CEO and Founder of Law 365, Kim Simmonds, interviews Sales strategist and coach Andy Buchanan
...who shares some ways in which he helps Microsoft Partners win more business.
3 pillars for coaching successful Microsoft Partners
You have a goal, but how to you reach it? The define (and often refine) stage is where Andy works with businesses to come up with a strategy to get them where they want to be, creating a “go-to market” plan at board level.
Do we all agree with the strategy? Are we all on the same page? Is everyone on board? It’s essential that all key stakeholders are engaged with the plan both locally, regionally and globally.
He then trains and coaches the sales, pre-sales and marketing teams to ensure that they succeed in delivering the plan and growing the business.
3 common mistakes Microsoft Partners make
- The most common mistake Microsoft Partners make is the expectation that because you’re a Microsoft Partner, Microsoft will produce all your leads.
- The misconception that “Good tech sells itself.” It doesn’t.
- Finally, don’t think that senior (C-suite) sales contacts are going to be as interested in the functionality you’re offering as your manager or technician contact might be. You need to give them a reason to be excited.
3 ways Microsoft Partners can improve their sales process
1. Remember, Microsoft always comes first
“The Microsoft Partner community is one of the best partner communities I’ve come across,” says Andy. Microsoft look after their Partners well. But it’s a 2-way relationship. “If you’re not trying to think, “How does this help Microsoft?” then you’ve got a problem.”
There’s an acronym W.I.I.F.M – (What’s In It For Me?) But Andy says Microsoft Partners should be thinking, “What’s in it for Microsoft” – The way to succeed is to help Microsoft by really going the extra mile to look after their end customer.
2. Join the dots – don’t leave the customer to do it for themselves.
Gone are the days when managers could sign off large expenses. With sign off having dropped to anything over a few thousand pounds, every Microsoft Partner is going to have to justify the purchase to multiple people.
Andy’s solution. Write the executive summary for them. You explain why it’s important to your customer, but also what the CFO will want to know to make the right decision.
3. Finally, you must provide coaching.
Sales team are cursed by the three Ts:
We tell them, “You’re a Sales Manager. You have to hit £X per quarter and here’s is your patch.” and then we leave them to sink or swim. It’s simple, says Andy:
“If you’re not coaching your sales team, you’re risking your business.”
How coaching helps grow your sales teams and your profit!
One of the biggest errors that sales managers and directors make is to treat all the people on their team the same way.
Some people will be energised by competition, so you can egg them on by telling them how well another person has done. But others will feel completely defeated if you try this approach. They need encouragement to perform to their max. You must treat each person individually.
The other huge error is to just look at the figures. It’s tempting to get straight to the bottom line, but at your peril. Take some time to ask about the process (what obstacles did they have to overcome to close the deal?) and the person (it’s been a challenging year) so they know it’s not just about the numbers.
The last 12 months prove that people have missed coaching…that safe environment where they feel they can discuss things. Andy recommends coaching about once a month, for 1-2 hours.
Like driving a car, he says, sometimes it will be intense learning (learning how to control a car) and other times it will be about putting that learning into practice (getting comfortable in the car you’re given and hitting the open road.)
About Andrew Buchanan
Andy Buchanan is a sales strategist and coach and CEO and Founder of Future Consulting Ltd.
Andy has over 36 years of experience as a salesman and sales leader. He helps companies grow their business by ensuring they win more deals.
Andy has a strong coaching and mentoring methodology. Developed over many years while working for blue chip companies such as IBM and GE, Business Objects/SAP and Polycom, as well as smaller software companies such as Netiq and start-ups such as Microsoft Partner Modality Systems and financial services company Woodseer/Dividend Max, where he held senior leadership positions both locally and globally.