SAP now has a CPO (chief partner officer). This addition to the C-suite to such a powerful company goes to show just how important alliances are — to Gary, finding alliance opportunities are indispensable for continued growth. Plus, in today’s fast-paced world, alliance opportunities are everywhere.
Consider the life cycle a cloud provider or an application provider:
There are the development stages, then there’s the marketing process and the sales engagement. Plus, somebody has to implement all of those, and then somebody has to maintain many of those processes.
There are partnering opportunities in each of those areas — whether it's embedded tech in the development side, or the need for marketing resources, or the need to leverage or augment skills one company doesn’t have in-house. And of course, don’t forget the delivery.
Again, alliance opportunities everywhere are everywhere.
So, what ingredients make successful alliances?
1: You need lots of moving parts
Alliances are complicated, but that complication is required to ensure the alliance functions.
In a successful alliance, you need to have all these ingredients:
joint innovation or joint assets
a flow of opportunity and revenue
2: Be OK with co-opetition
Co-opetition is almost a necessity within many verticals. You have to find the right value prop that doesn't compete but instead produces opportunity.
To ensure success, find the white space, and ensure the mutual value with the right joint value proposition and business case.
3: Train and enable all sides of the alliance
Not only are you producing a joint value prop (and possibly a joint solution), but you’re blending (at least) 2 distinct companies and cultures.
Ensure you have the proper training for all parties as they adjust to working toward common goals.
4: Don’t lose heart after mistakes
Gary reminded us of this: Simply, not everything's going to work. Discouragement can be a huge issue in alliances, as there’s at least double the space for error and miscommunication.
If something doesn’t work — don’t be too hard on yourself. Often, alliance management comes down to trial and error. You try different things, and they won't all work, but you have to keep pushing, and eventually, you find the key that opens up the opportunity.
“We are perpetually looking for that market that we can't reach, that opportunity we can't create, or the customer we can't reach.” It’s true. And sometimes that overzealous pursuit can lead to discouragement.
We get it. That’s why we created the #AllianceAces community — so you can swap ideas and best practices with other alliance professionals.