be the most important in the next 3-5 years?

We are seeing a transformation from the traditional reseller/OEM/ISV model with a clear contract in place to the simpler concept of “ecosystems.”

This means we are moving from very structured relationships between partners to more flexible connections and more data sharing between companies. Now, any company that targets the same audience and isn’t a competitor is a potential collaborator. 

For early-stage and scale-up companies, sharing information has a huge impact with a low downside. It can be a competitive advantage against larger, more traditional players that aren’t as open with their data. However, we notice that traditional players are also increasingly willing to share data. 

In parallel, Tech partnerships are becoming more important because integrated products increase customer value and provide a great basis for a go-to-market collaboration. Even very early-stage companies are forming Tech partnerships now because they underpin key go-to-market strategies.

How do organizations avoid conflicts between partner teams and sales teams? How can organizations ensure that their partner and sales teams are most effectively working together and incentivized in a way that drives the most wins?

One thing I would advise is for organizations to think of partnerships as an extension of sales. They are there to support sales. In order to get alignment, partnership teams should start by talking to the sales team and understand how they can make partnerships valuable for them.

Ask sales what matters, what info they need, and what they would be willing to do in terms of collaboration. Make sure they are keen to engage before you try to move forward. 

Many partnership teams don’t think enough about the fact that sales teams have multiple ways to move an account forward - they can offer a discount, they can get the CEO involved, get a customer referral, etc. Or they can engage with a partner. We, and partnership teams, know how powerful this can be. But making sure the sales team knows it too is the partnership team’s role.

From the sales side, engaging with a partner can seem like a lot of work, and they may not be convinced it is helpful.

So in order to get your sales team to engage with partners, you have to ensure it is the highest impact action with the lowest effort. Because that is how they will choose, and to convince the rest of the organization, too, make sure you track and report on the ROI that is generated. This is how you make sure partnerships become the cornerstone of your revenue strategy.

What metric should organizations be tracking to show value from partnerships?

Mature organizations track how much revenue is sourced or influenced by partners. Not many are able to track it precisely, and this is something that Reveal enables.

You can also track the partner attachment rate (percentage of prospects that have one or multiple partners attached) and study its impact on results. Generally, the better your partner attachment is, the more deals you are going to win. Once you see this, it motivates you to think about how to attach a partner to every sales opportunity to improve your win rate. 

Finally, you should track customer retention and average contract value. We know that, on average, the more integrations a customer is using, the higher their retention and contract value. 

What exactly are EQLs? How does the cost to acquire an EQL compare to the cost to acquire an MQL?

An EQL is an Ecosystem Qualified Lead.

We call EQLs all leads that are sourced or prioritized through the company’s ecosystem.

The best thing about EQLs is that they are entirely cost-free, all the while having higher conversion rates than MQLs. On average, EQLs have a 43% better win rate than MQLs. Simply put: EQLs are a goldmine that most B2B companies aren’t leveraging enough.

Most B2B companies spend big bucks to generate MQLs. Think about the budget spent on ads or events, for instance. But leads coming from these sources aren’t always ready to buy. Oftentimes, they are curious. Consequently, the win rates on MQLs are low, and it takes sales teams a lot of effort to convert them.

Differently, EQLs come from a very trusted source: your partners know who has a budget, an understanding of your market, and is ready to buy. They know it because they have engaged with your prospect. And this knowledge is right at your fingertips with a Collaborative Growth Platform.

A few examples of how EQLs are used:

Company A targets small companies in the hospitality industry, and company B targets the same persona. They both have hundreds of accounts from that target in their CRM. Company A and B can connect their CRMs safely and exchange all the accounts that are missing from each other’s CRM. These leads are Ecosystem Qualified, meaning that their quality is higher because they come from a trusted source that knows which are the best accounts to target. Reveal makes this leads exchange safe and mutually beneficial.

Now imagine that Company A is mostly present in the US and Company B in Canada. They both want to expand to each other’s territory. Sharing EQLs is the best way for them to focus their attention on leads that have real chances to convert without losing precious months trying to figure out who their ICP is.

EQLs don’t have to be net-new leads; the ecosystem is also a great source of lead prioritization for companies. Company A and B share their list of overlapping accounts safely. Company A identifies 50 accounts in its CRM that bought Company B’s product. These 50 accounts are EQLs. The mere fact that they bought Company B’s product is an indication of their maturity as a customer and of readiness to buy. Their conversion rate is consequently much higher than an average lead.

We encourage B2B companies to think about EQLs as a strong, cost-free growth strategy.

Partner data sharing can be used very effectively for co-selling. But it also can be utilized for co-marketing, assessing whether to build an integration, and building data. What are some different and interesting ways you see people using shared data?

There are a multitude of ways that our community base utilizes the platform. It highlights what Collaborative Growth as a concept looks like in action for B2B. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting is also an increasingly popular way that Reveal is being used. We see companies assessing whether a partner is right for their company, based on how much account and contact overlap there is in their respective CRMs.

With this feature, companies don’t have to actually share any specific account or contact names, our software processes their information anonymously, and simply indicates the percentages of customer, opportunity, and prospect overlap, to both parties. What’s interesting about this is that the data sharing is happening asynchronously, and between two companies that have not yet partnered. This is evidence that more companies are keen to base their partnerships decisions on data rather than intuition. 

We also see a lot of co-marketing campaigns on common target accounts, found through Reveal’s account mapping. There’s something incredibly rewarding about seeing a new partnership announcement or learning of a campaign that’s been created based on the insight that Reveal has provided. 

Additionally, one of our favorite use cases is exchanging net new leads. We’ve witnessed companies successfully expand into new markets and territories and have incredible successes using the platform in this way. 

Finally, we see more and more revenue professionals utilize partner data sharing for lead prioritization as I mentioned earlier. Thanks to their ecosystem’s insights, companies can identify accounts that have a high likeliness to buy,. This information helped a lot of Partnership Managers score some quick wins when they needed it the most. 

Any other advice for B2B SaaS companies who may have some partnerships in place but are looking to get serious about driving revenue from their ecosystem?

If you have at least one partner and aren’t sharing data with them: you are missing out.

Sharing data through an account mapping platform is the most effective way to grow and leverage your ecosystem. It is how you make sure your partnerships drive value.

Through instant account mapping, partners can identify all the accounts they have in common. It’s the necessary starting point to help each other win.

And thanks to technology, it is now fully safe and simple to control what you are willing to share.

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