This year took off with an exciting start for Brocade channel partners and our Brocade channel teams when we rolled out our new combined Alliance Partner Network earlier this year. As I have been saying all along, I am a big fan of “listen and learn.” Because of this, I have spent a considerable amount of time on the road talking to channel partners to ensure that we’re tuning our program toward what our partners need.
To follow-up on Ian Whiting’s post about his trip to Japan, I’d like to add a little extra insight into the differences on doing business with channels around the globe. Brocade hosted three key channel summits in the last half year and, boy, did I learn a lot about the world!
First stop: Sin City, USA
Being a newly immigrated alien to the U.S., where else could be the perfect setting for our first channel partner summit – Vegas, of course! I am still trying to get my head wrapped around the concept of holding “business” meetings in a place that has more distractions and unmentionable activities at hand that any brain can comprehend. But beyond being the city of gambling and drinking, it also happens to be a great place to gather our North American partners and recognize their efforts from the past year. Solid IT Networks of Texas, above, was awarded IP Reseller of the Year. I learned another lesson through this experience - being absolutely fluent in English does not mean you speak Texan!
As a German, I was delighted to find that Americans are straight shooters, no pun intended...see JDee in the cowboy hat above – with him, what you see is what you get. By and large, the North American partners were open and honest with their feedback and I got great input on what works and what does not. The U.S. Summit marked the beginning of what would be a great series of meetings – I loved it.
Next stop: Nice, France
OK – back to home turf. We gathered the bulk of IP and SAN partners and, as expected, those Europeans hold their tongues even less. My main tent presentation turned into a panel discussion.
The main points were: keep stability in the relationships, step up to the promises of the program, combines sales and marketing strategy to help partners drive new incremental business, leverage the Brocade brand to “scoop” the big competitors and help build up strong IP pipelines.
And being in France, this all had to happen over a five-course mini portion meal set “in a library.” The welcome and goodbye was an endless series of kisses on each cheek – very European indeed.
Last stop: Singapore
OK– first comment: do not be fooled by the uniformity of the picture above. While they like to force everybody to wear the same shirts, the degree of diversity in language, culture and business environment could not be more different. I have spent a significant amount of time in my career working in Japan and I have a good grasp of the nuances in business there. Asia Pacific, on the other hand is made up of India, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Greater China, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and a collection of Southeast Asian countries…all of which have their own way of doing business and their own challenges in bridging culture, language and social practices. I did, however, observe two very distinct commonalities – bowing while exchanging business cards when introducing yourself and the propensity to conduct business over a raucous karaoke party!
At the end of the day, when I think about all of our partners around the globe, they really do have one thing in common. They want to do business with someone who cares about what they care about - providing the best customer experience in a profitable way. Wherever the calls from partners will take me next, there are a few key takeaways that continue to emerge, no matter what the language: profitability, selective recruitment, quality of program, honesty in partnership and, creativity in program components.
And those are the guiding principles that keeps the needs of partners my top priority and focus.