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What’s in a Moment? On-Demand Summit Session Details Key Elements of Joint Alliance Marketing

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Thursday, June 25, 2020

The 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit is underway. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, ASAP will deliver two to three hours of live-streamed sessions that will be chock full of information that can help alliance managers advance their collaborations. On top of that, Summit attendees also have access to many more prerecorded sessions that touch numerous aspects of alliance management. As my colleague Michael Burke wrote yesterday, we will be bringing you highlights of some of those presentations throughout this week and beyond.

Liz Fuller, CA-AM, senior director of alliance marketing at Citrix, tackled one of those critical elements of alliance management in an on-demand session titled, “Integrated Joint Alliance Marketing Best Practices: How to Establish Joint

Marketing Moments That Drive Impact.” Fuller broadly covered five themes in her presentation:

  1. Focus on marketing “moments,” not activities
  2. Understand data
  3. Establish an integrated approach
  4. Build a complete content journey
  5. Set shared partnership goals

Share a Moment with Your Partner and Prospects

What is a marketing moment? Fuller asked viewers to think about their marketing efforts by contrasting the ripple effects that result from throwing one giant boulder into a lake against those that appear on the surface of the water after steadily tossing several small pebbles over a long period of time. You might see a large short-term impact from one big marketing initiative, but steady, consistent, small-scale engagement with prospects over time will ingrain your company’s value proposition into their consciousness, especially since people by nature have short attention spans. Metaphorically, the ripples from continual lighter-touch communication last longer.

“It’s not that you hold people’s attention, it’s that you stay in front of them. You don’t keep their attention because of one thing that you have done. You keep their attention regularly,” explained Fuller.

To tie the concept together, Fuller cited a hypothetical major partner user conference as an example of an event that could serve as a standalone marketing initiative (a large boulder) or part of a larger chain of interconnected marketing activities over time (a series of stones). Your company and the partner organization will likely put out press releases announcing a milestone of the collaboration during the event. The parties might issue other announcements at your conference two months later, and at another industry conference toward the end of the year.

However, the time between these events represents a white space of sorts for alliance marketing teams. Fuller urged listeners to fill that void with thought leadership pushes, extensive social media promotion and engagement, content tied to demand generation and pipeline nurturing, and customer success stories. She saw these activities as the “connective tissue” between the big events that creates larger marketing moments.

“Data Is Your Friend”

Although gut instinct always plays a part in marketing, Fuller reminded the audience that even those judgments are partly based on the “absorption of data,” not just on personal experiences.

“Data is your friend,” Fuller said, before admitting that she hated math as a student.

Fuller exhorted technology alliance pros to be familiar with the latest third-party economic and industry research, as well as reports and analysis from respected industry analysts. Current market size and projected growth models should always be in the minds of marketers as they try to figure out what is driving the market and from where the biggest growth will come. Joint marketing efforts should also be aligned with data and messaging associated with the sales organization’s annual priorities. Perhaps most importantly, past and current business results are also critical data points, even if constantly shifting marketing dynamics oftentimes lay waste to the notion that past is prologue.

“It’s not a perfect science,” Fuller acknowledged. However, “if you don’t look at how things perform for you previously, how do you expect to know how they will perform for you now?”

Integrating Marketing into Broader Organizational Goals

Fuller spoke about Citrix’s broader “air cover brand campaigns,” which embody some of the virtualization giant’s most pressing corporate goals and messages. These campaigns function as a roadmap for alliance marketing teams. Fuller said messaging for all joint alliance-marketing efforts: 1) align with this broader brand-campaign messaging, 2) are purpose-built for Citrix’s primary audiences, and 3) support the priorities of the sales organization. 

Of course, gelling marketing with the other departments can be challenging.  Each part of the organization might look at different metrics. In an alliance, sales, marketing, and business development “sometimes operate in different swim lanes,” according to Fuller.

Marketing can support sales in every phase of the funnel. If salespeople have already spoken to a prospect about a joint product, the alliance team should think of ways to support that lead further down the pipeline by delivering messages and supporting documentation around competing products, particular uses of the product or service, other potentially helpful joint offerings, or other functions or services that the customer has not considered that might be of use.

Content for Every Stage of the Marketing Journey

When putting together marketing campaigns, Fuller develops content for various stages of the customer’s purchasing journey, which she characterized in a set of generic statements:

  1. “I want to know” – The stage where the customer is eager to learn about something new
  2. “I want to go” – An intrigued customer wants more detailed information
  3. “I want to do” – The prospect is ready to see a demo or take a specific action  
  4. “I want to buy” – Customer is ready to select an offering

Fuller similarly broke down the prospect’s mindset into a series of phases, and spoke about how to target content for the customer’s disposition in each moment.

  • Awareness – Help prospects articulate their problems or illuminate a challenge they were previously weren’t conscious of
  • Education – Customers gather lots of information before they talk to vendors, so alliance marketers must make sure those people come across white papers, articles, data sheets, and other content detailing their joint products and value proposition in the process
  • Consideration – Strengthen side-by-side comparison messaging vis-à-vis competitors, and make sure joint offerings are submitted for bakeoffs, independent product reviews, and in-depth investigations of relevant products
  • Purchase – Marketing materials must get prospects to do more than just buy the product; they should inspire customers to use a large percentage of the offering’s functionality—partners will endure a customer backlash if their services become “shelfware”
  • Advocacy – How do you operate as an advisor to the organization so that they advocate for you down the road?

 Jointly Developed KPIs Align Partners Behind Alliance Goals

If partners can’t agree on the alliance’s goals, they will have a hard time reaching them. Each party in an alliance needs to arrive at a set of clear, simply stated key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect what joint success looks like to the parties. This could come in the form of sales revenue, leads in the pipeline, share of voice, or other data points. This can be tricky at times because organizations often don’t measure things the same way, and sometimes each company uses a different language to discuss the same topics. These are minor obstacles as long as the parties ultimately present the same story to customers, prospects, and key internal stakeholders, in Fuller’s view.

Fuller had many more insights in her session. Summit attendees have the opportunity to learn what else will help their joint alliance marketing efforts, as her presentation will be on demand for those who have registered for the conference for an extended time.

Remember, Fuller’s presentation is just the tip of the iceberg of the great knowledge awaiting Summit registrants in our lineup of live sessions this Tuesday through Thursday and deep reservoir of on-demand sessions. Make sure you delve into the Summit portal soon! 

Tags:  alliance goals  alliance management  alliance partners  Citrix  collaboration  Liz Fuller  marketing  marketing journey  partner  partner program  partnering  prospects 

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Riding the Roller Coaster in a Long-standing Alliance

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, June 25, 2020

How do you keep a long-standing alliance moving forward productively? Put another way, how do you keep a roller coaster humming along on its tracks, despite the ups and downs?

The answer, in a nutshell, is to have tools, frameworks, and lots of communication. And for good measure, a dedicated team whose sole purpose is to look after the health and success of the partnership. In a word, resilience.

That was the message of Alistair Dixon, PhD, head of alliance and integration management at UCB, and Tracy Blois, PhD, director, alliance management business development at Amgen. Their presentation, “Resilience in Alliance Management: How Amgen-UCB Managed the ‘Roller-Coaster Ride’ of a Long-standing Alliance,” was just one of many sessions now available on demand from the virtual ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

From Molecule to Market

This alliance began back in 2002, as a partnership between Amgen and Celltech. In 2004 Celltech was acquired by UCB, and the partnership continued as a collaboration license agreement for research, development, and eventual marketing of antibody products targeting the protein sclerostin, which plays a role in bone formation. As Blois described it, this was conceived as a partnership “from molecule to market from very early on.”

Profits and losses would be shared equally, and as Dixon said, “This collaboration agreement is truly structured to foster collaboration, alignment, and concession.”

Perhaps surprisingly, given that UCB is European, headquartered in Brussels—Dixon is based in the UK—and Amgen is a US company based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Dixon reported that the cultural differences between the two companies were not actually that great. Organizational and internal structures, however, were another matter.

UCB is organized around “patient value units” and “product missions,” and regional leads report back to business units. Amgen, on the other hand, is more traditionally organized into R&D, operations, and commercial, and the regions report back to the commercial division.

Exploring Differences, and Cooling Off the “White Heat”

It was important first that these organizational differences be understood and communicated, and that some tools and strategies be developed for the sake of the alliance. These have consisted of three main pillars:

  • Regular health checks, including the use of joint organizational maps
  • Alliance tools, including focusing on interests, not positions
  • Evolved governance, featuring the formation of an alliance leadership team, or ALT

The tools in particular were helpful, including a Circle of Value tool provided by Vantage Partners, as well as joint problem-solving frameworks, “ways of working” frameworks, and exercises in joint scenario planning. The latter, according to Dixon, helped the two companies to “prealign” before finding themselves in “the white heat of a difficult situation.”

Reaping the Benefits of an Elevated, ALTernative Governance

Having a flexible governance model helped as well, but one of the biggest contributors to the alliance’s success has been the formation of an Alliance Leadership Team (ALT), specifically focused on the needs of the partnership and its ongoing health. The ALT membership is composed of senior program leadership, along with representatives from global alliance management, global project management, and finance—all from both organizations, working together.

According to both Dixon and Blois, the ALT has been able to resolve issues, avoid escalations, establish more trust, and more proactively manage the partnership overall—which has made for better cross-functional execution by the joint project team, as well as more “elevated” governance by the joint commercial committee and other governance bodies.

Dixon and Blois both see the ALT as a team specifically set up to focus on the success of the partnership. The key role it plays has meant that:

  • Time and space have been carved out for “nonoperational” decisions.
  • The ALT fosters objective, nonpositional discussions and is a “safe space” for open conversation about perceptions and concerns.
  • Senior governance has become more strategic, with the ALT getting “ahead” of the usual governance committees in its high-level decision making.
  • Trust has been built over time through issue resolution and intervention.

Meanwhile, the years of research and development and hard work by all concerned resulted in a new drug called Evenity (romosozumab), approved for treatment of osteoporosis among postmenopausal women at high risk of bone fracture. So the partnership not only has kept the roller coaster on the tracks, but arguably has been an exhilarating success.

“Resilience has been absolutely key to this,” said Dixon. “Being able to sit down, understand, and have open and transparent conversations with people has been critical to what we’ve achieved.”

Tags:  Alistair Dixon  alliance management  alternative governance  Amgen  collaboration  cross-functional execution governance  health checks  integration  joint organizational map  partnership  PhD  Tracy Blois  UCB 

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Collaboration: Easier Said Than Done

Posted By Jan Twombly, CSAP, President, The Rhythm of Business, Thursday, December 12, 2019

The following blog was originally posted by ASAP corporate member and Education Provider Partner,  The Rhythm of Business.

Collaboration is a business buzzword that everyone thinks they know what it means and how to do it, but few truly do; yet it has never been more important than it is today. In addition to the lack of collaborative skills and mindset would-be collaborators also face a Collaboration Paradox— the systems, processes, and policies that have enabled success in the past reinforce barriers impeding success in today’s ecosystem-based collaborative business models. Developing the necessary capability—the mindset, skillset, and toolset for intra- and inter-organizational collaboration—is a work in process for most organizations. This capability also needs a backbone to latch itself to—the culture, policies, and processes of a leadership system that enable and encourage collaborative ways of working.

As a business concept du jour, collaboration means everything from open office concepts to electronic documents that multiple people can work on simultaneously, to team work. These are all elements of collaboration, but they fail to adequately define it. Collaboration is a risk sharing and resource leveraging strategic behavior that necessitates coordinating activities and exchanging information for mutual benefit. It requires an environment of trust, transparency, and respect. It is a comprehensive way of thinking and acting that takes proficiency in multiple skills. It is not a single skill and certainly not a technology.

Companies that are successful in becoming digitally-enabled and customer-obsessed—and therefore prepared to compete as we enter the 2020s—are those best able to collaborate internally and externally. For example, MIT Sloan Management Review’s research finds that: “A focus on collaboration—both within organizations and with external partners and stakeholders—is central to how companies create business value and establish competitive advantage.”[1] According to a study by SAP, “Digital winners tend to have more managers with strong collaboration skills than lower performing companies. In addition, 74 percent of these top performing companies plan to actively nurture the concept of collaboration within their organizations over the next few years.”[2]

Despite collaborative skills becoming ever more the imperative, the reality of collaborative execution is far more challenging than the data would have you believe. In a study from Capgemini, approximately 85 percent of executives believe that their organizations easily collaborate across functions and business units, whereas only a little over 40 percent of their employees—who are actually on the front-lines of collaboration—agree.[3] A Harvard Business Review article on collaboration sheds light on this collaboration gap:

Leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.[4]

Does this mean that, while collaboration works in theory, it can’t be practically applied? Not at all. But the question does strike at the heart of the problem—collaboration is easier said than done.

Let’s look at a simple example. A company we were engaged with instituted a campaign to improve collaboration amongst sales teams. The company spent a lot of time, effort, and money on a program intended to promote collaboration within the teams. When the results were evaluated, the program’s sponsors found that level of collaboration hadn’t improved at all.

Our analysis quickly identified why that was the case. The teams’ performance was evaluated by rank-ordering each of the team members from best to worst. And, using the existing performance criteria, the individuals at the top received a number of “rewards” for their success, while the folks at the bottom of the rankings lost their jobs. Clearly, the evaluation process encouraged an “everyman for himself” approach that was exactly the opposite to the desired increase in team collaboration.

That’s the collaboration paradox at work—rewarding the traditional approach while investing to get the desired increase in collaboration. Despite focusing on collaborative skill building, the company neglected to adjust their employee evaluation and reward system—elements of the leadership system—to support collaboration. Leadership worked to change the evaluation system to reward collaboration and our subsequent analysis demonstrated both increases in collaboration and sales performance.

This is but one example of attempts to foster collaboration falling flat because the leadership system was built for competition among team members, not collaboration. Until companies evolve their leadership systems, collaboration as a strategic behavior will remain easier said than done.

[1] David Kiron, “Why Your Company Needs More Collaboration,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2017

[2] Virginia Backaitis, “Collaboration Leads to Success in Digital Workplaces,” SAP Survey, 2017

[3] “The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap,” Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, 2018

[4] Francesca Gino, “Cracking the Code on Sustained Collaboration,” Harvard Business Review, November-December 2019.

Tags:  collaboration  collaboration paradox  collaborative skills  Jan Twombly  leadership system  The Rhythm of Business 

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“Conductor of the Orchestra”: How Alliance Managers Harmonize Organizational Complexity

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, November 14, 2019

In “matrix organizations”—those working on multiple, complex, often large-scale projects with at least two chains of command—building and maintaining the alliance function “all comes down to leadership.” That was one of the key observations made by Lucinda Warren, who delivered the opening day keynote address at the ASAP European Alliance Summit on Nov. 14 in Amsterdam.

            Warren, vice president of business development, neuroscience, Janssen Business Development at Johnson & Johnson Innovation and also an alliance management veteran, called her talk “Leadership and Skills in Managing an Alliance in a Matrix Organization.” In an enterprise running multiple projects across multiple functions—and with multiple partners—who will tie it all together? Who will serve as the voice of the alliance and be the advocate for the partner, as needed?

            The alliance manager, of course.

            Some of the challenges, issues, and important insights that come with matrix organizations and their increased partnering complexity, Warren said, include:

  • “Alliances are not projects,” and thus alliance managers are not project managers, although the roles are often confused.
  •  Alliance managers create value; project managers deliver value.
  • Alliance management is critical throughout the product or asset life cycle; project management is critical at certain specific points.
  • When resources are stretched, alliance functions don’t always solve for it.
  • Alliance management is one function, but real collaboration requires the coordination and participation of multiple experts from various functions.
  • Who are the decision makers going to be? This question must be looked at from both internal and external perspectives.
  • Alliance management proactively identifies potential risks and seeks to mitigate them.

Warren further noted that having an alliance creates a sort of alliance “tax” on organizations—since all decisions and most information must be shared with the partner, it can double or even triple the time it takes to perform many actions, which can increase costs. Alliance managers need to help navigate these activities and act as the “conductor of the orchestra”: being familiar with all the instruments that are playing and making sure that each one—and all of them together—is “tuned perfectly for the ear.” They don’t know how to do each job, but (to switch to an electrical metaphor) they know which circuits need to be reset.

            They need to navigate not only their own organization but also the partner’s—otherwise they (and others) will be operating in a “black box” in which the partner’s challenges and motivations may remain unknown and/or misunderstood. Communication is thus imperative—about timelines, how decisions are made, how governance is to be conducted, etc.

            Which brings us to the critical role of leadership. As Warren said, “The value of the alliance function needs to be woven into the fabric of the organization.” Thus alliances and alliance management must be integrated into business strategy and operations—with full senior leadership backing and engagement. With increasing reliance by matrix organizations on partnering, everything that is done influences future collaborations and thus should be tilted toward attracting more partners going forward. Benchmarks must be established, with the goal of being a more successful partner.

            Warren said that alliance management is “more important than ever before,” and that the alliance manager is often “the CEO’s right-hand man,” the one who knows everything that’s happening, internally across functions and at the partner organization. Since these functions—and partners—typically speak different languages, the alliance manager’s job is to bridge divides for a common goal, bring everyone together in an unbiased and objective way, and not take sides.

            Or not take sides, except as the advocate for and representative of the alliance itself. “If we’re successful, people forget there’s a collaboration,” Warren concluded. “No fires are burning, nobody’s getting sued. It’s a thankless job, but [when done well] people seek you out as an expert who can triage. You’re the driver of organizational capability enhancement.”

Tags:  Alliance manager  alliances  CEO  Cindy Warren  collaboration  creating value  leadership  life cycle  matrix organization  mitigate risk 

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The Perfect Storm Meets the Perfect Ship: The Changing Face of Partnering in Tech and Biopharma

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, October 30, 2019

In most industries, change is now so rapid that we often have trouble seeing through the fog of day-to-day demands in front of us. The effects we experience, react to, and feel most keenly may be local—our jobs, our companies, our partners, our industries—but the bigger picture behind it is global, and the frequent wind shifts of global trade, the interconnected worldwide economy, and changing consumer and customer behavior cannot always be foreseen. Instead of being able to ride out the proverbial “calm before the storm,” we have to navigate our way through a series of storms, each one seemingly more disruptive than the next.

            This is certainly no less true in the fields of biopharma and technology partnering, two industries from which so many of our ASAP members hail.

            The technology sector is still undergoing a transition from traditional channel management to ecosystem management, from multipartner alliances and channels to ecosystems of hundreds of partners at various levels—all very challenging to keep tabs on, much less manage and oversee. Go-to-market efforts that formerly might have involved just two or three companies may now be mounted by 10 or 15 ecosystem partners—or more—leveraging their strengths and customer knowledge to sell solutions together.

            The sea change is happening in biopharma as well. The space has seen increasing partnerships between technology and biopharma companies, like those involving digital therapeutics startups, service providers, diagnostic companies, and even ecosystem-like multipartner deep engagements—all as pharma companies must still maintain their excellence in asset-based product partnerships in order to remain competitive.

            Even the language can get confusing. Alliances? Partnerships? Relationships? Ecosystems? We’ve heard from some who say they “don’t do alliances—it’s just partnering now.” Others may prefer the term alliances to partnerships from a legal or perhaps philosophical standpoint. Still others put the emphasis on ecosystems as the direction everything is heading.

            What’s going on? How to make sense of these shifting winds and rolling waves of disruption? Is there a perfect ship that can make way through the perfect storm?

The passage through these choppy seas is not always clear, but I believe the ASAP community—our “ship,” if you will—is perfectly positioned to illuminate the fog, avoid the icebergs, and take advantage of the opportunities provided amid all these developments. Here’s why:

  • Throughout its two-decade-plus history, ASAP has been driven by its mission to collect and promote the best partnering practices of both biopharma and tech companies, along with other industries that utilize partnering to create value.
  • Early on, ASAP predicted and began to prepare its members for frequent, if not routine, partnerships between health care/biopharma and tech companies.
  • We know that complex ecosystems and multipartner relationships require modified, agile best practices to be successful. ASAP has long been working tirelessly to provide solid education and actionable guidance in these areas.
  • We now have the opportunity to take advantage of the partnering skills as defined in The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management and supplement these learnings with other informative insights that continue to be unveiled throughout all of ASAP’s media and publications—including Strategic Alliance Quarterly, Strategic Alliance Monthly and Weekly, and ASAP Netcast Webinars.
  • Finally, there’s the unparalleled access to education and networking provided by ASAP conferences and other events, such as the upcoming European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam (Nov. 14–15) and the Global Alliance Summit in Tampa (Mar. 16–18, 2020).

It’s all there and yours for the taking. Want to get on board with the latest partnering practices in the technology and health care/biopharma industries? Look no further than this seriously skilled community of practitioners—“our ship.” Together, we’re setting a course for the future of alliances and partnering.

Tags:  Alliance  biopharma  channels  collaboration  diagnostic companies  ecosystems  Go-to-market  health care  multipartner alliances  partner  partnering  service providers  technology  therapeutics startups 

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