A Cautionary Tale

The original title of this article was going to be, “How I wasted over a year of my business life trying to educate a start-up technology company on how to enter the Microsoft Dynamics channel, and in the process become fabulously wealthy but instead wasted my time and now have nothing to show for my efforts…not even a t-shirt”.

Evidently the problem with that title was that it would be too difficult to create the accompanying illustration for the magazine.

Editor’s note (not really, it’s my own, but that sounds more important): The names of the dumb and mortified have been changed to protect the guilty. Oh wait…never mind…my name is right there as the author!

Twitter generation article synopsis: Just because you build a better mousetrap the world will not beat a path to your door, not if you do everything else wrong.

A little background music, please.

Well over a year ago, I received a random LinkedIn InMail touting a new technology that I might want to represent. I did not understand the email, but something made me visit the company’s website. Once there I was even more confused as the messaging did nothing to help me understand what the features were, never mind the benefits.

At that point I should have deleted the email and forgotten I ever looked at the website, but something kept nagging at me. Going back I suddenly “thought” I knew what they were trying to say they could do, and if I was right, I figured that we had a license to print money. Not that I need to print money, mind you: Being a Microsoft Dynamics VAR has made me (and everyone else in the channel) wealthy beyond my wildest dreams.

So for purely academic reasons, I determined that bringing a new technology to the Microsoft Dynamics market would be a great adventure.

Fast forward to today and painful lessons learned. If you are looking to work with a new ERP solution, an ISV product, or even a new technology partner, you may save yourself a lot of time and money looking out for the following potential pitfalls.

Pricing is King

Falling in love with your own technology is death.

It does not matter how much time and money you spent developing your better mousetrap. More importantly, it does not matter what you think is a fair price.

Hubris will blind you to what the market is telling you is a fair price. Pricing has to be based on what the market is willing to pay…unless you are Apple, which in that case, charge whatever you want!

Lesson: If a company is not willing to listen to its Partners or customers regarding pricing…run.

Contracts are Complex

Partner programs have a myriad of complexities that require experience and finesse in structuring fair contracts. If those are not in place, it can take years, not months, to get them ironed out.

Insert obligatory lawyer joke here.

Lesson: If fair and detailed Partner and end-user contracts are not firmly in place…run.

Margins Matter

Q: How can you tell a company is clueless as to what will motivate a typical Microsoft Dynamics Partner?

A: When their initial Partner program includes five percent margins.

Lesson: If you have to educate a company on basic financial realities in your industry…run.

Money Matters

If you are underfunded as a technology company, then critical sales, pricing, and margin decisions are often made out of panic or fear, not on what is best long term.

Lesson: If you are dealing with a company that adjusts pricing because they may run out of money in a month…run.

The Cloud Matters

A lot of companies are not “in the cloud”, mistrust “the cloud”, and have no plans to be “in the cloud”. However, if you are promoting a new technology, it had better be available in the cloud just for the sake of credibility.

Lesson: If your better mousetrap requires an investment in an old-fashioned and expensive boat anchor to work…run.

Sales Experience Matters

You may understand every single bit and byte in your software and understand in detail how it compares historically and currently to every other product in the marketplace, but the fact remains that no one cares if you can’t sell it clearly and enthusiastically.

Lesson: If you cringe at the thought of your customer listening to the same sales pitch that you had to endure…run.

Messaging Matters

Lesson: If a company advertises “Sets of Cube-Shaped Random Number Generators” instead of “a Pair of Dice” on its website and in its marketing materials…run.

For anyone still reading, please contact me for a great investment on some beachfront property that I am looking to develop in Idaho. This is an absolute killer opportunity…I guarantee it!

Peter Joeckel is the president and founder of TurnOnDynamics, a Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner that specializes in manufacturing implementations and transitioning clients that have outgrown Microsoft Dynamics GP to Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Additionally, TurnOnDynamics focuses on the strategic concerns of executives and owners in managing large implementation projects with client-side advisory services and an introduction to agile DevOps tools, strategies, and methodologies. Learn more at www.turnondynamics.com, and reach Peter at Pjoeckel@turnondynamics.com. 

Read more collaboration articles in The Partner Channel Magazine Fall 2015 issue here.

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