For the past five years, I’ve been visiting the US much more often. During these visits, I’ve noticed some major differences between European and American companies. Generally speaking, Americans have built their competitive advantage on increased specialisation of positions and processes across all business functions. By contrast, many Europeans see such specialisation as an impediment to their creativity. But that’s a subject for another day.
Today, I would like to talk about a position that American companies take very seriously, but that is almost non-existent in European digital companies: the Alliance or Partnership Manager. It’s not that this job is unheard of in Europe—certain software companies have even made long-term investments in this area. However, it’s a rare job, shared a little bit by sales, a little by the CEO, and a little by marketing. With less specialised alliance and partnership management, European companies see the same pattern, with their American counterparts outperforming them in this area.
So why is that the case?
A good alliance means millions in revenue
Let’s first look at what’s at stake. An alliance is when two companies take a chance on building a future as mature partners, aiming for economies of scale in their go-to-market strategies and their ROI.
However, things work a little differently in Europe. First and foremost, this is because an alliance is a project that only gets going, on average, after 12 to 18 months between the first meeting and the first concrete results.
In the toxic, short-term-focused mindset of continental-European companies, this timeline, working almost like diplomacy, is not very attractive… even though, in reality, it’s the surest way to get a start-up on a trajectory towards success. This is crucial in the software world. For a platform starting to gain traction, there is no faster way to generate significant operating revenue.
Out of sight, out of mind
One reason why there are so few alliance specialists in Europe is because the world’s software hub is very far away, in California, and partnerships are often discussed face-to-face, similar to the way that ambassadors work.
Each time that I have worked for a large American software company, we’ve had serious meetings beforehand.
By nature, even the best European alliance managers have not had access to such a great source of opportunities throughout their careers.
Who can alliance managers from SAP talk to in Germany, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter? European alliance managers have to spend a lot more time travelling around than their American counterparts do. And that’s for a big company like SAP. What about medium- and small-sized companies?
As such, choosing a good alliance manager is not an easy thing, and finding help in choosing one is no easy task either.
Several initiatives to help you find and organise appropriately-sized transatlantic alliances
We would like to offer you four services to help you identify, sign, and manage good partnerships:
- a Pentalog senior partner with 25 years of alliance management experience who will help you identify the best strategic partners, as well as organise and carry out negotiations
- a legal and sales management service for your alliances to help you manage agendas, document exchanges, and schedules
- a network of French, American, British, and German specialists to represent your interests in alliances anywhere in the world
- a Revsquare alliance marketing service
Do you want to get in touch with the Alliance Senior Partner and learn more about what they do?
Do you want updates on our Alliance offering launch progress?