Phoenix Rising Blog – Strategic Alliances

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, 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 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, 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 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 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Social media hype is everywhere. We are deluged with it on-line. We see it on TV. Our kids are absorbed by Facebook. The State department even requests that Twitter delays maintenance to ensure continuity in the information flow from civil unrest in Iran. Even as we are coming to grips with Social...

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Tags: social media, partnering

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, May 11, 2009 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Part I discussed how demographic segmentation allowedtargeting programs, benefits, and attention to engender greater loyalty and business through their developers. Part II addresseshow segmentation by 'Loyalty' itself helps to identify andto address specific concerns of developers. While...

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Tags: roi, loyalty

Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

I was approached by a client some weeks ago to present at conference some work we did on Developer Loyalty. Now there are a lot satisfaction type surveys out there, but my client presented a very specific challenge. She was new in the role as the Director of the Developer Community and needed...

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Tags: roi, loyalty

Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 at 03:09 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Have you read a book in the past year that made an impact on you and how you manage alliances and partnerships? Could even be one you've written!! Here are some that I read this past year which I found had relevance to the field of alliance management. NOT listed in any order other than how they...

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Tags: alliances, reading, list

Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 08:32 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Plans for Strategic Alliances on the RiseNearly one-third of consumer products companies plan to forge new strategic alliances in the upcoming 12 months (30 percent), up 8 points from the second quarter of 2008 according to Pricewaterhouse CoopersNEW YORK, Dec 4, 2008GlobeNewswireChrysler...

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Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Strategic alliances are often viewed as a strategy for growth and perhaps not always a strategy for economically challenging times. But many of the reasons that make strategic alliances a good idea in good times make them an even better strategy for uncertain times. What are these reasons to partner...

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Tags: strategic alliances, importance

Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

What do you think of, when you think win-win? Most business people will interpret that as "I win and my partner wins". Unfortunately quite a number will behave differently: "win-win means I win twice!" This, as you can imagine, does not produce sustainable partnerships. Smart business people will...

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Tags: partnering, growth

Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

The April meeting of the Silicon Valley/Norcal Chapter of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals featured a panel discussion on Coopetition. It turns out to be as hard to pronounce as it is to do. The panel often struggled with every verb and noun form of it: Coopetive, co-opeting. It...

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Tags: alliances, cooperation, competition

Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

"Collaborative Innovation: Leveraging Strategic Partnerships for the Global Playing Field" Sunday, March 30, 2008BlogTalkRadio: p.m. Pacific/9:00 p.m.Collaborative innovation is rapidly becoming a key differentiator for organizations. But as enterprises...

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Tags: partnering, innovation

Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

A successful alliance program begins at the top with the support of the CEO. Like many other things, the CEO influences company culture, models the behavior, and sets the priorities in collaborative relationships. CEO support and that of the CXO staff fosters the environment where alliances can thrive...

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Tags: partnering, success, alliances, secrets

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