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You’ve heard endless ways to improve your customer experience…But how do you improve your alliance partner’s experience?
Michael Kenney is the Vice President of Strategy & Corporate Development-Cloud at Ingram Micro where he is incredibly focused on his “why.” Part of why he goes to work everyday is to provide Ingram Micro’s partners with a truly excellent partnership experience.
“I solve for ‘why’ and ‘what’ and we let the individual business units solve for how” - Michael Kenney
Michael believes that the “why” behind your job is what gets people to buy into what you and your company are doing. Michael helps other companies solve for their “why” everyday. Whether it’s helping ISVs reach into reseller communities and grow their base, or helping giant resellers grow their base and connections to end users, there is purpose behind his job.
“Solving for ‘why’ is such an important piece of everybody’s mission statement.” - Michael Kenney
We caught up with Michael at the Microsoft Inspire Conference to talk about Ingram Micro’s “why”, how to build a phenomenal partner experience, and the future of his company.
At Ingram Micro, the whole team spends a lot of time thinking about why they’re doing what they’re doing. They believe that if you can’t boil your “why” down to just a few sentences, you have some work to do. They’re focused on bringing about opportunity in the cloud ecosystem to those who want to participate.
As the largest distributor of this type of tech in the world, their aim is to extend this ecosystem and bring solutions to more companies. They want to help people participate in the cloud economy because that is where the future is headed.
Building Phenomenal Partner Experience
Michael is new to Ingram Micro, and he has learned a lot in the past that has challenged his own beliefs regarding partnerships. He’s seen teams in the past that did not understand what it meant to mutually solve problems so that both sides could be successful.
This often meant one side overexerted their leverage in the relationship. This led to relationship problems between partners that sometimes were past the point of no return. In order to solve for these issues, Michael has developed 4 ways to build better partner experiences.
Be worthy of trust. In the alliances space, if you mess up once, the whole relationship can be in jeopardy because you can’t simply move on from the relationship like you can often do when it comes to sales.
Solve for “we” not “I.” Lose the leverage. If you feel as though you have leverage over a partner, don’t flaunt this. It will only set you both up for failure.
Sweat the details. Too many partners go to market without a crystal clear operational process.
Bring everyone a slice of Apple Pie. You want your customers, partners, and resellers to be happy. If you become a delightful partner and bring them what Michael calls your “Apple Pie” (your best attitude and 100% effort) in everything you do, people will be happy to work with you.
“Solve for ‘we’ not ‘I.’” - Michael Kenney
These best practices with partners ultimately set you up for withstanding any storm that can come your way. You’d never be able to overcome unforeseen issues without these principles.
In today’s alliance space, many companies are taking a hard look at their data. Who’s connecting with your product? Who’s creating better partner experiences than you are? How do you embrace challenges together with your partners?
Modern alliances are not always tied to end revenue streams, and Ingram Micro is learning how to pivot their position to go after the data. They know the “empty chair” in the boardroom is the voice of the customer, so their pursuing customer and partner feedback data to constantly improve their operations.
Michael likes to use the Hubble Telescope as an comparison for where his company is going. This telescope has allowed scientists to discover things they never knew before. By looking more deeply into space and taking closer looks at planets, more and more information can be gained that was previously unknowable.
In many ways, Michael’s company is moving in this direction. They’re pivoting towards defining new boundaries in software by discovering new players on the scene (much like new planets discovered with the Hubble Telescope).
Their next step is figuring out who the next big new players are in this space and seeing if they can be close to their growth. They’re using a very customer centric approach to establishing new relationships and want to be involved at an earlier stage.