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  • Larry Gregory

Recruiting Partners at Microsoft WPC

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (Microsoft WPC) is a unique industry event, bringing 14,000 attendees together for the most efficient partner networking forum of the year. There’s value in understanding new Microsoft initiatives and resources, but those announcements and materials are available online after the event, so I recommend prioritizing partner networking opportunities onsite.

WPC is coming up soon (July 13-17). Now is the time to resolve your partner strategy, determine the partners you need, and begin your recruiting efforts. By preparing in advance, you can generate new, high-value partnerships as well as reinforce existing partner relationships during your time at WPC.

Microsoft WPC 2014

Identify Partner Portfolio Gaps

Weigh your partner needs (SI, reseller, ISV) in context of the product/service revenue they could drive. Recruiting partners takes effort so conduct this analysis up-front to determine what characteristics you seek, such as experience with specific technologies and workloads (“Competencies” in Microsoft parlance), company size, customer segment, and geographic coverage.

Define Partner Qualification Criteria

If you have a formal partner program, it is easier to scale your partner ecosystem because you have defined partner criteria and programs to land them in (see the Capacity Planning function of the Partner Mapping tool). If you’re a smaller company, consider the marginal cost of managing and supporting incremental partners. Assess expected revenue influence to determine minimum “partner productivity” criteria. This criteria might include customer referrals, marketing capacity, and revenue commitments.

Research and Engage Target Partners

Leverage Pinpoint, LinkedIn, WPC Connect, your CRM, and personal connections to identify qualified partner prospects. The intent is to test for interest before attending WPC so you can focus your on-site energies on those prospects with the greatest potential. Test and refine your messaging before reaching out broadly.

Evangelize Partners at Microsoft WPC

The WPC structured networking facilities have limitations (e.g., unable to search by geography), but is still the most efficient forum for engaging prospective partners. I don’t recommend using the meeting scheduling tool as the primary mechanism for initiating meetings. Instead, test for interest separately and schedule onsite meetings using the WPC Meeting Scheduler once you’ve determined there is interest. Don’t be surprised if a good number fall through due to last minute conflicts. Having the separate communications thread helps with follow-up.

If you’re efficient with your time and prioritize partner meetings over some sessions, you should be able to organize 40+ meetings. This doesn’t include the hallway conversations (remember the Surface purchase line last year?), exhibitor discussions, or the evening events. Attending will probably cost you $3,500-$4,000 depending on T&E so be sure to make the most of your experience by planning and executing your partner recruitment efforts early, before attendee schedules and the networking space is booked up.

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