The Virtual vs. Vicious Cycle: Effectively Supporting Alliance Sale Teams to Foster Success

February 18, 2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

By Beth Vanni, Vice President

Seasoned IT vendors know how critical the role of field sales is in the long-term success of an alliance partnership.  Despite all the other metrics around joint branding and visibility and penetrating key accounts, field teams ultimatly create customer success and incremental revenue for both companies.  If your sales force stumbles, or does not see the customer value in the alliance solution, deals don’t close. Even before signing the papers, it is critical for companies to work together towards implementing best practices when it comes to field sales engagement.

Businesses who have the best track record in partner alliances are typically those who engage the sales force early on. A recent panel discussion organized by Amazon Consulting and the Assocation of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP)  revealed that the impetus for many alliance relationships originate in the field. Encouraging the sales force to pinpoint opportunities and then working backwards from the targeted solution to develop a broader alliance partnership ensures a customer-focused and customer-driven alliance.

Clearly defined sales roles, in terms of which company’s field team is leading in which part of the customer management cycle, are a pivotal part of effective field planning.  Expectations need to trickle down to the people in the trenches through workshops, training and education. As importantly, sustainable compensation plans, a clear delineation of who is selling to whom, and a workable plan to mitigate competitive concerns before they occur are all essential, and vary from company to company, alliance to alliance.

We see a common “viscious sales cycle” develop when one of two things happen:  either early sales teaming is well planned and therefore doesn’t have strong customer impact, therefore the sales teams get disillusioned.  Or, the corporate support for the field activity is weak (insufficient marketing materials, poorly constructed joint solution, undefined operational processes) and it acts as a barrier to successful field engagement.  This headquarters to field dependency illustrates how critical it is for the field to be included in defining customer requirements both when an alliance relationship is begun, but then also as it’s monitored and evaluated over its life cycle.

For personal accounts of alliance success in the field, watch these 4 videos from Amazon Consulting’s recent live panel event with the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP entitled “You’ve Signed the Deal:  Now Show them the Money.”  Alliance leaders from Oracle, SAP, Siemens and Sailpoint Technologies, share their personal stories of success and challenges in field engagement with their company’s top alliance relationships.

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Entry filed under: Industry Perspective. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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