In my previous blog entry, “Elements of effective partnering with Microsoft,” I highlighted a few key elements that I know Microsoft appreciates in its partners. The world is full of solutions; each partner wants to be part of the winning story, but it takes hard work to succeed. In this blog, I focus on what benefits an organization can accomplish when partnering.
Types of Partners and their View on Partnering
Partnering executed in the right way can bring real scalability to your business. Based on my experience in partnering, there are several different flavors of partners and their views on partnering. These are some of the types of organizations I see when working with ISVs and channel partners:
- Partners that have a partnership mentality in their DNA. This means they truly want to build a “better together” story and win together. Without partners, they would not exist.
- Partners that view the partnership as opportunistic and not relying on it. These organizations don’t typically have a partnership leader driving alliances, and no formal partnering program or efforts to reach new partners exist.
- Partners that feel that the channel is competing with them and they only want to sell directly. I have run into many of these organizations, and without a leadership mandate, these organizations will not be good at partnering and will continue leading with direct sales.
- Partners that aspire to become partner-friendly but don’t know how and the organization is not built to support a partnering strategy.
IAMCP and Partnering
There are more variations of partners, but the ones above represent the ones I usually run into. My good friend Per Werngren and I collaborated for years opening chapters for IAMCP (International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners) in different parts of the world, evangelizing what partner-to-partner business means and what it does NOT mean. I have fond memories from the multiple trips we took and met hundreds of partners during our journeys. Per is also the creator of the IAMCP Partner Maturity Model that allows a partner to evaluate where they are on the partner maturity scale. The model enables a partner to see what areas they should improve and where they already have strong skills.
What can partnering bring to an organization?
Concerning the benefits of partnering, we need to ask: what benefits does effective partnering bring? Partnering, or forming a strategic alliance or business partnership with another company or individual, can offer several benefits. Some of the key benefits of partnering include the following:
- Access to new markets: By partnering with another company, you can gain access to new markets that you may not have been able to reach on your own. This can be especially valuable if the other company has established relationships or expertise in the new market. A new market could be a new geography or a vertical that a partner is strong domain skills and your organization does not have.
- Sharing of resources: Partnering can allow you to share resources such as technology, staff, or infrastructure. This can help you reduce costs, increase efficiency, and access resources you may not have had on your own. Partnering might prevent you from investing in people that you only need every now and then, but not on a permanent basis.
- Increased brand exposure: Partnering with another company can help to increase your brand exposure and credibility. You can boost your reputation and attract new customers by associating your brand with a well-known or respected partner. For example, partnering with Microsoft brings immediate recognization to your organization, especially if you are a smaller player in your domain.
- Access to new expertise: Partnering with another company can give you access to new expertise or knowledge. This can help you to improve your products or services, develop new products or services, or expand your offerings. For example, the growth in AI might not be “your cup of tea,” but you could partner with an organization that has the skills and therefore supplements your organization. This brings an immediate benefit to the customer organization.
- Risk-sharing: Partnering can help to share the risk of a new venture or project. By sharing the costs and risks with another company, you can reduce your financial exposure and improve your chances of success.
- Compete with larger vendors: A number of smaller service providers/partners can form a strong alliance to deliver an end-to-end solution that competes well with larger players in the domain.
Partnering can be a powerful way to achieve your business goals and grow your company. However, choosing your partners carefully and establishing clear goals and expectations from the outset is important. Partnering takes effort; partnering is founded on trust. Breaking the trust will always lead to a bad reputation on the market. I have witnessed several times how organizations or people that have acted in bad faith in their partnering karma have typically stroked back eventually.