A common theme

These blogs traverse from alliances to product life cycle management (PLM) to unified communications and customer relationship management. At first glance it would seem that the blog is all over the map!

In reality all of these subjects have a very common theme running through them. Every single one has to do with how people work together and relate together effectively. Technology can (and should) be an enabler in this effort, but in the end all of them come back to the human element.

I’m a mother and as a “mom” I spend time teaching and arbitrating. The skills it takes to be a successful mom are the same to succeed in business: listen to the needs of others. Decide how both sides can “win” and get what they want. Compromise. Learn. Admit when you don’t know or are wrong. . .

A while back there was a book entitled “Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Not me. I learn something new every day! We learn more by watching and listening to others and the day we stop learning is the day we begin to die.

So the key to success, Sandra says, is knowing what you want, continual learning and then listening (respect) for those around you. This ties into all the themes of this blog. Which take me back to alliances and why so many fail.

I’ve worked on all sides of alliances — I’ve acquired companies (M&A), I’ve run OEM alliances, I’ve created alliances (ISV, systems integrators and VARs) and I’ve killed a few relationships, too. Why do some succeed and some fail?

For the very reasons I just stated: companies don’t know what they want from the partnership, or they don’t communicate what they want to the partner, or the partner doesn’t communicate it to them. . . At one Fortune 100 company I stepped into a $20 million alliance that had been struck (prior to my arrival) between the leader in its field and my firm (the leader in our field). The deal had been struck by the CEO of each firm and $10 million annually funded by both sides.

Yet there was not one stipulation to the deal. There was no “goal.” There was no criteria for one firm giving the other beta or alpha releases of software for testing pre-release. There was no sales plan in place for joint “go to market” offers. Here we had the thought by executives that these two behemoths should be linked (and they should have been) but absolutely no thought was given to:

  1. What did either firm want from the relationship? Sales? Prestige? Linking of products? WHAT?
  2. Tactically how were the companies to work together? At an engineering level? Sales? Marketing? HOW?

So many alliances fail because someone, somewhere thinks that it is a “good idea” but none of the structure that would be put in place in any due diligence is done. Are the two companies values complimentary? Are their goals similar? Do they compete in some areas? If so how can they ally well and avoid the areas where they conflict?

Alliances can be hugely successful — but the only way they are is when your company first realizes what it wants from alliances and then puts a plan in place (a tactical plan) that it can follow in each potential alliance. Years ago I created a template I call my “PEF” (partner evaluation form). Before we even proceed to the first face to face meeting we must complete this document which asks these questions from BOTH company’s perspectives. The end goal here is success for both firms — and if you fail to plan you, plan to fail.

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About Sandra Eisenberg

Dynamic pragmatic marketing and sales executive whose biggest asset is converting technology to real corporate value -- for a variety of industries including health care providers (Adventist Health System Sunbelt), Teradata (Data Warehousing), RWD Technologies (quality improvement and professional services), Siemens and AT&T (telecom). Sandra brings twenty years of experience in sales, marketing and IT management. Her career spans entrepreneurial firms (E5 Marketing) and senior positions in sales, sales management (direct and indirect), marketing, channel development and product management at Bell Labs and NCR Teradata. A few career highlights: • Total product lifecycle management (PLM) using ISO 9001 and other quality methodologies. Sunset aging product lines and developed a migration path to a new, open standards platforms at Avaya, NCR and Bell Labs. • 1st woman to win the AT&T and NCR Teradata national sales awards -- top sales manager and sales rep at AT&T, NCR Teradata and Avaya • Delivered profitable marketing campaigns in the area of CRM, Business intelligence, contact centers and other high tech areas • Run call centers, sold call centers and been in product management of call centers (Avaya, AT&T and NCR) • Director of CRM Strategic Planning and Alliances at Avaya and NCR Teradata • Senior Manager of Product Management Bell Labs (business intelligence, data warehousing and CRM) Most recently Sandra managed the Central Florida territory for Siemens' telephony division. Siemens is selling this division soon and their loss can be your gain.

Posted on June 3, 2008, in customer relationship management and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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