Strategic Alliances - to me that means alliances that are intended to produce revenue for the involved entities as a result of the alliance as opposed to from each other.
Strategic Alliances can take a long time to build and then you follow that with your sales cycle - which may be long itself. And, strategic alliances are not guaranteed to succeed. So there is risk of time, money and brand.
Alliances like many other worthwhile endeavours can be a combination of art and science. There is a professional association for alliance practitioners http://www.strategic-alliances.org
. I serve in the role of affiliate chair for the Southeast Chapter of this organization.
Here are some useful ideas for building more effective strategic alliances:
1. Focus on one-way streets
(alliances need to have a mutual benefit but do not require both partners to do business development)
2. Establish an early focus on revenue goals and accountability
(the primary reason for an alliance is profit for both partners – make sure that you are on the same page as far as the economics and timeframe.) The qualitative nature of the alliance (strategy) is primary but the quantitative is the sustainer.
3. Deal with the difficult issues up front
(e.g. account ownership when the alliance ends.) This results in either “killing the alliance” or strengthening it. If it dies early it was probably going to die later and at least you save the time, money and energy.
My favorite book on Alliances is an oldie but goodie - "Trusted Partners" by Jordan Lewis