MICROSOFT’S new partner group manager is fired up for his new role as he sets out to shake up channel partners. "Fiercely competitive" Steve Haddock joined Justine Banfield for coffee to chat about his plans for New Zealand and his personal interests.
1. You have recently been appointed as the partner group manager — what is your biggest challenge(s) ahead?
Over the next 12 months we’re going to be driving a number of campaigns across different segments, and the key challenge is having the right partner engaged with us at the right level to make these campaigns successful.
The key thing with any campaign is … that I need you to know [that an end user] is going to go to a partner and [they] will get the same services as if [they] rang me. I am not convinced I can go to any Microsoft partner to get that.
You can’t just rank a partner on how much revenue they bring in — that is so old. We need to think of things like ‘what is their influence’.
It will be a bit of a shake-up … Change is painful but it’s the right thing to do.
2. How would you sum up the time you have already spent in the position?
The last six months for me has been re-learning the partner community. I have been in a number of different roles, but you can’t come to any role with pre-conceived ideas of how things should work. The value I add to roles is I challenge thinking.
3. You’ve been with Microsoft for some time — as NZ network solutions group manager, consumer manager and your latest role? What keeps you at the company?
There are two key things: one, I am incredibly competitive and I’ve had three or four different roles (I’m a 2.5 year sort of person in one role), and I lose my effectiveness [after that] so I’ve had the opportunity to change and grow. I can look at things now and really understand the whole business … The second thing is I believe I am working for one of the few companies in the world that can change the world.
And I could see myself travelling overseas with Microsoft at some stage. Conversely, the challenge there is what do you do when you come back?
4. Of your interests in the past you’ve edited a windsurfing magazine and participated in major sporting events such Iron Man competitions — so why did you cross over to IT instead of pursuing interests in the sporting world?
I don’t know why, but when I was at school (which is not that long ago) ... [A tactful silence from the Editor here.] … I was planning to be a teacher but there wasn’t so much money … and I’ve always had a fascination with technology. When I’d done all my travels and events, I was looking at brand names I wanted to be associated with in terms of market impact, [and] great culture … it was those companies that stood out in the market and stood for something good that appealed to me. I did fall into it through working at Clear. And I was really early on the internet wagon.
5. What do you believe Microsoft could do better at with regards to its channel partners?
We need to cut down on communications — have better and less frequent communications; have better and less frequent events. Partners also need, to an extent, have a think about what they want to find out more about.
[Microsoft partner managers] need to sit back and think what the key thing is that they can do for partners is and in my opinion it is to help the partners close deals.
Partner account managers need to be sales people. We need to upskill on selling the value — and that means partners as well.
6. Has the overall issue of Open Value Licence been a challenge? How is it all going?
Small businesses love it. The customers love it. It says they want split payments, they want cash flow … and it says to me there are probably 200 partners selling it, maybe 30 or 40 actively and they’re going to … drive it.
7. What do you, and Microsoft, want from a partner?
I expect different things from different partners. It’s more a case of what they expect from us and making sure that those expectations are aligned. That’s something we haven’t done particularly well ... You may be a direct partner who sells $1000 a year and you might expect me to ring you every day; that’s not going to happen. Set the [realistic] expectation.
8. What do you think about sales incentives? There are mixed reactions as to how valuable they really are to both the reseller and vendor.
For any sales incentive you have to establish what sales behaviour you want to derive at. Think about your objectives upfront; be honest in measuring them; and, measure them quickly.
9. What do you believe really drives resellers?
If you’re really honest with most successful salespeople they’re either really competitive or driven by money. And there is nothing wrong with that!
10. What else do you do besides working hard for the channel and Microsoft?
I love diving, fishing, and ... enjoy doing anything outdoors as it’s an incredibly relaxing experience. I am also learning to play the guitar (which is something I’ve always wanted to do) and I’ve also wanted to go to the school of the performing arts, just as a hobby, as it is good for presenting as well.