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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 96

April 6, 2020

#96 Jenni Flinders: Your Partners’ Differentiation Matters: How You Can Add Value

Jenni Flinders, VP and Channel Chief at VMWare, joins Chip Rodgers on this Ecosystem Aces episode.

When discussing ecosystems, often the conversation revolves around what your partners can do for you.

Yet, the conversation is incomplete without discussing your responsibility in the ecosystem. 

If you want a thriving partner ecosystem, you need to ask yourself: How am I adding value to my partners?

Today’s guest Jenni Flinders, VP and Channel Chief at VMWare, says a great way to add value is to analyze how you can help your partners differentiate. 

We covered a lot of ground today, including:

  • Why you should target partner differentiation 
  • Why simple questions provide powerful solutions
  • How enablement holds an ecosystem together

Let’s take a detailed look at Jenni’s key points.

Target partner differentiation to add value

We all know how important it is to have your products and services differentiated in the market — a successful organization, almost by definition, is one which has successfully differentiated their offerings to attract customers. 

So, when looking to add value to the partners within your ecosystem, one of the optimal ways to approach this is to take a holistic look at how they have successfully differentiated. 

Once you’ve done that, you can find better ways for them to continue to excel in their market.

Of course, before even forming a partnership, you need to determine how relevant their products are in the first place for you to help them differentiate themselves in the market.

Still, the partners in your ecosystem are all on a shared journey. Which is why it’s so important you continue to obtain feedback and validation along the way. 

Just as important is the need to remain agile in your approach to partnerships. The partners in your ecosystem are all subject to the rapid pace of change in today’s market. Always be dynamic and adapt. 

And setting up open and collaborative partnerships is absolutely vital.

It never hurts to ask

Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship and it’s the foundation of a healthy ecosystem.

Successful communication is how you build trust within your ecosystem — and trust is the glue holding a successful ecosystem together. 

And communication is a two-way street. 

You need to make sure you are keeping your partners up to date with the intelligence you have and keeping them apprised of decisions that may impact them, but you also need to listen to what they’re telling you. 

Listening is how you gain insights from your partners, which often help you. The myriad business models and strategies across the market landscape mean there is a lot to learn from your partners. 

But listening is also how you learn how to better help them.

If you are having any trouble finding new and better ways to add value to your partners, why not ask? They’ll certainly let you know. 

Get out there and ask them what matters to them. Ask what their differentiators are. Ask them how you can add value.

Enable your ecosystem

Closely related to open communication, enablement is one of the best ways you can add value for your partners, but it’s also what keeps the lines of communication open.

Whether from a technical standpoint or a sales toolset, enabling your partners and providing the right level of readiness is always a good investment. 

So, find out how they can differentiate themselves and invest in the right enablement tools to really help your partners build competency around that capability. 

Ultimately, any approach your organization can take in order to lean into bettering its partners incentivizes them to reciprocate. 

Your ecosystem is maintained through the mutual support of its partners. 

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Ecosystem Aces Podcast, or visit our dedicated Ecosystem Aces page.

To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about partners, he can be reached by: