bers at the time of the PTM process’s inception, a testament to the effectiveness of the program.
er challenges rather than pursuing bigger-picture, global issues.
“What has grown is our capability. We are able to do more with the same amount of resources and be a lot more effective. When you are qualifying initiatives in a particular way, you’re engaging scarce stakeholder resources on the right opportunity. When you are not qualifying with discipline, you carry stakeholders through a bunch of initiatives that don’t necessarily work out,” said Peek.
Ultimately, though, it still comes down to a staff’s execution and its willingness to make the behavioral and organizational changes necessary to drive alliance success.
The increased efficiency and growing top-line revenue has raised the profile of the alliance management function to new heights within SAS. “We’ve gone from chasing opportunities to driving opportunities, and that’s elevated our internal credibility with SAS,” said Peek.
Openness and Forward Momentum In addition, SAS partners are very pleased with the process, even if it is demanding at times. “Small partners are relieved to know how to navigate SAS. Large partners are surprised to see that SAS has a process and are happy to be guided by it,” said Peek, adding that innovative SAS technology “would be nothing [to potential partners] if they did not have a clear, predictable way to engage with us.” Peek says it helps that SAS makes a point of being as open as possible in its dealings with partners—for example, the company shares templates, best practices, and other tactics with its partners.
“You don’t have to have everyone in the boat. You just need a critical mass. Get moving and the rest will follow,” advised Peek. In order to motivate employees to willingly move out of their comfort zone, Peek recommends constantly reminding all stakeholders what is in it for them and making their contributions tangible wherever possible. For instance, incorporating PTM tags in the SAS customer relationship management system “made it real to the alliance team,” according to Peek. Couple that with an incentive program that rewards alliance managers and business development professionals for PTM compliance, and suddenly SAS employees were motivated to commit to the program. While change may be hard to elicit, SAS cannot succeed if its staff cannot continually adapt to the ever-changing core nature of each alliance. “The secret sauce is the people and the execution and the passion,” said Peek. If SAS and its alliances team have it their way, the company will be pouring more sauce as the number of thriving alliance initiatives piles up on its plate. n
Thus far in the journey, Peek says SAS has learned a few core lessons in the execution of its PTM program. Getting internal buy-in is a must, particularly from the sales department; the lack of a sales sponsor will put a “full stop” on an alliance initiative, she said. Once an alliance initiative is moving, those responsible for its success cannot let up. Internally, SAS reminds its staff of its AMFM philosophy—“Always Maintain Forward Momentum”—because alliance projects risk retirement if they remain stalled for long periods of time. A solid alliance initiative will eventually flourish once customers see value and validate the program. To earn that customer endorsement, Peek recommends narrowing in on specific custom-
Quarter 2, 2011
The magazine of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals