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Session 2: Building a partnership plan


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To build any business partnership, you need to do your homework! Building a partnership has many rewards, but the process does take a clear strategy and dedicated effort. Join Diana Kreklow and Gail Mercer-McKay to learn about the elements you should include in your partnership plan and the steps you need to take to put it in motion.

After you view this webinar, you'll understand the key elements a partnership plan should include and how to implement them to scale with your company's growth. Downloadable resources will help you take action right away.

Do you have questions about the case for partnership? Join Diana and Gail live in the comments section for Q&A on Thursday, April 17 from 10am-11am, Pacific time (UTC -8:00)


 Download the companion Guide: Building a Partnership Plan


About the presenters

Diana Kreklow
Enthusiastic and insightful, Diana cut her business teeth in sales and sales management at some of the world's best organizations including Microsoft, IBM, Attachmate and Computer Associates. Her responsibilities included the development and management of partnership strategies, business and solutions development, marketing innovation and performance reporting.  She enjoys working collaboratively with virtual teams, managing complex multi-partner engagements and developing partner and channel programs that deliver results.

Able to skillfully navigate the challenges facing both smaller partners right through to some of the largest ISV's, she has successfully built programs that include alignment with market leaders such as Microsoft, IBM Global Services, Accenture, and McKinsey Consulting. Her industry experience includes Financial Services, Distribution, Healthcare, Public Sector and Manufacturing.

Gail Mercer-MacKay
With over twenty-five years' experience, Gail Mercer-MacKay works as a leader in the Microsoft ecosystem helping partners create compelling marketing communications stories. Prior to founding Mercer-MacKay over seven years ago, Gail was VP Sales and Marketing for an ISV, taking the organization from start-up to a multi-million dollar software company with clients across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Gail serves as a Board Member at both the Canadian and International level of IAMCP – International Association of Microsoft Channel Partner and is a Business Advisor at the Research Innovation Center in Mississauga where she guides entrepreneurs looking to start and grow their business. She is the recipient of two awards for community leadership for her role as founder and director of "A Woman's Write", a program for patients suffering from mental health disorders at St. Joseph's Hospital.


Follow the Discussion

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    Good Morning/Good Afternoon everyone.

    For the next hour I will be online taking any questions you might have. Feel free to post a question.

  • Thanks for the session.  Where is the ISV Sale Acceleration Kit you mentioned?


  • What are the benefits you have seen when a Partner takes the time to build a Channel Plan?

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    We will get the posted in just a minute. Our guest joining us today is Theresa O'Neill who has run marketing for a number of ISV's. She helped pull a lot of the deliverables together for these sessions and she is also standing by for questions and is going to post that link.


  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    @KarenB:There are a number of benefits Karen - thanks for asking that. The big one of course is getting clarity about what your value is and who you need to work with to achieve mutually supported objectives.

    I think one of the examples we mention is how a very small ISV inked a channel deal with a large SI who had field sales representation in hospitals right across Canada. It was impressive but this ISV built a plan that covered, sales, technical and support enablement. He was clearly prepared to play with the big boys. In this example, he never met with Microsoft but he understood their road map and vision and had it covered in his strategy. 

    By aligning his product roadmap to the MS vision and by then aligning it to the goals of the SI, he was able to get his product included in their field sales tool kit.

    Result? 3 hospitals signed in less than 12 months. All of it cloud-hosted using Windows and Windows 8 devices. I also learned yesterday that they just won a big deal in Europe but that was another partner and another partner strategy - same model though -he has it working around the world and he hasn't had to add any staff.

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    For anyone online - I am curious - have you tried building out a partner channel plan and has it worked for you or do you find it difficult to execute on?

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller


    You can find the Sales Acceleration Kit here www.microsoftplatformready.com/AzureGTM/Welcome.aspx

  • @JleeAtKEMP You can find the Sales Acceleration Kit here 


  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    Hey Theresa - thanks for finding that link and sending it to me. You have a ton of experience building out marketing plans - what in your mind are some of the best and worst things you have done and how would you change going forward?


  • @gailmercermac: I think the key is focus. We marketers have LOTS of great ideas, but we all have limited bandwidth. I like to work with my counterpart at partners and find a single area that excites the sales force. Start with your first joint win and go from there. It's key to remember you're marketing not only to the end customers but also to the field organization of your partner. You need to demonstrate your value to both. This strategy can work for any tactic-- webinar, event, advertising.

  • Often a first joint marketing tactic may be participating in an industry event together. It's a good way to create the basic Bill of Materials for marketing-- a joint demo, joint value proposition, marketing collateral, etc. It gives the teams a chance to work together and engage with customers. It's also relatively low cost.

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    @TheresaONeil:Great point. I am a perfect example of "shiny object syndrome". By the way, while I've got you, I want to shout at a BIG THANKS for pulling together all the deliverables that the partners can download as a part of this series.

    You landed some big partnerships when you were running marketing for InRule - I think that was how I first met you - you did a pretty big deal with a Canadian partner who won a WPC Award for the work you did together.

    How important are winning awards as an ISV - how have you leveraged award wins to build your brand or credibility?


  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    @TheresaONeil:Re your industry event idea - I agree. It keeps a really tight focus and narrows your audience search.

    Targeting a small group of ideal attendees is usually much better than a general blast, simply trying to fill seats

  • Any kind of external recognition is an endorsement-- a way to say "hey, it's just not us who think we're great"! I encourage partners to submit themselves for awards-- I know you've helped some companies win. I've not only submitted awards nominations before, I've also make sure to highlight the awards that our partners win. Affinity Systems in Canada and Veripark in the Middle East are both partners who have won awards. We take advantage of the "halo effect." And our partners appreciate the shout-out. It's a win-win, which is the goal of any partner program.

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    I'm glad you said that. There are lots of opportunities for partners to get some great recognition. Microsoft Awards are really tough to win - for example, at the world level there are about 3,000 entries against 60 categories.

    But there are other awards too. Local Chamber of Commerce, magazines, industries often sponsor award programs - it is good to check them out online


  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    Now that you've left InRule Theresa, are you still working with partners? What is your new business all about?

  • @gailmercermac: My company Artha Communications focuses on helping ISVs grow through business planning, marketing, and partner programs. InRule Technology, a Gold Certified Microsoft ISV Partner, is happily one of my clients. I'm advising them right now on a partner newsletter, which is a great way to keep in front of your partners. Spoiler alert: there is a great newsletter formula and example in Session 5 of this series. 

    My business also provides meditation workshops for companies. After 25 years in the software business, Meditation really helps our focus, creativity, and communications-- all key for the software business!

  • We have built partner plan, got many awards and have over 1000+ partners already.  What we found is that our existing partners are not incline to work on Azure with the perceived lack of rebates from MS.  How do we find those channel partners who are willing to push Azure?


  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    Congratulations Theresa - let me be one of the first to give you an endorsement for amazing work. You were a huge help on this series.

    Regarding the newsletter, we just learned yesterday that Microsoft is planning on including our workshop at WPC designed to teach ISVs how to pull together a newsletter for those ISVs who have (almost) no money, time or resources.

    I think the formula and template will work for any size of ISV and provides a terrific opportunity to craft a method that enables consistent communications out to market.

    For those partners planning to attend WPC in Washington in July, it will be a great break-out with a tactical deliverable to leave with.


  • We also have on premise offerings and great value props to speed up deployment and lower total cost of ownership with Exchange and Lync.  What MS could help to bridge connections with the SI partners in these areas?

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    @JleeAtKEMP: Great question and a great example of where you want to get Microsoft involved. If you have the attention of over 1,000 channel partners who are struggling to understand the Azure value proposition then it is something you can work on with the MSFT Azure team together.

    If you are not well connected with Microsoft or your local Azure team, try reaching out to IAMCP to help make the connections for you. www.iamcp.org  

    It is all about money and pain. If your Azure solution is not solving the pain of your channel, driving clear profits to them, then you might need to re-think your approach.

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    @JleeAtKEMP: Again, you believe you have a strong value proposition that would speed up deployment and lower cost for Exchange and Lync. So you need to understand who is going to care about that the most.

    1. Identify the partners who are in that space and looking for greater differentiators (try using PinPoint and IAMCP meetings to network)
    2. Aligning to partners in specific verticals who can go after new clients in a specific space
    3. Finding partners - either through IAMCP or through your local Microsoft office if they have teams who are score-carded on those products
    4. If you want to build a new channel because your existing channel is not aligned correctly, then WPC is the place to do it. In four days you can have dozens of meetings with people who are looking for new solutions.

    Hope this helps - reach out if you have further questions  gail@mercermackay.com

  • Gail Mercer-MacKaygailmercerm​ac Passionate story-teller

    Thanks everyone - we are signing off now but will be monitoring for further questions.

    We will also be online next week for session 3 and are featuring a terrific guest - Corinne Sharp who used to run the partner channel for Microsoft Canada and who is now running her own business will be sharing her ideas along with the biggest mistakes ISVs make when they try to build a channel.

    Have a terrific day.


  • @gailmercermac:I will try to contact IAMCP for help.  One thing I would like to clarify.  Our partners like our solutions.  We give similar rebate for our channels regardless it is on-premise or cloud.  Microsoft gives significant rebate for selling Windows Servers on premise but no rebate on Azure.  Also, the effort to learn and work on Azure is more, they just don't see good ROI for them.  Hence our Azure based solution is not getting the attention from our partners. 

  • Paul PattersonCitizen39 People Powered Productivity

    What a fantastic series. Thanks so much! The content is exactly what I am looking for and I am really looking forward to the next set of sessions. 

    IAMCP does not have a chapter in Edmonton, although I am working on establishing one. If you can reach out to other partners you know of in the Edmonton region, who are interested in working together on establishing a local IAMCP chapter, let them know that they can contact me at Paul.Patterson@Citizen39.com 


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