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  • Larry Gregory

New Year’s Resolution: Optimize Partner Alliances

Companies tend to generate their best strategic thinking and messaging around milestone events.  Big industry events improve product roadmap plans due to customer and analyst scrutiny.  Annual partner conferences drive partner program and incentive refinements.  Similarly, the turn of the calendar year is a good catalyst for renewing partner alliances.

Tap into the New Year’s resolution mindset to revisit go-to-market execution with your top partners. Synchronizing expectations ensures both parties are driving for the same outcomes and budgeting/planning/delivering on the interim tactics to achieve those outcomes.  This timing also allows you to fine tune based on anticipated market direction or product changes for the coming year.

New Year's Resolutions: Optimize Partner Alliances

Marketing Strategy

Inventory industry events and marketing campaigns that you may wish to jointly collaborate on.  This will highlight where you both want to be present (e.g., sharing an exhibit booth) or choose to independently carry an integrated message (divide and conquer).  Plan customer meetings around major events where possible: this serves as a good forcing function for the local sales team to develop and mature leads for exec visits.

Joint marketing also includes outbound marketing to reach new prospects.  Discuss the digital marketing campaigns that you want to collaborate on.  Funding to reach new industries or to advance a new product segment is more likely to receive alliance partner support, particularly where it represents new business.

The inbound interest generated from these campaigns can be refined through web forms (e.g., capturing contact info for downloads) and lead nurturing software.  Improving the quality of marketing-generated leads will result in better follow-up sales activity.

Measure the results and ROI from marketing efforts to assess future marketing mix adjustments.  Outbound marketing is often measured as reach, but with web analytics tools and sales correlation you can also infer leads generated, opportunities developed, and deals closed.  Channel management software can help you map alliance marketing activities with sales results (this is a manual activity for most firms).

Sales Strategy

Understand partner team and role motivations to ensure direct sales efforts are aligned.  Don’t waste time and energy if the alliance sales teams aren’t compensated (directly or indirectly) for selling your solution.  Use the New Year changeover to reinforce and adjust customer messaging and qualifying questions with partner sales teams.

In the case of new alliances or new product introductions, nurture sales activity by providing extra support (for demos, customer presentations, pre-sales tech support) so as to build up partner confidence.  Don’t forget to incubate joint marketing evidence across industry and customer scenarios as customer wins mature.  This raises the confidence of partner selling teams to pursue more joint customers and closes the marketing-sales-marketing loop.

Your New Year’s Resolution: revisit your joint marketing and selling efforts with your alliance partners in anticipation of the New Year.  Tap into the mindset of setting new resolutions and setting goals to ensure optimal alignment and smooth execution for the year to come.

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