Well, I made it into San Antonio on Sunday afternoon. The high was 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and even coming from North Carolina, it was a little warm for me. Of course, the resort was cool and comfortable, even when the Channel Company kicked things off with great speakers and top notch networking.
The general session I attended on Sunday afternoon opened up with Joseph Michelli. Joseph is a consultant and best-selling author. He spoke about the customer experience and how it cannot be a disjointed set of transactions. With an emphasis on culture, his presentation was humorous and informative. If you have the chance to see him speak in the future, I highly recommend it. He definitely has some great insight on how the customers’ experience dictate whether or not your business is successful.
I spent the rest of Sunday meeting with partners, and preparing for a busy Monday and Tuesday at XChange 2014. As usual, it was great to catch up with the partners I already know, and it was fantastic to meet some new faces as well. Oh, and you know what? Texas beef brisket is not half bad…
Monday, August 18
Monday kicked off with Gary Pica, President and Founder of TruMethods, speaking about unlocking your super powers. This was a particularly interesting approach to me, as our own Sherri Liebo has an ongoing series about developing superheroes on your marketing team right now.
Gary asked, “What if you could develop a ‘superpower’ that would separate your services from the competition, clearly show every client the value of your services, and allow you to sell more recurring revenue at a higher price?”
Gary walked through the early years of his own business, and discussed how you can get stuck in a pattern where you can’t quite grow beyond being an average company into a world class company. He believes, though, that finding that one thing, that superpower, is what can push you away from being commoditized and into being a world class, unique company.
Being unique is the key, according to Gary. You have to find out what it is in your company that you do, uniquely, better than anybody else. That is your superpower. That puts you in a position where everyone in your company can answer the same way when someone asks, “Why do customers do business with you?”
Gary is a firm believer in finding the one thing at your company to invest your time and effort in. According to him, if you find that one thing, and it’s the right thing to do, and you put all your efforts into that one thing then incredible things will happen. Belief in that one superpower builds culture, and culture builds a thriving company.
Be sure to check out the TruMethods site for more information.
Eric Martorano, General Manager, US Partner Sales for Microsoft spoke on cloud-powered business. Eric discussed what he referred to as “megatrends” that will shape the next decade. Eric stayed focused on how the channel community is poised for significant advancements and opportunities in cloud and mobile.
Eric brought Steve Ellis, Executive Vice-President, Sales and Business Development, at Infusion on stage to speak in a forum-like session about innovation selling, and especially how to make customers comfortable when selling them these innovations. Steve also said that Infusion invests in the end-user experience so they can show the customer what the result is going to look like and to make them comfortable when discussing with them an innovation and the technology they need to make that innovation solution work, even though they haven’t seen it before.
With two great sessions to start the day, everyone broke for education tracks before returning for a tech symposium and then a lunch for solution providers.
The afternoon saw breakout sessions with Gary Pica, for more information on discovering your company’s superpower; Reed Warren, Vice President, Revenue Rocket Consulting Group on preparing your company for a sale, merger or acquisition; and the Women of the Channel Panel, which is always a popular panel at XChange.
The Women of the Channel event was moderated this year by Holly Green, CEO and Managing Director, THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. She hosted Anita Pandey, Vice President, Global Marketing, AirtTight Networks; Kimberly Lasseter, Director, Global OPN Program, Oracle; and May Mitchell, VP, North America Marketing, Symantec.
As you can see here, I had an opportunity to catch up briefly with Cisco’s Bruce Klein, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Partner Organization. It’s always great to see Bruce and have a few minutes to catch up during such a busy event.
After the breakout sessions in the afternoon, we all gathered in the ballroom again for the afternoon’s general session from Seth Mattison, founder and Chief Movement Officer, FutureSight Labs. Seth’s presentation was on Relationship Revolution: Building Better Connections in the Digital Age.
Seth brought great energy to the afternoon session, where he really brought to life the idea of a networked view of the world. He did all that by telling stories. Stories like how he grew up on a fourth generation farm where he worked with his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather drove his presentation. He used those stories to show just how the upcoming generation is teaching adults how to do things. The next generation after the Millennials are the next wave of consumers and they don’t really think like the previous generations.
Seth pointed out that organizations around the world are becoming more and more flat, because the people entering the workforce now, and the customers that are buying today, expect all of their interactions to be the same. They don’t care if they are buying movie tickets on their phone, or accessing the company calendar. They expect the interaction to feel the same; to feel consistent.
Check out Seth’s site for more information!
Finally, after a keynote from Intel, featuring Todd Garigues, Director, Partner and Solutions Marketing NA Channels, The Channel Company wrapped up the day by opening the booth floor with a great reception.
Be sure to watch this space for more coverage of XChange 2014 tomorrow! In the meantime, leave your feedback in the comments section and let me know what you think.