Strategic alliances are in place to enable organizations to improve human lives while achieving growth.
Media7: Tell us about your role at L&T Technology Services (LTTS), and what inspired you to get into strategic alliances?
Sarita Bahety: I build and nurture a network of tier one strategic alliances and ecosystem partnerships with many trusted technology vendors (ISVs) and drive partner sales in Europe in the Engineering and R&D (ER&D) space. My role has several dimensions, including growing and diversifying alliance revenues across targeted European geographies, investing in local partnerships and ecosystems, and onboarding new gen vendors to meet client demand. I believe that alliances are crucial to enterprise growth. Often organizations think of alliances as a good-to-have. In my opinion, alliances are a must-have for any organization to become successful and competitive. Alliances, if leveraged effectively, can help condense the sales cycle and help our clients achieve the outcome they are looking for: a win-win situation for all the stakeholders. I focus on steering powerful synergies between our partners and creating a solid ecosystem. It's a niche area where we blend technologies and business to launch and activate new revenue streams. You can be creative in developing unique alliances with a singular vision of becoming client-centric.
Today's business environment consists of a diverse set of leading enterprises looking to get the best from their technology investments to deliver superior customer delight. At LTTS, we align with our partner ecosystems to co-create and co-innovate solutions that deliver lasting value and expedite change across the digital value chain. As one of India's only pure-play ER&D services providers, we team up with alliance partners to strengthen our suite of services and solutions across industry verticals. In addition, we harness operational efficiencies and maximize returns on investment. A solid partner community can collaborate to deliver sustainable solutions. They can tap into collective reach, expertise, and technology to drive impact at scale and to provide seamless user experiences.
M7: What is your strategy to help drive alliance-led growth in Europe?
SB: Here at LTTS, I work with a suite of industry partners and cloud service providers across Europe. In conjunction with our sales team and partner organizations, we develop bespoke strategies for this industry and territory and prioritize which partners to work with. This helps to streamline who and how we engage. My aim is to draw from the strengths of each of our partners, to complement our industry expertise, and connect with potential buyers. While working with technology partners, we are simultaneously selling to lines of business. Thus, understanding our intended buyer personas becomes key.
● Who is buying?
● Why are they buying?
● How will our solutions help our clients become more sustainable businesses and create social impact?
Strategic alliances are in place to enable organizations to improve human lives while achieving growth. And at LTTS, our goal is to drive sustainability in the engineering sector with our array of ER&D services and solutions to customers across the globe.
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Moving to the cloud is an opportunity to make existing processes more agile and innovative.
M7: Why is the journey to the cloud important at this hour?
SB: A well-formulated cloud strategy can enable businesses to create scalable, replicable, and cost-efficient business models, as well as achieve rapid growth. Security concerns, perceived complexity, and the cost of migration to the cloud are often cited as inhibitors during possible cloud integration discussions. If businesses do not adopt cloud technology, they become non-competitive - and even obsolete. Moving to the cloud is an opportunity to make existing processes more agile and innovative. By deploying cloud-based, partner-enabled platform solutions, organizations have been able to expedite their digital maturity and achieve higher performance levels. According to Gartner, cloud end-user spending is expected to reach nearly $600 billion in 2023. There is no better time than now to be cloud-ready, which will allow us to seize the opportunity to be more adaptable and resilient. The question organizations need to ask now is not "why" but "how" to adopt cloud systems. Hybrid and multi-cloud environments are here to stay.
M7: How are managing alliances different for the European region than elsewhere?
SB: Working with alliance partners varies from region to region. For Europe, what works in one country or region, may not apply as-is elsewhere, given the cultural and vernacular nuances. The UK & Ireland, Southern Europe, Benelux, DACH, Nordic, and other regions have a marked difference in how we conduct alliance-led sales. Each region has its buyer behavior, personas, and requirements for regulatory compliance. Therefore, a regional rather than a Europe-wide alliance strategy is necessary to be successful. It's essential to understand cultural diversity, have a context of client needs, and articulate this in the language of our partners and clients. Personal social networks can speed up the navigation of an alliance organization. I believe that for alliances to work at their best, an executive connection with each of the regional partner organizations is key. This means establishing a connection or building one, where necessary. Tapping into one's own as well as extended sales and partner organizations' team networks comes in handy.
The end goal in each region is the same - to help our clients accelerate their digital transformation journey across a range of industries, from chip to cloud. However, how we deliver these outcomes with our strategic alliances varies across regions. This is where our local sales team complements our alliances-led revenues. I consolidate diverse perspectives across our sales and partner organizations, fine-tune best practices, and create bespoke Go-to-Market strategies with our technology partners. At LTTS, we focus on delivering the next generation of cutting-edge technology solutions. We simultaneously deliver disruptions in engineering solutions across the globe with our strategic alliances, keeping in mind cultural nuances and learning how to communicate with partners.
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Alliances should be at the heart of the sales process, baked upfront in any sales cycle and not as an afterthought.
M7: What are some of the best practices in leveraging alliances to accelerate time to value?
SB: Unless well thought out and executed systematically, business-to-business collaborations can go wrong quickly.
The following framework has worked for our organization so far:
M7: What is your advice for young women considering a role in alliances and partnerships?
Take an alliance-first approach. Alliances should be at the heart of the sales process, baked upfront in any sales cycle and not as an afterthought. For every sales opportunity, a sales team member should consider which partners to start aligning with. Sales teams reach out to alliances when they struggle with escalations or think of them at the very end of the sales cycle. For the best results, always remember to engage early and often.
Think ecosystem. An ecosystem play in the alliance's landscape can steer powerful synergies where 2 + 2 = 22. Think of it as a collaboration between an industry partner, such as a cloud provider—as most businesses are either beginning their cloud journey or are already on board—combined with a system integrator to bring cutting-edge solutions for our clients and prospects. The aim is to work with a list of priority partners and update this living list depending on criteria such as end-clients and prospects, regions, industries, revenue potential, and the strength of the partner network itself.
Transparency and trust. Most organizations have very lean strategic alliances and partnerships teams. The alliances' team connects the dots between various stakeholders such as internal sales and partners (across technical, learning and development, professional services, product development, and executive leadership, among others). This confluence, if leveraged correctly, delivers value. My constant reminder is to be partner-agnostic while remaining client-centric.
For most technical roles, you can train to become certified and hit the ground running. However, for a career in alliances, I would advise my younger self to keep working on targeting, acquiring, and diligently cultivating crucial business connections early in my professional life and to continue to nurture and grow them throughout that journey. Alliances, just like most businesses, run on credibility - and who and what you bring to the table. It takes time to build trust and influential professional relationships with key stakeholders from within and outside your organization.
For a regional and global role, be prepared to invest time in understanding the cultural context. There are very few roles in alliances in any given organization which run in tandem with sales. For sales to succeed, alliances have to be at the forefront. Be as visible as you can, and amplify the strength of alliances at every sales touch point. Alliances are a focal point of your organization, and if they are channeled effectively, they can pivot revenue to a high growth trajectory.
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