Finding new ways to implement alliance management tools and processes is valuable for the entire ASAP community because it sets a new standard for best practices—whether in the area of measurement, communications, conflict resolution, training, or other applications. This year the Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award was presented to NetApp at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise,” Feb. 28–March 2, at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California. This award highlights how NetApp has strived for exemplary partnering tools and practices. While many companies still try to manage partnering processes through spreadsheets, NetApp invested in technology and governance with stringent trackable processes that produce measurable results for its alliance co-selling program. The program assists NetApp and partner representatives proactively involved in account mapping, account planning, and pipeline management in the most difficult aspects of go-to-market alliances. The system also provides detailed reports on joint co-selling activities. I spoke with Ron Long, alliance director, who explained the progressive change undertaken that now acts as a valuable model for other companies tracking multi-alliance details.
What challenge were you problem-solving?
We were problem-solving the lack of ability to effectively manage and measure multi-alliance sales engagements. The challenge had to do with multiple partners pursing the same sale and having an impact when closing the deal. The question was, “How does a system that is originated toward single-product sales measure revenue across several different companies?” We also wanted to improve the ability of teams to collaborate across multiple companies.
Describe some of the benefits of the new trackable system?
We were able to track investments and results, and that resulted in executive alliance growth. We also were able to track results for paying out commissions to salespeople. It was the impetus for growth and investment. When we could track those alliance partners, we had tangible data we could take to management and ask for investments for growth. Revenues have clearly improved through measurement and collaboration. We also use the system to set up sales pursuits to get partners to collaborate. This type of a problem is across multiple alliances, not just technology. Because it’s a problem that exists across multiple industries, it’s applicable outside the tech industry.
How did the new system evolve?
Two years ago, we started with some self-design, but we modified the sales tracking systems already in place with cloud technology, such as Salesforce.com. It’s adaptable because it’s a cloud-based service, and you can link in different information sources in the cloud. It’s easier to link that in than to do an in-house modification system. For governance, we do quarterly APRs, and each of the alliance leads added tracking of their progress, pipeline, revenue, investments, and training to ensure that what we’re doing plan-wise meets with results.
What ASAP tools and practices were useful when designing the system?
The greatest benefit came from ASAP Summit sessions that had to do with the overall management of multi-alliances. Also, we used several ASAP best practices as guideposts.