You have in IBM a partner with an ambition and resources that your competitors can only dream about - trouble is that it has been and can be difficult to make your relationship really pay. Here are 6 paths to enlightenment that will unlock much treasure for everyone:
- Find deals and opportunities that IBM doesn’t know about
The only real value you can add as an IBM Business Partner (BP) is to take responsibility for identifying opportunities for IBM product that the local IBM selling teams didn’t know about. That means, in most cases, having a value that differentiates you from other BPs in your geography or marketplace. It means having an independent marketing capability – that does not rely on leads from IBM. You need skills to support your sales both technically and commercially.
- Be famous for something
Having tried it both ways over the past 25 years, IBM have always responded much more positively to BPs that focus on a particular solution or area. Unless you are one of the large BPs, attempting to cover a large selection of their hardware, software or services portfolio will only lead to frustration on both parts. There are just too many IBMers to talk to and work with for you to sound or be believable. Achieving and communicating a crisp, refreshing and realistic proposition that makes a difference to one brand or group will be welcomed.
Building a repeatable sales cycle means that you will win support from IBM because they will see your success and understand it. It will be from this moment that having IBM's recognition and support will help accelerate your success.
- IBM wants you to succeed
Generally speaking, IBM wants you to succeed and have a better understanding and more resources (especially if you include their distribution tier) at their disposal than almost any other manufacturer/vendor. They have arguably more experience in building successful marketing & sales channels than anyone else I know. They maybe big and difficult to understand sometimes but be patient; if you keep the objective of finding opportunities they didn’t/don’t know about close to everything you do and say, I promise it will pay a dividend.
- Don’t try and sell IBM products rely on your value to do that
Communicating your value to your target audience will ultimately expose you to the very real danger of receiving purchase orders for IBM products from your prospects – without having to force the product sale too early or too much. Identify where you might have opportunities for IBM product sales early and let the local teams know about them. Help them with their reporting. This in my experience doesn’t need to be painful. It has been from time to time but how can you expect their help if you don’t share.
- Introduce a non-IBM partner to your offering
Showing IBM that your interaction in the marketplace can yield orders for non-IBM products as well, that are in some way part of an overall argument for organisations to invest in you, will demonstrate that by working more closely with you could help build new markets and hence sell more, at higher margins. It will keep you at the center of any engagement and in the memory of the planners and marketers at IBM. This marriage broking is usually provided by distributors or by IBM themselves. Turning this on its head is very powerful and will be good for your business.
What are your experiences of working with a big vendor partner?