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In a global world, with a global staff, and a global product, it can be tough to keep yourself grounded in what matters to EACH partner, can’t it?
You can’t operate in a one-size-fits-all mentality when you’re operating a partner ecosystem across multiple countries, cultures, time-zones, and even continents.
This can be particularly challenging when you’re a cloud company. Because you don’t actually have a “product” in the traditional sense of the word.
So how do you operate in the partner ecosystem as a “cloud-only” company?
We sat down recently with Micheal McCollough, who is the Global Vice President of Channels & Alliances at Akamai. He was kind enough to be a guest on the Ecosystem Aces podcast and talked all about how being a cloud company has impacted the way they interact with partners, leading partners in different regions of the world, and some of the things that have worked well for them as an organization.
For most tech companies, you’re selling a product. You’re selling a piece of software or hardware and you’re trying to get your customer, or trying to get your partner to get a customer, to buy your product.
But Akamai is a strict cloud company. This means not only do they not have any hardware to sell their customers, but they also don’t even have any software to sell. None of the products that Akamai sells sit on-premises at a customer’s location.
So how does Akamai operate their partner ecosystem, seeing as how there’s no “product” perse?
By knowing who they’re selling to.
Their goal is simple. They want to minimize the number of services needed to get a customer on to their platform and make it as frictionless and as simple as possible. There’s no hardware or software.
The customer isn’t looking to make a significant investment, and as such, there’s no inventory to work with. So in a way, the services team is more of a consultant than a sales organization.
Being a Global Company
How do you manage a partner ecosystem that spans continents?
For Micheal, the answer lies in the places he’s lived. He’s spent a significant amount of time living in Singapore, Paris, and Cameroon, and has learned a lot about how to do business in a way that allows you to honor the culture while maintaining a baseline of ethics and professionalism that is uncompromising.
Doing business in China and Vietnam is very different than doing business in the United States, which is very different than doing business in Sweden.
When you really get to understand a culture and understand the pain points that your organization is helping to solve day in and day out, it creates a very unique balance that will do wonders for your company.
Ask Yourself Questions
According to Micheal, if you can ask yourself these 2 simple questions, you’ll be able to provide a level of clarity and focus to your ecosystem that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
1. Why is it better for a customer to work with this partner than directly with me?
What do they gain? How will they be better off having interacted with one of our global partners than if they purchased or coordinated directly with us?
2. How are we aligning with partners?
Ask yourself what role you want your partners to play. Do they know that? Do they know exactly what’s expected of them and what role they’re playing in your Go-To-Market and in your ecosystem?
We went so much deeper into our conversation with Micheal, so be sure to check out the entire interview.