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Supreme Allies: ASAP Unveils 2020 Alliance Excellence Award Finalists

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It is that time of year again. ASAP has revealed its list of Alliance Excellence Award finalists for 2020. Like previous winners before them, this year’s nominees created innovative products, threw lifelines to citizens in need all around the world, increased company profits, got us closer to game-changing cancer drugs, and improved the internal function of individual alliances and alliance management practices.

“Each year, we find the companies that use the most fundamental tenets of alliance management to get powerful results from their collaborations, all the while tailoring these principles as necessary to fit an ever-changing business landscape,” said Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who oversaw the evaluation and selection of submissions. “This year’s nominees are no different. Everyone in the alliance management community will learn a great deal from how these organizations achieved such amazing outcomes in 2019.”

Contenders will be vying for awards in the following four categories: 1) Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility, 2) Alliance Program Excellence, 3) Individual Alliance Excellence, and 4) Innovative Best Alliance Practice. (ASAP’s web site breaks down the criteria for each of these areas.)

Here is an overview of our finalists’ stories:

Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Banistmo – The largest bank in Panama teamed with Reciclar Paga, an organization that collects and recycles materials, to open “ecological ATMs” all over the country where citizens automatically receive credit in their Nequi Panamá accounts when they deposit plastic bottles, cans, and other recyclables. (Nequi Panamá is Banistmo's digital financial platform.)  
  • Ericsson – This telecommunications giant provided the foundation for the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), which established and maintained voice and data connectivity in the aftermath of natural disasters. Hundreds of employee volunteers have been trained and deployed all over the world, supporting over 40 humanitarian relief efforts in 30 countries.
  • International SOS – The global medical and security services company partnered with wellness company Workplace Options to deliver comprehensive physical, mental, and emotional well-being services to expatriates, traveling students, and businesspeople worldwide. This partnership shows how the combination of industry-leading expertise from different organizations can support people in need.
  • Protiviti – Protiviti teamed with nonprofit organizations Feeding Children Everywhere and Rise Against Hunger to deliver millions of meals to hungry families around the world.  An open, flexible partnering model has enabled Protiviti to work with numerous partners across multiple locations worldwide.
  • SAS Institute – SAS’s ecosystem hosted the annual Nordic Hackathon, which aims to use “data for good.” Hackathon participants have created solutions that help doctors detect and treat heart failure, consumers make climate-friendly food choices, and war refugees find their families, among other use cases. The Hackathon is an integral part of SAS’s partnering program.

Alliance Program Excellence

  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) – A global nonprofit institution established its inaugural alliance management function to provide strategic oversight and best-in-class practices to its large-scale strategic drug discovery collaborations and cofunded platform technology relationships. The alliance program is unique in the way it connects CRUK’s extensive network of academic researchers to biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
  • JDA Software – In response to increasing customer demand for cloud solutions, JDA revamped its Partner Advantage Program to include a prescriptive learning–based Partner Academy, two new partner-ready cloud environments, a Solutions Marketplace, and a Partner Locator, a searchable lead-generation engine for end users, among other features.
  • Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany ­– The pharma stalwart implemented a state-of-the-art performance management program for alliances including innovative metrics for decision making and benchmarking with competitors.  KPIs are tracked on a quarterly basis. Analysis of these KPIs quarter to quarter enables continuous improvement of the alliance management function.

Individual Alliance Excellence

  • Banistmo and Sodexo – The companies combined the former’s Nequi Panamá digital banking platform with Sodexo’s Vale Panamá voucher system to create e-vale, a tool that enabled business and public agencies to provide bonuses and incentives to employees. The alliance also succeeded in building an ecosystem around this product.
  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Celgene – CRUK and Celgene formed an alliance centered on research into multiple cancer-associated proteins across diverse cancer types. The alliance was structured according to ASAP best practices and implemented a mechanism for CRUK to independently engage with its academic network and make flexible spending decisions.
  • Genpact and Deloitte Genpact’s collaboration with Deloitte featured a comprehensive mix of traditional alliance best practices and modern innovative tools, such as “social capital” and “Evangelists,” people with experiences at both firms whose primary role is to help drive the connection between the respective teams. 
  • Ipsen and Debiopharm – With their contract coming to an end in 2018, Ipsen and Debiopharm rebooted and revamped their 35-year-old alliance. The partners have shown an exemplary ability to reinvent their alliance. The reset resulted in a new partnership model and a new contract for the next 15 years of partnership.

 Innovative Best Alliance Practice

  • Alcon – The company’s Trinity partner relationship management system helped streamline the reporting, governance, analytics, and communication related to alliances that impact the organization’s business development and licensing (BD&L) group. The system enhanced compliance with alliance agreements and improved alliance management.
  • Citrix (Coopetition Guidance) – With its strategic allies acquiring competitors, Citrix created guidelines for transitioning away from partners-turned-rivals. The tool is publicly available and provides a step-by-step blueprint to develop a response strategy when a partner becomes a competitor.
  • Citrix (RFSA) – The virtualization giant’s Request for Strategic Alliances Engagement (RFSA) program aligned the engineering, product management, marketing, and alliance management functions so that the company could evaluate and respond to proposed initiatives from partners significantly faster.
  • PTC – The company cobranded a series of Digital Centers of Excellence (CoE) where partners can demo Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions to customers and prospects. This program had a significant effect on top-line growth.

“Every profession distinguishes its top performers, and ASAP is proud to do the honors for the crème de la crème in alliance management,” said Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP. “With more and more organizations submitting for these honors, there is mounting evidence that organizations of all kinds see the Alliance Excellence Awards as a means to validating their standing as innovators.”

The winners will be announced on Tues., March 17 at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Tampa, Fla.  

Tags:  alliance  alliance management  Banistmo  Cancer Research UK  Celgen  Darmstadt  Debiopharm  Deloitte  ecosystem  Ericsson  Genpact  Germany  International SOS  Ipsen  JDA Software  Merck KGaA  Nequi Panamá  partnering model  partnering program  partners  partnership  Protiviti  SAS Institute  Sodexo 

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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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Alignment, Agility, and ‘Leadership IQ’ | Alliance leaders always have driven alignment. But what do we do differently, as disruption accelerates?

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, November 27, 2019

As an alliance leader, I used to spend 70 percent of my time not working with partners, but working on aligning internally. The concept of creating value through partnering was brand new for our leaders. We’d never walk into a meeting without a pre-meeting. Building alignment stole time away from creating new value with partners—yet it was critically important to delivering the value intended when the alliance was created.

Much has changed in alliance management—but driving alignment remains a central task of alliance leaders.

Indeed, research indicates the highest performing alliance leaders are “ambassadors” who bridge boundaries both internally as well as externally. They focus “on dialoguing with superiors and other stakeholders, proactively putting themselves on the agenda of their leaders, and managing behaviors,” according to Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, professor at Loyola University Maryland.

That makes sense—but what about time for externally facing alliance management?

Applying agile principles to partnering reflects a broad understanding in our profession that alliance management cannot afford to accrete more bureaucracy and process. Instead, how can we simplify the activities and processes of driving alignment so that partnering can become more agile? That seems essential to proceed effectively in the ecosystem—where it’s just not possible for there to be 100 percent alignment.

Complex models once helped us describe, in comprehensive detail, the complicated work and rich value created in the alliance management function. Alliance leaders have always looked for simplified means to explain the complexity of partner value creation. Back in the day, we used our STAR model to define Situations, Tasks, Actions, and Results—simplifying our alignment discussions as much as possible.

Today, partnering leaders look to jettison complexity wherever they can, seeking shortcuts in the traditional alliance lifecycle and technologies to further streamline alliance activities. It is the embodiment of Albert Einstein’s famous admonishment: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” At its roots, then, agility is about changing how we think.

“Growth is a thinking game,” said Salesforce evangelist Tiffani Bova, author of Growth IQ. I would add that alliance management is a thinker’s profession. As our profession both expands and evolves in direct response to pervasive disruption, our most critical and differentiating skill remains our “leadership IQ.” It defines how we understand the transformation of business and its implications for partnering practice.

“In the advancing era of artificial intelligence, companies need to create all the pieces—and alliances—necessary to make it easy to adapt for the advancement of products,” said Bruce Anderson, IBM’s general manager, high tech/electronics industry. “You need to ask how your company should be thinking about alliances in this accelerating business approach,” he emphasized. “Alliances have become fundamental to the idea of strategy.”

Anderson’s and Bova’s points reinforced each other in a powerful way, I thought. How we think, the choices (and sequence of choices) we make, and how quickly and efficiently we can make decisions all matter. Alliance managers must improve their “leadership IQ” to better understand the big picture of disruption, how it will create value or threaten loss of market share—and how, “in this accelerating business approach,” they will drive alignment accordingly.

Tags:  accelerating  agile  aligning creating value  alliance leader  alliance management  alliances  artificial intelligence  Bruce Anderson  Dave Luvison  drive alignment  Growth IQ  IBM  leadership IQ  Loyola University Maryland  partnering alliance  partners  strategy  Tiffani Bova 

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“We Need Partners—Fast!” Leveraging Partnerships to Respond to Paradigm Shifts

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Friday, November 15, 2019

For old established companies, responding and adapting to market changes and shifts in technology and consumer buying behavior can be especially difficult. When the old ways of doing business no longer bring in the revenue they once did and the once-revered firm struggles to maintain its top market position, entrenched internal processes and stagnant thinking can lead to a steady decline—or worse, an “extinction event” that topples the old behemoth.

            That might have been the case for Philips Lighting, which was spun off by Philips in 2016 with a new name, Signify (but still uses Philips branding for hardware products). Philips began its life in 1891 as Royal Philips, and was a market leader in lighting for at least a century thereafter. According to Ivo Rutten, vice president and head of global strategic alliances for Signify, the history of lighting amounted to approximately “110 years of tranquility followed by four major paradigm shifts in two decades.” He made these and other observations as part of his keynote address on the second and final day of the ASAP European Alliance Summit held Nov. 14–15 in Amsterdam.

            He even went so far as to compare these paradigm shifts to “the meteors that killed the dinosaurs.” The four paradigm shifts were the advent of LED lighting, lighting systems, services centered around lighting, and “light as a language,” involving the increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

            A company whose main business was ordinary consumer lighting found that this line of business was no longer so important. “Everything the company was based on was wiped away,” Rutten acknowledged. So in order to deal with these successive meteor strikes—and not to end up as dead as the poor dinosaurs—Signify realized that it “needed partners—fast.”

            And it was all very well to develop new lighting systems, services, and IoT applications and move into B2B. But to get businesses to buy and install them? IT managers at companies would say, “Philips? In my network? No way. I’ll be hacked.” Philips/Signify had no credibility in this area, so it had to seek out partners that would help it gain entry.

            A big one was and is Cisco, which could help with its own reputation in IT to pave the way. Now Signify could say, “You won’t be hacked—just ask Cisco,” Rutten said. Cisco’s credibility in network hardware and Signify’s lighting expertise combined to make a unique and appealing value proposition.

            But in order to partner effectively, Signify had to learn and develop a number of partnering best practices. Among the most important, according to Rutten:

  • Establishing clear objectives for the alliance—e.g., additional growth, alliance-attributable revenue, access to a channel, improved technology
  • Ensuring alignment in both companies, or as Rutten said, “Nail it tight”
  • Set up rigorous processes to run the alliance
  • Get “everyone on the bus” by incentivizing the sales force

Added to these must-haves, Rutten said, were a number of key insights, including:

  • An alliance is not necessarily a “regular business relationship” and may be relatively nontransactional
  • There should be a combined value proposition
  • Both companies must benefit beyond normal business returns
  • The financial impact—and the risk—may go well beyond normal business
  • Partners need to be continually aligned and realigned—which means explaining and re-explaining the what, why, and how of the alliance, internally and externally
  • The alliance should have similar importance to both parties
  • Local sales forces in both companies should become self-motivating

Although not purely transactional, it’s a reality that in an alliance each party must give and get, or as Rutten said, “Their contribution must match our needs.” He noted the importance of creating a balanced first-draft term sheet—“our end and your end”—and putting it in front of the partner before moving on to a dialogue and working out differences, aligning objectives, etc.

            As in other companies, the governance structure of significant alliances involves three tiers: day-to-day alliance management, decision making by a joint steering committee, and C-level interaction by the heads of both companies.

            Such principles and practices are important enough in a one-to-one alliance, such as with Cisco, but even more so when multiple partners are involved, as in the Philips HUE ecosystem, which blends security, lighting automation, the setting of events, tasks, and routines at home, a user-friendly interface that responds to voice or phone commands, and full integration into a smart home.

            To make HUE operational, an ecosystem was needed, involving many partners including Apple, Amazon, Nest, and Bosch, as well as more than 50,000 third-party developers who have so far put up over 900 apps on the Android and Apple platforms. As Signify and its many partners move forward, more use cases will be identified and the whole ecosystem will become an expanding universe—at least until the next meteor hits.

Tags:  alliance management  ASAP European Alliance Summit  B2B  c-level  ecosystem  integration  Internet of Things  IoT applications  Ivo Rutten  joint steering committee  one-to-one alliance  partners  Philips Lighting  platforms  Royal Philips  Signify  strategic alliances 

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Sellers, Partners, and Customers: Reorganization, New Tools, and New Mindsets Drive Change in the Channel at National Instruments

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Before they headed home to Austin, Texas, I caught up with longtime friend Penny Wright, CA-AM, and a new friend (i.e., first-time attendee and presenter) Jimmy Hwang from National Instruments after their session “Connecting Teams and Systems to Advance Channel Opportunities” on Wednesday, March 13, the final day of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hwang is principal manager, alliance partner program; Wright is global enablement manager on NI’s sales and partner enablement (channels) team. Before NI’s recent reorganization, Wright and Hwang worked on the same team in a matrix structure; now they still work (and present) together, but are housed in different functional areas. In tag-team fashion, the two walked me through the story—and lessons learned—that they shared with the engaged group that attended their session. Here’s a segment of our discussion—you’ll find more of our conversation in forthcoming Strategic Alliance publications.

ASAP Media: What was the purpose of your presentation and what did you talk about?

Jimmy Hwang: The purpose of our presentation was to share the work we have been doing—to share best practices. In terms of how we use systems and tools, we’re trying to adapt to the changes that are happening internally at NI. Two important changes have occurred. The first one is we are focusing on three key industries where our platform is highly differentiated and we see the biggest opportunity to grow. NI serves a wide range of customers in a broad range of industries and applications—and we will continue to do that, but at the same time we are focusing more on our transportation, aerospace/defense/governments, and semiconductor customers. We want to maintain whatever we are doing—but in terms of incremental future investment, we’re want to deepen our relationships and solution offerings to the customers in these three industries.

Second is a change in how we provide sales coverage for our alliance partners. Sellers used to have a mixed book of accounts —for example, I’m a sales person for Texas, and as long as customers and partners are in Texas, they are my account. What’s changed is that we carved out partner accounts and establish a dedicated and separate sales coverage for them. Now, we have partner sales managers, responsible for a set of partner accounts, and they don’t own any end user accounts—all t do is to manage partner accounts. If I’m a regular account manager, that’s what I do—I manage end user accounts. This clarifies the role within sales, delivering more value to customers, partners, and National Instruments.

Penny Wright: We talked about there being a lot of friction over lead sharing. Because of that historical [organizational] setup, our partners were hesitant to share their leads with NI sellers, and sellers who said, “I’m not going to bring partnering into this opportunity because it’s going to bring my commission split down. We have implemented a standard GTM and account planning process where partner sales managers are now driving those integrations and collaborating with those sales account managers.  We adjusted our commission structure to break down the boundaries to opportunity sharing and incentivize sellers to bring partners in earlier in the buying cycle. We actually did that before the reorganization—one of the first steps to getting sellers on board.

From a tools standpoint, in 2013 we brought on our PRM system, Impartner, and were able to stand up a customer-facing directory, allowing partners to manage their own profiles and giving them the ability to market themselves for free. We don’t charge for that, it’s part of their membership. This really enabled us to get our salesforce more educated on who our partners are—it’s almost a sales directory for our sellers to find our partners, so it’s not just the customers who use it to locate a partner.

National Instruments also really was behind on industry tools for CRM. We had homegrown Oracle-based systems that were internally developed, but three years ago, an external sales vice president came onboard and said, “No, we’re standardizing on Salesforce.”

ASAP Media: What are other technology updates and how is the transition going for NI and its partners?

Jimmy Hwang: Because of the now separate, dedicated sales coverage for partners, there is an even stronger need to facilitate the collaboration between our sellers and the partners. So that’s why we introduced the connector module to connect the two systems—Salesforce and Impartner. 

Penny Wright: It’s worked out really well. We have an entire Salesforce business team internally, and that’s all they do is optimize our Salesforce instance. Everybody has tools, connecting with our install base of customers. They can do outbound marketing by connecting to our Eloqua marketing automation. We’ve replaced our internal sales opportunity systems and how we did quoting and pricing and commissions. Now that sales is standardized on Salesforce, Jimmy can pull a report from Salesforce and see partner opportunity pipelines by industry and application focus areas.

We’ve made a lot of progress, but are still just scratching the surface of where we want to go. And a lot of the things that we’ve been working on for years in the alliance program management team are now being adopted because the of the recent business strategy shifts. We now fully recognize that we’ve got to focus and bring our partners into our go-to-market activity. It’s an exciting time for NI and our partners and these efforts have put us in a really good place and position to support the global go-to-market strategy.

See more of the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive, on-site coverage of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit on the ASAP blog and in forthcoming Strategic Alliance publications.

Tags:  Channel  go-to-market strategy  Impartner  Jimmy Hwang  National Instruments  partners  Penny Wright  PRM  Salesforce  tools 

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