Charles Whitten is an Alliance Manager at Citrix where he sees the main challenge of his role as aligning sales, marketing, and operations across multiple organizations. Charles sees what a struggle that can all be and just how different some organizations are.
Citrix’s offering is fully complementary to Microsoft’s and although they are different they really serve to strengthen each other in the market. They build solutions on top of each other to go to the market together and bring the best solutions to customers, and some of their differences help them do just that.
In this episode of Alliance Aces, we spoke with Charles at Microsoft Inspire about joint solutions, facing your differences, and how to cover different business verticals and segments.
Charles and his team are mainly focusing on cloud solutions with many traditional solutions now making their way to the cloud. At the Inspire Conference, Citrix just released new infrastructure they were working on to work in the Azure environment.
This is a new solution that was just revealed, but it is already ready to sell. From platforms on the device to the cloud infrastructure itself, this is a secure place to work, and it is an example of Microsoft and Citrix working “better together.”
Facing Your Differences
The most difficult part of being an alliance professional is knowing both your company and your partner’s inside and out. You need to know how people are compensated, how the different politics operate, and most importantly you also must know the key differences between your organizations. This is often the basis of the relationship because if you know the differences, you can know what can go wrong.
The difficulty comes into play when you have to deal with things that go wrong. These issues can lead to tension and mismanaged expectations. This is where an Alliance Manager comes in.
Many of these issues can be avoided if you and your alliance partner are open and honest with each other with a clear go to market plan. There are some spots that you will not be totally in agreement because a situation in which there are no arguments is not based on real-life expectations.
Not everyone will agree. You will hit road bumps. You will go left, and your partner will go right sometimes when it comes to a decision, but ultimately let your customer decide.
Your customer is your north star because nobody owns the customer and they ultimately have the most influence on your business.
Understanding the Organizational Matrix
Sometimes in a matrix organization, it’s difficult for salespeople who are always on the road and dealing with their own challenges to understand a separate organization. But it’s the job of an Alliance Manager to help people understand each other; to be more product, account, and people-centric.
Charles helps his team know who does what in each organization and who to reach out to. Working for large enterprise has helped him understand the complexity of matrix organizations.
A large degree of trust and a strong relationship exists between Microsoft and Citrix, and it’s important to maintain that. Trust is built up slowly, and if you are too rough in a relationship, you can break it down. As Charles says, you have to cherish it.
Citrix covers all verticals and various different segments based on industry and company size. Specifically, he has seen challenges between different segments; the larger the deal size, the more politics and risk to be taken into account.
With these large accounts, the deal size can be very big and can be a lot at stake, so often those projects move along quite slowly. Smaller deals, on the other hand, have a lot faster turnaround.
By definition, in larger companies, the decision-making process is more complex. There’s not just one person on the other side saying yes or no. But Charles firmly believes that the better you know yourself, your partners, and the differences between each other, the better chance you have to land the larger, more complex deals.
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