How To Build Successful Partnerships by Proactively Addressing Unconsidered Needsby Bill Jackson
Strategic and successful partnerships and alliances are complex. They require extensive pre-planning to build a strong foundation that supports each partner through the challenges they will face. Your organization can improve your chances of creating long-term, successful partnerships by adopting a standard initiation practice.
And, you can begin by answering this question: How much more research and planning should go into initiating strategic partnerships and alliances practice? Notice the keyword, more. If we’re talking about building strategic partnerships and alliances that really work, bring added value to customers, and benefit both partners, we definitely need to conduct more thoughtful questioning and intentional planning.
Start from the Top
To understand the inherent complexity of a strategic alliance, let’s start by considering exactly what we mean by partnerships and alliances. That’s where one company’s product or service becomes part of a more robust, combined offering that’s brought to market with collaborative sales efforts executed by one or both companies.
Contributing to the complexity are the many touchpoints and tactics an alliance often creates across all teams, including:
- C-Level strategy
- Product development
- User support
- Marketing strategy
- Product marketing communications
- Incentivizing sales
- Rules of engagement for sales teams
Reflecting upon my experience—10+ years in a direct sales and marketing and 20+ years building, managing, and optimizing global partnerships and alliances—I keep coming back to the key contributing factors most often found in successful endeavors, while also finding other factors that are blatantly missing from unsuccessful partnerships.
I noticed several of these fundamental key concepts are frequently missing from the most widely followed, how-to (or how-not-to) content on the topic of successful partnerships and alliances showing up in my inbox and content feed every day.
The Foundation of a Successful Alliance
At the heart of all successful partnering initiatives is a mutual and firm understanding of the following needs:
- Establishment of an alternative and/or complementary distribution channel
- Collaborative objective alignment across each organization’s functional areas
- Unwavering commitment from each organizations’ C-level to ensure success
Don’t assume this simple solution is easy!
Much like building a home, you can’t successfully build an alliance without the right foundation. It’s an absolute must for success. Endless content has been written and glanced over, PowerPoints have been (and are still being) suffered through, and associations have been formed that focus on the execution of building and maintaining world-class partnerships and alliances. Even so, you should understand that taking steps to build a strong foundation does not always lead to a successful outcome.
Begin building a better and stronger foundation with the following questions.
Minding the Gaps
If you don’t have the answers to these questions, just take a step back. Ask yourself why you don’t know the answers, and then be sure you fully understand the consequences of not knowing. Failing to investigate these questions when building your sound foundation will greatly diminish your partnership’s chances of success. In essence, businesses need to be aware that haphazardly creating partnerships and alliances, without giving proper care and attention to those relationships, will lead to unforeseen consequences and, ultimately, failure.
When faced with disruption and transformative changes in product or business offerings, management must be able to move swiftly and intelligently to implement go-to-market strategies. By creating and nurturing a strong partnerships and strategic alliances practice, you will be able to facilitate rapid and sustainable improvements while overcoming limitations of legacy technology—and you may even be able to overcome corporate thinking.
With a solid practice in place, you’ll have a playbook that better enables legacy organizations challenged by outdated business models, and their own blind spots, to bring innovative technology, products, or solutions to market. For example, the speed and velocity of transformation going on in today’s B2B buyer’s journey is creating dramatic shifts and attention to inside sales functions. But, how often are the success factors that power cutting-edge technology providers the same factors that result in state-of-the-art sales effectiveness?
As Always, Be Honest
Wisdom begins with self-knowledge. If we look at the landscape of alliances, we see that the most successful partners are brutally honest with themselves and have a clear, shared understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, that landscape is also littered with the remains of partnerships that incorrectly assumed success in their core functional area.
Successful partnerships require the following:
- Constant attention through monitoring/evaluation
- Well-defined success metrics to ensure smooth transitions
- Recognition of each organization’s key strengths and functional gaps
- Mitigation of disruptive side effects on ongoing revenue-generating activities
At MarketSource, we create partnerships with world-class organizations, establishing managed outsourced inside and field sales engagements to match today’s empowered B2B buyer’s journey. We facilitate the creation of these partnerships through our established initiation practice, and we expertly empower them through on-going, detailed action plans.
Rick Haviland, our CEO, was featured on Worldwide Business in an interview with Kathy Ireland, and he does a great job of summing up MarketSource’s philosophy.
By delivering a swift and seamless expression of your brand that also supports your critical business objectives, MarketSource can help you achieve better experiences, stronger relationships, and increased sales. Contact us today for a MarketSource assessment, and let’s get started.
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