15 P2P Tips from a Former IAMCP President
As a former president of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), I had the privilege and honor of leading the team that took the IAMCP from four to 44 countries and reached an annual revenue of $10 billion in deals between our members. That experience gave me some visibility into what makes partner-to-partner (P2P) relationships and engagements successful.
Today's Microsoft ecosystem is highly vibrant. We see great innovation happening across the globe, which opens new opportunities. As our customers are increasingly global, we need to address how to sell and deliver to them beyond geographical borders.
By making P2P core to your strategy, you will accelerate your company's success, which translates into higher growth and increased company valuation. But, as with most things in life, you will need to make a full-hearted effort to make it fly, and it will take some time and structure before you get there.
Here's the recipe for a modern approach to P2P:
- Make a strategic plan for how to develop your partnership over time. My P2P Maturity Model is a great framework for how to create a structured approach toward successful partnering, and I encourage you to involve your partners in the journey, too. You can achieve some success by just being opportunistic and ad hoc, but long-term success demands a structured approach.
- Get full buy-in for P2P from the senior leadership in your practice, business unit or company (depending on your size). I've seen a few partnerships end in disaster when people lower in the organization were all on board but the senior leadership did not recognize the importance and failed to fully commit.
- Value sales through your partners as equal to sales generated directly. Your salespeople should get the same level of compensation for deals through partnerships as for deals done direct. Compensation drives behavior.
- Focus on what you are truly great at and ditch all efforts to sell and deliver in areas where you cannot honestly claim that you are world-class. Get rid of everything that is non-core and either let people go, or re-assign them so that they become part of your core focus. Perhaps you can sell your non-core practice areas to another Microsoft partner; that way you ensure that your redundant staff get a new and more suitable employer.
Today's environment is highly competitive, and you cannot afford to spend time and money on solutions where you don't stand out as a leading player. Here's an opportunity to be bold and make the right bets on what is core and let fellow partners help you with non-core needs.
- Forge partnerships with companies that can help you in the areas where your customers need help but that are outside your own scope. You should invest time in mapping your needs and create a longer list of potential partners that you then narrow down to a shorter list.
- Forge partnerships with companies that can help you sell and deliver in geographies where you are not present. This is less risky and costly than opening branch offices or subsidiaries yourself. And again, spend the time needed to map your needs and identify what you can bring to the table.
- Make your partners an integral part of your operation and build trust by being totally transparent under a formal non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
- Ensure that everyone in the partnership feels that the relationship is financially successful. If you sell each other's billable hours and services, the margin should be the same for both; nobody should get a better deal. Make sure that you're working with decent margins for all parties.
- Assign ownership. Someone in your organization needs to be responsible for nurturing and developing your partnerships.
- When things go bad, invest in resolving it in a way that makes the customer and your partners willing to continue working with you. Together with your partners, analyze what you can improve to avoid future problems. Long-term partnerships are the most profitable. By being willing to learn from problems, you can deepen your relations with other partners.
- Be proud of your partnerships and publish them on your Web site. CIOs love when specialized companies demonstrate willingness to work together, and this will help you win customers.
- Be generous and don't always strive to maximize profits. Instead, ensure that both parties are happy in the long run.
- Be faithful and don't sideline your partners or reduce their abilities to earn money within the relationship. I've seen multiyear engagements where one party felt that the company that made the sale is getting too much money from Year 2 and wants to cut the margin to zero. This is a bulletproof way to end a partnership as it demotivates building a business together.
- Evaluate your partnerships on a yearly basis and retire relationships that do not work or where you see little strategic value. The portfolio of partnerships needs constant nurturing and sometimes you need to make changes. Those changes are less painful and dramatic when you're annually evaluating how your partnerships align with your business goals.
- Capture your partnership arrangement on paper. This doesn't need to be complex, but you should document how you're working together and what the expectations are on both sides. And please review it together with your partners at least once a year.
Good luck, and please reach out to me and share your stories!
Posted by Per Werngren on December 21, 2020 at 7:21 AM