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Keeping It Together: Summit Roundtable Examines How Acquiring Companies Integrate Alliance Portfolios

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Friday, September 4, 2020

M&A has been a hot topic recently, which is why a good portion of the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit agenda was dedicated to it. One roundtable discussed broadly what alliance managers need to be aware of if they want to dip their toes in the M&A waters. Another took the conversation to a more granular level. In “Big Pharma M&A Alliance Portfolios,” Adam Kornetsky, consultant for Vantage Partners, moderated a discussion between senior alliance professionals employed by household names in the industry about what to do with alliance portfolios in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of an acquisition, both from the acquirer’s and the acquired company’s perspectives.   

Definition of Success: You Know It Don’t Come Easy

Before getting into the specifics, Kornetsky asked the panel to outline what a successful acquisition and integration looks like. Chris Urban, head of alliance and integration management at Amgen, asserted that success is defined differently with each transaction. Sometimes the principal goal is to drive top-line revenues; in other instances it’s for bottom-line savings that result from synergies between the acquirer and acquiree. In some cases, the motivation behind a transaction is to meet a specific safety, regulatory, compliance, or other type of functional requirement.

“It is the most critical thing to define the measures of success and it’s not as easy as it sounds. It may sound easy in the beginning, but you quickly find after the announcement that each of the functions starts to view their own vision of what’s important through their own lens,” he said. He gave the example of a top-line-growth-focused Amgen acquisition in which the company had to stress to the alliance team that “synergies weren’t a part of the deal.”

A more immediate measure of success is the seamless transition of activities to the appropriate business owners by the integration team. Jeff Hurley, CA-AM, global alliance management lead at Takeda, stressed the importance of introducing the alliance portfolio very early on in the acquisition discussions. The more complex the integration, the higher the risk of alliances veering off course. It is important to actively manage partner assets and capabilities so that the value of collaborations is preserved (i.e., they continue to produce intended outcomes) throughout the transition.

“Alliances aren’t necessarily the driver of one of these types of transactions, but they are a key consideration in terms of how well the integration goes,” he said.

Set Goals, Work the Phones, and Tie Up Loose Ends

What sorts of things should alliance managers working in the soon-to-be-acquired company prioritize prior to deal closing? First and foremost, according to Hurley, is to understand the acquiring company’s strategic rationale for the transaction. From there, alliance managers must prepare a wealth of information for incoming senior leadership from the buyer organization. They must provide a 30,000-foot overview of the portfolio and how it might sit within the new organization, as well as a detailed breakdown of the individual partnerships themselves. They should also address enterprise-, function-, and asset-level questions; proactively identify and manage risks specific to the acquisition; and calculate the effort it will take to transition the partnerships through the integration process and beyond.

Mark Coflin, CSAP, vice president and head of global alliance management at Takeda, counseled listeners to provide a two- to three-year outlook for each alliance and specify the goals and expected outcomes at the end of years 1, 2, and 3. In the short term, expect concerned, if not panicked, phone calls and emails from partners wanting to know what is going on. Contact direct alliance counterparts and senior leaders directly—by phone or videoconference rather than email or text, if possible—and communicate all shareable details. Second, tie up important loose ends that don’t require input from the new company.

“Internally, as best you can, think about what the key decisions are—any key, critical, stage-gate decisions that are required—and do your best to try and take care of those decisions, if you can, in advance of the close,” he said.

Cloudy Forecast Around the New Home?

Similarly, the acquiring company has plenty of work to do before close. It must review the contracts for each partnership, especially if a data room is involved, in order to identify antitrust and other legal risks and determine if there is flexibility to make changes to these collaborations if some are desired by the new company, according to Dana Hughes, vice president of integration management and alliance management at Pfizer. The new owner also has to figure out where each partnership fits within its organization, a trickier proposition for a large organization like Pfizer that counts 200 relationships in its portfolio. Will it fall under commercial, business development, regulatory, R&D, or another part of the company?

“Finding that right home is actually part of our deal model because that’s how we know we’re going to be effective in actually rolling out the changes we want to implement to create that full opportunity for patients,” said Hughes, who deals with commercial alliances at Pfizer.

Hughes also added that alliance managers should expect to rely on their experience working in a cloudy environment with scant available information.

“The lack of knowledge is kind of a normal condition for integration,” he warned.

Control what you can control by conducting as much research on the acquired asset’s partnerships and having extensive dialogue with counterpart alliance managers. Wherever possible, name the lead of each alliance team, prep those alliance heads, and build a team around them in advance, so that everyone can hit the ground running when the deal is finalized.  

Urban urged acquirers to tier concerns and address high-priority matters first, such as potential conflicts or antitrust considerations that might require firewalling certain parts of the organization from an alliance’s affairs. Second, identify critical upcoming milestones and address them with “hyper care”; treat these matters with urgency and spare them from the lengthy onboarding process. Lastly, the buyer must recognize which of the acquired entity’s partnerships will be resource-intensive and take measures to ensure that these alliances don’t impede existing collaborations.

A Steady Dossier of Information Keeps Things from Going Sideways

Once the acquisition is complete, there is no excuse for failing to maintain continuity.

“Being acquired and closing an acquisition does not mean that everything starts going sideways,” said Coflin.

Coflin advised alliance managers at acquired entities to determine which senior leaders and alliance personnel need to be briefed on partnership affairs in consultation with the new parent company. Prepare a package on all alliances in the portfolio and rate them on a high-medium-low risk scale based on the number of critical decisions that need to be made and the financial stakes of the collaboration.

Again, focus on immediate priorities and make upcoming decisions. Hurley exhorted alliance pros to do whatever is necessary to make immediate deliverables, and associated action items, visible to relevant executives from the company taking over. He also seconded the comprehensive dossier on each alliance espoused by Coflin.

“It’s more than just an onboarding document. ‘Here’s all the key information that you need to know in order to step into this right away,’” he said.

Special Handling: The Hyper-Care 20 Percent

Hurley added that an internal and external communications strategy should be a primary focus. In particular, someone has to determine who is going to say what to the partner and when.

Coflin said that there are limits to what can be shared with partners before the deal is consummated. However, alliance leads had better be ready to answer immediate postdeal questions.

“This is the way it was. What has changed? What can you expect over the first 90 to 100 days as a typical period of time? How are we going to move through things, say, 100 days into the future?” he said.

From the acquirer’s perspective, Urban suggested that the Pareto principle normally applies in most acquisitions—80 percent “falls very, very naturally into the engine you have built.” The other 20 percent calls for delicate handling. Urban gave a number of examples. A company founder who personally managed an alliance with Amgen’s acquired asset was granted more senior-leadership access than might otherwise have been considered appropriate. The aforementioned partnerships with critical milestones on the horizon and alliances that present antitrust concerns also fall into this fifth of the portfolio requiring “hyper care.” Urban strongly advised stakeholders to overcommunicate plans for these collaborations to incumbent partners because “the partnerships they have with the company we may be acquiring [could be] existential for them.”

But First: Do No Harm

Hughes touched on the human and practical elements of integrating acquired assets postdeal.

“It might be as simple as something like, ‘First, do no harm,’” he said.

Wherever possible, protect ongoing operations and keep disruptions to existing processes to a minimum, to the extent that is possible. Understand how relationships work within individual alliances before making changes, and be transparent about why a decision was made to radically restructure an alliance. Clarity around goals and a carefully crafted process around replacing existing personnel are paramount. Some HR and retention issues are unavoidable.

“We had a habit of making sure things run just as it is for a while so we can observe and learn before we start replacing the individuals who might be involved,” said Hughes, before adding that you always have to be respectful of the new colleagues and the relationships—and trust—that they have built with the partners throughout the process. “[Retention issues] are always present when it comes to an integration situation, both before close when people start bailing out or after close or after their lockup has ended a couple of months later.”

The panelists shared more great wisdom, including an invaluable framework for merging portfolios during the first two months following an acquisition, throughout the roundtable. Summit registrants were able to view the roundtable and hear each expert’s parting thoughts, and discover the comparison Urban was making when he invoked the famous Mike Tyson quote, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched.” (And in case you missed it, for even more on M&A alliance integration check out our article “A Process, Not an Afterthought,” in the Q2 2020 Strategic Alliance Quarterly.)

Tags:  Acquisition  Adam Kornetsky  alliance  alliance portfolio  Amgen  Chris Urban  collaborations  compliance  Dana Hughes  integration  Jeff Hurley  Mark  partner  partner asset  Pfizer  regulatory  Takeda  transaction  transition  Vantage Partners 

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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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School of Thought: Three Case Studies Illustrate How to Train Your Alliance Pros

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Sunday, August 16, 2020

Training is still a priority to corporations around the world, according to research from Vantage Partners. More than $80 billion was spent on all forms of coursework in 2019, but how much of that was dedicated to teaching formal alliance best practices? Not much, according to Ben Siddall, partner at Vantage Partners, who revealed that the same research found almost half of companies invested zero or few resources in teaching collaboration skills.

Siddall and his fellow partner at Vantage Jessica Wadd took some of their time to talk about the benefits of making this investment in their on-demand 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “Alliance Management Skill Building: Case Studies Across Industries,” where they presented a trio of case studies showing that successful collaborative training can take many forms.

Before delving into the actual use cases, Wadd shared that organizations that are best-in-class in executing collaborations have devoted resources—usually on a large scale—to fostering the following skills within their employees: creative joint problem solving, managing emotions, collaboration, communication, influence, conflict management, change management, and facilitation. She outlined three broad categories of skills to help companies tailor training to the needs of their troops: 1) analytical (i.e., technical knowledge), 2) behavioral (i.e., mindset-oriented), and 3) blended—talents that require a mix of the first two skills. As Wadd and Siddall would subsequently reveal, the organization’s overall training objectives, as well as the company and department culture, often dictate which format and skill-development exercises are best for a given situation. 

Come Together: Salespeople Gather to Network, Share, and Learn

Wadd outlined the first case study, which saw a $3 billion tech company design a certification program to ensure that its sales-oriented alliance team developed the talents needed to manage a large stockpile of go-to-market partnerships. This organization was at “level 2” on a four-point scale rating organizational collaborative capability, where level 1 signified a low alliance proficiency and a propensity to engage in partnerships on an ad hoc basis and level 4 indicated that collaboration was coded in an organization’s DNA. The organization envisioned moving up two levels by teaching a variety of executives from within and outside of the alliance practice the basic tenets of “Alliance 101,” including partner value creation, coopetition, multiparty problem solving, collaboration and influence, negotiation, matrix usage, and account planning.

This organization determined that in-person training would best fit its sales-centric culture—its charges “craved interpersonal interaction,” Wadd said. Training sessions served as a reunion of sorts where the largely dispersed employee base could gather to experience firsthand “the value of getting together with their colleagues, sharing experiences, networking with each other, and building a knowledge of what others had done,” as Wadd recounted. The actual sessions were organized into four broader tracks:

  1. Alliance concepts and best practices: Alliance management basics, change management, and coopetition
  2. Understanding partner business models and alliance business plans: Customer value creation and value chain analysis, and account planning and strategy development
  3. Advanced collaboration and influence: Multiparty problem solving, negotiation, and general collaboration and influence skills
  4. Roles and responsibilities (in the organization and within the alliance itself): Working in a matrix, coaching, and talent development

Learners were officially certified when they demonstrated competency in these skills, not upon completion of the courses. They were evaluated based on a three-part assessment: 1) a qualitative review by the trainee’s manager or sales leader, 2) a 34-question multiple-choice test, and 3) a presentation of two case studies demonstrating the application of alliance principles in real-life scenarios.

Biopharma AMs Ease into Self-Guided Alliance Journeys

On the other side of the spectrum of training methods was the largely customizable, self-service program architected by a level-3 $30 billion global pharma company that relied on partnering for growth. These alliance managers were proficient in the basics of alliance management, but they were increasingly engaging in early-stage partnerships, a departure from the largely late-stage collaborations the team was used to. With a decentralized team scattered in multiple geographies, this pharmaceutical giant took the opposite tack of the previous use case and created a library of prerecorded webinars and an accessible central alliance toolkit that provided a “baseline and discipline in how they engaged in alliance relationships,” according to Siddall.

Prospective students could assess their training needs through surveys and self-assessment tools. Employees had different needs depending on the types of alliances they worked on and the particular skills required for their respective engagements. Each individual could mine this central repository of virtual real-time learning sessions, classroom sessions, self-guided learning, one-on-one coaching, and community-based learning to create “their own learning journey out of that landscape,” said Siddall. “Folks were able to tailor what they needed and how they got it to their specific constraints, all within the construct of the core alliance management tools, processes, and playbook.”

Pharma Company “Layers” AM, Leadership, and Governance Training on Thick

Another biopharma company was looking to advance its alliance practice from a level-2 standing and become the coveted “partner of choice” in its market. With most of the employees engaged in its partnerships centrally located in a few offices, the company opted for a classroom style and a syllabus designed for alliance professionals. It decided to “layer” leadership training on top of the basic alliance curriculum, and then codeliver the entire offering to the rest of the organization in an “open enrollment” format, in Wadd’s retelling.

Within a few years, the course was heavily attended by alliance first-timers and other employees whose managers felt that they could benefit from learning core collaborative competencies. These classes were eventually complemented with online learning resources, as well. The program evolved to cater to specific governance needs across the alliance portfolio. Although they were not required, executives who were appointed to committees were urged to take courses that were conceived specifically for these roles, as well as half-day sessions that took place a few times a year where committee appointees could network, share ideas, learn from each other, and enhance their skills.

Integrating alliance training for all levels and roles in this fashion “makes sense when you have a limited budget,” in Wadd’s estimation.

Three Different Ways to the Next Level

Each of these three use cases relied on very different means to train alliance managers and non-alliance personnel in the core tenets of alliance management, yet they each molded stronger alliance managers and elicited better results from their collaborations. The certification program expanded the number of tools in the team’s arsenal, engaged employees from other departments, and increased the value of the portfolio to the point where alliances now contribute 40 to 50 percent of the company’s domestic revenue growth. The biopharma giant’s self-administered training similarly expanded the role and visibility of alliance management within the organization. More important, the efficient use of resources ensured that the practice could “optimize the use of [its] scarce central alliance expert time and apply [it] only to the highest-value challenges [it] faced,” said Siddall. The last training helped the alliance management team better defuse potentially volatile situations, reduced the number of escalations to senior governance committees, and produced better resolutions of the issues that were brought to senior management. The alliance practices of the first two organizations have reached level-4 status, while the latter pharmaceutical company has moved from level 2 to 3.

Although these case studies make it crystal clear that there is no “single silver bullet” for alliance training, Siddall outlined a few common principles in achieving collaborative training goals among them:

  1. Think about the learning journey as a process, not an event. “You can’t create collaboration, influence, [and] the kinds of complex skills alliance managers need at a one-time event with no prework, no follow-up, [and] no action learning,” said Siddall.
  2. Make sure all subject matter is contextualized. “Generic content will not be as impactful. Folks won’t develop the skills, and they won’t be as engaged,” counseled Siddall.
  3. Instructors should have real-world expertise and speak the same language as attendees.
  4. Emphasize practical application. Siddall recommended a “learning laboratory” format where students apply concepts to real-world scenarios.
  5. Think carefully about format,” Siddall exhorted, hypothesizing that analytical-category learning outlined by Wadd earlier in the presentation might lend itself to self-guided tools, while behavioral and blended training may necessitate live, interactive sessions.

“Alliance Management Skill Building: Case Studies Across Industries” is one of about two dozen 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit sessions available on demand to Summit registrants. ASAP members and Summit registrants can access great knowledge like this that applies to all industries and all phases of the alliance life cycle.

Because in the world of alliance management, the learning never stops. 

Tags:  alliance best practices  Alliance Management  Alliance Pros  alliances  Ben Siddall  biopharma  case studies  certification  collaboration skills  Jessica Wadd  partner  portfolio  resources  Skill Building  Vantage Partners 

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5G: Overhyped, or a “Fairy Tale” Come True?

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Friday, July 17, 2020

Ready or not, the future is coming. In some ways, it’s already here.

So it is with 5G, the latest generation of mobile connectivity. The promise of this technology, and its implications for consumers, businesses, and partnering, were among the topics discussed in one of the many on-demand presentations that form this year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

“How 5G Will Transform and Disrupt Business and Partners,” moderated by Stacy Conrad, director channel sales, TPx, featured three panelists:

  • Pradeep Bhardwaj, senior strategy director, Syniverse
  • Manoj Bhatia, CSAP, partner business development (technology alliances), Verizon
  • Andreas Westh, CSAP, director global partnering strategy, Ericsson

“Once upon a Time” Is Now

After a short introduction by Conrad to set the stage, Bhardwaj began by noting, “The story of mobile has been nothing short of a fairy tale. We have come a long way since the start of the first generation of mobile technology in the early ’80s.” Each generation of mobile technology has come with its own advancements, he added—including texting, Web browsing, and video—and 5G is no different.

For Westh, 5G brings with it “a lot of opportunities” for both consumers and businesses. These include connected smart homes, low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) technology, enhanced live event experiences, gaming, wireless virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), remote robotics, connected vehicles, and connected logistics for business. Westh views 5G as an “innovation platform” where “different companies come together and cocreate.”

Bhatia sees 5G’s impact as primarily occurring in three areas: mobile connectivity for business, new consumer services such as home broadband, and big industry services that will help enterprises digitalize and leverage IoT technologies, for example.

Of this last category, he said, “This is an area [where] everybody has been working for a while, trying to get new innovations. But with 5G, the speed, latency, moving massive amounts of data in a much more efficient way—that’s where the new challenge and the new excitement comes in.”

“A Complete Paradigm Shift”

Asked by Conrad whether 5G has been overhyped, the panelists seemed to agree on a resounding “no.” If anything, they suggested that perhaps the technology’s potential has been underestimated.

“The hype is very justified,” Bhardwaj maintained. “It’s a complete paradigm shift.”

Bhatia chimed in that when speed can be “magnified and amplified” anywhere from 10x to 100x over 4G, and latency reduced as much as 10x (avoiding delays in the movement of large amounts of data), “the hype is understandable.”

Furthermore, he said, “All businesses struggle not just in the transport of data but also in managing these big chunks of data. And that’s where 5G will actually help.”

“Cut All the Cables”

Westh said, “There’s huge interest from the business side, not just consumers. It opens up a lot of opportunities. We see a lot of interest from partners from different companies who want to leverage 5G for their businesses.” He added that his company, Ericsson, recently released the results of a survey predicting that mobile data consumption will increase 4x in the next couple of years, which has both business and consumer implications.

Looking at different verticals where 5G will have an impact, Bhatia mentioned healthcare—in particular noting contract tracing for the coronavirus, collection and analysis of public health data, the use of AR/VR in diagnosis, and telehealth. (And about the changes wrought by COVID-19 worldwide, he said, “We’re all going through this crisis. We’re all gathering the strengths, the technology, and the ideas to solve this problem more efficiently, so we are better prepared for this kind of crisis in the long run.”)

Westh mentioned advances in entertainment, including enhancing the experience around live concerts, shows, and sporting events—and even consuming entertainment safely at home. In these areas, he said, 5G will help remove or reduce capacity constraints, interference, and connectivity issues. Westh added that one of Ericsson’s goals is to “cut all the cables”—which means that professional cameras at live events will be able to get into spaces where it hasn’t been feasible up to now.

Bhardwaj took on the manufacturing sector, where he said that 5G could greatly improve both process and production automation, as well as connectivity and logistics, robotics, and other functions.

Partnering in 5G: From Small Islands to Super Ecosystems

Not surprisingly, the promise of 5G has spawned any number of new and innovative partnerships involving multiple players. “The foundation has been there,” Bhatia said, noting the prominence of technology and systems integrator partnerships, which he called “small islands.” But 5G, he predicted, will bring “a super set of ecosystems” with it, along with the incubation of a “new round of innovation—[creating] something that was unimaginable before.” Verizon itself is working with many startups on 5G projects, as well as with device makers like Samsung, and investing in “labs for new ideas.” But Bhatia warned that any such efforts must provide real, beneficial, “significant change,” or else it’s simply “hogwash.”

Westh agreed that partnerships are already an important element in the creation of new 5G use cases for consumers and businesses. “It’s a collaborative game,” he said. “It’s an ecosystem and a value chain [for] cocreation. We’re just at the beginning with 5G. It’s a long journey.”

If you registered for the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, don’t forget that all conference sessions—both livestream and on demand—are available for viewing from now through August 18, 2020, on the conference showcase.

Tags:  5G  Andreas Westh  AR/VR  channel sales  diagnosis  Ericsson  Manoj Bhatia  mobile  mobile connectivity  partner  partnering  Pradeep Bhardwaj  Stacy Conrad  strategy  Syniverse  technology  telehealth  TPx  Verizon 

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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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