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‘It’s About the Relationships, Stupid’—Finding the Fullest Potential and Meaning in Your Partnerships

Posted By Geena B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Maria Olson, CSAP encouraged her audience to reach their full potential in business alliances during an inspirational talk at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28–March 2, at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California. During one of four plenary  “Leadership Spotlights,” NetApp’s vice president of global and strategic alliances told her listeners, “You have a duty to understand your true potential. If you don’t, you are cheating yourself and stealing from the world.” She then then provided several tools for unlocking that “true potential.”

Olson will be providing more thoughtful advice for her fellow leaders as a panelist at the ASAP Tech Partner Forum to be held at NVIDIA in Santa Clara, Calif., next Wed., June 7, 2017. In an in-depth session moderated by Erna Arnesen, chief channel and alliance officer at ZL Technologies, Olson will join Steen Graham of Intel, and Andres Sintes of Cisco to discuss “Strategies You Need to Partner Everywhere.” http://www.asaptechforum.org/17/tech17sessions.html#everywhere

“It’s not about the tech, it’s about the relationships . . . Without the relationships, we would not have the success,” Olson emphasized in her March 1 plenary talk. “As partners, have we reached the full potential, or are we still on the journey?” she then asked the audience to consider. Partnerships are important, and if they can reach peak potential and performance, they can have an even larger impact, she added. To do so, consider four key questions:

  • What is the meaning of the partnership?
  • What is the purpose of the partnership?
  • What impact is this partnership having on our customers and the market?
  • What contribution is this having in terms of revenue, innovation, and to our society as a whole?

It can be approached like a mathematical equation, Olson said: “You need to understand the meaning, purpose, contribution, and impact. When you understand these things, it will ultimately lead to success.” Ask yourself, “What was the meaning of this partnership? It was really about creating value for the customer,” she then answered. “The purpose was flexibility—being able to bring together pieces to make it easy for the customers. The impact it has had is innovation.”

Now consider multi-alliances, she continued. “Trying to work with two partners is hard, but with each new partner, it gets harder and harder. The multiplier effect is like partnering with an earthquake. You have a Richter Scale going on of 10.” To organize and assess many partnerships, she advised following these key points:

  • Have key performance measures in place to measure partner success
  • Measure revenue in terms of go-to-market initiatives
  • Consider how the company is performing in terms of training and enablement with channel partners
  • Make co-innovation a priority

With each relationship, applying these points will bring greater alliance success, Olson said. “The key to relationships is trust. . . . Trust is extra important in terms of being able to partner with companies and go back to the meaning, purpose, etc. Without trust, one cannot create greatness,” she added.

“So how do you help your teams understand their full potential? The Cisco/NetApp partnership is about 10 years old, and we’re still reaching our full potential,” she concluded, and then she hinted at one last secret ingredient for the sauce: “What really drives people is learning, really trying to learn how to do things in a friendly environment.”

Learn more about the June 7, 2017 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, an all-day event for senior tech and partnering executives hosted by NVIDIA at its corporate HQ in Santa Clara, Calif., at www.asaptechforum.org

Tags:  Andres Sintes  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Cisco  co-innovation  contribution  Erna Arnesen  go-to-market  High Tech  inpact  Intel  Internet of Things  IoT  Maria Olson  multi-alliances  NetApp  NVIDIA  Partner success  partnerships  Steen Graham  trust  ZL Technologies 

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor—Effectively Employing the Breadth of People in Your Alliance

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2016

To maximize the value of an alliance, it’s important to effectively employ and appreciate the full mix of participantsfrom your sidekick partner to the trainer and sponsor in the background.  That was the focus of the session “People, Process, Culture: Building a Winning Alliance Program” at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Eco­system,” at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. The discussion was led by three individuals who built highly successful collaborative programs from scratch: Joe Havrilla, senior vice president and global head of business development & licensing, Bayer Pharmaceuticals; Gerry Dehkes, CSAP, global cyber ecosystem lead at Booz Allen Hamilton; David Erienborn, CSAP, director of strategic alliances at KPMG. During the session, they spent a considerable amount of time plying the question of how to create a thriving dynamic between your alliance team, partners, and even ex-partners. 

Joe: At the end of the day, the strategy is about people. Microsoft and KPMG are not going to do anything, since they do not exist other than in our heads they are not going to do anything. You only have the beginning of a strategy until you have taken your strategy from the company down to the people. People come into work not to execute a strategy; they come in with their own strategy. So how do I align their strategy to our best interests? In some cases, you also may need to work with the ex-partner.  If you understand ahead of time where you are in conflict with the other company, you can design a way of working together. 

Gerald: Here’s the approach we took, which is the secret sauce of this particular alliance program. Typically an alliance director will talk with partners and service leaders, and then bring in sales people. We realized the benefit of 10-20 alliance managerswith each trying to get to that sales forceand decided to take that part of the organization and organize it around the industry groups. Really position the alliance enablement person, and they would have only one person to go to. We found that to be very effective, those folks became part of the team. They decided strategies, winning alliance-based offers, they would always be there for that industry. That model helped us become successful. It’s that last piece that’s criticalgetting those alliances out to sales-facing people. 

David: It’s important that training people understand what they are trying to accomplish. If you can translate alliances at a company level down into the mind of the educators, and that this whole alliance is to get them to do something, they become aware of the importance of training to do something. It’s important for them to know this is the strategy. How do you set this up so they get visibility and appreciation? You need to make the training people a winner. 

Joe: You need to know the difference between sales and revenue, understand what margin is, and understand that finance people will be called on for estimates. If I include them from the beginning, I am a lot more likely to get their support when I need it. Another group that is important to your alliance are the sponsors. I’m an advocate and agent, but not the sponsor. They can bring resources to bear and spend time on building relationships. The alliance should be one of their top four priorities for their year. They have to be someone who can really step up. There aren’t any sponsor schools, they’ve never been trained to do it. We need to help sponsors understand what their job is, invest time in it, determine who can be a sponsor, and make sure they have the training to do it. 

Gerald: You need to define the elements of value that all the partners are looking for. It’s not a specific part of the agreement or financial transaction, yet it’s a strongly held expectation of the partner. If you don’t clarify that up front, you wind up being surprised. If there was an expectation that was discussed earlier, but you never codified the agreement or the people responsible for executing the agreement, then you have disconnect and conflict. It’s important that somebody is capturing the expectations. The other tool that is helpful upfront is to do a partner fit as part of due diligence. When you start with a rigorous checklist approach on partner resources, decision process, internal policies and procedures, you can mitigate conflicts down the road. 

David: Trust is predictability. I don’t trust my 15 year old to drive a car because I can’t predict. So we do a lot of trust building. As you get more of your people out there dealing with partners, you have to educate them and give them the boundary conditions, not to restrain them, but you want a consistent approach. You want enough leeway to solve problems. You don’t want to inhibit them from creativity, but you want predictability. 

Tags:  agreement  alignment  alliance team  Bayer Pharmaceuticals  CSAP  David Erienborn  Gerry Dehkes  Joe Havrilla  KPMG  sales  sponsors  strategies  strategy  Trust 

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