Phoenix Rising Blog – Partnering

Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Partnerships are about creating new value that could not be easily achieved alone. So the focus of negotiations should pivot on partner math 1 + 1 > 3.

Your first discovery conversation with a potential partner is usually about how you create more value together. Then, how do you each realize value in the partnership. Sustainable alliances are built on both creating value and claiming value, but without the focus on value creation you are playing a zero-sum game.

There are other negotiation approaches that are more confrontational resulting in win/lose outcomes. These never work well for partnerships. Or in truth for most negotiations as recently reported in a study of negotiation outcomes published by Harvard Law School.

Value creating negotiations involve seeking mutually beneficial outcomes.  It often entails asking “Why?” a lot to understand your partners requirements, how they grow their business, how they make money.  In understanding their business, you are better positioned to find alternatives and solutions that will benefit both of you and cost you little or nothing.  And a good partner will be looking out for your interests as well.

An example is the parable of the orange.  Two cooks are tasked to prepare a special meal for a VIP. Their reputations are at stake and tensions are high. One cook intends to make a fabulous dessert and the other a tangy meat entre.  Each require an orange for their recipe, but there is only one.  They argue about who should get the orange and after  many bitter words and bruised egos, they agree to cut the orange in half.  Neither is fully satisfied and each is disappointed in the outcome the meal.  Had they asked ‘Why?” the result could have been quite different.  One cook needed the peel of one orange; the other, the juice. 

In reality, getting a potential partner to reveal their true interests is not always as simple as asking “why?”  You have to build a relationship of trust to get behind the defensive shield. Often you do that by being more forth coming and showing a little trust yourself. 

I often hear the phrase “Gives and Gets” when discussions turns to contracts.  Makes me shiver.  It sets up a very transactional, zero-sum negotiation, like the example of the oranges which ultimately was lose/lose, since neither cook was satisfied with the outcome.  When I hear this phrase, I always interject “No, its Give to Get”.  What am I willing to contribute to our mutual success and what does that success look like for you?”

Many less seasoned alliance managers often want to jump into negotiation right away and come armed with contract lawyers. This doesn’t exactly set the stage for relationship building and fostering trust. In the model we advocate, you should have clarity in the value proposition for the customer and all partners and a fairly complete business plan. Most of this prework can be accomplished on an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that enables you to work together to design the partnership without binding commitment other than an intent to work together in good faith until you can establish whether or not you have makings of sustainable alliance.

During this process, you will learn a lot about each other and whether you can work together effectively.  This will be important in the weeks and years of the partnership lifecycle.  You might as well figure this out up front. An alliance is not a deal after all, not a one-time transaction.  Negotiations in the form of joint problem solving and collaboration will be a daily occurrence.

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Tags: Collaboration, Innovation, Negotiations, Joint problem solving, value creations


Posted Monday, July 31, 2017 at 05:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

When we talk about digital transformation, so much about it is about the customer experience. At a recent ASAP Tech Partner Forum, Tiffani Bova from Salesforce cited an example of how as a consumer, you might order a Starbucks, from your Tesla, through Alexa. When you drive up to pick up your coffee...

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Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 at 02:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Recently I was invited to facilitate a roundtable/workshop at the June 7, 2017 ASAP Tech Partner Forum in Santa Clara, Calif., centered on digital transformation. We heard from many experts and pioneers in the technology space about the challenges and changes they were navigating. It was like drinking...

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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 06:00 AM by Deborah Henken

Do you Have the Right Channel for your Future?The Buyer's journey has changed in the past few years.  Has your channel strategy kept up?  Have your partners?  How are you transforming your channel to address how buyers buy? How is your channel changing to keep up?Here are some facts about...

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Tags: channel strategy, digital transformation, buyer's journey, transforming the channel, channel of the future


Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 07:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Skills, Aptitudes and Attitudes of Highly Successful Partner ManagersThere are key differences in skills, aptitudes and attitudes of a highly collaborative partner manager.  They are skilled at adapting to an ever changing environment and operating in a world beyond the traditional organization...

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Posted Monday, October 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Investment in Talent to Grow and InnovateTo many organizations, alliances and strategic partnerships are “the new way businesses grow and innovate,” particularly as they experience a rising profile within the C-suite.  As partnership alliances become an increasingly important source...

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Tags: Partner manager, partnering talent, partnering, channel management, alliance management


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

Collaboration between technology providers and their channel partners has never been more important. Creating a sustainable partnership begins with the customer value proposition. Without customer value, there is no reason to partner! This requires you to get inside the head of the ultimate...

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Tags: Business Impact, Solution Value, Relationship, Partner Value


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 Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 07:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Do you have champions in your alliance? or do you have snipers and hostages? When I teach alliance skills mastery workshops, I often ask how much time managers spend on internal alignment.  That is winning the hearts and minds of the internal alliance stakeholders to gain their buy-in and...

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Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 02:28 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

I did a study three years ago of partner health across 14 strategic alliances and about ~400 respondents and found something very interesting about the nature of trust in alliances. We did a correlation of heath attributes against overall partner health. We found that when 'trust' was present it did...

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Tags: Alliance Management Best Practices, Alliance Strategy


Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 09:14 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting GroupOf the 20 partner managers we interviewed, most were realizing productive benefits from the use of social media. Benefits were described in terms of strengthening relationships versus the hard metrics of generating leads and revenue.Yet...

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Tags: social media benefits, partner strategy, enhancing collaboration, partner ecosystem


Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 10:19 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting GroupWe asked twenty partner managers What is social media?By far the most common response was Good Question! After a thoughtful pause, we heard social media were tools that enabled users to communicate, to build loyalty, to collaborate and...

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Tags: Social Media, Partnering, Partner Ecosystem, Collaboration


Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 06:25 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Certainly in this economy doing more with less is an imperative we all face. It is also the fundamental premise of partnering and in these times Partner Managers are pressed even harder to do even more with even less. A few weeks ago I was asked to moderate a gathering of senior alliance executives...

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Tags: customer service, resource management, optimization


Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 02:32 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Attended an ASAP Green breakfast this morning and it was certainly eye opening even if the coffee arrived late.Hal LaFlash, Dir Emerging Clean Technology Policyfrom PG&E -that's Pacific Gas and Electric for the non-Californians - spoke on the many alliances that PG&E has been cultivating...

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Tags: power, green, alliances


Posted Monday, December 15, 2008 at 10:18 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Is it time to reevaluate your alliance investment? Do you have the right partners to weather the economic climate?Are you retaining the right partners to ensure you have a strategic advantage when the thaw comes?Regular portfolio rebalancing is a best practice even in good times, but especially...

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Tags: alliance, strategy, challenging, times, rebalancing, portfolio


Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 09:44 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Have you rethought your alliance 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 economic climate because business has become unusual. Yet, disruptive...

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Tags: strategy, realignment, opportunity


Posted Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 09:14 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Does your organization have a clear discipline in determining which strategy to pursue to achieve an objective? Build? Buy? or Partner?If you answered, NO - you are in the majority. Unfortunately. A few organizations do, however, and one Proctor & Gamble has had excellent results for exercising...

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Tags: partnering, build


Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 07:16 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

This is a question I am frequently asked and one for continual debate. As far as I know there is very little published work on this topic, only fleeting references on the challenge. My opinion: there is no perfect answer but the best answer relates to what are you trying optimize?Functional silos...

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Tags: partnering, reporting


Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 07:49 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

In the Eight Secrets webcast, we reviewed some research data indicating that higher performing companies were extensive collaborators.Here I'd like to share some thoughts behind a fundamental change in attitude towards collaboration and partnering that I've seen in past few years. Some years...

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Tags: partnering, collaboration


Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 06:36 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

With great relief, I can report the "Eight Secrets" webcast went well. The producer and technical staff at AMA made it easy. The producer commented it was well attended and one of the best received webcasts they have done in terms of the feedback survey results. Whew! Here is one of the viewer feedback...

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Tags: partnering, webcast


Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 10:29 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Launching a blog for Phoenix Consulting Group in the midst of Pottermania has been a hoot, to steal a phrase from Hedwig. Looking for a blog name, I investigated everything Phoenix and found everything Harry Potter. Trying to get clever, I tried the current spelling Phoenix Pheathers which...

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Tags: blog, business development, interation, collaboration

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