Hello partners,
I don’t know about you but I thought WPC 2015 was the best one yet. The energy and excitement was off the charts. I walked away from the event feeling as though the Microsoft partner ecosystem is transforming quickly and is looking for ways to innovate and capture share aggressively.  Most exciting to me was the full house (850+ partner attendees) we had at the Partner Profitability Deep Dive Pre-Day on Sunday. If you missed the sessions, I would welcome you to view them on demand here (filter on “Partner profitability” on the right side of the page).
In my session Learn What Successful Cloud Partners Know about Building a Profitable Cloud Business I teed up four key pillars of building an optimized cloud strategy which include:
  1. Creating Scale
  2. Developing Focus
  3. Increasing Value
  4. Creating Stickiness
I discussed these four key pillars in my many conversations with partners on the show floor, in one-on-one Connect meetings, and in the panel discussions. I am going to drill in on the first pillar, Creating Scale, in this blog and follow up with the other three pillars in future blogs.
I heard a lot of amazing insights as well as a couple of surprises when I asked partners how they are Creating Scale in their business. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know I’m a fan of lists, so here goes:
Top 8 ways partners are CREATING SCALE within their cloud businesses:
  1. Going BIG with digital marketing and social: We heard a lot about marketing in the #winningloadsofnewcloudcustomers session. In fact, we heard that top cloud partners are investing up to 10% of their revenues into marketing. Why are they doing this? In order to make a successful transition from a traditional partner model to a cloud-optimized model driving recurring revenue, it is imperative that partners ramp up their lead generation efforts substantially. Most are doing so by investing big on digital marketing, social media, thought leadership, and content development and marketing automation.

  2. Building a strong repeatable sales engine/methodology: Successful partners often have a repeatable engine with an established methodology to progress leads to closure.

  3. Hiring less expensive, more junior sales and technical folks: In an effort to optimize profitability, partners are finding that they can increase scale by hiring more junior sales and technical folks and training them on their processes. Lee Harper, CEO of PC Media, shared that by hiring more junior resources, he was able to increase the number of customers PC Media serves by 25%.

  4. Looking for opportunities to optimize services at every step: The analogy I like to use here is that partners should think about their project and managed services like a factory assembly line and think about how they can optimize and drive efficiency at every step. The most profitable cloud partners carefully track metrics such as Billable Markup Rate and Utilization Rate, look for opportunities to introduce automation tools, and leverage the right resources at the right time.

  5. Leveraging the Microsoft partner channel: A great way to increase scale is to build channel partner relationships, share leads, and together bring more robust solutions to customers.

  6. Extending reach beyond borders: Many partners who previously operated as local or regional providers are discovering that selling and deploying cloud services often does not require a person to be onsite with the customer.

  7. Mergers & Acquisition (M&A): M&A was a hot discussion point at WPC this year. Top partners are consolidating in order to provide more robust solutions to their customers, compete more effectively, and acquire new subject matter expertise into their business.

  8. Hiring in new leadership: Dan Scarfe, founder of Dot Net Solutions, shared that he decided to take a demotion, take in external funding, and hire a new CEO to lead the company.
I hope this list has been helpful! Stay tuned for my next blog on Developing Focus. In the meantime, if you have feedback, questions, or if you have a compelling story to tell about your company’s transformation, I would love to hear from you! Please reach out via email, twitter, or LinkedIn.
Until next time,
Jen
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