Etiquette Rule #1 – Don’t be a Sycophant

Today's edition of the Redmond Channel Partner newsletter links to a piece titled Minding Your Microsoft Manners, which is an interview with some companies who advise Microsoft partners on how to work with Microsoft. As I was reading it, I thought it was written as a piece of satire. Unfortunately, it's dated July 1st, not April 1st.

Yes. Don't run Lotus Notes as your e-mail client. Don't talk about the music you listened to on your iPod on the trip to Redmond or to a field office. Don't schedule online meetings on WebEx or call people from Microsoft on Skype. And, above all, don't "Google."


"Mention Vista," he continues, referring to the operating system that Microsoft released earlier this year. "Say [you're] running it and what a productivity boost it is." Harvath notes that bad feedback about Vista has filtered back to Microsoft through corporate accounts and the channel, so a positive review of it from a partner could be a key to making a good impression.

Source: Redmond Channel Partner Online | Feature: Minding Your Microsoft Manners

In my new role, I meet with partners more frequently than I have in the past. If you meet with me, please don't follow the guidance offered in response to the first question (Are there any gaffes that I should absolutely avoid when meeting with people from Microsoft?) and to the last question (Are there any other little tips I should know before I go into my meeting?).

Please don't hide that you use a competitor's product. Worse still, please don't heap false praise on a Microsoft product to gain some kind of advantage.

Etiquette Rule #1: Don't be a sycophant. It's not a good foundation for a business relationship.

If you use a competing product, I'd rather understand what our gaffe was that made it the more attractive choice. What could we do better to earn your business next time?

If you think one of our products sucks, please tell me why. What can we do to keep your business?


Comments (4)
  1. dhchait says:

    Great find, Rob!  Another neat thing I noticed in that article was how the editors needed to insert "[PowerPoint]]" before the word slide, in case you were about to use an Impress! or Pages presentation, God forbid.

    "…The very first [PowerPoint] slide you present has to tell them…"

    I appreciate your attitude and from my perspective (as a Microsoft partner), Microsoft has been great about being open and receptive to feedback, positive and negative, and depends often on channel partners to provide insight into customer verticals that Microsoft itself doesn’t have.

  2. Peter Ritchie says:

    Thank you for not agreeing with that article. That article is seriously delusive.  If the author is trying to describe the Microsoft point of view, he’s seriously off.  It’s in Microsoft’s best interest to know users are using competitor’s products so they can find out why–as you say.

    That’s not a partnership.  If someone expected me to act that way I would be looking for a different "partner".

  3. Paul says:

    Hi Rob, This article is more right than it is wrong.

    My experience working with MS Partners in the field is that it is absolutely an “all or nothing” approach to MS technology – you either state that your company completely embraces, supports, and sells only MS technology, or you find yourself with emails and phone calls never returned, you’re not invited to local/regional partner events and outings, etc.

    It was funny how I left a company that embraced not only MS technologies but IBM and Java equally to move on to an exclusive MS Gold certified *managed* partner. The difference was night and day – and the pressure was HEAVY internally on us to use and advocate MS technology, even it was clearly less capable than (heaven forbid) open source products – even on the MS technology stack.

    I really look forward to having you in a more partner facing role. Let’s hope your attitudes and open mindness rubs off on the sales drones in the field offices, too.

    Rob says: I do think that partners who focus on Microsoft products and technologies may benefit more from the partnership since they share our interest in the success of those products and technologies. The main points of my post are that partners shouldn’t be deceptive about the products and technologies they use, nor should they be insincere about them, in an attempt to benefit from the partnership.
  4. I am sometimes accused of sucking up but the truth is I’m just a nice guy who likes to compliment folks…

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