The Cheltenham National Hunt Festival has a special place in the diary each year, for me and I know many thousands of others. It is great news that it will take place this year, although for the town the loss of 100,000 visitors during the week will be huge. For many local retailers and hospitality venues, the week has traditionally been more significant than their sales at Christmas. I remember one luxury television brand retailer telling me how they always hoped the Irish would win big. When the Irish horses won during The Festival, the shop would get lots of walk in customers asking them to ship TVs and sound systems back to Ireland.
Back in 1984 I was fortunate to be invited as a guest of one of my customers (a well-known, local Building Society). We had just started a national roll-out of IBM PCXTs to their branches and had a close relationship with both IT and the business. We met early at their offices and then a coach took us all to Prestbury Park for a fantastic day of racing. The Gold Cup was won by Burrough Hill Lad that year, but what really stuck with me was how the environment created the opportunity to get to know people really well, in a way you could not replicate in a normal business day. And the relationships built, lasted over many years.
The following year, as Colston Computers, we hosted 4 tables of our own, and as many of you know, I have hosted customers, suppliers and partners there almost every year since; with Anix, Morse, M7, Meridian and last year, here at Tech Data. Hosting over 500 people during that time, there are lots of photos of guests enjoying glasses of Guinness or champagne with betting slips in hand!
So, what has this to do with this week’s article subject?
The success of the Tech Data Ecosystem is based on businesses seeing more value through engagement with the programme than continuing alone. And to enable the engagement between partners we need to be able to understand partner value propositions and work out where the connections might be. This starts with an initial discussion, looking at websites and what we find via our IQBlade tool and then, perhaps, through the partner presenting at one of our showcase events.
The real value then comes from helping a partner refine their value proposition so that it appeals to a targeted audience of customers and prospective partners. And finally, running workshops with two (or more) partners to develop a value proposition for a joint solution.
But all this means getting to know the partner and their business really well. Who are their buyers, why do they really buy from the partner and is their stated strategy reflected in their activities and social media presence? Is it consistent across the business; their people and customers?
It is interesting that as part of our role within the IBM ESA (Embedded Solutions Agreement) process, we have to make the case for a partner who wants to add IBM Technology to a solution. The IBM custodians of the programme want to be assured that the partner’s solution is real and not just an attempt to acquire licenses at a lower price. This requires some investigative work on our behalf to show the solution is being marketed and is a significant part of the partners total solution portfolio.
If the solution is not on a website, doesn’t have any supporting collateral and no allocated sellers then this becomes a difficult case to sell. But the IBM team are only looking for the type of reassurance that a customer is looking for. Is this really a solution, are you committed to it, do you have other customers using it? Those who communicate this consistently are easily approved.
And those that don’t should join us for a workshop! It won’t be quite as much fun as a day at the races, but we should help you overcome a few hurdles. And maybe provide a few tips.
Who knows, perhaps we can return to the Festival again next year and catch up on all the success stories. For more information on the Value Proposition Workshops please contact your Business Development Manager or the Ecosystem Team.