Up to 30% of business can be influenced by or happens because you are working with the right partners. (That’s probably a very low estimate.)
Alliances are key to our success.
Most people think of alliances as external, but the partnership between strategic alliances and sales is essential.
Recently, I sat down with Sanjeev Mittal, General Manager and Business Head of Data Analytics and AI, and Rajat Sinha, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships for Data Analytics and AI — both at Wipro.
Rajat is the alliance leader working with coordinating partners, and Sanjeev heads the sales organization. They exemplify the importance of alliances and sales supporting each other with positive interactions.
As general manager and head of business for data analytics and AI, Sanjeev encounters a lot of intriguing client problems:
- Can you help me get my data in shape?
- Can you help me know where I should dig for oil?
- Can you help me optimize my staff or equipment movement?
“We have a crew that is passionate about solving those kinds of business problems by leveraging the strength and solutions that Wipro has accumulated over the years under focus on data analytics and AI,” Sanjeev said.
From an employee perspective, he measures success by business growth.
“But from a client perspective, how I measure myself is when my client is in need,” Sanjeev said. “Am I the first name that comes to his mind? Let me call Sanjeev.”
A partnership that matters is one where he’s viewed as someone who can give ideas, be unbiased, and help solve problems.
“From an ecosystem perspective, my role becomes of that coach who's bringing various players together, involved in solving a client problem,” Sanjeev said.
“It's not only one party who can do everything. So I need my product partners on my side. I need my fulfillment partners on my side. I need my consulting partners,” he added.
As a coach, he coordinates everyone he can leverage to bring solutions to a problem.
“I also take the role of an evangelist and focus a little bit on building that community to see if we all can get together, share, and learn,” he said.
Even though data analytics plays a gigantic role in Sanjeev’s work, he remains focused on strengthening relationships so that he can coach, evangelize, and troubleshoot.
Alliance director Rajat shares Sanjeev’s perspective on emphasizing partnerships.
“The way we look at our team and measure ourselves is how do we work with partners and our sales leaders like Sanjeev to drive shareholder value for our end clients,” Rajat said.
What can we do together to help differentiate our clients in the marketplace? Help drive revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risk?
“It’s about working with the partners and with Sanjeev to drive a common pipeline and then conversion,” he added.
Providing value to the customer remains at the center of Rajat’s thought processes. “Across our company, the customer comes first, and their needs are what we're tending to,” he said.
Alliance and Partnering Activities
Rajat said Wipro has seen the conversation moving to the cloud. “It’s a conversation about how can we use the cloud to drive revenue and drive growth, enter into new markets, and just get quicker time to insights,” he said.
His focus is on the cloud with platform vendors and with a specific high growth cloud ISV. What kind of relationship can we build? Can this be truly a partnership?
“Over the past few years of doing this, I've seen a spectrum in the partnership relationship,” Rajat said. “It starts off with a transactional, moving into a relational, to an alliance focus and then to a partnership focus.”
“A true partner is one that has not only mutual goals, but those mutual goals, if they're not met, that is harm done to both parties. So we either succeed together or fail together,” Rajat said.
Cloud also helps Sanjeev look for long term opportunities in building alliances. His team spends a lot of time brainstorming and anticipating problems.
“We figure out which are the partners who are not going to disrupt my client's landscape as soon as they're introduced,” Sanjeev said. “Once we have a curated list, then the fun begins to try to figure out if it is the right culture, what is in it for them, what is in it for us.”
This is an essential question: How do we get revenue uptake on both sides? “The partner should be equally excited about it,” Sanjeev added.
Sanjeev and Rajat build partner planning into annual planning.
- Where are the partners in the marketplace?
- Are they continuing the growth?
- Is there still a market share for them?
- Are they doing the right things?
“It's basically taking lessons learned from the past, reevaluating what is right for us, what is right for our clients and then creating a mix of very focused five to six partners that we want to go all-in,” Rajat explained.
Collaboration Between Alliances & Sales
Sanjeev and Rajat’s teams have a weekly cadence. “In today's world, we are in touch with every single data or text all the time,” Rajat said.
The conversations are ongoing, though they change throughout the year. Some are focused on planning conversations, some are execution conversations, and some are partner conversations.
The regular internal cadences are supported by partner cadences where the partner teams interfaces along with the sales team.
This collaboration is also a long term game.
“It's not something which we learned and got confidence on leveraging alliance ecosystem overnight,” Sanjeev said.
“We've got to understand and take steps to make it successful in the long term, internally between my team and Rajat’s team and externally with those alliance partners,” he added.
As well as being a long game, the collaboration also has to be built on transparency. “We want Rajat and his team to be in front of our clients, also leading certain conversations. They are part of our business planning exercise with our business partners,” Sanjeev said.
The internal transparency sets the tone for transparency between Wipro and its partners. “There's a huge amount of transparency, the same transparency we expect and we are ready to give to our alliance partners,” Sanjeev said.
“20 to 30% of my business was influenced or it happened because I was working with the right partners, and I had Rajat on my side,” Sanjeev said.
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