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How To Align Your Company for the Best Performance and Mileage

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, December 3, 2015

We’ve all experienced misalignment at one time or another. Our car hits a pothole.  Suddenly, it’s pulling like a magnet to the median strip. What was once an easy “cruise control” ride has become repeated efforts of tugging the wheel to stay on track. Not to mention the cost associated with the less-efficient ride. 

In business, “we all experience that kind of organizational drag—not being in alignment with what you are trying to do in the field,” says LaVon Koerner, president and chief revenue officer at Revenue Storm. Koerner will be presenting a session on the topic, “Diagnose Internal Misalignment and Fine-Tune Your Partnership’s Value Creation Engine,” at the March 1–4, 2016, ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, USA. 

“I do a lot of keynote speeches, and this is one of the popular topics I speak on around the world,” said the co-founder of the international sales training and consulting firm. “You have to align each alliance management partnereach has to be aligned with their own company before they can be aligned with another company. It’s like a marriage. If you don’t have your act together, and marry someone without their act together, you have a tragedy.”

The session will focus on how to diagnose alignment or engine problems so participants can identify where they are off-kilter, consider the causes and cures, and determine the best tools for fixing the problems. “We will show them how much organizational drag they have, and we will give them a number,” he said. “The role of a leader today is to create a fine-tuned acceleration engine. I will be walking them through that engine. We want the power of the company internally to be aligned behind the power of the sales force externally.”

How often do we see organizations training people to do one thing and paying them to do something else? he asked rhetorically. “A lot,” he replied, while pulling another analogy from his hat.

“You have songwriters and singers, scriptwriters and actors: The scriptwriters don’t do their own acting, and the best singers in the world don’t write their own songs. The reason a lot of customers are not dancing is because the singers and actors don’t have the music,” he added. “The people in the field are not the scriptwriters and songwriters, they are the singers and actors. They need to be supported, and that is called alignment.”

The secret to a smooth running company vehicle? Align to a common strategy, he divulged. “Once you are aligned to a specific strategy, you are aligned to each other. “

Here’s a tip from Koerner’s “Blue Book” of value. There are four strategies you can align to:

  • Transactional approach to market
  • Process approach to market
  • Business-oriented company
  • Partnering relationship to customers

Pick one of the four from which to operate, he advised. But that’s a huge topic for another day, one he promised to probe at length in his Summit session. 

To learn more about Koerner’s session and others on a diversity of topics critical to partnering and alliance practice—and to register for the March 1-4, 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit before Early Bird Rates end—Click here  

Tags:  2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit  align  alliances  business-oriented  LaVon Koerner  misalignment  partnering relationship  partners  process approach  Revenue Storm  strategy  Transactional approach 

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What’s the Latest Thinking on Effective Partnering in Sales & Distribution? Veteran Sales & Distribution Expert Lawrence Walsh Shares with ASAP How to Improve Channel Structure, Performance & Value

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One in four resellers worldwide, and a third in the U.S., have fired a vendor, and “half of all value-added resellers (VARs) selling products as a cloud service aren’t satisfied with how their vendors listen to and act upon their feedback,” according to a ZS Associates study cited by Dede Haas, CA-AM, in her Q3 2015 Strategic Alliance Magazine article, “Optimize Your Channel through Trust-Based Relationships.” Vendors often are just as unhappy, complaining about underperforming partners, inconsistent sales, and unreliable resellers, according to Lawrence Walsh, CEO and chief analyst at The 2112 Group a new ASAP Corporate Member. Walsh explains why—and talks about how to improve channel structure, performance, and relative value—in this week’s ASAP Netcast Webinar, “The Channel Is Not the Best Route to Market but It Can Be.” 

Walsh, a veteran journalist, analyst, and consultant specializing in information technology channel sales, is the latest expert to explore this topic with the ASAP community. Two articles in the Q3 2015 Strategic Alliance Magazine and several recent ASAP Netcast Webinars have delved into the convergence and complementary skills of alliance and channel management. 

Previous webinars and articles have explored how the channel demands more collaborative and reciprocal relationships—to be treated as genuine business partners, each of which has distinct and sometimes unique requirements for a successful relationship. Smart vendors take this to heart, according to Mary Ellen Grom, vice president of U.S. marketing at SYNNEX, a Fortune 250 business technology distributor, who co-presented “A Changing Channel—The View from the Middle,” ASAP’s June 10 webinar. “We don’t move boxes—we are a trusted advisor, here to take partnerships to a whole new level,” Grom explained. 

In his July 23 ASAP Netcast, “Move from Capturing to Creating Demand in Your Partnerships,” presenter LaVon Koerner, chief revenue officer at Revenue Storm, emphasized that across industries the sales function is undergoing a profound transformation. As a result, advanced partnering skills are fast becoming essential to sales and customer relationships—and alliance managers must increasingly focus on proactive value creation with partners and end customers. “Now our customers are demanding Insight from us,” Koerner said. Don’t give us more data. Don’t give more information. Give us insight, take our minds to places we’ve never been, help us draw lines of connection we’ve never drawn.” 

What happens when alliance executives bring their partnering skills to bear in the sales and distribution channel? Two partnering veterans from Verizon presented their perspectives during the September 16 webinar, answering “What in the World Are Two Alliance Professionals Doing in the Channel?” 

“The ways alliance managers can add value to channel relationships is huge—we bring that expertise and experience into the relationship,” explained Leona Kral, CSAP, who has transitioned several times between alliance and channel roles, currently serves as channel alliance manager, global channel sales, for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, and also is president of ASAP’s Tri-State Chapter.

“Alliance knowledge supports the concept of partnership, shared objectives, where channel development is more focused on immediate near term sustainable revenue and profitable growth for both partners – all going to be 100% relative to what your company’s focus is, what your partners’ focus and strategy is, and where the two come together to make that old 1+1+3,” added Kral’s colleague and co-presenter Karen Robinson, CSAP, a global strategy and integration exec for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. 

Walsh’s webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 4 joins this year’s three previous channel-related webinars now archived in the ASAP Member Resource Library, available for free to ASAP members (nonmembers can access for a fee). You can view these events on demand, as well as explore more on the topic of partnering in the channel in the Q3 2015 Strategic Alliance Magazine, which includes the article by Haas as well as our Alliance Champion profile of Verizon’s Leona Kral.  

Tags:  Channel alliance managers  Dede Haas  global channel sales  Karen Robinson  LaVon Koerner  Lawrence Walsh  Leona Kral  Mary Ellen Grom  Revenue Storm  SYNNEX  The 2112 Group  VARs  Verizon Enterise Solutions 

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Partnering to Create Demand Is the New Paradigm for Business-to-Business Sales—So Act Now or Be Left in the Dust

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sales consulting firm Revenue Storm recently asked business and sales leaders, “Do you believe that the role of an Account Manager must expand from one that just does Demand Capture to one that includes Demand Creation?” A whopping 97% of respondents said yes—and 79% agreed that this shift in focus needs to happen immediately, according to Revenue Storm’s Chief Revenue Officer LaVon Koerner.


“Any company that is not moving from a demand capture philosophy to a demand creation philosophy is going to be left in the dust,” Koerner said bluntly. In his workshop session at the 2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston USA, Koerner challenged alliance executives to recognize the full implications of what he called “the disruption factor” caused by converging trends such as alternative information sources, current economic conditions, widespread commoditization, and the next generation of technology user. “There’s a fair amount of denial about it—it’s hard to accept that what you’ve been doing for years upon years without interruption is about to go through a major, unrelenting, irreversible transformation,” he explained.


There’s been a major shift in what your customers and partners value more from you—according to research cited by Koerner, 82% seek partners who challenge their thinking, proactively bring innovative ideas, and provide thought leadership. Only 18% value how you execute requests, provide the best offering or price, and respond and listen when approached. Increasingly, the latter types of interaction are being automated—the analyst firm Gartner now predicts that by 2020, 85% of interactions between businesses will be executed without human intervention. As a result, Koerner says, of the 18 million salespeople currently working in the US, only about four million will be left in five years.


Koerner’s message resonated with biopharma alliance executives—while most are not accountable for revenue today, many alliance execs at the ASAP BioPharma Conference agreed with Koerner’s premise that in the future, their jobs will be more closely linked to value and revenue creation, as it is for many alliance leaders in high tech and other industries. ASAP Media caught up with Koerner this week to ask him about his well-received ASAP BioPharma Conference session and how he thinks alliance executives in biopharma and other industries should respond to impending (or rapidly unfolding) disruption. Here’s what he had to say.


ASAP Media: The data points you presented at the ASAP BioPharma Conference are eye-opening—everyone talks about disruption, but I don’t know if people are grasping just how profound this disruption will be for them, their companies, and their industries. How do you explain what’s going on?


LaVon Koerner: What exactly is happening? The old business-to-business sales paradigm is built on a philosophy of demand capture. There’s enough demand out there—“go get it you guys!”  You capture demand with your best products or pricing or relationships or whatever—and assume the demand is out there to be captured. Now, because of a number of converging trends, there is not going to be enough demand to capture for companies to reach their growth targets. … Those 4 million sales executives left standing will be those who excel at creating demand, not capturing demand. All the old sales training will all be antiquated and will not mean a hill of beans—it’s now about creating demand.


ASAP Media: Can you explain more precisely about what you mean by creating versus capturing demand—and how that impacts the B2B sales process?


LaVon Koerner: In the past, capturing demand is where you go in and discuss “known points of pain.” That’s a key phrase. That will be changed, so that a salesperson will go in and talk about “unknown points of gain.” Another way of saying it is, instead of going out into the market and finding customers, your charge will be to go out into the market and make customers.


The whole world of RFPs—those are going to be drying up because they will be accomplished all through the Internet or a call center. You won’t need the live body interfacing for those kinds of discussions. But discussions built on thought leadership, or a “value encounter,” would be of interest. In the future, every meeting with senior people has to be a value encounter with three important facets:


  1. You have to take the executive’s mind to places it’s never been before
  2. You have to put options on the executive’s table that he or she has never considered before
  3. You have to get the executive to draw lines of connection that he or she has never drawn before


If you can do those three things, you’ve earned the right to ask that executive to do things he or she has never done before—and in that moment demand will have been created.


ASAP Media: How do companies and their salesforces create these “value encounters”? What will value encounters look like five years from now?


LaVon Koerner: It used to be that we, the salespeople, would bring privileged data to the customer of which they were not privy, and they would find that exciting and of high value. Customers can be in data smog in a few minutes just by Googling. So the 90s then migrated towards information—if you can put summaries on data you now have information and that became important. … That did well except that the trends are so quick and accelerating, now that is done. Now the business professional salesperson has to take the information and translate it one more step into insight. You have to take all the information and be able to pontificate on the “so what?”—here are the implications; here is the significance of that. If you can do that before the customer solidifies its information, then you become a strategic resource.


By 2020, it will take yet another step forward, and insight will not be enough. At that point, it will have migrated towards prediction—what this new insight will produce in their company—and it will be necessary for the sales professional to be able to offer a gain-sharing arrangement around the prediction. So they will now become a partner with the customer, built on a prediction. If you follow that evolutionary ladder, it goes from data to information to insight to prediction—that’s how value is being redefined as we speak.


ASAP Media: So how does this create opportunity for the alliance management community?


LaVon Koerner: I believe that strategic alliances will be a major part of the sales professional’s worlds. Today it’s a minor part, but that will completely flip-flop. You will have to have that [partnership] to create the value. I think ASAP’s best days are probably four to five years from now. Proactive partnering that creates demand—not the reactive partnering that companies have practiced in the past—will be standard operating procedure in a few years from now.

Tags:  2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Demand Creation  LaVon Koerner  Proactive partnering  Revenue Storm 

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