#04 Madhav Ranganathan: Best Practices for Alliance Leaders: Tips From a Global SI Director
Madhav Ranganathan, Director of GSI at Hitachi Vantara is a strategic alliance professional, who did just that.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a true alliance leader just handed you their manual for success? Thankfully, someone did.
Madhav Ranganathan, Director of GSI at Hitachi Vantara is a strategic alliance professional, who did just that. With 20 years of experience from managing alliances and business development for Intel, VMware, OpTier, and others — Madhav delivered groundbreaking advice on our Podcast for alliance professionals.
He shared his best practices for alliance professionals, including how to align your day, how to disrupt your role, and execution strategies for driving revenue.
Here’s what he had to say:
The challenge for alliance pros: getting 2 companies on the same page.
The challenge for alliance professionals is selling to two sides — your internal organization must understand the value of the alliance. Simultaneously, you must convince your partner why this alliance will drive value for them.
As an SI leader, Madhav notes how this plays out: He must convince the alliance’s SI why the technology of which he is an ambassador will differentiate his partner from their competition. Simultaneously, he’s educating his internal field sales organization on the importance of a global SI.
Many times, this may feel like groundhog day: It’s constant education and daily repetition to ensure both sides are aligned and understanding of roles and responsibilities.
The reward of alignment.
For alliance professionals and leaders, the revenue potential can be exponential.
Madhav has worked with a variety of alliances, observing and leading them from tactical to strategic.
He’s developed a specific model of behavior for working with alliancesthat he calls the “Joint Operating Model” (JOM). Within this model, both sides can align to see exponential growth.
Typically, organizations partner because of a very tactical, deal-oriented concept. Eventually, they may morph into a strategic level of partnership, where both sides are determining the relevance the other provides to their organization. Ultimately, they both should take advantage of and build the multiplier effect.
Under one common goal, one common metric, investments from both sides, endorsements from both partners, and alignment at the executive level — you can then see tremendous growth in the area of which you are an ambassador.
This is where the original partnership, which was a tactical necessity, goes from being run-rate growth, to true hockey stick success.
How to lead as an alliance professional.
Madhav gave his best practices to alliance professionals seeking that hockey-stick multiplier effect within their organization:
1. Get your team aligned with sales.
Your SI team must be aligned with the overall sales strategy of your company. It’s OK to set expectations, and be upfront and honest with what your team can and can’t deliver. As an alliance leader, you are a sales team member.
Your mission is to increase revenue in line with that of the overall sales strategy of your company.
2. Prioritize your day.
You will have 30 tasks awaiting you when you arrive to the office.Madhav says to think of each of these as having a degree of separation from the overall goal: driving revenue.
Every activity is a certain number of degrees removed from revenue.
“If I’m on a call with a rep, an SI, and a customer — specifically about an opportunity we’re closing — that’s one degree removed from revenue,” said Madhav.
Too many alliance professionals miss this key concept.
Sales is one degree removed. A training session with sales representatives on how to sell a joint product may be two degrees separated. By extension, a meeting between your CEO and your alliance’s CEO is probably three degrees of separation.
Prioritize your day in accordance with those tasks with the fewest degrees of separation from driving revenue.
3. Collaborative joint system of record.
It’s nearly impossible to find solutions that are collaborative and viewable by both you and your partner. Other teams have solutions such as SAP to assist them in their day-to-day, but for alliances, few tools exist.
“An excel spreadsheet is obsolete as soon as it’s created,” said Madhav.
There needs to be a dashboard, updated in real time, providing a single view of common metrics for both alliance partners. (We know this problem well, and believe we have the #1 solution for this here at WorkSpan.)
4. Fail fast.
If you are doing something that doesn’t work, (i.e., isn’t driving revenue) then stop. Pivot. Try something new.
5. Truly understand you and your alliance partner’s goals.
Consider what goals and incentives your partner have. What’s important for them? How are they compensated? Is this bundled with their tech in another area?
Thanks to Madhav for such a detailed path — you can succeed in your SI leadership role, or elsewhere as an alliance professional.
The challenge of aligning the goals of two organizations can be daunting, but when done well, alliances yield tremendous results.
Check out other Alliance Podcasts here.
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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- Twitter: @chiprodgers
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