Phoenix Rising Blog – Alliance Strategy

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 12:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

How do you engage when your partner is strategic to you – but you are not strategic to them.


 My partner thinks of me as a suppplier, or a channel, or 'fill-in-th-blank.' How do I become a strategic partner?  This is a common refrain from startups and small companies wanting a relationship with a big dog in the industry or even product companies seeking to work with global consultants and systems integrators. So how do you become a strategic partner?

Many times I’ve heard this asymmetrical partnering called “dating a super model”.  I often say to these guys “I know why you want to date a super model, but why would she want to date you?”  Quite frequently, they have not thought through the complete partner value proposition.  

The partner value proposition is a three way win: How do you together create value for customers? How do you create value for your partner? And LAST, how do you create value for your company?   Your benefit in  partnering is probably obvious to you, but unless you can create strategic value for customers and your partner, don’t expect to be treated like a strategic partner.   

So what might this look like?

1. You have a unique product/offer that can create a strategic advantage and will generate new business for your partner.

A company known for big data analytics found that by applying their technology they could save companies in the oil exploration business millions of dollars per drill head through more accurate targeting.  This was a compelling proof point in working their data warehousing partner who needed to sell tangible business outcomes to clients.

2. You can reduce your partner’s costs or risks in the business. 

A power distribution and conditioning company teams with a large technology company in reducing data center setup from 6 months to 9 weeks.  This has clear value to customers and partners in reducing risk and cost in the deployment.

3. You have access to a customer segment that your partner does not.  

A large technology company was seeking to develop the Criminal Justice market, but had very little presence.  Most of the technology companies serving that market were small, less than $5M with limited resources.  Many of the founders of these small niche companies had been in law enforcement in previous lives and had great contacts and reputation within the community.  The large company brought a brand name and marketing and sales resources to the game while the niche companies brought access and expertise.

4. Partnering with you offers your partner a competitive edge.

There is nothing sexy about middleware and it is difficult to sell.  By demonstrating that application middleware could reduce development time by 60%, a software company was able to create partnerships with app developers who typically bid fixed-price, value based projects that enabled them to win against competitors that typically bid based on hourly billing.

In other words in order to be considered a strategic partner, your contribution has to the partnership needs to have a strategic impact on your partner’s business!


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Tags: strategic partner, alliances

Posted Monday, May 25, 2015 at 01:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Partnering Strategies to Accelerate Growth in the Internet of ThingsFor some time we’ve been hearing that Internet of Things is coming.   Well it’s here!There are many examples that we probably don’t think much about.  Beyond our personal devices: smart phones, watches...

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Tags: By one estimate IOT will represent $14T of new value creation by 2020 with 50-75 billion devices connected.

Posted Monday, September 15, 2014 at 09:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Partnering Return on Investment is often quite attractive since the investment in a partnered initiative is shared.  In other words half of the resources or costs are on your partner’s balance sheet.  There are other organizational advantages as well which become apparent when a build...

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Posted Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 09:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Creating Business Value for CustomersCreating a competitive edge is crucial for all businesses and can be achieved through alliances. Alliances can also be a defensive measure in countering a competitive shortfall such as a gap in a company’s product line. In our research we found that creating...

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Posted Monday, August 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

The definition for an alliance is when two (or more) organizations combine their resources to create new value that could not be (easily) achieved by either party alone. Innovation is often described as the process of combining disparate ideas to create something new and in today’s business climate...

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Posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Market Impact embraces those strategies that are aimed at growing the businesses of the allied partners. It includes strategies such as entering new markets, gaining a market share position, and generally expanding the capability to gain new customers. The top five selections of our best practices...

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Posted Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

The Strategy of AlliancesAlliances in the technology sector are overwhelmingly evaluated based on revenue and for good reason. They deliver incremental revenue over above business as usual. However, revenue is a lagging indicator and does not provide insight into whether the alliance is achieving...

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Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 02:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Because more and more, channels are becoming the preferred route to market for alliances.As a recent CRN article on the VCE alliance illustrates, when alliance managers choose channels they need to understand how they work, what motivates channel partners, what are the economics, and how to deal with...

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Tags: channels, SaaS, Strategic Alliances, Routes to Market, Go to Market

Posted Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 08:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Every organization has a unique culture as a result of the norms, values and accepted behaviors that are held within the community.  People are often unaware that they do function within a company culture. However, when they begin to work closely with another company culture, they become aware...

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Tags: Collaboration, corporate culture, partner friendly, alliance management

Posted Friday, November 15, 2013 at 08:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Collaborative competencies are a distinct set of skills that effective alliance professionals have in applying the processes and practices described in the previous blog but collaborative competencies also include many ‘soft skills’.  The softskills are ironically the most difficult...

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Tags: Collaboration, competencies, alliance management

Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 08:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Alliance management is in many ways a young profession, yet there is a set of defined processes and practices that have been shown to be effective in creating and operating successful collaborations.   Research has shown that companies that approach collaboration through...

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Posted Monday, October 21, 2013 at 05:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Success Begins at the TopIt is hard to overstate the importance of a champion at the senior levels of the organization.  Many alliances fail or falter when they lose the executive champion and the role is not backfilled with a strong leader.The role of the champion is many fold. They represent...

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Tags: champion, executive sponsor, alliance, strategic partner

Posted Friday, November 12, 2010 at 03:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Alliance Management Practices: Performers and UnderperformersAll business managers, not just those managing alliances, have been challenged with navigating a stormy economy. We had to make decisions on where to cut back, how to to make the best of diminished resources, and still achieve targeted business...

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Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 08:46 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting Group, June 2009Social media is gaining presence within partner ecosystemsThese are natural communities and naturally lend themselves to these media.There has been a trend for some time by large vendor companies to position themselves as the...

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Tags: Social media, partner ecosystem, ecosystem management, partner strategy

Posted Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 04:38 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting Group, June 2009Well, arguably yes and no. Some technologies that might be labeled early Web 2.0 were in pretty widespread usage. Others such as Twitter are caught up in the tornado. Some, such as MySpace, already seem to be in decline.Blogs...

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Tags: social media, partner marketing, ecosystem management, partner ecosystems

Posted Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 12:23 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

The ASAP 2009 State of Alliance Management Report looked at thirty-six commonly recognized best practices of alliance management and benchmarked them across the community of respondents representing 431 companies. This year the researchers looked a bit deeper into innovation alliances and identified...

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Tags: emerging, best practices, alliance, management

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