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Strategic Alliances: How we do it at Citrix

Strategic Alliances are a core component of bringing innovative products to market in the digital age. “Having an agile process with executive and cross functional leadership involvement is paramount to success,” said featured speaker Steve Blacklock, VP of Global Strategic Alliances at Citrix. Steve spoke yesterday evening at the 2nd AAC Meetup to an intimate group of fifty at Workspan HQ in San Mateo. Enterprise technology professionals that participate in the Alliance Aces community got a window to a core component of digital transformation – Alliances for cooperative product efforts at enterprise scale that get to market before the market moves.

According to Steve, “The strategic partnerships that don’t get realized are those that take too long.  Innovation in partnering and forming these alliances is required. You just don’t have as much time as you used to before the market (evaporates).” 

Some key points to consider based on how Citrix addressed alliance initiatives:

Maintain these “Principles for Success:”

  • Clear Vision/Strategy Framework
    • Setting clear vision/strategy/initiatives/execution framework for team and measuring success
  • Focus on Leverage
    • Consistent focus on points of leverage in developing plans and programs
  • Everyone Sells!
    • Setting up team to evangelize, carry flag for alliances – every conversation is an opportunity
  • Recognize & Execute the Opportunity
    • Executive engagement – making the most of the opportunities and making something of them with top execs
  • “Creative Tension”
    • Creativity with your partners competitors is a great motivator
  • Create leverage – Strategic, Technology and Solution, Marketing and Sales. 

Execute with process and less bureaucracy with an executive level, cross-functional committee that has a clear charter and expected outcomes.  

The committee performs monthly reviews of formal, well-defined submissions that include all aspects of roadmap and go-to-market for the alliance outcome. 

Leverage Rules

Citrix uses four pillars of leverage in determining the value and maximizing the opportunity of each Strategic Alliance:

Strategic Alliance presentation at Workspan by Steve Blacklock at Citrix
Steve Blacklock addressing the Alliance Aces Meetup at Workspan

Successful Alliances require considerable attention to keep the train running down the track. It’s an orchestration of alignment between corporate strategy, internal and external evangelism and governance.  

Some of Steve’s closing (overarching) points included:
– An existing function has to manage and own the initiative – NOT the Alliance team
– Discipline is key – the process is constantly reinforced with consistent and frequent communication.  

Note: An interesting comment concerning NDAs in strategic alliance programs resulted in Amit Sinha, Workspan Co-Founder and CFO, suggesting the use of a one to many and/or a many-to-many NDA for all participating partners.This is worth following up on with Amit and Workspan

Are you working on Alliances and partnerships? It’s a moving target that requires change as part of your process. Connect on the Alliance Aces community to learn and share best practices.  


Sales and Customer Community: Where’s The Bridge?

I’m perplexed by the disconnect between customer community and sales. Does your business connect community interaction to the sales process? How are you doing it? What are your results?

The keys to understanding your customer’s journey and having your sales team meet its quota can be found in your customer community.

The disconnect between sales and community is common. There are very few enterprise sales organizations making this connection. My experience with sales, marketing and community leadership suggests that there is money on the proverbial table if these business areas can align their goals and objectives. There is valuable data, interaction and talent in customer communities that is not being leveraged directly by sales. Customer community is typically owned by Customer Service or Marketing/Communications and is most often viewed as an instrument for reduction in churn rate and customer service cost. These goals result in bottom line impact however there are top-line revenue gains being missed.

There are companies that have a measure of integration with sales in place. Organizations that have sales as part of the customer community roadmap either:

a.) See community as a lead generation tool. Typically this means making some or all of the community open to the public, or,

b.) See community as a direct sales channel, stuffing the community with offers and sales interaction, eroding the customer-centric nature of the community.

I can game out the sales ratios and likely see a revenue gain in either case above. However, there is significant potential for middle-to-bottom of the funnel increases in effectiveness. Sales leadership understands how the modern digital sales funnel has evolved – making conversions in later stages of the sales relationship necessary to remain competitive. Online customer community must remain a non-threatening, non-transactional place. So, how do you get to the revenue gain?

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) Or How to Actually Operate at Digital Speed

“The Sales Process is not linear or cyclical,” 
Rachel Miller, Senior Social Strategist,

Customer Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are a critical puzzle piece that must plug into your sales enablement initiatives. Customer community can help increase sales and contribute to sales enablement success by developing direct relationships with active community SMEs. this serves top-line growth in the following ways:

  • Improve qualification rate
  • Improve the psychographic depth of customer persona(s)
  • Improve understanding of the customer journey and critical milestones
  • Correct the sales process to accurately reflect the customer journey
  • Improve sales stage accuracy and forecasting
  • Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

An SME can be an influencer but they don’t all want to be one. It’s the external SME that isn’t looking to influence as much as to contribute and advise. You get up-voted and popular in a customer community if your answers have value. Does that mean you’re an expert? Maybe. But there’s more to it than that. The Community Roundtable has helped deploy a variety of tactics to identify SMEs in the launch of new online communities. The work is predominantly in employee communities where there is some historical data and activity. Active communities engaged primarily in customer service and advocacy models may have a more challenging time finding out who, externally, can help. HOW to identify and engage the SME is a tactical exercise to be explored further and it’s critical that you get this right.

Only the SME can help clarify your customer personas, customer journey and participate in your content strategy. Weaving SMEs in customer communities into sales enablement functions is a path to a steadier flow of up-sells and renewals, increasing Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).

What is being Measured?

Community reporting and analytics do not relate to sales. Most online community KPIs are connected to traffic and engagement and not to metrics that could help refine sales process and content strategy around the customer journey. Valuable communities require engagement, contribution and problem solving. It’s important to measure these attributes to ensure the communities’ continued success. It’s not enough though, to get to the potential ROI from digital community that builds prosperous relationships.

Marketing is interested in who can further the message. Advocacy is the highest level of customer participation. Community KPIs are built around customer service and/or marketing objectives, missing the mark in acquisition and institutional adoption which are critical to meeting revenue goals.

Drawing stronger lines from Community Management strategy to Sales Enablement, such as length of the sales cycle, conversion rates in the funnel and sales velocity (how fast leads are becoming customers) is a path to growth through better customer relationships and understanding.

Community Sales Integration Framework 

Sales gears turning graphic

I am driving toward proper integration of digital community with sales enablement and sales processes. There is evidence that, at a minimum, the tools exist to allow for better measurement, to arrive at a process for reducing sales cycle times and to produce content that is more effective both in the middle and bottom of the sales funnel. Doing this now will produce a tremendous competitive advantage. Putting the framework in place and piloting some existing communities will help establish a maturity model and best practices.

Propel It Forward

Perhaps you have some evidence of this being done at some level of maturity that can be shared? Are you as a Sales or Community leader? Do you work in an organization where community activity relates more closely and in better cooperation with sales strategy that I’m seeing? What would integrating your community into the sales enablement process mean to you?

[1] The Community Sales Integration Framework and Maturity Index is due to be released in early Fall, 2019 by C7group. We are actively seeking Community and Sales Enablement professionals to contribute insights, best practices and pitfalls to avoid.

This blog post was first published on LinkedIn here.


How to Close B2B Sales in the 4th Quarter

I hope this will help you as you plan and consider how you’re tweaking end-of-year strategy.  Perhaps it will provide guidance for mapping sales content to the proper stage in your sales process.

This video includes what I believe are critical components of B2B Sales for the next few years.  I know the changing sales funnel and it’s intimate relationship with the customer journey must dictate content strategy.  Closing 4th quarter sales requires a simple (not easy) formula.


Please share your thoughts and participate in a conversation around what I believe are the critical component for B2B sales, particularly in the Software as a Service (SAAS) marketplace, these next few years.

Thank you!

There are several slides shown briefly in the video. You can download a PDF of the slide deck here.

Let’s Talk!


You Can’t Control Customer Behavior Online

American Genius published an article, “Corner Bakery Cafe forbids photography inside their restaurants, ‘it’s policy.’” It is another cautionary tale about bad decisions with regard to customer engagement and misguided social media policy. The Corner Bakery Cafe forbids photography inside their restaurants. As author Marti Trewe says in the article, and I agree,“Unfortunate and misguided.”


It  has never been easier to spread your reputation and garner attention, especially for a business like a restaurant. In fact, social communication is partly responsible for the meteoric rise of the gourmet food truck sector from 2011 until now. There are tons of success stories, especially in the restaurant industry, of getting referral and repeat customers as a result of shared stuff online. After all the heart and soul of “social media,” is user-generated content.


Your business is online and in social channels. Whether you choose to actively participate in the conversation or not is your choice. Never expect to control the conversation. Any attempt to dictate customer behavior can be damaging to your brand.

If our company were to do an analysis of Corner Bakery Cafe then trying to prevent customers from sharing anything online would be a significant weakness. Chain stores of this size (170+ locations in at least 17 states) are beyond this phase of maturity. Many are now figuring out how to train and engage their employees to safely take part in social channels. If you’re still considering public engagement then you are behind competitively in most markets.


  1. You should not attempt to control customer behavior (because…see #2 below)
  1. You cannot control customer behavior
  1. We are in the age of the empowered customer. You must find a way to weave the experience you create into the customer’s journey.
  1. Digital interaction is part of our lives now. We share information in the moment. You can choose whether or not you embrace it personally. However, as a business, organization, team or nation, your choice SHOULD BE dictated by your audience.

Note: Corner Bakery Cafe has an active presence online with popular, carefully managed profiles on most public platforms.


Why Are You Still Using That Stupid Password?

I’m not sure why this article from Slate, The Internet’s 25 Worst Passwords, and What They Say About You, popped up in my blog and article feeds today. It reminded me, though, of some of the clients that we work with and how they treat the password field. Short, easy to remember lousy passwords  – and they’re all the same for every website, social platform and web service. Aren’t we all reading the horror stories of compromised accounts and information?

Listen Up Already and Don’t Get Hacked

It drives me a little batty. We’re not an internet security company and don’t provide security advice but I’ve been around computers and network systems for awhile now.  I’ve had conversations with software and network security professionals that have changed my own behavior. Some of these talks were a little scary with regard to how vulnerable we are especially if we don’t do a few easy things to significantly decrease our odds of being hacked.

Security of stored digital information is relatively new. There are services available that permit you to enter your email address and learn “Which Of Your Accounts Have Been Hacked.”

Manage Your Information S.M.A.R.T.

When we engage a new client and have responsibility for online properties with passwords and login information we use a Google spreadsheet, Client Master Credentials Template. Not only does it serve as a single source of information for projects, it fosters sharing and trust. It’s not recommended as a solution; Usually it ends up being a tool to recommend using better passwords.

Deloitte consulting recommends using the S.M.A.R.T. approach – Strong, Multi-character, Avoid associations, Random, and Tools. Strong means long. The longer the better and the more difficult it is to crack. Multi-character means just that. Use everything that the site allows. No birthdays, pet names, child names -nothing associated with your personal life.

The best thing you can do overall is not even know your passwords yourself. Use a password management tool like Lastpass or SplashID that also has the capability of generating random passwords. The convenience of these tools is that they can easily integrate with your favorite web browser. Once you’re logged-in the software will take care of all your sign-ons with varying degrees of security that are easy to customize. You only remember the one password.

Need some help? Let us know and we’ll point you in the right direction.







Whitepaper: Seven Social Media Mishaps and How To Avoid Them

We’re excited to release an end of year white paper that provides some real tips on doing social better in 2014. Read these seven cautionary tales and the corresponding lessons. We’re confident that you’ll take-away something useful.

Get More Info

Read this social media whitepaper and takeaway the best cautionary tales and practical advice on how to not let them happen to your business.

Simply enter your email address and the download link will be sent right to your inbox.


Social Media Training Discount for Business Owners and Executives

We launched an awesome discount of 50%  (Discount Code: Holidaywish) for one-on-one executive social media training. If you missed it then this is your week to ensure you begin 2014 with a stellar set-up and workflow to integrate social media into your business day. Don’t bolt-on social or try to program it as a stand-alone activity like most other projects and tasks.

man and woman having a conversation at computer keyboard while training in social media for business

Learn how to set-up your web browser, gather information online, synchronize information between desktop and mobile devices and find what you need when you need it. We combine in-person and live screen sharing sessions.

Learn More & Book It

Making time for social is important. How you do it is important. Getting some training that offers you a safe place to get your questions answered will be one of the most important things you do for your business and customers in 2014.

Buy now or get in touch and ask your questions!


Sharing Content – It’s the Little Things

When we sent our Happy Thanksgiving email using Mailchimp it was shared on Facebook. After all, why should our email of gratitude and holiday wishes only be limited to our mailing list? The pesky auto-post-from-one-online-service-to-another. It posted with Mailchimp’s logo from the email.


Perhaps you’ve done something similar. In fact, you may have abandoned some tools in their early releases because they transfered your well engineered blog post to a lousy text-only-link  on Facebook or elsewhere.  It sounds finicky, persnickety or some other thing that ends in “y,” that means workflow on social tools that just works like my toaster.

There is a bunch of little stuff and getting it right takes time.

Social media managers, community managers and many more are fiddling around with getting all of the details right that can contribute to making things work in concert.  And they break. And they change. The mistakes are public and need to be acceptable.

These days, the learning happens live. Right there in front of you. Hopefully it’s something small and annoying like this and not a contribution to the book of digital cautionary tales.

Of course, after seeing the post appear as it did to the right, this help, How can I choose the image thumbnail that shows up on Facebook was easy to find (Mailchimp has great support ). So, we can do it right the next time.

We’re still grateful. Have any of your own tips or mistakes to share?



Mix it Up – Combine Digital and In-Person Networking

Last night, countless groups assembled in hotels, offices, restaurants, bars and coffee shops for fun and business reasons.  They called or emailed each other to get together after work to discuss business growth, plan a business project or just “hang-out”.  Some may have considered it as part of a membership obligation. Others were sales prospect hunting. They met, had a great time, exchanged business cards and went home.  Two groups in the Sacramento area had “Socials,” last night that view connecting in a whole different way.

It was once thought that our digital lives would keep us within the confines of our homes and cubicles. The age of food delivery, on-demand entertainment and digital networking and communication tools would decrease our desire and ability to connect IRL (In Real Life). The opposite has proven true. Networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to connect with like-minded people and know more in advance about who we want to be sure to shake hands with at the Tweetup or Mixer. They allow us to continue the conversation online that started in the room. In fact, more people are getting together and connecting in more meaningful ways as a result of social technology.

Social Media Club Sacramento hosted #TheSocial at LowBrau in downtown Sacramento and Windfarm Marketing and Razorsharp Public Relations organized the Placer Business Tweetup at the Dono dal Cielo Winery in Newcastle.  Both of these groups invited their guests to join online through an online event management program, encouraged others to participate via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and email and still picked up the phone to encourage less “digital” friends to join them.  Just in the invitation process alone, their opportunities to meet new people was exponentially extended.  Attendees checked-in on Foursquare and uploaded photos to Instagram and Facebook.  Today, post-event, Facebook and Twitter are where the conversation continues.

There is tremendous (and FREE!) opportunity to intentionally grow your network by combining your interests, social networking online and getting yourself out the door.  You and your business are missing out if you don’t combine your digital and analog activity.

Are you in Sacramento? Check out the Sacramento Social Media Club Sacramento, Sacramento Tweetup, Placer Business Tweetup and Folsom Tweetup Calendars!  If you’re not in Sacramento, let Google introduce you to groups in your area.

Combine digital and in-person networking for more intentional connections.

Do you have a networking success story? Please share it with us!


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