Ep. 18 – Alyssa Fitzpatrick: Accelerating Through the Turns

Alyssa Fitzpatrick is the GM of Worldwide Partner Sales at Microsoft, computer scientist and confessed adrenaline enthusiast with over 25 years in the software, technology and channel sales spaces.  Overseeing business with over 50,000 global channel partners with an iconic organization such as Microsoft gives Alyssa a unique perspective into how to engage and enable channel partners of all sizes and at various levels of maturity in their digital transformations.

Explosive Change: Fear & Opportunity

“The only constant is change.”  This axiom, while widely attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, is extra true in the worlds of technology and business.  As fast as products and distribution channels have changed in recent times, so too has there been considerable shifts in what it takes to support the success of channel partners.  Where some companies are fearful both in terms of concern for traditional revenue models and feeling disoriented in their channel strategies, many are excitedly getting to work testing new tactics, re-strategizing, and getting ready to divvy up the pies of the first group.

“It changes our cost of sale, and it changes how we’re meeting our customers in the market,” says Alyssa.  She refers to the paradigm shift associated with channel partner enablement in the shifting world of bespoke marketing efforts.  Where partners used to bend and shift their businesses around a product willingly, there is a growing movement toward pressure on vendors to adapt their marketing offerings to myriad partner models and market conditions.

Fitzpatrick sums it up: “They want it personal, and they want it relevant, and they want it continually evolving.  It’s a very, very different sell, and that means we have to market differently, we have to compensate differently, and we have to sell differently.”

From Alyssa’s perspective, the remedy for uncertainty is collaboration.  For brands selling through indirect channels, the “arms around each other” approach means working together to understand and address each other’s needs and working to help keep all parties as closely evolved as possible through ongoing digital transformation.

Digital Transformation for Your Sales Organization

Many readers will remember the uncertainty of the not-so-distant pass surrounding how B2B marketing and sales might look vs. consumer marketing and sales as the buyer’s journey shifted to a primarily digital experience.  Curiously, many of us would think deeply about such things while we were at work or think idly about the issue as we read blog content on our smartphones between appointments, did banking transactions while we commuted by train, or shopped for Christmas gifts on Amazon from our iPads after the kids had gone to bed for the night.

Fitzpatrick believes that it’s time to stop wondering and start ensuring that your team is both geared and skilled up.  The way people buy has changed for good and will continue to evolve at nearly the same pace as technology.  “A lot of times the sales group is the last group to get transformed,” Alyssa notes, adding “and they’re actually one of the most important areas of transformation.”

“We need to have different kinds of sellers.  We need sellers that know how to network.  We need sellers that know how to leverage analytics and really fine-tune their approach when they’re dealing with different kinds of customers.”

Technical Resources for Channel Partner Enablement

“Technical resources are king,” Alyssa says, speaking to the importance of sales and marketing leaders need to understand how emerging tech trends will converge with their existing stacks, strategies and procedures.

The imminent ubiquity of cloud-based software tools will continue to feed every company’s data estate with valuable information that, whether owned or purchased, will bring ever-increasing success capabilities.  Business leadership in this fast and ever-shifting landscape is going to mean not merely extracting and leveraging advantage from the new tools but also watching for ways that these tools can empower channel partners and other stakeholders.

Another constant: commerce will continue to be a fast and hectic ride. As an experienced driver of race cars, Alyssa advises that we should all open ourselves to the exciting advantages that can be realized by learning to accelerate through the turns.

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