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Partnership Activity Active Among ASAP Global and Corporate Members

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 5/1/2013

As we like to do from time to time, we thought we would round up some recent partnership announcements from ASAP Corporate and Global Members. In particular, the biopharma industry members have been active this spring.

AstraZeneca and Bind Therapeutics entered into an alliance around Accurin, a cancer nanomedicine. Merck and Pfizer are collaborating around a type 2 diabetes drug that is set for Phase III.

And speaking of diabetes, Eli Lilly and Company's diabetes group is expanding its unique partnership with Disney to bring educational resources about the disease to people all over the world. The partnership began exclusively as a U.S. initiative.

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ASAP Welcomes a New Crop of CA-AMs

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 4/29/2013

Each month, ASAP adds more certified professionals to its ranks. In April, eight new alliance pros have added the Certification of Achievement–Alliance Management (CA-AM) designation, the basic level of certification, including several from ASAP Global and Corporate Member organizations. Congratulations to the following folks for their accomplishment:
  • Joshua Ho, Cisco
  • Stephen Lyle, Citrix
  • Peter Varney, Covance
  • Lynne Canavan, IBM
  • Sam Lambros, Quintiles
  • Manish Nair, SAS
  • Gugulethu Zonke, SAS
  • Laura Black, Walgreen Company

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Swinging a Double-Edge Sword—Alliance Managers Must Harness a Sales Mentality That Can Cut Both Ways in Working with SMB VARs

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 4/26/2013

Global 1,000 IT companies have sold their products through Value-Added Resellers (VARs) for many years. These allies, also referred to as “channel partners,” have provided tech vendors volume sales without incurring a significant cost in closing the transactions. These “sell-through” relationships have typically been transactional and not nearly as collaborative as “sell-with” partnerships in which salespeople of two or more companies go into customer pitches arm-in-arm. In the past, vendors have simply provided little more than a few pieces of sales collateral, some complex incentive programs, and a support hotline for their VAR community, which numbers in the thousands for big companies, and let their reseller partners drive the bus from there.

The role of the VAR is changing, especially for those selling to midmarket companies. In our forthcoming Q2 2103 Strategic Alliance Magazine cover story on alliances between big and small companies, Manoj Bhatia, CA-AM, senior product marketing manager of go-to-market strategy and alliances for the collaboration business at Cisco, spoke about his company’s new approach to its VAR community. He said the company is cultivating a few select channel partners with whom it will work almost as closely as it does with strategic IT vendor partners—hand-in-hand with an active ongoing dialogue about marketing and product strategy. On the reseller’s side, VARs are now increasingly selling managed services and other offerings that entail them interacting with customers well after the sale thanks to the emergence of cloud-based solutions, which also necessitates closer cooperation with vendors.

For Cisco and Bhatia’s collaboration technologies group, midmarket companies represent a tremendous market opportunity. In his 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit presentation “When Your Customer or Partner Is Small,” Bhatia said the market for products that integrate voice, video, data, and applications is $7.1 billion; he added that 75 percent of companies have yet to upgrade to these new networking technologies. Interestingly, the resellers working with Cisco to tap this market share similar DNA with these customers; they are largely SMBs as well.

Take these dynamics together—potentially lucrative midmarket revenues and the increasingly collaborative reseller—and you get an environment in which the classic short-term sales mindset becomes a double-edge sword, according to Bhatia. On one hand, the salesperson’s relentless focus on the deal at hand is perfect for the shorter midmarket sales cycles. However, that mentality won’t necessarily get the most out of the top-tier VARs that show signs of having the chops to rake in vast revenues in the longer term.

“If you focus only on sales and not the rest of the handholding and keeping a constant pulse of the market, you won’t get volume results,” said Bhatia.

He added that it is well worth the investment in time and resources to apply some of the standard alliance methodologies and practices, such as governance and rules of engagement, to this segment of the partner base.

“We don't have to adopt every [alliance tool] for the midmarket, but at least we pick up one very simple principle of alliance management, which is high-touch relationship building and listening to the partner,” he said.

Cisco is betting that patience and a long-term view is going to help these select resellers flourish like they never have before.

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Expanding the SMB’s Footprint into Its Multinational Partner’s Value Proposition

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 4/24/2013

This week, we are building out a series of posts on alliances between large companies and smaller entities like SMBs and start-ups using excerpts of the interviews we conducted for our cover story on this topic slated for the Q2 2013 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine. One element that is covered in the forthcoming print story is that the onus is on the smaller company to conduct research to find the niche in the larger company’s ecosystem that will advance the latter’s value proposition.

However, what we didn’t reveal in the magazine piece is that the smaller company has an opportunity to expand that niche and help its larger counterpart connect dots within its own organization to drive additional results. Darrin Carroll, CPA, director of corporate business development at specialty tax technology solution provider Vertex Inc., spoke to us about his company’s relationship with IBM, which began when Big Blue closed on its acquisition of Vertex Inc.’s longtime partner Cognos in 2008. Vertex Inc. has dedicated a lot of effort the past few years to establishing relationships at IBM. Initially, the company leveraged its Cognos contacts to make inroads in the Global 500 partner’s software division.

More recently, Vertex Inc. has identified ways its tax calculation software could bolster Big Blue’s services business offerings and is now trying to convince its software-side allies that it is worth their time and effort to advocate on the smaller partner’s behalf. To do this, it is incumbent upon the Vertex Inc. team to arm the IBM software group with the ammunition to make the case. This entails more than just providing the raw data—case studies, testimonials, anecdotes, revenue figures, etc.—but doing so in the language of IBM’s corporate culture; Vertex Inc. has delivered case studies in the form of IBM “blueprints”—business cases and white papers used by Big Blue to pitch its prospects.

“As we’re going further into the relationship and giving proof points along the way to them, we’re now showing a better business case as to why they’re more apt to get [us] to those folks [in IBM Global Services],” said Carroll.

Most important, of course, is to provide the “what’s-in-it-for-me” to the software people.

“It will help them sell more units on the software side through services,” said Carroll.

In essence, according to Carroll, you simply have to help your contact help you by illustrating how this act will, in turn, boomerang and boost the efforts of his or her division. And all of this information—PowerPoint decks, elevator pitches, and anything else illustrating the high-level benefits to that division and its customers—needs to be prepared in such a way that the partner contact can understand it clearly.

“If you can do that homework ahead of time and give [your primary partner contact] some ammunition to help you, they’re more apt to help you,” said Carroll.

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Governance—SMBs Learn to Live with It, Alliances Can’t Live Without It

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 4/23/2013

In our continuing series on alliances between large multinational companies and smaller entities (SMBs and start-ups), we examine an issue that surprisingly didn’t make it into the cover story of our forthcoming Q2 2013 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine on the same topic. When we originally set out in pursuit of this article on so-called “David-Goliath” alliances, we postulated based on informal conversations with members that a big part of managing this type of alliance would be to help SMBs, biotechs, and start-ups deal with both alliance governance processes as well as the inherent bureaucracy that comes with large company operations.

As part of this issue we examined whether the bigger organization would find itself having to quell the practice of “decision shopping” by its smaller partner—circumventing the alliance governance structure and chain of command when the larger organization’s primary contacts are not giving you the answer you want, and getting a “go” signal from an executive at another branch, division, regional unit, or other part of the multi-armed multinational. The smaller organization can in theory say it got necessary approvals to proceed on a course, even if that decision really was never sanctioned by the big company’s alliance constituents.

According to the people we spoke with, this practice is generally the exception, not the rule. Most of the time, those bypassing the alliance communications channels are not necessarily ill intentioned, according to ASAP New England chapter president Frank Curran, director of business development and alliances at SUSE.

“Some people go around for honest reasons where they know somebody [at the big company] and they think that that can help. It frustrates and actually causes chaos because it hurts your peer’s stature because someone else above [at the large company] is going to question him,” he said.

Rob Wills, vice president of alliance management at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, said biotechs and other smaller pharma companies are very good about utilizing the governance structure properly. He outlined a rare exception—when “this no-yes is the death of the program,” which is covered in the Q2 2013 cover story. He also added that Janssen has had experiences when the smaller partner has sidestepped the larger company entirely, not just its governance structure.

“What we have had is they get impatient and they make a decision without us, and then they ask for forgiveness,” he said.

Later in our conversation, Wills explained that the committees, which of course have smaller company representation, ultimately help resolve disagreements a large majority of the time. He acknowledged that there are occasional situations that grow so contentious that they cannot be settled using the formal governance measures, but he said these instances are “more rare than common.”

Wills also said that trust, open lines of communication, and rigorous education on the alliance governance and internal Janssen corporate processes go a long way in preventing snafus that might arise from a failure to properly navigate a large company, in general. Pannie Trifillis, Ph.D., CA-AM, director of alliance management at PTC Therapeutics, agreed.

“Even though we are a small company, we understand and embrace the need to have governance committees and processes. We expect our partners to be transparent about these processes and to help us navigate the system within their organization,” she said.

Curran certainly understands how employees at start-ups might get tripped up trying to make sense of the many tentacles of a global company. In a previous life he orchestrated alliances on behalf of a few start-ups. If nothing else, the speed of decision making alone might frustrate the smaller company alliance counterparts.

“When I was in a startup or emerging tech, we went into a room and made a decision—the CEO was there. [At large companies], CEOs and vice presidents are traveling around the world, and the stakeholders for each initiative are often dispersed,” he said. “You have to bring more people into the conversation often from many geographies and product groups.”

Besides, added Curran, getting the most senior people at a large organization isn’t necessarily going to help the immediate cause since alliance initiatives with smaller organizations are rarely big enough to warrant their attention.

“[My smaller company counterpart might say] ‘Why can’t you get something done? So-and-so is on vacation. Can’t you go higher?’ No. Even if I went to the vice president, he’s going to say, “Go work with the marketing manager,’” said Curran.

Corporate and alliance governance might create seemingly extra hurdles, but without it these multinational/SMB alliances would ultimately get tripped up.

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