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The Changing Channel

Why the IAMCP Is Critical to Future Success in the Channel

The International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners has always been a useful resource, but it became invaluable after Microsoft flipped the switch on the Microsoft Partner Network. Howard explains how.

Ten years ago, I thought that the IAMCP, or International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (back then, "Certified Partners"), was just a bunch of technoids gathering to compare propeller beanies.

Eight years ago, I joined the organization because I had discovered how wrong I was.

Three years ago, with the introduction of the new Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), I became more convinced than ever that the IAMCP was critical to every partner's survival.

Today, I'm going to tell you why.

Specializing (and the Downsides Thereof)
The MPN did more than just "raise the bar" the way Microsoft explained it to us. It really forced every partner to take a good, hard look at its practice and become very serious about focusing on what it does best. Using medicine as a very appropriate analogy, the MPN made all of us generalists become specialists.

Some have decided not to take the program too seriously and continue to try to be all things to all people. About half of those who were partners at that time are no longer partners. Many have hung out new, much more focused shingles that declare their specialties.

Of course, specializing will always bring partners back to a daunting question: What happens when my client wants something I no longer do?

Some have answered this by trying to do it themselves -- which is risky, when you think about how failure could compromise all the other business you do with a client. Even more risky is referring your client to seek those services elsewhere; "elsewhere" may be able to replace you.

Trust and the 'Win-Win-Win-Win'
The thousands of IAMCP members worldwide have responded by forming the largest trust community in the business. Members routinely reach out to other members to partner on large, complex deals that they win and mutually benefit from. In fact, I've referred to this as the "win-win-win-win":

  • The customer wins with a broader, bigger, better solution for its business challenges.
  • You win because you obtain business you couldn't have obtained on your own.
  • Your partner wins because it obtains business it wouldn't have otherwise.
  • Microsoft wins with new license sales and deployments.

The key to this magic is fostering trust among partners. Every IAMCP meeting at every chapter across the United States and around the world brings partners together to get to know each other better and build trust between them. People do business with people, and the people who stay members of the IAMCP do so because they've proven themselves trustworthy and desirous of partnering.

Learn More and Join
The IAMCP has just released its July newsletter. In it, you'll read about the innovative and very much needed Bridge the Talent Gap Program, which, according to U.S. Board President Rudy Rodriguez, "will expand offerings of our groundbreaking certification and training program which is being promoted by the MPN team every two weeks to 124,000 partners. There is no better, cost-effective program being offered in the marketplace today providing value to our partners. I urge all of our members to review this program, ask questions and learn more how you can take advantage of this program to help grow your competencies."

You'll also read about the leadership work being done by the Advocacy committee, which works tirelessly to represent the interests of you and your peers in the channel, along with some reporting from the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

IAMCP Needs You -- and You Need IAMCP
Since IAMCP continues to help change the channel, you'll see monthly updates on IAMCP in this blog. All of the great ideas the IAMCP makes happen come from members, so the more Microsoft and other partners join the association, the better. Also, each new member brings new services that other members can sell for them, and each new member is a new sales channel for the services of all the other members!

Finally, if you want to be able to always say "Yes" to your customers with confidence, IAMCP represents the only resource pool that will enable you to do so. 

About the Author

Howard M. Cohen is a consultant to IT vendors and channel partner companies and a board member of the U.S. chapter of the IAMCP. Reach him at hmc@hmcwritenow.com.

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