Partnering by numbers: How Blue Chip works to understand their partners and maximize collaborative opportunities
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Partner-to-partner collaboration can be a powerful method for organizations looking to expand to new markets, develop their customer base, and innovate with revolutionary technologies.
According to a report by Gartner entitled The 2017 CIO Agenda: Seize the Digital Ecosystem Opportunity, “Top-performing organizations have, on average, 78 partners in their digital ecosystems, up from 27 partners two years ago. These organizations expect to double the number of partners to 143 in the next 2 years.”
Collaboration offers partners the chance to learn best practices from one another and to leverage rare and valuable skillsets from across multiple organizations.
Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Global Partner Channels and Programs at Microsoft recently said, “How you define your business, and who you choose to partner with, must evolve as more and more companies embrace digital transformation. Defining your unique core is critical to finding truly complementary partnerships, so look inward to figure out your secret sauce. Remember that it’s not about becoming a different partner – it’s about doing things differently. Blue Chip gets that and is a partner leading by example”
For Cleveland-based Blue Chip, partnering is in their DNA. They work closely with the partners in their channel to extend the value of their services and close challenging deals together.
Blue Chip’s engineers are trained to work with their partners’ account managers to help close deals, augment staff, implement services, and drive increased consumption.
Partnering by the numbers
Blue Chip maintains its own partner channel and espouses a practical, numbers-based approach to partnering. Blue Chip thinks deeply about their partners’ priorities and works to understand how individual account managers are measured. This understanding enables Blue Chip to collaborate successfully and pinpoint what drives the individuals who comprise the partner organizations with whom they work.
“For years, our strategy when working with partners has been very simple. First, they need to be aware that we exist and they need to be educated as to the kind of expertise we bring to the table. Second, we need to know what makes them money, and determine if we can be instrumental in helping them hit their numbers,” said Brian Bradley, Senior Vice President of Advisory Services at Blue Chip, regarding their approach to partnering.
To accomplish this, Blue Chip involves itself heavily at partner events, including Microsoft’s WPC (now Microsoft Inspire), and publishes case studies and customer success stories across their digital platforms.
Upon establishing a reputation with a partner, Blue Chip sifts through the opportunities they receive, looking for what Bradley refers to as “red-zone deals” – deals that are far enough along where Blue Chip can come in and provide the expertise necessary to help their partner close the deal.
Investing in their people
Blue Chip’s success hinges on their consultants’ technical expertise and their ability to add value in the pre-sales and sales cycle for their partners; Blue Chip has their own engineers that act as consultants alongside the account managers who comprise their channel.
“We pride ourselves on the ongoing training and development of our key resources and our resources take pride in educating one another,” said Bradley. “Blue Chip is a consultancy made up of full-time employees, so our partners get the broad knowledge of the firm in addition to the specific knowledge of the resources on their project. That is why we ask our partners to bring us in to solve their clients’ toughest technology problems.”
By focusing exclusively on Microsoft technologies, Blue Chip maintains a deep level of expertise regarding the products they sell, service and support, keeping up with the updates and features Microsoft rolls out on a regular basis.
“Our War Room sessions offer an opportunity for our resources to share best practices with one another,” said Bradley. “With our two MVPs on staff, we take full advantage of our early access to the newest Microsoft products and features.”
Beyond internal training, Blue Chip maintains a specific hiring profile they use to staff their engagements with the right resources – people with extensive, up-to-date technical knowledge and a consultative mindset.
“It is important that our technical resources know Microsoft inside and out and come to our clients with an understanding of how technology can be used as part of a business solution rather than simply selling features,” said Bradley.
Selling solutions, not features
Blue Chip’s consultants are trained to assist their partners at any stage of a deal, helping with implementations as well as driving deals to the finish line. Therefore, Blue Chip’s consultants are not only trained to be experts with the Microsoft products they work with, but are also trained to speak to how those products can be implemented to drive business outcomes.