My last few posts have focused on the sorts of questions a Microsoft reseller might want to ask of a prospective indirect CSP provider. When I shared these posts I got a really positive response, but one stood out in particular. The managing director of an indirect provider suggested that I should write an additional post from the ‘other side’. Looking at how a reseller may need to change some behaviours and expectations.
I have the privilege of being able to go to round tables and sessions where partners share their desires, frustrations and all sorts of feedback with their indirect providers. It’s fascinating hearing the real world stories of what’s working and what’s lacking. It’s these stories that helped me write this entire series, so here’s what I think a Microsoft reseller should consider about themselves when choosing an indirect CSP provider.
As resellers demand more from their indirect providers, so it follows that indirect providers will look for increased commitments from their resellers in return. There’s an expectation that an investment in your skills, technical enablement, marketing support, and so on will result in your accelerated growth and success.
In order that value is seen to be flowing both ways fairly, I would expect many indirect providers to gain commitment to achieve certain KPIs. These could be around customer seat adds, or Azure consumed revenue, etc. to ensure a good return on those investments.
A question you should ask yourself is whether you’re in a position to agree to any committments, and give the partnership the right focus and investment to make it successful?
One of the most valuable opportunities a strong indirect provider can offer is access to a community of peers. These communities can open up new relationships, partnership opportunities, access to vendors, and an exclusive chance to learn from others just like you.
Communities are only successful if members participate. You may find yourself invited to attend round tables or other events. Whilst it’s important to listen, it’s vital to contribute. Indirect providers need your feedback, insights, and candour to give guidance on how to help you best. And, in sharing your perspectives and experiences you may discover someone with a solution to help you, or be able to help someone struggling.
Are you the sort of person who finds networking at these types of engagements challenging? (I know I do!) Perhaps you might send someone who is more at ease, or bring someone with you who can be an active contributor to the debate.
Communities only thrive and become vibrant when everyone feels they have an ability to influence and contribute.
For some people, price is still the primary concern when working with an indirect provider. Realistically though, indirect providers have to make their money somehow. If investment in your success is something that’s valuable to you (hint: it should be!) then being realistic on the levels of margin and discount you get is important.
As I’ve written about in my previous posts, holding an indirect provider to account to demonstrate the additional value is critical. However, ask yourself whether sacrificng a few points of margin in exchange for access to resources and services which will help you be successful more quickly and sustainably is meaningful for you.
If not, that’s OK, but you should expect a lighter-touch, more digital engagement as indirects focus their efforts on building stronger partnerships with more committed resellers.
The ace up your sleeve is how simple it is to change indirect CSP providers. If you don’t like what you’re getting from one, you can swtich to another with relative ease.
Mindset & Culture
Microsoft has a particular focus on highlighting the benefits of a partering approach; with 95% of commercial revenues being driven by partners. Leveraging each others skills and capabilities to help our customers achieve more is only a good thing. This cannot be realised if we work in silos and only consider one view.
Embracing a learning culture, seeking different views and experiences, and maintaining a growth mindset approach is the best way to succeed. Look for indirect CSP providers who demonstrate these behaviours being deeply embedded into their organisations. Ask yourself whether your organisation does, too.
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. It does this through a rich and vast network of partners who bring their differentiated skills and solutions to customers and help them realise the mission.
As much as looking up stream to work with indirect CSP providers who embrace this mission and culture, so too will they look across their partners and prioritise working closely with those too who want to learn and grow.
There are many aspects to being a ‘modern partner’. The outcome is always the same: ensuring customer and partner success, creating opportunities for true digital transformation, and finding ways to repeat those successes and transformations over and over, at scale.
My best advice, if you take away nothing else from this post, or any others on this topic, is to prove and be proven to. If you say you can do something, show it. Bring to life your successes through your digital footprint. Case studies, social sharing, video shorts or podcasts, it doesn’t matter which. Don’t rely on someone simply taking your word for your abilities, be proud to show them off.
Equally, demand the same level of proof from those with whom you seek to partner.