Being an Oracle partner can be a pricey business.
For example: If you’re a select Oracle partner who wants face time with Oracle reps at the vendor’s yearly sales kickoff, you can pay either $6K, $10K or $25K for the privilege.
For that amount you get to be an Exhibitor Partner at the big Las Vegas event. The idea is to get your pitch to Oracle sales reps. There are many. The event draws some 40,000 people in early June. Maybe even (knock wood) get a look from Charles or Larry.
Back in the day, maybe five or six years ago, the event was free for a dozen or so partners who got to drink and nosh with Oracle insiders. (Insert your own ‘eating with the enemy’ joke here.)
The Sales kickoff is where Oracle execs give troops their marching orders for the upcoming fiscal year. This year, the company outlined its middleware strategy and prioritized offerings in the wake of the company’s buyout of BEA Systems. It’s also used the event in the past to read its sales people the riot act on channel conflict and to set selling priorities. This year look for Oracle to turn up the heat on business intelligence.
Now, the chosen partners get to set up their tables so that the Oracle horde has to pass by them on the way from keynote to meals. “We call it the running of the bulls,” said one long timer. The idea is to snag these guys as they go by, but good luck with that, he said.
The really big idea for these partners, who sell, implement, and customize Oracle’s stack into solutions, is to win over the notoriously aggressive sales force. And maybe foster actual co-selling cooperation instead of channel conflict. That means correcting years’ worth of perceptions on the part of Oracle’s field, a direct sale is inherently better, more profitable, more em American dammit!–than joint sales with partners.
Oracle also typically sells promotional rights at this event to deep-pocketed partners–Dell, HP, CDW, whomever–who pick up the tab on cocktail parties and dinners.
“Not too shabby to have your partners pay for your own sales event,” quipped one admittedly cynical former participant.
To be fair, Oracle isn’t alone in this. Microsoft, IBM, all the big boys lean on ISV, OEM and other partners to subsidize their events. One might even wonder if such big “do’s” as Microsoft and SAP’s respective Tech Eds, IBM Partner World etc. have become profit centers for their hosts.
A happier and still active Oracle sales kickoff attendee says it’s well worth his hard-earned dollars. “It’s a great place to get all the fish in one barrel.”
Barbara Darrow can be reached at email@example.com.