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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 26

October 4, 2018

#26: Laura Marx: How You Can Overcome Challenges Together as Professional Partners

Laura Marx is the VP of Global Alliances and Partner Marketing at Polycom where she maintains an important partnership with Microsoft.

How You Can Overcome Challenges Together as Professional Partners

Professional Partnerships are like any other relationship: They’re hard work.

Laura Marx is the VP of Global Alliances and Partner Marketing at Polycom where she maintains an important partnership with Microsoft.

Polycom has been in a partnership with Microsoft for about 15 years.  In most recent years, they’ve focused on integrating voice and video solutions directly into Microsoft platforms.  Polycom has now narrowed its focus to make it all about Teams, Microsoft’s corporate communication platform.

For Polycom, Teams integration was the focus of show.  Polycom offers a variety of robust communication experiences, including top of the line headset integrations, all with Teams.

We caught up with Laura at the Microsoft Inspire Conference to learn about the use cases of the Microsoft/Polycom partnership, the importance of joint solutions, and challenges in the partner space.

Use Cases

For the vast majority of companies looking to update their communication technology, the migration to Teams doesn’t happen overnight.  Companies who are utilizing the Office 365 suite will have Teams in their offering, but they don’t necessarily begin taking advantage of all it can offer immediately. Laura and her team encourage these businesses to start dabbling in Teams by demonstrating to them the latest technology that Polycom can integrate with the platform.

The Polycom team accomplishes this by showing how seamless the experience is to have a video team meeting in a conference room.  The Teams experience that they are already using on their laptops is the same one they can have in their conference room (including contact and calendar integration).  This allows users to become comfortable with Teams on their own and then immediately feel at home when using the same platform for a video conference meeting.

Polycom has the benefit of offering best in class audio and video that serves to heighten the meeting experience.  But they also allow businesses that have existing video solutions to use their hardware on Microsoft platforms.  For example, RealConnect is a service that sits between many different 3rd party devices and the Microsoft Teams platform.  

“We both need our customers to have the best experience they can have end to end.” - Laura Max

Joint Solutions

There is an inherent aligned interest between Microsoft and Polycom.  Microsoft is interested in selling licenses, and licenses with paired devices have a higher usage and attachment rate. Attaching high quality Polycom devices to the Microsoft platform drives strong joint intention for both sides.  

However, this alignment is easier said than done.  It involves jointly wrapping each product and service in the right marketing, aligning both sales organizations, and determining enticing compensation plans to drive sales activity both in the field and with partners.  

It sounds easy to simply align goals, but Laura knows just how difficult it is. This is what she finds so rewarding in her job.  When you take the time to get it right, to really think about what your customers need, it’s a boon for both companies and customers succeed beyond what you could have expected.

“Alliances are amazing when they work and very challenging when they don’t. The best of cases is when you have joint solutions and then you have the joint go-to-market around them to really make them valuable for both parties.” - Laura Max

Partner Marketing Challenges

Microsoft and Polycom partner together because they want to provide a one stop shop for their customers utilizing their communication platforms.  They truly have a joint value proposition.  

“One stop shopping is very important to customers.” - Laura Max

But as mentioned above, there are challenges to this type of relationship.  Laura believes that both sales and marketing have to be available to speak to end users.  She believes that on the manufacturing end things need to be streamlined so that the end user never has to experience any headaches.  She also believes that for every new product and partner, there is a new set of challenges.

She overcomes these challenges by focusing on enabling her various field teams on the front lines.

The field team’s sole job is to drive connections between partners and customer opportunities; they need to build a lot of trust.  This is the real deal maker because trust is the nature of relationships.  Laura knows that every new set of challenges can be overcome through trusting partnerships and developing relationships.

Check out other Alliance Podcasts here.

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