Pivotal was born as a spin-off from VMware and EMC. Currently, they have 3 parts of their company:
Labs: where they teach people how to develop software
The Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform: open core software
A suite of data tools
When they were founded, they weren't concerned about having a reseller program or a route to market, because they could just sell through EMC or VMware; as they’ve expanded, they’ve focused on enablement and consumption, not selling. They market enablement to their SI partners, who drive consumption to customers.
While Pivotal’s particular approach/business model may be unique, their partner creativity shouldn’t be. The takeaway for all alliances professionals is to be willing to explore a less-than-obvious joint value proposition.
A 3-week training program partners want to explore
Knowing that SI adoption of their platform is foundational to their success, Pivotal has a partner portal that gives access to NFR software, where participants can self-enable to a certain degree. But, they went further with partner enablement: They created a 3-week training program that helps developers learn the ins and outs of their platform.
Initially, Andrew was concerned that the training program would be too much of an investment, considering its 3-week length. So, he suggested only partners who already had customer demand for Pivotal’s platform make the investment.
1) Again, we see that by driving awareness and enablement on their platform, they are indirectly driving the consumption of their product.
2) By being honest with their partners about the investment in their training program, they’ve seen tremendous success.
Pivotal’s unique go-to-market strategy paid off
2 pieces of information point to the success of Pivotal’s consumption & enablement approach:
An example of partner engagement happened recently when a partner came to Andrew asking for more training and understanding how to market Pivotal. This partner was so eager to learn because 3 of their 5 largest customers had named Pivotal the go-forward global platform. So, this partner wanted “in.”
(When you have an SI partner coming to you for education on how to market your platform, that’s a massive win.)
How do you measure success within alliances
Measuring success in alliances can be difficult, especially within Pivotal’s unique consumption-first methodology.
But, they’ve added in a little creativity and deployed a variety of unique measurement methods, such as determining how much consumption it would drive to have 1 consultant working for 1 week with the platform.
From there, they can determine how many consultants a partner had for how long who were trained on the platform and miulti[ly accordingly.
Small boutique partners vs larger SI partners
Lastly, Andrew wanted to give some advice on the differences of working with partners, since he’s managed alliances with SI partners of all sizes.
To him, there are a variety of differences when working with small boutique-type SI partners, versus larger ones. (Andrew defined “small SI partners” as an outfit with less than 2,000 developers.)
Rigid joint selling: With larger partners, they consistently want to sell on their own. Because of their size and experience, they usually believe “we’ve got this.”
Joint strategy adoption: Larger integrators, once convinced of the value of your platform, have more people to throw on a project.
Potential disadvantage of a larger integrator: Even if your platform drives a good amount of business, a larger integrator may not notice the uptick, as it gets buried in the percentages. So, there's often a lot more convincing and "selling" to a larger IS that you have to do.
Rapid adoption: With only 1 or 2 successful deal with a smaller SI partner, the VP of Sales will notice, and immediately respond, deepening the alliance on a more rapid basis.
Flexible joint selling: With smaller SI partners, there's much more collaboration, and they're more willing to work with you when it comes to the joint selling strategy.