December 2, 2021

That Thing You Do: 3 key elements to becoming a recognized market player | Partner Success Guide

By Gloribel Mondragon

This series aims to make it easy for you to achieve meaningful growth in five areas that define successful partners. With each post, you gain actionable guidance for deepening the characteristics of each success attribute within your team.

What does it take to be recognized as one of the best among a cohort of millions of tech partners worldwide? What sets apart those who thrive from those who merely survive in this broad, competitive landscape?

Having a “thing” and doing it well.

In other words, prioritizing a very specific business area and execute that “thing” with consistency and excellence is one of the common factors we’ve observed among our most successful partners. These partners have discovered their differentiated value proposition, which is: they know what they do better than anyone else and know how to communicate it to others.

If this is new to you, Microsoft’s Smart Partner Marketing is your starting point for tools to identify your unique skillset and begin crafting your value proposition. Read on to unpack why differentiation should be one of your business priorities.

What is a differentiated value proposition?

differentiated value proposition is a succinct statement about who you are and the promise of value you offer your customer. It addresses your core customer audience and areas of deep expertise to establish greater differentiation within the market. Your differentiated value proposition is an essential tenet in your strategy, sales, technical, and marketing program execution.

Customers have long moved beyond wanting just a product or solution – they are looking for a partner with deep understanding of how to solve their specific workload or industry problem. A differentiated value proposition helps you not only make it easy for others to identify you as the right partner to meet that need but maintain focus as your business evolves.

Tell the world where you are unparalleled

Convincing customers that you have the unique competencies to address their needs requires three things: an intimate understanding of the customer themselves, deep expertise, and the ability to clearly communicate your value proposition. These elements are intertwined and build on each other to help you define and articulate your unique value.

1.     Understand your customer

As we discussed in the first post of this series, being customer-obsessed is a core characteristic of our most successful partners. It also plays into the way you differentiate your practice – knowing who your customers are and what makes them tick is the foundation of your value proposition.

Take a minute to refresh on the 4 ways to build a customer-first reputation, then hop back in here to continue.

2.   Develop deep expertise

For many partners, a key hurdle to growth is lack of focus. Out of “fear of missing a sales opportunity, partners try to position themselves as all things to all people, and their messaging ends up feeling generic and lacking resonance,” explained Joanne Charley of Neural Impact in an earlier interview with us.

This is where taking a solution or workload-specific vertical market approach, versus a traditional technology-centered horizontal market approach, makes a difference. Focusing on a given segment provides opportunity to repeatedly solve the challenges of similar customers. Over time, you develop a depth of experience as well as the unique competencies and intellectual property you need to differentiate yourself from partners with similar solutions.

For one partner, MCA Connect, this focused experience in the manufacturing and distribution industry and resulting ability to “speak the customer’s language” contributed to shorter sales cycles and increased win rates. Their ease of relating to the environment and needs of their customers gave them a competitive advantage from end-to-end of the customer journey.

Here’s how to develop your area(s) of expertise:

Identify my areas of unique expertise Assess how competitive you are in your target verticals and receive recommendations on how to become more competitive.

Take the assessment: Industry competitiveness assessment

Demonstrate expertise with advanced specializations Demonstrate your experience, differentiate your organization, and build stronger customer relationships with advanced specializations in specific solution areas marked by high demand and close alignment with Microsoft priorities.

Learn more: Differentiate your practice with Microsoft advanced specializations

Enhance cloud-first positioning with Microsoft competencies Demonstrate your cloud capabilities and build more effective cloud-first differentiation by attaining a Microsoft competency.

Learn more: Differentiate your business and acquire new customers with the Cloud Enablement Desk

3.   Explain your value proposition

Now that you have clarity on your customer (vertical) and area of expertise, you are better equipped to draft an effective value proposition.

In practice, Microsoft partners should have three distinct value propositions: a to-customer value proposition, a to-Microsoft value proposition, and a to-partner value proposition. Since the to-customer value proposition is the foundation of the other two, we’ll focus there.

As you build out your value proposition, keep these guiding principles in mind:

  •    Be simple, clear, and concise
  •    Solve business problems – provide facts and proof points
  •    Stay consistent with your organization’s brand and voice

Start developing your differentiated value proposition:

Generate the components of my value proposition Complete a brief questionnaire designed to extract components which you can then fine-tune into a compelling value proposition.

Start now: Value Proposition Generator | Neural Impact

 

Craft my value proposition Use this how-to guide to discover what your ‘partner superpower’ is and how to use it to boost your visibility in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Get the guide: Harness your superpowers (microsoft.com)

Understand the purpose, guiding principles, and practical steps of defining your foundational to-customer value proposition.

Craft your value proposition: Craft your value proposition – Step 1: Customer

Learn how to tell my company’s best story Access easy-to-use resources designed to tell your unique story, tailor your message to your customer’s buying journey, explore your areas of differentiation, and more.

Explore now: Smart Partner Marketing (microsoft.com)

Takeaway

Knowing and articulating what sets you apart from other partners is a critical element of success. With Microsoft’s best-in-class resources as your starting point for understanding your customer, deepening your expertise, and articulating your value proposition, you can make it easy for customers and the rest of the ecosystem to recognize what you do best and the value of your partnership.

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