It’s been almost exactly a year since Hitachi Data Systems launched its PartnerFirst programme and nine months since it announced an exclusive UK distribution deal with Avnet.
MicroScope caught up with HDS UK COO Lynn Collier and UK head of Avnet Miriam Murphy to see how the partnership was progressing.
“Over the last 12 months, I'm pleased to say that we've had some great feedback from the partner community,” Collier said. “One of the things we did as part of PartnerFirst was to put an increased focus on our partner’s objectives. We said: ‘Let's understand your business. What is it that you want to drive? Where is your expertise? And how can we complement that and provide you with some extra routes to revenue?’"
Collier believes that the PartnerFirst programme has allowed HDS to offer a level of consistency that was not previously there before. Collaboration seems to be the name of the game here, and HDS is taking a refreshing level of interest in partner enablement.
“We've really worked hard to look at how we enable our partners more efficiently and effectively and also increase the amount of focus that they have from a technical, business development commercial perspective,” the COO explained.
“We work with Avnet to ensure that the partners have everything from sales training and that they have specific enablement around the HDS portfolio elements that are relevant to them where they want to drive their new business.”
Speaking of the blossoming partnership, Avnet UK boss, Miriam Murphy, said the two firms’ objectives were very much aligned.
“A move like this doesn't just happen because you make a change in the channel,” Murphy commented. “From our perspective, the strategic imperatives that Hitachi Data Systems and Avnet have are really complementary. We are both very much focused on solutions selling.”
“This move has opened up an opportunity for us to build a much more aligned and trusted engagement - both with the partners, because they know that we are 100% focused on driving their growth - and also with HDS, because they see us as an extension of their team.”
The Avnet boss says that their ability to rapidly progress a partner from recruitment stage right through to transactional growth has been a key factor in the programme’s success.
“Our SolutionsPath methodology, which is something that we've built over the last five or six years, starts with the principle of analysing the opportunities from partner’s perspective; looking at where they have sold to in the past in terms of end-users, the types of technologies, their current skills and then honing in really quickly, and saying: ‘These are the opportunities for you right now, in this area, to this market, with these HDS solutions.”
“And then we build enablement campaigns around training their organisation that are very targeted, so the return ends up being much quicker; and the net result of that is that we've seen a significant acceleration both in recruitment of partners and transactional growth with partners.”
There have been a total of 26 new partners brought on board since the Avnet-HDS love-in began last year. Net new the year before was somewhere in the single digit region.
“It would be wrong to pretend that this success between Hitachi and Avnet started this year,” Murphy continued. “Part of the reason that the partnership unfolded was because it was on the back of several years of successful growth together.”
Avnet UK recently announced it was now working with HDS to offer TrueNorth Consultative Selling training, with the aim of increasing the quality and value of solutions delivered through business partners.
“The significance of this new approach to training is that delegates are encouraged to start conversations by understanding their customer’s business drivers and initiatives,” Christian Curtis, sales director, Avnet Technology Solutions UK, said. “These are linked to IT goals and challenges and only then are potential solutions recommended to help achieve each customer’s objectives. Practical exercises and case studies are included so that by the end of the four-hour course, delegates can identify opportunities and articulate the value proposition of the relevant Hitachi Data Systems solutions.”