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One stick by itself is pretty easy to break.
A bundle of sticks isn’t.
Credit where it’s due — Aesop understood the power of alliances.
I had the chance to interview Todd Dalton, Strategic Cloud Alliance Manager at Equinix, at Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas.
Equinix is all about alliances and alliance professionals, reminding customers that their traditional networks weren't designed for cloud-based workflows.
By leveraging partnerships, Todd helps customers balance out their IT mix and take advantage of the economic models that are offered from the cloud.
In working with alliances, it’s all about trust. “Once you establish that trust, it's speed to trust. Then that really accelerates everything you're trying to do,” Todd said.
The Eighth Layer Is Why You Need Alliances
“We create a centralized control point for our customers to expand and leverage cloud, as well as protect the investments that they already have that need to move directly adjacent to cloud,” Todd explained. Maybe for governance or compliance reasons, a client will need predictable performance — not legacy performance.
Working with partners is one of the best ways to serve customers.
“I'm such a big fan of working with partners and alliances because you have to sell with leverage,” Todd said. “If you're able to approach customers together jointly with solutions, they're very welcoming of that.”
So you’re familiar with the seven-layer OSI model?
There's all the network and the transport and the connection down at the bottom. And then there's session and application and presentation at the top.
“And of course there's layer eight, which is politics, the carbon layer, which is the most complex layer of all,” Todd said.
The eighth layer is the one that alliances help you win.
“Products and programs can be relatively predictable, but people are unpredictable,” Todd said. “One of the big advantages that I have found in working with alliances is to bring real solutions to customers.”
Clearly identify these things to your alliance:
Here’s what you get when you work with us.
Here’s how it accelerates your deals.
Here’s how it benefits your customers.
Here’s how it differentiates your sales campaign.
“If you can do that in a way that's non-intrusive to their business, then you're off and running,” Todd said.
Managing the Complexities of Alliance
When you’re delivering value together, you need to keep things focused on the customer.
“We want to surprise and delight our customers every time with a solution and an offering that they're not hearing from other people,” Todd said.
That really comes through alliances and bringing joint solutions through our channel partners.
Beyond putting the customer first, you need to keep things simple.
“We're really engineering simplicity,” he explained. “Here at Equinix we have our knowledge database, which is filled with blueprint designs that are vertically focused and they're very clear. If it's easy to retell, it's easy to sell.”
When communicating with alliances, make your products and services easy to retell.
If your partners understand you because you keep your points simple and understandable, their people can digest it. Then they have the marching power to go to the market and tell it to your customers.
Demonstrate to your alliances what they get when they engage you. It’s what’s in it for me? factor.
“If you can articulate that to the reps that you're working with — when they understand how you're going to accelerate their sales and remove barriers for them — then you get a really good reaction and it becomes a repeatable process,” Todd said.
Be sure to tell your partners your success stories with other alliances, too. That way your alliances can share those with customers.
“It's about acceleration and market stimulation, right? Getting your marketing teams together again go to market with a simple message, stimulate the market, and let the customers who are looking to run that hybrid and multi-cloud environment self-identify,” Todd said.
He added that it’s important to work with channel partners. “Stay tied together with the channel partners so they can participate, sell their services, and move their business forward with you.”
Getting Started in Alliances
Todd shared his best advice for someone new to the alliance profession — though it’s golden for an experienced alliance professional, too.
“It comes down to personal relationships,” he said. “If they don't know you, they don't owe you.”
Nurture the relationships so that you are the person giving purpose to the alliance.
“As a person who is a seller out there in the market, you need to establish your personal brand,” he added.
Also, you need to establish your personal brand more than once. You can't just show up and expect to do some account mapping.
“You need to actually demonstrate your capability again,” Todd said.
Trust accelerates everything you’re trying to do.
And the relationship builds trust. And trust...accelerates everything you’re trying to do.