Making A Winner: 7 Traits of Successful Partners

Last week was an amazing week. We watched 25 as Intel partners were honored for their outstanding achievements, innovation and excellence.

As I celebrated the partners and projects that won awards (including many of my customers), I started to notice a few common themes coming up again and again as the presenters highlighted the reasons these companies were selected by the judges to win this year’s award.

Innovation is a given, but I noticed that companies winning awards last night had taken steps to adapt to a selling environment that has shifted. They realized that our customers are looking for partners who are more technical and solution centric and have been proactive in making the shift to their business model to accommodate our customers’ changing needs.

While the memories are fresh, I wanted to share a few more of the themes I saw emerging from last night’s award winners.

1. It doesn’t happen overnight: If we look at the achievements of the partners crossing the stage last night, you have to look back 24 to 36 months to see where it all started. They made the decision to invest in adapting their selling model, their training model and their hiring process to become more technical and more solution focused. That foresight and action to make the shift positioned them for success today.

2. Prioritizing Upskilling: The partners that are outpacing the competition and winning more business have ramped up their investment in training to equip their staff with the skills needed to succeed in a solution selling environment. The guys who are holding on to a legacy business model and selling approaches aren’t not keeping up with the market and are falling behind. (And, I’ve said before we need to futureproof our skills to remain relevant).

3. Solutions not Silos: The days of sending customers to different people for sales, marketing, and technical input are over. Account teams need a perfect blend of sales, technical expertise, solution enablement and marketing. It’s a bit of a holy grail but important to customers who are looking for a business partners and trusted advisor. They don’t want to navigate our internal structures to get their solution online.

4. New Players = New Partners: With AI, IoT, advanced analytics and other new technologies coming to bear, new players are arriving on the scene (with cool logos and even cooler names). They have a very important role to play the ecosystem of tomorrow and leading partners know who they are, what their skills are and how to bring together the right people to the table so we can deliver the solutions our customers need.

5. Old Tech & New Tech: Partners have to straddle two distinct worlds – you need one foot in old tech and one foot in new tech so you can help your customers make their own transitions effectively. Being able to blend the old and the new to deliver a cohesive strategy for partners is a recipe for success.

6. Focus on Flexibility. The customer experience is personal, and sometimes that means throwing out the rulebook. It might mean adapting a tried and true program because you know a different approach will get you to the result you want. Start at the finish line with what you’re trying to achieve and work your way back to the tactics – you might find being flexible on the approach could yield the best results.

7. They’ve done the hard work: Transitioning a business model to respond to new market conditions (and the solution selling model) is super tough. I think we need to recognize and acknowledge how hard it really is, but the companies who do the hard work will come out on top.

An Award-Winning Future

Companies with the foresight to invest in training and refining their business models towards a future-facing, solution-centric selling strategy are winning more than they are losing. We must give credit to the executive leadership and the sales leadership of these companies for making the investment to transform their business.

Taking a page from our Partner of the Year winners, doing the hard work will pay off – not only with bragging rights now that you’ve won, but with bottom line results, increased sales, tighter customer relationship and a view to the future that’s flexible to adapt to ever changing market forces.

Congratulations to all our winners last night. I’m proud to work with industry leaders like you. #iamintel