4 Ways to Ensure You Stay Relevant as an Alliance Partner


Last Updated on March 27, 2019

Alliance Executives can have a lot on their plate. But one thing they absolutely need to focus on is staying relevant with their partners.

Tanja Scheller has been an SAP Alliance Executive at IBM for over seven years. She manages the relationship between IBM and SAP in the Germany/Austria/Switzerland (DACH) region.

Tanja focuses on joint sales missions for these two teams, and she also listens to customer feedback, so IBM and SAP can work together on joint customer service projects as well.

With regular new technology announcements to roll out on top of it all, Tanja has plenty to work on. We caught up with Tanja at the SAPPHIRE NOW Conference in Orlando to hear about how she has four essential ways she uses this constant stream of new technology to stay relevant with her partners and in the industry as a whole.

1. Find win/wins.

Tanja firmly believes a deal isn’t worth doing unless it is advantageous for both sides. Finding partners isn’t as easy as it sounds though. Tanja likes to leverage trade shows as a means to get the news out about her newest innovations and meet potential new partners.

These conferences hosts thousands of industry influencers who are looking for opportunities to expand their business. IBM attends events in the form of utilizing booths and sponsorships to network with these potential new partners.

2. Keep innovating.

Tanja likes to think of the SAP/IBM relationship as a microcosm of the tech world at large. Whether it’s the latest in AI, cloud, or blockchain technologies — there’s always something new to investigate in the tech space.

IBM is the only IT company that’s been around for more than 100 years, and they have lasted this long because they are innovative. They’re not content to sit back on their heels and let innovation come to them; they seek it out.

They stay relevant within the marketplace by keeping the new tech announcements coming. Whether it’s at a tradeshow or another industry event, they make their presence known with the latest innovations.

3. Think big.

There is an incredible amount of information to be absorbed from customers, but you have to be willing to listen to them. Many customers want digital transformation at their company, but they just don’t have the means to get there.

The possibilities in helping these customers are only limited by the creativity of those serving them. Tanja and her team at IBM aim to have open minds. They study the use cases that will yield the best results for customers — they aren’t afraid to dive into uncharted territory.

Tanja accomplishes this by focusing on the internal enablement, education, and training of her sales force.

4. Team up early & often.

IBM has a very broad partner network; They have more than 100,000 business partners, such as Microsoft.

LMuch of Tanja’s team’s networking is about creating an even broader network. There’s a sweet spot for partners where both sides are seeing the benefits of these strategic relationships, and Tanja’s team hopes they can provide value on their side of the equation.

These types of alliances are often not just 1:1 partnerships. Many times there are three or four partners coming together. At IBM, Tanja brings SAP together with other IBM partners that her team already works with.

Final advice.

Tanja’s first piece of advice for those looking to join the Alliance/Partnership space is to have fun. She has a blast working with customers and partners alike. She gets to be involved early on in the innovation cycle of products, and works with customers on new innovation scenarios.

She does caution that those new to the industry need to have a lot of flexibility. There’s no certain path or education required, but having a sales background does help you develop your network.

The most important things an Alliance Manager can do are to find win/wins for partners, to keep innovating, to think big, and to team up early and often!

This post is based on a live video podcast with Tanja Scheller. To hear this episode, and many more like it, don’t forget to listen and subscribe to the Alliance Aces Podcast, or visit our dedicated Alliance Aces page.

To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about alliances, he can be reached by:

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