I recently spent the day on an IBM-run sales training course in London. At the start of the session the trainer went around the room and each delegate was asked to explain what success looks like within their business, where does it come from, plus how do they intend to capture it.
I’m in a room full of IBM business partners and ISVs all looking to learn something new, most trying to win that big deal that will help them achieve their sales quota for the whole year in one go. Some talked about not bothering to even get out of bed to see customers below a certain size.
This got me thinking about some of the large IBM i and AIX based cloud IaaS solutions I’m working on today. With the exception of maybe half a dozen large contracts I’ve won in the past year, I think most of the really big contracts were with companies I’ve known and dealt with for many years. Some companies maybe even 15 years +. In fact, one £780,000 ($1.2M) contract I signed this past month was with an IT manager I first met at his previous company right back in 1998. Back then I signed up his maintenance and disaster recovery on a pair of small IBM pSeries servers. Not a big deal, maybe only £5K per year. However, a bond and successful partnership with that IT manager was formed over the years and year after year he rewarded us with contract renewals even though by year 3, IBM offered to undercut my pricing.
Around 3 years ago the IT manager was made redundant as the business he worked for restructured. However, we kept in contact via LinkedIn and met up a few months later in his new role working as a consultant for one of the top 5 UK auditors. There was no business for me and the meeting was merely a coffee and catch-up to wish him well.
2 years later I get a call out the blue as he was advising his client on some strategy around their business applications. We had a 3-way discussion with him and his client and the upshot was that his client signed a 3-year contract to provide IBM Power Systems running AIX and Informix within Blue Chip’s Power Cloud.
My point is that you should always look after the little guys, overlook these companies and relationships at your peril. Larger contracts may serve to achieve your short term objectives, however, if you’re in it for the longer term you need to also plant and nurture those small acorns because one day some turn into giant Power Clouds.