In this The Partner Channel Podcast episode, Meshach Amuah-Fuster talks to Matt Bray, VP of Ecosystems and Alliances at SAP, about how channel account managers can leverage B2B partnerships to grow and scale their partner programs. Here are my top takeaways from the episode.

Collaborative organizations demonstrate a three-way value mindset.

Bray kicks off the chat by recapping his own journey with SAP, explaining that he was working with Signavio when SAP acquired them. Interestingly, Bray cites Signavio’s collaborative mindset as the main driver for that acquisition. The key to this kind of mindset is nurturing a three-way value mindset: driving value to your organization, driving value to your ecosystem partners, and driving value to your customers.

Four core elements increase visibility and collaboration in B2B partnerships.

Bray draws on the work of Mike Nevin of Alliance Best Practice, who according to Bray, asks three core questions of B2B partnerships:

·  How can I collaborate?

·  How can I get better control?

·  How can I share the risk and reward of what I do with the people that are around me?

In response, Bray lists four core elements that he believes increase visibility and collaboration in B2B partnerships:

·  Trust

I couldn’t agree more with Bray when he says that “trust is at the absolute core of what you do.” When internal sales teams compete with or undercut partners and resellers, it kills partnerships and causes a total disintegration of trust across your entire ecosystem. The core problem in these kinds of scenarios is a lack of partnership mindset in the company’s culture, which Bray rightly insists is essential for any business hoping to leverage B2B partnerships to their fullest potential.

We’ve written before about how to transform an anti-partner culture into a pro-partner culture in this article. Instilling a partnership mindset requires having support from the C-suite, and then using early partnership successes as proof points to convert the rest of your organization. It’s also essential to educate sales teams on how partnerships can actually bring them more opportunities, not fewer.

·  Vision

Vision is all about being able to see the bigger picture. “I think you have to share the same vision, not only of your organization but the partners that you work directly with, in line with what the customer is trying to achieve,” says Bray. Seeing your product or organization as just one component of the greater solution that your ecosystem offers puts the customer at the heart of your business and your partnerships.

·  Skills

Your partners need to be able to talk your language in your affairs. In this post I talk about how important it is to thoroughly vet potential partners before onboarding them to your partner program. What kind of skills and technical knowledge do they have? Be clear about how much technical training and support you’re willing and able to give new partners to upskill them on your products and systems.

·  Systems

“Data is king,” says Bray, stressing that all decisions you make in partnerships should be based on data. A quality CRM or PRM platform can help you track and report on where partners are in specific deals, allowing you to align your own motions with the customer’s predicted roadmap to best support both your customers and partners.

In my previous article, How to boost partner assistance within your ecosystem, I talk about how a good partnership ecosystem platform (PEP) can remove the gaps between your internal team and your partners with real-time data sharing. A PEP enables your sales reps to cruise up-to-date partner data from their account dashboards. They’re then able to proactively engage relevant partners to help accelerate deals, co-sell, or even just offer advice.

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