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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 103

April 29, 2020

#103 Preseetha Pettigrew: Better Alignment through Partner Engagement

Preseetha Pettigrew, Global VP Strategic Alliances at Seismic, joins Chip Rodgers on this Ecosystem Aces episode.

The best alliances rest on a foundation of successful alignment, but building it can be difficult if you spread yourself too thin.

So, freeing up resources by concentrating on fewer, higher-impact partnerships can be a rewarding strategy. 

And having a framework for the full lifecycle of customer engagement keeps you on track, aligned and able to scale.

My guest today is Preseetha Pettigrew, Global VP Strategic Alliances at Seismic, where she has done tremendous work incorporating these elements into an incredibly successful alliance program.

Preseetha explains exactly how she was able to do more with less in Seismic’s alliance program and drive the company’s incredible international growth.

She goes over:

  • How to get the ingredients right in a partnership before scaling
  • Why it pays to keep an eye on partner engagement every step of the way
  • How to balance solid structures with the need for flexibility

Concentrate on aligning with key partners before scaling

Seismic is a very customer-centric business looking to its strategic alliances to help grow revenue, source new deals, shorten its sales cycle and improve win rates. 

The US-based company is also looking to reach new markets, currently growing its operations in Europe and Asia. 

In looking toward its alliances to help achieve these goals, Praseetha is focusing on getting alignment right from the outset, which has meant working with a smaller set of key, high-impact partners. 

This approach has proved invaluable for Seismic, affording the company the opportunity to go really deep with each partner and build out a very clear go-to-market strategy with this small number of alliances.

Scaling back its program and focusing on the key, high-impact partnerships has allowed Seismic and its partners to have clear joint stories, clear ways of working together and has made sure everything they do is scalable and repeatable.

And scalability and repeatability are the key ingredients to the continued success of Seismic’s strategic alliance program.  Which can only happen with the right structures in place. 

Create a structure for the full lifecycle of partner engagement 

In order to ensure these few, but immensely important, alliances are developing successfully, Seismic has put in place a framework to track, measure and analyze partnerships every step of the way.

At each stage, there are checkpoints to let the company know if its partners have completed all the steps before they move onto the next stage. 

Seismic uses living documents called engagement scorecards to highlight what has been done and is working well and identify gaps to work on in the next quarter or two. 

These look at whether there is alignment at the channel-level, partner-level or between leadership, whether field education has been performed and the clarity of the go-to-market plan. 

The process starts after the initial identification and acquisition phase when new partners are given a welcome kit and put through an onboarding process to learn more about Seismic and the way it operates.

Preseetha says the onboarding process is referred to as the partners’ “Better Together” story.

That’s because this is the period of time in which the joint story of the alliance is laid out, identifying how the two partners can become better together. They look at what goals and ideas are required to move forward as an alliance and what is realistic for each respective business.

Then they move onto the activation phase, in which the first targets are identified for working together. Often, this is targeting accounts that are low-hanging fruit.

This is because this phase is really about getting a feel for what it is like to work together — whether it actually makes sense and, importantly, whether the companies enjoy working together — and building alignment. 

Once they’ve closed this first deal together and every box has been ticked off, all that’s left is to repeat the process. After 3 or 4 deals, the muscle memory should be there and the companies will have built up a solid foundation for a very natural way of working together.

This structured form is an incredibly worthwhile approach to incorporate into your alliance strategy. Not only does it make sure you are tracking everything, catching issues early and adjusting when needed, it also builds alignment and trust each step of the way.

And this makes for a more enjoyable — and rewarding — alliance experience.

Balance structure with flexibility

Having structure is incredibly valuable, but it’s also important to make sure your structure is not too rigid. 

As the uncertainty of the current pandemic illustrates, it’s important companies retain a certain amount of flexibility to adapt to sudden, unpredictable changes in markets or the world at large.  

But even when you find what works well for your company and your partners, you both will grow and evolve. Your needs will change and your plans will change.

So, it’s important you are able to always look back and ask: “What could we do better next year?” 

Find balance. Have solid structures in place, but build some flexibility into your alliance program. 

After all, you never know what the future may hold.

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