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An Ecosystem can have a variety of alliances: tech partnerships, strategic partnerships, ISVs, MSBs, SIs …. the list goes on. Determining how to leverage each of these partnerships for maximum ROI requires a complex set of skills in resource management.
On this episode of Alliance Aces, we invite Tony Beller to explain how he manages his complex ecosystem at Anaplan, a SaaS company with over 175 partners internationally.
Tony is currently the VP of World WIde Strategy, Alliances, and Tech Partnerships. In total, he has over 12 years experience leading alliances at Slack (Head of WW Alliances), Service Now, Salesforce, and others.
Here are his 4 keys on forming and managing complex ecosystems:
1: Take Inventory of Current Network, Identify Gaps, and Align Your Ecosystem
First, take inventory of your current partnerships, and determine where each plays the most effective role in supporting the overarching initiatives or your organization.
In Tony’s case, he pushed his robust reseller alliances to focus on their mid-market customers, so his team could focus on the enterprise sales in-house.
Then, he identified gaps in their customer base where a stronger MSP network would drive major business.
The specifics will vary within your own company, but the process is simple: Take inventory, identify, and align.
2: Leverage Use Cases From Tech Partnerships So You Have Plug-and-Play Integrations & Case Studies
Pro tip, especially for SaaS companies: Consider your current partnerships. In what instances have you developed easily repeatable integrations? Have you developed case studies around those integrations? Have you made those integrations readily accessible?
When something is easy to access, it is likely to be repeated. If you have done integration with a highly used SaaS (such as WorkDay or Salesforce), these should be top-of-mind.
Case studies and plug-and-play integrations not only help drive net-new sales with customers, but they also encourage your tech partners to sell your SaaS with their clients. It’s a double-win.
3: Invest in Strategy Partnerships
In Anaplan’s situation, they also work with some of the largest consulting firms, such as McKinsey and Bain. These strategic partnerships provide a unique opportunity: Often when these consulting firms are working with clients, they will build a strategy that includes Anaplan’s software.
By the time one of these consulting firms present entire plans to their clients, the client will often say, “How did you develop this?” The answer? “We used Anaplan.” These are typically very easy sells, Tony noted — the customer’s been nurtured, and the length of the sales cycle drops dramatically. The deal needs little more than ink.
4: Manage Your In-House Team
Most of Tony’s direct reports don’t have a background in alliances. He’s learned how to leverage their strengths and develop a team that’s consistently bringing on a new partnership and driving growth.
Here are his tips:
Have your direct reports create a joint business plan with a partner. Make sure they focus on joint revenue, training, and certification, the solution, etc.
Do due diligence with account mapping. Every partner has their own top accounts. Cross-reference these with your top accounts.
Put in operational rigor around what opportunities your team is currently working on.
Advice to a Future Alliance Professional:
Chip asks every guest what their advice is to anyone seeking a career in alliances. Here’s what Tony said:
There’s no specific starting point. Even if you come from sales, marketing, or product, if alliances interest you, go for it.
Invest in your relationships early and dive in to understand how those partners work, so you can begin to consider the mutually (not singularly) beneficial market opportunities.