Adam, how do I keep my partner satisfied?

It’s a question I’m asked every day. In an uncertain world of bankrupt banks and cash-strapped customers, it is all too easy to draw comfort from familiarity, and resist "fixing what ain't broken". But in the Software business, creatures of habit soon become fossils. So when I reviewed the results of the 2009 Software Partner Survey (which were, in the main, pretty good), I decided that "good enough" wasn't good enough, and set about looking into areas we could make improvements for the benefit of our most valuable resources - our partners. How could we keep you satisfied?  

  

You told me that our brand leadership and our industry leading product portfolio made HP Software a very attractive proposition. You told me that our partner program was "a solid basis" for your engagement with HP. And you were quite frank in telling me that we were far too difficult to conduct business with.   

 

 

On the basis of this feedback, we've embarked upon a significant path of investment to address that valid criticism. For the last 6 months, much of my working day has been occupied with a major project to build (with the help of external experts) a brand new interface which will enable our partner program to advance to the next level. 

  

The first phase of this will be visible to you during December and January, when I will be writing to you all in order to request your applications for the 2010 Software Partner Program which we are calling "HP Software Business Class". Incidentally, how do you feel about that name? I think it describes pretty well what we are aiming to do with our program, and that is to treat you (yes, the partner who goes the extra mile, who takes the time to build a plan and execute with ruthless vigour, who grows their business and ours in the most difficult markets) a better experience than everybody else who simply turns up for the journey. You don't need to choose between the fish or the chicken and there's no silver cutlery, but you will start to realise the benefits of a very targeted reward scheme. Aside from the expected bonus on every license dollar sold, the commercial territory sales bonus and the quarterly target bonus, there is the promotional bonus: We'll be driving some very visible quarterly solution campaigns into our commercial market this year, and to tempt you to join us on that journey, those partners who have shown their expertise in delivering these solutions will be able to enjoy significantly uplifted bonus margins on sales of the relevant products during each campaign. That’s pure margin too – not discount off the customer street price.  

  

The eagle-eyed readers will notice that I said “quarterly target”. We're getting very sales-focused with the 2010 program, and quite frankly we need to drive some better-aligned sales goals to make this program fly. I know the importance of your consulting and services business to your profitability, but still I maintain that you need to sell the license in order to earn your invite to that party.  

 

 

It's not all about program content, however. The most exciting thing is actually the fact that for the first time, our partners will have a means of understanding clearly the terms and conditions of the program you are joining; your tier level, your bonus eligibility, the certifications you need to maintain. You'll have one place to go in order to accept your quarterly target, check your progress against it, review your bonus account (inlcuding referral payments and - soon - MDF applications also). You'll even be able to check payment progress, and the new processes will significantly speed up the time it takes for those bonus payments to arrive in your bank.  In a nutshell, we’re making it easier to do business. 

 

 

I'm out of space, so I'll leave it until next time to explain the significant extra investment we're making in partner-focused sales reps to drive our commercial market strategy, and why this really is the place to focus your attention in 2010.  And back to the original question: How do I keep my partner satisfied?  Well, I listen, and I strive to improve. I always ensure my partners needs are first.  

 

 

And when we embark on an exciting journey, I ensure my partner enjoys the full benefits of Business Class along the way... 

  

I’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  I’ll see you in Hamburg for Software Universe! 

  

All the best,
Adam Featherston
 

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