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Sales Is Hard; Selling Together Is Harder: Operating in a Collaborative Selling Environment

Posted By Mike Leonetti, CSAP, Thursday, December 19, 2019

Recently I’ve had some interesting conversations with members, both in technology sales and in biopharma, that caused me to reflect on my own years of experience in pharma commercial alliances and also what I know from our members about go-to-market alliances on the tech side. I spent many years managing sales teams and commercial partnerships and thinking and working through the challenges involved. So I always listen with great interest when folks tell me about the issues they see coming up in their go-to-market collaborative selling efforts.

In addition, here at ASAP we’re currently doing a survey with IDC that among other things touches on joint incentive compensation (IC), so all of that got me to thinking about collaborative selling practices that may be similar between industries. No matter which vertical we’re in, we all tend to face similar challenges when it comes to joint selling. The biggest ones seem to boil down to these:

The “Kumbaya” factor. You’ve probably heard—or even said—some version of “Do nice to me and I’ll do nice to you,” or “You deal with your customers and I’ll deal with mine.” OK, that’s fine—I’m as big a believer in the Golden Rule and pulling together a team as the next person—but the truth is the effort must be focused around how we actually create additional value through our joint selling efforts. What new customers can we reach, how many additional high-value presentations can we make, and how can we together create a need for our product?

The what, the how, and the why. Does everyone on alliance selling teams understand the benefits, value, process, and procedures for creating value with this product or service? Have we spent enough time defining our mission, goals, and objectives? Does everyone understand regulatory limitations, order processing, and who are the key support personnel in the home office? Do we have a well thought out onboarding plan, or are salespeople simply being handed a product or solution with some heavy reading material and told to go sell it?

Time, coordination, and leadership. Partnership sales always requires more time. It takes coordination, proper routing, and customer service, and all of that requires collaboration—not typically a strong suit of most salespeople. For an executive who’s responsible for partnership sales, recognizing that collaboration may represent a developmental need for many salespeople and dedicating the time to focus and nurture that competency is a leadership requirement—but it can easily take a backseat in a competitive selling environment. Are we providing the time and guidance needed to include this coordination and development?

Rewarding collaborative behaviors. Do you model and reward collaborative behaviors? Rewards for sales folks are typically monetary-driven. Have you defined other rewards for repeating and achieving results from collaborative behavior that rival “sales rep of the month”? Although gift certificates and recognition will never carry the weight of a well-developed IC plan, it’s important to reward these behaviors and provide public recognition. And while incenting the final sale is critical, it’s also a great idea to recognize the behaviors that lead to sales results.

Credit where credit is due. Speaking of incentive compensation, have you defined proper ways for all selling partners to receive credit? Are their goals aligned? Is their payout equivalent for equivalent results? Who gets the credit? Or do you assume that both partners do? While there are many ways to create fair and partnership-oriented IC plans, many plans lack the proper planning for partnership sales incentives.

Socialization. Are you or have you completed your partner socialization efforts? It’s the small stuff that counts: sales rep roster exchange, team partner mapping, inclusion of partners in selling meetings, and ultimately, management’s recognition of not just its own sales reps, but the partner’s.

Company culture. Have you aligned your cultures? Do you understand the key differences between your two companies? Company A, for example, may require its sales reps to make eight calls a day, no excuses. Company B, on the other hand, requires just two high-quality calls per day—they’re more concerned about quality than quantity. So when A and B sell together, what’s the expectation for the partnership?

Account management. Have you aligned accounts, targets, lead generation, and prospects for the multiple parties selling to these accounts? Do your support teams understand the impacts or requirements when assigning targets, and how are joint sales targets prioritized and accounted for? What about entertainment? How are the dollars shared? Whose company’s policies and practices prevail?

These are just a few of the collaborative sales challenges that I’ve been discussing with others lately. I think they’re probably common to most go-to-market alliance efforts, as well as to copromotion in biopharma, or any joint selling process that occurs when two or more companies come together with collaborative selling practices.

What do you think? What are some of the challenges you see? Let’s start a dialogue. Type in a comment below.

Tags:  Account management  alliances collaborative selling  collaborative  collaborative behaviors  commercial partnerships  company culture  competitive selling  leadership  partners  partnership-oriented  socialization 

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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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Building ‘Leadership Muscle’: Get Your Organization Ready for the ‘Partnering Marathon’

Posted By John M. DeWitt and John W. DeWitt, Thursday, March 7, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Welcome to the new partnering race—where everyone is running as fast as they can, frantically trying to catch up to the customer.

Nina Harding, channel chief at Google Cloud, asked an important question at the October 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum in San Jose, California: “So how do you work with your partners when the customers are ahead of the ecosystems?” This is indeed an important question, given that “every single thing we do is new,” according to Pear Therapeutics Founder and CEO Corey McCann. He added, in a keynote at the September 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference, that risks associated with new ventures “conspire to make partnerships not successful.” Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, partner at Vantage Partners, characterized the current playing field as “one of significant and ongoing change, which is driving new forms of collaboration, new kinds of alliances.”

Being successful on such a competitive playing field requires alliance practitioners to build their “leadership muscle,” the focus of the Q4 2018 Strategic Alliance Quarterly cover story, “Building ‘Leadership Muscle’: Are You and Your Alliance Management Organization Ready to Run the ‘Partnering Marathon’?” Building leadership muscle means giving your leaders the strength, flexibility, and endurance to withstand the breakneck pace of modern collaboration.

Why do you need this muscle? No matter your industry, regardless of the specific drivers, it’s almost certain that:

  1. Your company is “remixing” its build-buy-partner strategies;
  2. Partnering activity, especially nontraditional partnering, is exploding for your company;
  3. Your alliance organization faces an overwhelming workload;
  4. Your partnering strategy and execution require new thinking, skillsets, and tools.

If your company and its partners are evolving to catch the customer, then you should (or already will) be rethinking, reorganizing, and relearning:

  • Rethinking. Alliance leaders must continuously rethink partnering strategy and models in the context of disruption and new competitive threats, which are all-but-continuous now.
  • Reorganizing. If you aren’t thinking proactively about how you are organized and aligned to overall company strategy, you can be sure someone else is—and soon you will be thinking about it too, only reactively.
  • Relearning. Alliance executives require new skills and cross-industry knowledge for the new partners and ecosystems they interact with. Many alliance processes and practices require radical rethinking and streamlining if they are to remain useful for managing at the accelerating pace and exploding scope of partnering activities today.

“When all these things are changing around you, you can’t keep doing business as usual,” said Brandeis professor, consultant, and author Ben Gomes-Casseres, CSAP, PhD. “This means very often a change in company strategy [and] if the organization’s strategy is changing, then the alliance organization should change with that. That is fundamental.”

See the Q4 2018 issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly to learn more about how alliance leaders are rethinking, reorganizing, and relearning while they build “leadership muscle.” John M. DeWitt is copy editor and contributing writer and John W. DeWitt is editor and publisher for ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications.

Tags:  alliance  Ben Gomes-Casseres  channel  collaborative  Corey McCann  cross-industry  Google Cloud  leadership  Nina Harding  partnerships  Pear Therapeutics  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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‘You Give Me a Buck, and We Give You Back Three’: Pharma Partnering Leaders Discuss Roles—and the Value of Alliance Management

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, April 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The evolving roles of alliance executives—and capturing the value of the alliance function—were among the many topics that emerged as during the Tuesday, March 27 leadership panel discussion, “Driving Alliance Excellence into the Future,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, former Covance vice president of alliances, at the ASAP 2018 Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” March 26-28, 2018. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

 

Pharma executives joining Eibling for the discussion included Casey Capparelli, global product general manager in oncology at Amgen; Nancy Griffin, CA-AM, vice president and head of alliance management, global business development & licensing at Novartis; Mark Noguchi, vice president and global head, alliances and asset management, at Roche; and David S. Thompson, CA-AM, chief alliance officer, Eli Lilly and Company. (Editor’s Note: See the forthcoming April 2018 edition of eSAM Plus for more coverage of this fascinating leadership discussion.)

 

When Eibling threw out the topic of alliance management’s role in acquisitions, mergers, and divestments, and business development and licensing, he noted, “You need to differentiate between a stop and start in terms of divestments. Divestments can be ongoing. Someone in the group manages the ongoing process.”

 

Capparelli: In Amgen that holds true for small acquisitions, but large complex acquisitions need to be managed separately.

 

Thompson: You need to look to someone else to run a large acquisition.

 

Eibling: There’s lots happening in the pharma world today, but will it continue?

 

Thompson: There are more and more partnerships. The trend grows and grows. Today each alliance manager is involved with 20 to 30 alliances. How do you manage ever increasing volume? It’s hard to predict if something will come to fruition.

 

Eibling: Let’s look at the role of the alliance manager, and how it has shifted between project management and alliance management. Alliance management and project management need to be connected at the hip and carve out space through the partnership management team. There are three roles in a partnership management team. The question is who drives those team meetings? Who is accountable? Does the project manager manage the success of the alliance?

 

Thompson: Most M&A integration gets done in 100 days. The work looks the same except it’s compressed. It takes 100 days to swallow an alliance. It’s at a pace you need in an M&A.

 

Capparelli: Deal making is a transactional approach, but building trust generates respect.

 

Griffin: You build an operating model in the core so that you build consistent capabilities.

 

Noguchi: The Roche alliance group is modeled after Lilly. The skill set is there but compressed.

 

Eibling: There’s a shift between deal makers and an alliance manager with a partner. No one understands the dynamics as well as an alliance manager. With ever expanding projects, it’s the alliance manager who understands motivations and how to construct the alliance and M&A deal.

“Let’s look at value,” Eibling said, wrapping up the panel discussion. “How do you capture the value of alliance management? How do you define value?” he asked Thompson.

“Alliances are not efficient but effective,” Thompson asserted.

 

“Fear is a great motivator,” he continued. “I’ve seen too many alliances go out of existence. They focused on relationship management but didn’t expand beyond that to the legal and business risk. That contributed to their demise. They didn’t feel valued in the organization. So, in times of hardship, they’re an easy target to eliminate,” he explained.

 

“We saw it happening and so became open about our model. We measure continuation. We are adjudicated by leadership. It’s valuable to talk about your own contributions. You get the [internal] client you’re supporting to agree based on what they think—what they value or don’t value. Is this a risk reduction or efficiency game? You build to be efficient but it’s the face-to-face that often counts.  As for monetizing the value of alliance management, it’s simple. You give me a buck, and we give you back three.”

Tags:  acquisitions  alliance management  alliance manager  Amgen  Andy Eibling  Casey Capparelli  David S. Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  leadership  M&A  M&A integration  Mark Noguchi  Nancy Griffin  Novartis  partner  partnerships  Pharma executives  project manager  Roche 

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External Collaboration for Innovation: Bayer’s Key Leadership Role in Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

External collaboration for innovation has become a red-hot topic in the pharmaceutical industryand a critical practice for success. It was also the central topic during the leadership forum at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. Chandra Ramanathan, Ph.D, vice president & head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, kicked off the discussion with an overview of Bayer’s approach.  

Call it “East meets West.” Ramanathan’s discussion of building innovative product portfolios through external crowd sourcing and other collaboration approaches occurred on the heels of a dynamic leadership spotlight talk last spring at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in San Diego, California, “Accelerating Innovation: Partnering Early and Often in the New Era of Cooperation,” led by Chris Haskellhead of the West Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, tucked away in San Francisco’s Mission Bay—who is responsible for Bayer’s CoLaboratory. Following is a recap of ASAP Media’s conversation with Haskell and coverage of his conference session in the spring.

Bayer’s West Coast CoLaborator space is a subdivision of the German healthcare company, which serves as an incubator for fledgling startups working on promising biotech projects. Haskell explained the impetus for Bayer’s focus on external collaboration: Pharma was taking a hard look at its business models, the challenges with the pace of innovation, and how to adapt to and work with the outside world.  “The pharma industry is a failure business. We have to put lots of drugs out to get one that gets to market,” Haskell notes. “We’re spending $2.6 billion per drug to get to marketthat’s an imbalance you sometimes can’t make up with a blockbuster,” he added.

Bayer wanted to harness the advantages of the life sciences ecosystem in Mission Bay, San Francisco, through local collaborations in early-stage research. So in 2012, it opened the CoLaborator, an incubator lab space located at Bayer’s US Innovation Center, which houses the US Science Huba scientific team actively identifying partnerships with academic and biotech researchers. The CoLaborator includes an open lab layout that is designed for a quick start of research activities. The 6,000 square foot lab fosters collaboration among companies who are emerging innovative life science firms. Bayer often lends support through financing some of the project and/or offering access to the expertise of their staff.

“Pharma companies haven’t done great with incubators—it’s hard to innovate in a short length of time. … But now there are 100 startups within 10 minute walk of my office that weren’t there 10 years ago—that’s thanks to incubators,” he said. “The CoLaborator structure isn’t so much experimentation. If it works, everybody wins. If doesn’t, you can’t sell it anywhere else.”

Their partners are selected because their innovations have the potential to be aligned with Bayer internal projects.  But it’s not a requirement that the work of these life science companies matches Bayer’s needs. The CoLaborator tenants are highly independent. The model relies on the flexibility of “strategic leasing,” allowing Bayer to work with these emerging companies that may not be immediate partners. At the same time, there is potential to build further partnership agreements that would share risks and rewards for both partners. Bayer looks for technologies or therapeutics that could have a major impact on its ability to improve the research process. “We consider the future growth and potential of these companies to see how our needs and the product will link together. Within the CoLaborator, the standard lease is two years, but we do not have a fixed timeline," he added.

Early innovators—it’s different than later-stage licensing. Developing trust and the tools you use are different, he then explained. “One thing we did to improve trust was to put people where the partners are—this is the structure of our global innovation and alliances group. We created innovation centers in five different regions to complement the core development in Germany,” he added.

“We hear a lot about trust—the pharma company is suffering a bit of a trust crisis” and politicians and others are certainly beating the drum against big pharma, he noted.  “You really have to work on this well before the deal comes into play and ask, ‘What does an innovator want, and what can you do to help them build trust’” to achieve that goal? He then provided several key suggestions to establish this foundation:

  • When working with smaller partners, be clear what you can’t do, and why you need them.
  • Acknowledge the speed differential when you are moving at different speeds.
  • Create a clear joint definition of success, which is often an iterative process, and then de-risk the process.
  • Have a local interpreter when cultures and processes merge.
  • Run joint test projectswhen they crash and burn, view it not as failure but a   learning opportunity.

“One of the challenges alliance managers have in early innovation partnering is the belief that it’s “not in my job description,” he concluded. “Trust yourself, and keep sticking with it because you will have wins in the end. Know who to go to, de-risk, and build a story. Finally, simple contracts and dialogue risk info leaks. That could happen. This is where trust comes in. … Stay in touch, create support letters for grants, make your network their network. This is not 2007. Get over it. They will come to you first if you’ve built that trust. What has Bayer created? Successive leadership is driving this.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of this topic from the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  Bayer  Chandra Ramanathan  Chris Haskell  CoLaboratory  Innovation  Leadership  network  pharma  startups  strategic leasing 

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