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Finding Opportunity in Disruption: Pivot your Partner Strategy

Posted By Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP | Phoenix Consulting Group, Saturday, August 29, 2020

Have you rethought your partner ecosystem strategy in terms of what new opportunities lie ahead? Are you prepared to find the opportunity in disruption? We can assume that business as usual is not going to work in today’s volatile business climate because business has become unusual. Yet, disruptive times are times of great opportunity for those who are alert in spotting them.

Shortly after the 2008 Great Recession, I dusted off a white paper written in the aftermath of the dot.com implosion in 2001. Based on discussions with the alliances leaders, I learned that Cisco had doubled down on their alliance strategy to buffer the impact. By continuing to invest in alliances and realigning their strategy, Cisco generated 12% growth in alliance revenue during a time of general economic contraction and while the rest of their business was struggling.

In 2008 it was the financial sector that went into meltdown.

A colleague of mine worked with partners specializing in the financial sector. I erroneously assumed that his business had cratered with the financial institutions. I was wrong. Business was booming. Financial institutions were facing mergers, acquisitions, and consolidation. They were addressing compliance and regulatory issues that had been overlooked, leading to the crises, and were planning for new regulations and compliance issues that they anticipated would be legislated. My colleague was in a unique position to help solve the big problems these businesses are facing.

In the Covid economic crises, ecosystems are again shifting to address new opportunities: work from home solutions, tele-medicine, contact tracing, collaboration on therapies and vaccines. How can you pivot your partner strategies to survive and take advantage of new opportunities?

Follow the shifts in buying behavior. Spending might be reduced in a recession, but it also shifts.  Buying behavior changes. Smart businesses realign their strategies to take advantage of those shifts. The sudden work from home mandates created enormous opportunities. Microsoft and Google started promoting their web-conferencing tools aggressively and created programs and incentives for their partners to take advantage of the trend.

Solve the big problems created by disruption. Logistics went through a major disruption as retail goods shifted from storefront to webfront buying. The transportation network was in a frenzy rescheduling planes, ships, and trucking to serve this enormous shift. This dynamic and sudden shift required companies that normally compete to collaborate more effectively. An example, a business that uses Mercury Gate for inbound freight but might use JDA for international ocean shipping. In order to get shipments from point A to point B, these two transportation platforms needed to be able to share information and communicate in real time.

Leverage the benefits of shared costs and shared rewards. Partners are the ultimate ‘do more with less’ strategic play. Partners combine forces to provide even stronger customer value proposition at lower costs. Half of the assets and expenses are on your partner’s books.

Partner marketing has always been a great cost share opportunity. A marketing colleague shifted all marketing spending to co-marketing with partners resulting in lead generation and shared costs. A bonus of this strategy was that cross marketing on partners’ house lists yielded much higher quality leads. He achieved a higher quality sales funnel at half the costs!

There are opportunities for those who can address the pain points created by disruption and provide solutions. How can you realign your partner ecosystem strategy to focus on where companies will be compelled to spend to stay viable? Disruption creates opportunity and those who recover successfully will be those who can pivot their strategy to take advantage of the changes.

Norma Watenpaugh , CSAP, is a founding partner at Phoenix Consulting Group, which specializes in helping companies find more value in their most important strategic business relationships. This blog was originally posted on August 25, 2020 in LinkedIn.

Tags:  acquisitions  alliance leaders  Cisco  co-marketing  compliance  consolidation  ecosystem  financial sector  mergers  Norma Watenpaugh  partner  partner marketing  partners  Phoenix Consulting Group  strategy 

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