Last night, I watched Train perform in a private concert at the IBM Partnerworld event in Las Vegas. I didn’t hate it. What happened to music with an edge? Give me the Sex Pistols, The Clash Or the The Jam any day. Train was really good – it is the kind of music groupies flock to. The women in the small crowd loved it. I really should have been a rock star. Maybe there is still time.
As I sit on the plane, nursing a bourbon-induced hangover, listening to The Sundays on my iPad, I’m reflecting on a week spent with 1,500 of my closest friends, all trying to figure out a way to do business with IBM. Ok, so the Sundays aren’t exactly that ‘edge’ I was looking for; that lead singer chick was hot. I wonder what she is doing now? I bet she’s still hot. Ok, I digress. Back to IBM. The Partnerworld event was so very polished, so very corporate, as were the IBM executives that I had the pleasure to meet during the week.
We spoke of strategy, alignment, execution and how to develop joint solutions better and faster. After a dozen meetings and an equal number of power points in the general sessions, I’m asking myself, “where’s the edge?” Where is that burning desire to create products and solutions that make people’s lives better in any way? How do you get two massive companies like IBM and Schneider Electric to work together with the same sense of purpose and sense of urgency that customers demand? As you have probably figured out, I have a few ideas. Here we go.
Have a compelling purpose. Ensure that your solution has a direct and measurable purpose or “raison d’être” as my French colleagues would say. If you can’t articulate why your product or solution is so important to the customer, just go home. Just stop wasting everbody’s time.
Once you can state your purpose, develop a credible story why it’s so important to partner with IBM. IBM doesn’t need you: they can do anything and everything for the customer. Or so they’ll tell you. Think creatively about why working with a IBM would simultaneously create a great solution to the customers concerns, fills your need for exposure/revenue/market share, etc and makes IBM’s life better. Don’t do this in a powerpoint. Tell the story like we were talking on a plane. If you can’t tell the story, get someone who can tell the story. Send them to Partnerworld.
Ok, you have a purpose; you can tell the story, what’s next? Integrate some aspect of their technology into your solution. Anything: a piece of hardware, software or even a service. Integrate it into your offering. Why? Because good sales people are coin operated. They sell what you pay them to sell, period. If you sales guys aren’t motivated by money, tell them to go into social work. Or fire them. Either is fine with me. Once IBM’s sales team has your solution (with some of their technology inside) in their bag, “stuff happens” Good stuff. Profitable stuff. Delighted customers, profitable quarters and President’s club stuff.
Train figured it out last night. They had a compelling purpose (to entertain), told the story in a 60 minute set, and they “integrated” all women in the audience on stage with them at one point. They delighted the customers (yeah, I enjoyed it too) and I’m sure they had a “profitable” night.
So, those are my thoughts. It’s very simple. Have a purpose, tell the story and integrate. Maybe this was the edge I was looking for? Well, maybe. I think that we’ll look back on this week at Partnerworld with IBM and point to this as being a big success. Time will tell and the market will decide. Watch this space.
Ok, I’m done with the Sundays , it’s time for the Jam.
“In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you …..”