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In the hopes of teaching so past mistakes don’t also become future pitfalls; what are some of the mistakes or problems you’ve seen business leaders have to deal with when managing alliances for their business?
That’s quite a bit of what I do on “The Ultimate Guide to Partnering”. I try to uncover the pitfalls as well as the success stories. And on both sides of this equation, it comes down to not really understanding or having a common vision of what the outcome needs to be and not understanding each other’s operating model. So in the case of partners that are looking to engage with companies like Microsoft, and this is true of other tech giants, it’s not just understanding the cadence of the business; like when it is or is not a good time to engage, because it’s the end of a quarter or end of the fiscal year. It’s thinking that just because you are a partner that you’re just going to get all these leads and access to customers where these big companies have lots and lots of partners; but they can’t just open up the doors. It would erode their customers’ confidence in them if they did that, so it’s understanding how to best engage with a field organization.
And again, it comes back to this kind of being in it for the long haul, understanding the mutual outcomes that you’re looking to drive, and being in it together. Sometimes, the field sales organizations don’t want to collaborate with a partner that they see as being somewhat competitive to them because they offer other offerings. And in today’s world in this time of rapid transformation, you need everybody, actually, to help drive your business. For example Microsoft and Google. And so you have to be open to the conversation and maybe firewall the conversation so that you’re specifically going after this particular outcome together, and maybe you’re competitors someplace else.
Do you have any advice you would give somebody who really wants to build partnerships successfully with transparency, and the way that you’re suggesting, when they’ve been inserted into and organization and maybe don’t have the opportunity to craft that culture from the onset?
It comes from the top-down in the organization. And I see this way too often where sellers are very good at one specific function, and that’s calling on the end customer. And in many cases, some of those best salespeople are the ones that are also control freaks, for lack of a better term here, and they don’t want anybody else involved with their account, and anything that’s introduced into the account is an issue. I would say to those sellers, or sellers in an organization that thinks that way, is that you have to think differently.
One plus one equals three or more, because a collaboration leads to a greater set of outcomes for you and for the customer. And it leads to raving fan customers as well as a partner that will collaborate with you and bring you into opportunities later on versus having blinders on and saying, “No, I want to control this account. I don’t want the partner involved.” Not being willing to give up the reigns or give up control of the outcome, or the time frame for the outcome to happen, is a reason why a lot of people are unsuccessful working in partnerships with other organizations.
It comes down to trust, and people want to feel like they’re being taken care of by their organization. When you bring a partner into the mix and you haven’t had experience working collaboratively with partners, I think that could be a little bit daunting for some folks.
It is, and then it’s also knowing that this is a relationship. This is an ongoing long-term relationship. It’s not transactional. Before Microsoft evolved the cloud business, there were some people at Microsoft that only engaged with the partner that was transacting the Enterprise Agreement. And so, I would get a phone call around the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year, and that was the only time the sales person wanted to talk to the partner person. And of course they were really ready to just jump on them because the order hadn’t come through yet. Rather than building that relationship, having lunch once a month to discuss account strategy and account planning, all the things that should have happened, these people were really in the moment for the transaction to happen. And it was just about that time of year or that time of the cycle versus having this ongoing relationship.
You mentioned building trust, having transparency, a mutual respect for each other’s business, and business cadence and set of outcomes. What’s in it for me? Knowing each other’s wins is so important. Each organization has its own business and set of outcomes that they’re trying to drive against, and understanding that mutual respect is just so important to success.
To learn more about long-term relationships with partners, compensating partners, collaborating with the competition and more tune in to episode 37 of The Allbound Podcast.
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