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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 33

January 10, 2019

#33 Graham Williams: How to Sell Solutions over Hardware

Graham Williams is the Strategic Alliances Director at Jabra where his recently formed team is tasked with adding new channels to the market for the company.

Graham Williams is the Strategic Alliances Director at Jabra where his recently formed team is tasked with adding new channels to the market for the company.  Graham often says that his team is offering solutions rather than just hardware, and this brings their value proposition to the next level.

The way that Jabra is structured, sales typically works with directly with channel partners and sometimes even with end users.  Microsoft and Cisco are Jabra’s two primary large partnerships, but they are looking to add more channels for the future.  

Once a deal has been established, Graham and his team don’t get involved with the details, their Account Managers deal with that.  But Graham and his team operate a few levels higher and focus on adding incremental value to strategic relationships.

We caught up with Graham to talk about the sales channel options, the details of combining forces with other companies, and how different partners come together for a joint go-to-market plan.

Channels explored

As mentioned, Microsoft is a key relationship for Jabra.  Jabra is currently working with Microsoft reps to expand existing relationships, and there are plenty of ways to do that because there are thousands of reps.  As many companies are migrating to Microsoft

Teams there is a big opportunity to expand the work within current channels.  

But Graham and his team are also investigating incremental channels in the voice sector.  There are a lot of different solutions available from Jabra for everything from call centers to traditional offices to remote employees.  

Jabra really believes their value proposition is to provide a great end user experience.  Consumers can sometimes blame the software when the hardware is bad, so Jabra wants to make sure all of their hardware is top notch.

Combining Forces

Modern alliances are not simple.  The engineering and SDK requirements are challenging to integrate let alone sales and marketing.  Graham’s team does a lot of work with Jabra’s R&D department, but they also work externally with their alliance partners to develop research.  

It’s always a challenge when both teams on a partnership are fighting for resources.  It’s critical to look for market potential and opportunity whenever possible to make a case for investment.  

Graham believes that integrating software and hardware together is a more compelling sell, but that also makes it more complex on the back end.  This creates what Graham calls the “It’s not me, it’s you” potential for passing blame.  For example, if you look at the Samsung/At&T relationship, people can blame one side for the other’s problem.  

But the days of two separate support calls are coming to an end. It is now expected that whoever fronts the device to the customer will work together with the other partner to figure it out on the backend.  This is where the role of being a trusted advisor is important between partners.  

Many alliances look good on paper, but if not executed in the trenches, they will fail.  On vendor websites you’ll often see partner names, but how many of those partnerships are active?  

Joint Solution Process

In terms of implementing the joint solutions process, Graham knows internal resources can be the biggest battle to secure. But it’s also always tough to quantify opportunities. If you can establish a rhythm in identifying these opportunities you can then move to the phase of pulling in experts from both sides to work on your joint go to market strategy.  This is when the real work starts on both sides: when they are putting their heads together on a joint go to market solution.

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