All Connected, a Simi Valley, Calif.-based provider of data center, networking and security services, has built a strong Cisco business, with one exception. It does not have a strong Cisco VoIP practice.
However, Cisco customers typically have voice as a part of their projects. But rather than build new voice expertise or, worse yet, lose a deal to a competitor, All Connected has over the past couple of years reached out to fellow Trust X Alliance member Emerge IT Solutions, an Erlanger, Ky.-based provider of IT, managed and cloud solutions.
Thanks to the Trust X connection, that partnership has had a big impact on All Connected's business, said All Connected President and CEO Alan McDonald. "Some deals, voice can be between 20 percent and 50 percent of the total value," he said. "To the customer, we're the trusted adviser. We find the deal. And we keep competitors out."
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In fact, the partnership works so well that All Connected signed a formal agreement that makes Emerge IT Solutions its official go-to partner for voice. It was an easy deal for McDonald to sign given that he has met with Jesse Kegley, Emerge IT Solutions' owner and managing partner, a couple of times a year at Trust X events. "The CEO-to-CEO relationship we have in Trust X is critical to us," he said.
The Trust X Alliance is an invitation-only community of the distributor's top-performing channel partners in the midsize and enterprise markets. The 20-year-old organization, known until 2015 as the VentureTech Network, allows a partner with a customer who either needs specific skills that partner does not have or is in geographical areas outside the partner's area to find another solution provider who can fill in the gap.
Partners within Trust X have different specializations and practices, and two or three may partner together to go after a bigger solution opportunity, said Jennifer Anaya, vice president of marketing for Ingram Micro U.S.
"Because they're part of our Trust X Alliance community, there's a lot of trust built there, there's established guidelines on how to work together, and all that good stuff," Anaya said. "So it's very easy for them to be able to deliver that solution in a coordinated way."
The Trust X Alliance is an important way for partners to exchange information related to hardware and software trends, costs, tool sets and best practices, said Kelly Jones, president and chief operating officer of NetGain Information Systems, Bellefountaine, Ohio.
Trust X gives partners an opportunity to help each other, Jones told CRN. "One solution provider we know in the Chicago area did not have Cisco certification but was facing major Cisco issues with a client," she said. "One of our engineers visited that partner and was able to help."
Another part of the Trust X Alliance is Mastermind peer groups, which are composed of a maximum of 12 executives from noncompeting geographies and business fields who share best practices at the highest level, said Philip de Souza, CEO of Aurora, Torrance, Calif.
Membership in a Mastermind peer group, de Souza said, can have a huge impact on a solution provider's business. "We share everything: strategies, best practices, everything," he said. "My peers are on speed dial with me. They know everything -- my numbers, how often I go on a date with my wife."
Ingram Micro also has an SMB Alliance, a community of SMB-focused solution providers who network with Ingram Micro and each other to better understand the needs of their customers.
"The folks in the alliance are happy to share," Darren Gottesmann, director of the distributor's SMB sales in the U.S., told CRN. "And they have wonderful ideas about how to grow."
The SMB Alliance is a great opportunity to help partners better understand their business needs, said Sam Barhoumeh, founder and CEO of ReadyNetworks, Evanston, Ill.
Barhoumeh is also a big fan of Ingram Micro Link, a platform that lets partners collaborate on IT deployments and services while easily managing all the details related to working together from initial contact to final payments.
IM Link sits between the partners where it lets them negotiate the terms of their partnership but handles the actual transactions, he said.