Citrix partner XenTegra has sustained nearly 100 percent annual growth over its five years in business—and Citrix Synergy is the core of its marketing strategy. The company brings 40 – 45 current and prospective customers to Synergy each year, and at least 75 percent of them buy products or services from XenTegra within the next two years. By using Synergy to build personal connections and foster information-sharing across its business ecosystem, XenTegra helps its customers realize even greater value—while building a strong foundation for its own success.

In the approach to this year’s Citrix Synergy in Anaheim, California from May 8 – 10, I spoke with Andy Whiteside, founder and consultant at XenTegra, to learn about his company’s strategy for success at Synergy.

Make Synergy yours

“Synergy isn’t a XenTegra event, but it might as well be—we use it like it is,” said Andy. The company has made Synergy a central focus of its marketing strategy from the very beginning. “My first week of owning my own business was the first day of Synergy, and selling started that day. This is the biggest selling week of the year for Citrix, so investing in our own participation there is a no-brainer.”

Doing business with existing customers and prospects is only the beginning. Andy estimates that his company comes away with at least 10 entirely new prospects each year. “You’re sitting in the hallway working on email or something, and somebody sits down beside you and you have a conversation, and the next thing you know, they’re coming to the next Synergy with your company.” During the event, the XenTegra team uses an internal Podio site to share information and leads gathered at the event. “If I need it a year later, I know where I can find it.”

XenTegra is generous with its Synergy passes, bringing anybody who wants to go. “We’ve got 150 people scheduled to join us for dinner on Monday evening before the conference, including current and potential customers, personnel from Citrix and other vendors, and all of my own team — there’s nobody at XenTegra that doesn’t go.” It’s not a hard sell — customers are eager for the chance to attend.

“From a customer perspective, it’s a chance to meet and network with vendors and others in the industry, and to get into some high-value sessions. From the technical guys’ perspective, it’s an opportunity to ramp up on the issues and solutions they’re going to be focusing on in the year ahead,” Andy said.

Help customers connect with people and information

Andy plays an active role at Synergy to help his customers get the most possible out of their time at the event. At XenTegra’s Monday night dinner, people are seated together by industry or interest. “Synergy is about energy and buzz, but even more importantly, it’s about getting people connected. We bring them together in an environment where they can actually talk to each other and get to know each other, and discuss what they’re doing. That sets the tone for the rest of the week.”

The social, face-to-face aspect of Synergy creates unique opportunities for customers to find the right answers for their challenges. “I’ll say, you need to talk to Bob because Bob’s doing what you’re trying to do right now. When you get through talking to Bob, come talk to me. And you should also talk to these other vendors, too, that have solutions for what you’re trying to do,” said Andy. While the traditional customer-vendor relationship tends to be one-to-one, XenTegra helps customers connect with each other as well, forming an extended ecosystem with its own business at the center to increase the value and impact of its customers’ XenTegra relationship.

After dinner, Andy starts an email thread with their guests to keep them connected throughout the week. “I send quick updates like, I’m going to this session next, and then I’m going to be at this booth talking to these guys, so join me if you want. Or hey, we’re all going to this restaurant in a little bit. You’ve got to be the cruise director to some degree.”

“I always try to get people together for the keynotes, and also for some of the sessions I think are especially important for them to see,” said Andy. “Industry vets who’ve been around for a while tend to be most excited about the latest trends and innovations, while newer people are always intrigued with the more established technologies.” Again, though, the personal contact can be the most valuable part of the event. “At the end of the day, it’s the social networking piece I keep coming back to,” said Andy. “Getting the person who’s been doing it for 20 years to talk to the person who’s new to it, and telling them, ‘This can be you someday.’”

Show customers you’re invested in their success

XenTegra’s depth of involvement in Synergy sends a clear message to their customers. “It’s a chance for us to show that we’re all-in on Citrix. We take all our salespeople and consultants out of the field for a full week, and we invest over six figures in the event each year. We’re not spreading ourselves thin across ten different solution providers — if the right fit for a customer is Citrix, they need for you to be the best Citrix partner you can be,” said Andy.

Andy emphasized that you should make sure customers understand the investment you’re making in them. “This isn’t about Citrix giving partners free passes to hand on to their customers. This is about a partner working hard to earn those free passes, and then spending their own money alongside it. We’re going to take care of you right out of our pocket to make that Synergy experience happen for you.”

XenTegra’s hands-on approach pays long-term dividends. “Customers appreciate the job you did hosting them at the conference. A day later, a week later, six months later, they’re calling you to talk about their latest needs,” said Andy.

As XenTegra continues its rapid growth, Andy counts on Synergy to keep in touch with the personal side of the business. “We’re a national Citrix partner. It’s hard for me to find opportunities to see customers and other vendors the way I used to. I look forward to the ability to get these folks together and help connect people to other people, whether vendor to vendor, vendor to customer, or customer to customer, because I know they need each other and could benefit from each other.”

We wish XenTegra — and every Citrix partner and customer — an enjoyable, interesting, and valuable experience at this year’s Synergy. See you there!