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Alliance partnerships seem incredibly complex at times.
As an alliance professional, your mission is to understand thousands of customers, possibly hundreds of products, and dozens of team members from two (or more)companies.
How does an alliance professional juggle and succeed with such a large forest of issues?
Roland Wartenberg joined us on our Alliance Aces podcast to discuss success in alliances. Roland’s resume includes his current position as Sr. Director of Strategic Alliances at NetApp, dealing with global strategic alliances in enterprise solutions, Big Data, and IOT. Previously, Roland worked for Citrix as the Director of Strategic Alliances, and he also spent over a dozen years at SAP in various capacities in both the US and in Germany.
Roland shared 5 challenges Alliance Pros face. You don’t want to miss how he overcomes them.
Challenge #1: Determining your alliance partners.
Working with alliances is akin to running various separate businesses — not only do you have to ensure your team is aligned and reaching a goal, you now have to ensure all the various pieces are coming together within your partners’ organizations as well. You’ll want to pick partnerships that can function well together.
The goal? To provide a solution that will positively impact your customers. You must determine the appropriate alliance partner(s) that will ultimately ensure a better product for customers that solves their problems.
Challenge #2: Find the low-hanging fruit.
An alliance can include hundreds of products and thousands — or even millions — of customers from the participating enterprises. You must determine which products, solutions, or services will achieve the highest reward and are most beneficial for your customer.
Choose those solutions which will drive revenue and have the easiest available deployment.
Challenge #3: Comparing alliance strategy to sales.
There will be various similarities, yet keen differences between your strategy as an alliance professional and the strategy of a sales team. Borrow those concepts and strategies which apply, while recognizing the differences.
Sales teams measure their success quarter-by-quarter. As an alliance professional, you must be able to provide additional sales at some point — if there are no additional sales to show success, then, perhaps, there is no success. However, you must think in much longer terms of success than the quarterly goals set by a sales team.
“You really have to look down the road at where you want to be in 1, 2, or 3 years. If you just look at where you want to be in 3 months, for a strategic alliances, this won’t work.”
Challenge #4: Measurements of success (hard and soft KPIs).
Use 2 sets of KPIs: hard and soft.
Hard KPIs are based on easily quantifiable metrics — such as ROI — and are easier to measure when dealing specifically with a reselling partner. These hard KPIs become increasingly more difficult when you are managing a joint solution.
While hard KPIs are based on sales and ROI, soft KPIs are those that answer the questions:
“How is this alliance going forward?”
“How is it meshing?”
“How are the teams working together?” etc.
You’ll need both measurements form both sets of KPIs to determine success.
Challenge #5: Finding a collaborative platform.
There are few platforms available for single-view metrics for alliance partners. Most enterprises have various solutions at their disposal to view progress of the company and its own projects, products, and solutions. However, few resources exist for joint ownership viewable by all parties.
Sink your teeth into those few resources that exist, and stay alert for new products and solutions that allow joint viewership and collaboration to see results and progress.
Bonus piece of advice: Start with the customer.
Roland left our audience with one last piece of advice for alliance professionals: Start with the customer. Visit the customer. Determine the problems of the customers you are responsible for, solve their problem, and the rest will follow.