Strategic Alliances Assessment
Now is the time of year when many companies pause to reflect on the productivity of existing strategic alliances and the ROI of investing deeper (or elsewhere). A methodical end-to-end assessment of 1) partner capacity needs, 2) product strategy gaps, and 3) the portfolio of go-to-market partners is necessary to ensure you are optimizing your partner investment. The resulting clarity yields more effective sales and marketing execution through partners.
The Need for Partners
Software companies need partners to scale their selling capacity, service customers through deployment and support, and functionally extend their solution to appeal to a broader customer base. This includes:
Transaction partners: such as resellers and distributors to facilitate sales,
Services partners: to customize, adapt, and deploy to customers, and
Technology partners: who extend or otherwise pull through your products.
The strategic alliance portfolio is typically reviewed as part of the annual planning cycle. However, the introduction of new products or expansion into new markets can precipitate partner strategy assessment as well. Shifting alliances causes churn (internally, for partners, and for customers they serve) so adjustments should be evaluated rigorously, using a proven approach.
The Strategic Alliances Assessment Approach
Evaluating partner strategy must be done in context of the broader organizational growth objectives. Partners are a key influencer to realizing topline growth, so start with that growth projection to determine how much new sales, service, and support capacity you’ll need to deliver through your partner channel. There are 4 steps to optimizing your partner ecosystem:
Market segmentation: understanding your target markets and the partner support needed.
Capacity planning: evaluating the quantitative partner coverage across market segments and geographies.
Ecosystem analysis: identifying the functional gaps in terms of competitive and customer pressures (which informs targeted partner recruitment).
Solution mapping: prioritize go-to-market partners per segment and geography, streamlining your sales and marketing efforts around those preferred partners.
The net result is an optimized partner alliance portfolio that grows sales, deployment capacity, and customer satisfaction. You don’t have to be an industry leader or broad platform provider to engage this process, but you do need to understand that partners are the path to scalable customer engagement and be willing to invest in partner management and partner incentives to attract and retain strong strategic alliances.
Do you have partners deployed across all meaningful geographies and market segments for your existing products?
Are you entering adjacent or new product markets where incremental partners are needed?
Does your business growth forecast and partner ROI assessment lead you to expand sales execution through partners or to refactor existing partner investments?
The Competegy Strategic Alliances Assessment helps work through this process, yielding a productive partner portfolio. Related blog topics include Summer Strategies (aligning your selected partners with your customer selling motion) and the Strategic Alliances section of the Partner Strategy Framework E-Book.