An Alliance and a Joint Venture – Pipeline Sharing   Leave a comment

A pipeline of business opportunities is the cornerstone of most sales initiatives, so pipeline sharing is the cornerstone of alliances, and of channel management.

The very fact of sharing a pipeline defines an alliance or channel relationship; what pipeline is shared and how tells a lot about the specifics of the relationship.
For instance, when one partner shares leads and the other shares pipeline opportunities, the second acts as channel; when two partners share opportunities that each generates, and cooperate on them, they are very much managing an alliance. Even more, the content of the pipeline they share literally defines what their alliance is about in practice.

The alliance I have focused on has a joint venture. Over the last few months, as we evolve and strengthen the role of this joint venture, one key area has been pipeline sharing.

There is more than one pipeline here – the shared alliance pipeline among all partners, the joint venture’s own internal one, and the two that the joint venture can share with each alliance partner separately. Sharing them is proving more powerful and enlightening than in standard alliances, as it helps us understand what the joint venture and the alliance really are and how they can make the most of each other.

What is so special?

First of all, pipeline sharing between the joint venture and each alliance partner instantly clarifies the role of the joint venture itself, proving that the alliance is broader than the joint venture, and how this is good for all partners.
Two practical findings put the matter to rest:  

  • the alliance pipeline includes opportunities that are out of the joint venture’s pipeline; they may be few, still they are significant for the alliance and each of the partners – some are among the most significant
  • even more importantly, the joint venture’s pipelines are overall more significant than what the two partners could possibly share between them and team on – and they all are by definition relevant for the alliance partners

Clearly the joint venture makes the alliance deeper and broader than it would otherwise be, and the alliance is still more than the joint venture itself.

In addition to this, differences between all these pipelines point to ways the alliance can evolve.

Each difference is an actual, live opportunity one or more organizations are working on. Each is a pointer to how the three organizations can work better with each other, either by teaming or by leaving the joint venture alone pursuing it for the benefit of all partners.

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Posted January 25, 2011 by Gianluca Marcellino in Alliances

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