We reviewed every aspect of their current Channels and Alliances organization and found many best practices in place.  The root cause of the failure turned out to be the very first step in the process.  The value of the media attention from the alliance announcement was so compelling that both organizations rushed through the process.  They overlooked a critical step in alliance management – no one bothered to document a shared strategic map.

 

Some of the obstacles they encountered included:

 

  • Each company communicated the value proposition differently to their customers
  • The respective companies struggled to share a common story regarding a solution road map
  • Each company began to claim certain customers were off limits which aggravated the sales force

 

Without agreement on what each sought from the alliance and their respective commitments, the alliance activity started with a bang and quickly took a back seat to day to day issues.

A Shared Strategic Map contains the following elements:

 

  • Alliance team members
  • Vision, strategy & mission of the alliance
  • Factors drawing the companies together
  • Value proposition to the customer
  • Opportunities for collaboration and potential liabilities
  • Company goal alignment
  • Possible joint solutions
  • Target account base
  • Delivery, service and support approach
  • Definition of success, metrics and milestones

 

Once a shared strategic map has been drafted, it must be openly discussed among both company’s senior leadership.  Executive sponsorship and sign off are required before moving forward.  An excerpt of a shared strategic map is provided in the figure below:

 

Channel management alliance strategic map

 

Sales forces view alliances with skepticism since history provides plenty of examples of failed alliances.  The extra due diligence up front to ensure alignment of goals, messaging and approach can save you from forming alliances that do not produce results.  For a list of top 10 alliance warning signs to watch read here

 

Takeaways:

 

  • Alliance failures can cost you more than staff time; it can create a public relations nightmare
  • The first step in exploring an alliance is to draft a shared strategic map
  • Executives from both companies must agree and commit to the contents
  • The extra due diligence will help you avoid failed alliance partnership

 

For more information on the benfits of an alliance management framework, read this article

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Drapeau

Makes data and analysis come alive so clients can understand the “what” and “why” and design solutions that fit the environment.

Once the leader of SBI Delivery, Mike is now head of the firm’s internal talent development, so he has had the fortune to help some amazing sales and marketing leaders. He starts by earning their trust. Much of this comes from his deep base of experience. With more than 25 years in sales, sales management, pre-sales and sales operations, he’s never met a challenge he didn’t like. And with backgrounds in sales leadership, marketing, and sales operations, he shuns the idea of being a desk jockey and relishes the idea of living in the field.

 

Mike maintains, develops, and leverages SBI’s library of emerging best practices for sales and marketing, which leads to evidence-based solutions, custom-fit to each client. Maniacally focused on execution, Mike does not believe in giving clients fancy deliverables with no operational details. He knows that field adoption is key. After all, if behavior doesn’t change, the lift doesn’t come. Likewise, if those closest to the field adopt the solution, the client wins.

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