Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turning over "Rocks"?

First, I would like to extend my apologies for taking so long to post again! With music performances, Kerrville Folk Festivals and client work, it has been a busy year!

Following my earlier posting on JVP's and Extracting Value, I thought it would be interesting to discuss an example where finding strategic Joint Value unlocked an alliance discussion and led to a unique opportunity for both sides.

In this case, the two companies were participants in the adjacent segments of enterprise security. One large company - call them BigSecure - with a mature customer base and an ageing product in this market, and the other, a smaller company - NewTech - offering complementary technology. During some relatively tactical go-to-market discussions, NewTech realized that its own product direction would eventually compete directly with the mature product from BigSecure.

An interesting dilemma. Should NewTech (i) continue down the go-to-market path, which promised some exciting revenue opportunities, albeit tactical, ignoring the eventual, likely inevitable, collision that risked alienating BigSecure when its new product came to market, (ii) drive the go-to-market discussions off the road and avoid wasting any more time, or (iii) try to figure out how to engage BigSecure in a discussion about the potential collision.

NewTech knew that BigSecure's adjacent product was old, but there was still considerable momentum in the field and a huge installed base to be reckoned with. More importantly, NewTech could turn this approach to its advantage, by finding ways to integrate its technology with BigSecure, and realize even more upside (than a tactical GTM). Finally, there was the threat that NewTech's competitors would get to the table first, eliminating the opportunity. But, NewTech also risked the loss of competitive IP and marketing plans to BigSecure if they opened discussion too far.

What to do? What to do? Tactical gains vs. longer term strategic gains vs. a complete blowout!

The answer is often found in how you negotiate, rather than an "either-or." NewTech decided to negotiate down path (iii). But before showing its cards, it spent considerable effort in a short time negotiating away from the table exploring ways to move forward. NewTech began by carefully assessing BigSecure's options and possible moves, before making a more of their own, introducing a 3D approach into the strategy. With more information about BigSecure's challenges, and its plans with other partners to improve customer satisfaction with the ageing product, NewTech decided it would be able to gain advantage and decided to disclose its own new product plans.

This resulted in (i) identifying competitors who were vying to partner with BigSecure in addressing the problem; and (ii) unlocking new Value Creation opportunities to work with BigSecure by delivering its innovative capabilities into BigSecure’s installed base and new initiatives, both huge strategic advantages.

Lesson learned: It wasn't foreordained to turn out this way. “Turning over rocks” at BigSecure yielded significant rewards. But it was certainly true that the partnership would remain only a tactical GTM alliance if they did nothing. So the key was to explore strategic options in a 3D negotiation paradigm. Then decide a way forward.

Think 3D - it really can make a difference in the outcome and help identify and unlock Value in a relationship...

As aye.

PS Thanks to my friend John Soper for his invaluable editing!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Panel discussion - Dec 7th - San Jose CA

Friends & colleagues,

I will be participating in what promises to be a most exciting and interesting panel next Tuesday evening (Dec 7th) in San Jose. The subject is "You've signed the deal, now show them the money: engaging alliances in the field". The panel starts at 5:30 and is to be held at TechMart
Network Meeting Center
5201 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054

You can find more details about the event here:

There is also a LinkedIn group you can join to engage in the discussion before and after the panel... check here LinkedIn Alliances Field Engagement Group >>

I hope to see you there! Please come and share your experiences in creating a strong and effective sales effort within a strategic alliance.