Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (July 10-14 in Toronto) is a great opportunity to learn about Microsoft’s product and channel strategy as well as advance your own partnering objectives. Get the most out of all WPC has to offer through the following suggestions.
What do you want to accomplish?
WPC provides a host of sessions as well as a networking tool (WPC Connect) to facilitate side meetings. I personally prioritize side meetings and seeing exhibitors because most of the content is available afterwards. With that said, develop a plan for maximizing your precious WPC time to include the activities that best match your goals.
Recruit new partners
There are 42 half-hour meeting slots available and a scheduling tool (WPC Connect) to locate and organize meetings with prospective partners. SIs historically represent about 1/3 of WPC Connect participants, followed by VARs and then ISVs. If you wish to recruit new partners at WPC, I recommend the following preparation steps:
- Define target partner criteria based on competencies, company size, geography, and company type. Include industry and solution segment keywords if conducting and in-depth search.
- Develop your partner pitch including projected partner revenue and the partnership “offer”.
- Research potential partners by data mining WPC Connect, LinkedIn and other directories for prospects.
- Contact partner stakeholders at target companies in advance of WPC to determine initial interest (WPC Connect invitations are often lost/ignored). Prioritize your WPC meetings for opted-in prospects.
- Leverage WPC Connect to identify attendees and secure meeting space.
- Document key points and follow-up promptly with qualified partners.
Consider sponsoring or exhibiting at WPC if you sell to partners. Otherwise, focus your partner recruitment efforts on the WPC Connect meetings.
See the Channel Development Best Practices whitepaper for insight on recruiting channel partners.
Kickoff H2 co-marketing with existing partners
Microsoft budgets and priorities reset July 1 so WPC is the perfect time to engage partners in context of those Microsoft directives. Meet with your existing partners at WPC to discuss co-marketing plans and sales-coordination.
- Define internal partner co-marketing objectives
- Identify existing partners attending WPC
- Engage partners at WPC to explore marketing alignment in context of Microsoft FY17 strategy and incentives
- Document co-marketing objectives and follow-up
See the Partner Marketing Evidence Model to amplify your marketing impact through partners
Grow the Microsoft alliance relationship
Over 1,000 Microsoft employees attend WPC. You won’t find many Microsoft enterprise sales teams attending WPC so focus your efforts on meeting field partner roles (Partner Business Evangelists, Partner Sales Executives, Partner Account Managers, and Marketing Managers) and product group speakers (meet Microsoft customer teams by exhibiting at MGX).
- Create pithy talking points of your FY16 accomplishments (in context of Microsoft priorities) and what you want to achieve with Microsoft in FY17.
- Microsoft will have determined FY17 managed partners before WPC, so kick off partner planning at WPC in context of whatever partner status you’ve attained by then.
- Research relevant Microsoft attendees and schedule side meetings using WPC Connect
- Seek out and participate in side events including roundtables, meetings, meetups, and parties. Your Partner Manager can help identify these opportunities.
- Document meaningful conversations and follow-up. Note that Microsoft has internal training and vacations later in July so don’t expect material progress until August/September.
See the 10 Tips for Partnering with Microsoft whitepaper for insight on maximizing your Microsoft alliance.
Get educated on Microsoft product and channel strategy
Use the WPC session scheduler to determine top priority sessions to attend (as well as alternates in case the content or presenter doesn’t meet your expectations). Attend only sessions essential to your business (keynotes and select breakouts). Most content is available afterwards so prioritize onsite meetings and catch up on the content afterwards.
Engage presenters after their talks if they are important to your business. Also look for opportunities to network with Microsoft attendees at side events. There are excellent contacts to be made everywhere at WPC.
See the Top Takeaways from Microsoft WPC 2015 for insight on last year’s WPC themes.
About the WPC Connect tool
WPC Connect is a good tool for identifying relevant attendees and scheduling meetings. Overachievers book 30+ meetings using the WPC Connect tool.
Note that many Microsoft execs do not register in WPC Connect. Request such meetings through your Partner Sales Executive early.
Save visits to the expo for those meetings that fall through. The exhibitor area is nearby and serves as good filler for those inevitable schedule gaps.
Promptly follow-up on your meetings (summarizing common interests and next steps).
- Determine how you’ll shift your development, sales, and marketing priorities based on what you learned from Microsoft.
- Debrief your team afterwards summarizing insights and key themes.
- Follow-up with partner and Microsoft contacts to convert WPC discussions into action.