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When you're in the business of brokering relationships, you don't really have control over how the parties being introduced will react or pursue their shared interests. Here at The Channel Company, part of the value-add we offer is putting the right solution providers and the right vendors together in settings that allow for each to engage in meaningful discussions that can benefit both parties.
On the vendor side, it's often employees from very large organizations who come to our conferences and they, at times, seem to get bogged down and unable to work the event to its fullest advantage.
At our recent Best of Breed event where we assemble an elite group of solution providers, one of our keynote interviews was with Dell President Marius Haas. While Haas was very candid, endearing and open during the interview, I was even more impressed watching him work the crowd over the two days.
Now, mind you, this is the man directly responsible for driving a huge amount of the worldwide sales number for Dell Technologies. He has both direct and indirect sales channels rolling up to him and is a direct report to Michael Dell. As such, he is understandably a very busy executive. I've had the opportunity to get to know him over the past few years, so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when he showed up at the event without "handlers," as we like to call them. But what was even more impressive is how hard he worked the crowd.
The Channel Company has been running events for more than 25 years, and on more than one occasion I've been subject to a discussion with a vendor executive suggesting he or she didn't get the value out of the event they expected. Those same individuals have often been the ones who come to the event and then hole up in their room on conference calls or spend a great deal of time meeting with their own team. It's why I was struck by the fact that every time I turned around for two days, there was Haas meeting with another solution provider.
And they were never a come-hither-and-kiss-the-ring type of meeting. On several occasions, I saw him approach a partner in a hallway and spend a few minutes talking. Other times, he would sit at a lunch or breakfast table and engage. I started to realize this guy was spending all his time building relationships and thinking through how he and the partners he was meeting could work together.
I have found Haas to be the type of executive who's honest in his business dealings with you and never uses the "yes objection," as we like to call it. The "yes objection" comes from people who don't want to engage around the business proposal but also don't want to tell you why. All of us—me, you and everyone else truly running a business, trying to manage a P&L or actively trying to sell something—would always prefer to hear what the real hurdles are and be told "no" than to waste additional time working toward something that will not happen.
When the conference ended and Haas walked off stage after the final keynote interview, it made me think of how he and the team he has assembled have a make-it-happen-with-hard-work approach.
For me, the biggest lesson anyone can learn in business is that no matter how smart you are, you can never be the smartest person in the room every time.
What you can be, however, is the hardest worker with an honest approach driven by a desire to engage for mutual benefit. That's a winning model in the channel and business in general, and Haas has it.
BACKTALK: Make something happen. Robert Faletra is CEO of The Channel Company. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.