Thirty years of experience in the IT market taught how to nurture and appreciate alliance management. It is building relationships with joint business development in mind. Your alliance partner announces partnership with your competitor. How shall you manage your partner relationship and your company/market reactions?
Competitive markets pressure companies to constantly seek differentiation through innovation and partnership. It is typical nowadays to establish business relations with multiple competing partners. The objective of each business is to gain profitable market share directly or indirectly. Exclusive partnerships are exceptions and in some cases against the law.
The IT market is well entrenched in this framework of open doors to further partnership. Having good partnership across multiple software or hardware vendors is common practice. Competing partners work hard to gain any advantage with a strategic alliance partner.
The 4 good behaviors to manage competitor announcement with alliance partner are:
We all grow by managing new challenges, aren’t we? This is just a new challenge knocking on your door. Take a deep breath and embrace the challenge with a smile, a good hospitality skill, to put your brain into a good mood – you will need that. Take the necessary time to read, understand, analyze, and digest the news. Knowledge, of the announcement content, is a critical element of constructive management. When possible, sleep over it and hold off any interaction within 24 hours.
Expect to receive requests either complaining or asking for information, the typical “are you aware?”, “what happened?”, or “this is bad”. This is normal reaction of people lacking information and seeking understanding. Even unjustifiable complaints treat them with a smile, see them like endorsement and support. At the end of the day, colleagues are on your side and this is their way to show solidarity. Why smile? The announcement contains no joke to make you smile and your analytical mind will auto-activate the wrong emotions. Smiling – or any positive attitude – is good behavior to seek constructive understanding of the announcement.
As soon as you digest the news, within the day, reach out to your alliance partner counterpart and congratulate them. At the end, they did good job for their company and your partnership is much bigger than envy-view of the world of business. Make sure your counterpart feel good and win their appreciation of your understanding.
The announcement is a fact and history – water under the bridge. Knock your head looking forward to explore options to leverage. Your company is most likely doing the same type of competing partnerships. Wish your partner the same success you wish for your company. Alliance is about relationships with joint business development in mind. Seek your counterpart trust and confidence during your tough moments of truth, they will always remember you – it is very personal. This constructive attitude, will create a natural human “debt” on your counterpart – the need to return the favor.
Imagine the majority of your company executives, peers, and employees are complaining about the announcement. It is scary and this is your opportunity to deal with such deep and broad challenge! Good news that many people care about the alliance and they are seeking understanding. At this stage, knowledge transfer into your company is critical. Acknowledge their disappointment while putting forward the truth on the reality of competition. Accept the competitor milestone and avoid any defensive explanation – this is not about you, this is about other people who did good job.
The more you stand by business principles, like focusing on own partnership strengths, the better you align the company to great foundation. Competing announcement can be confirmation of market growth, confirmation of your company earlier steps, or new angle you haven’t considered. All can be looked at as good news for your company. Apply the same approach with external interactions. Keep the focus on the value of your partnership, wish your partner success, and leverage it as confirmation of market development.
Opportunities lie within your constructive thinking. Use this positive milestone, true at least to your alliance partner, as elevator to existing joint development initiatives or a lever to new ones. Your counterpart is pleased by the milestone and your positive attitude. This healthy competition between companies stimulate innovation – focus on this part.
There is something good for you. Explore over days, weeks, or months new opportunities this announcement created. Put your focus on invention or innovation instead of replication. Your opponent’s move, think chess game, creates an opportunity for you – challenge yourself and explore.