He’s the Director of Partner Alliances For Germany, Switzerland, and Austria at Infor, the third largest business solutions provider in the world in over 70 industries.
Check out his strategy of combining sales and alliances to tackle ambitious growth.
Plans Change. It’s OK If Alliances Were Never Part of the Original Strategy
The ever-accelerating pace of technology has forced many companies to rethink their go-to-market and deployment strategies, especially for B2B companies.
Because of the rapidly innovative environment, alliances have become a necessity for most companies. Rather than internally developing every aspect of a solution, go-to-market strategy, or deployment, companies are increasingly finding it easier to keep pace with competition via alliances.
Andreas knows this firsthand: When he first came on board at Infor last August, he had an ambitious goal: to hire 700 consultants in 3 years. Why such a large number?
Their business had not just grown, it had exploded — and Infor could not keep up with the deployment needed. They needed alliances simply to keep pace with demand.
As stated, this is a wonderful position for any business: with an abundance of customers and a need for deployment to keep up with sales. However, you can’t have a growing backlog of deployment without that eventually affecting your sales.
The Pitch to Partners: Necessity of a Win-Win in Alliance Creation
“Show me the money.”
That’s how he put it, several times.
He couldn’t be more right.
When bringing on alliances, a win-win is central to the relationship. This concept is somewhat obvious, and perhaps even instinct to most business professionals. However, the execution isn’t always clear.
Two questions help in this scenario:
What is the current environment? (Demand, pain points, regulatory, etc.)
Who are the current competitors?
If you can articulate both of these clearly, your value proposition to a potential alliance partner will become increasingly more attractive.
And, if you can articulate it, you can trust it.
Point to Current Customers, Case Studies
Of course, in Andreas’s case, it’s simple to “show ‘em the money”: Infor is bursting at the seams with customers, and simply needs consultants for deployment.
Perhaps you have that same problem.
More likely, however, if you already have a completed solution, you’re seeking an alliance to increase awareness, brand recognition, and ultimately, sales.
But you still have success to point to, to convince alliances to come on board. Consider your current customers, for starters. Further, even if you have to fight for that first alliance, you will then have ammunition for the next alliance conversation.
Focus in on a Niche, & Combine it With Passion
This applies to product development and go-to-market strategy: The magic happens at the intersection of niche and passion.
When your business or division can double-down on 1 product or service or problem to solve, then fan that niche with individuals who are passionate about the solution. You’ll find the sweet spot.
Andreas pointed to his time at Microsoft, where he helped grow his division by 500%. He said the growth was a direct result of focusing on 1 solution and tackle it.
To Anyone Considering Becoming an Alliance Professional:
Before he left, Andreas left us with 2 pieces of advice for anyone considering alliance partnerships as part of their career:
Alliances are an interesting orchestra of sales and marketing, multiplied by at least 2 companies. With a multitude of potential focuses, your 24 hours in a day can quickly become minutes. Prioritize as your life depended on it.
The famed Italian merchant Marco Polo changed the face of Eastern-Western business relations by simply holding a note from a king that gave him permission to trade. Doors were flung open, the red carpets laid out (and sold), just because he had the support of authority — 1 signature enabled him to change the face of business for centuries.
The lesson is this: Find someone of great authority in your organization who will empower you and support your mission, and truly believes that alliances are crucial to the ROI of the business.