If you’re looking for market supremacy and higher sales — and most businesses are — strategic partnerships are beneficial. It’s important to take the right steps to make sure the partnerships work.
There are no shortcuts to a successful partnership.
The wrong strategic partnership is an oxymoron. Obviously, if it’s a wrong partnership, it isn’t strategic.
Strategy-wise, you’ll want to avoid branding catastrophes, inequitable balance or misalignment.
Four keys to success:
1. Recognize your best opportunities for prospective alignments.
You have options. Not just any company will do. A strategic partnership is synonymous with a business marriage.
So conduct your due diligence.
You must offer the right benefits and make certain they work for a partnering company that will adequately reciprocate.
You and your partner must combine to be a cohesive attraction for growth.
Therefore, you must be on the same page with similar cultures, vision and commitment.
2. Structure the deal and make sure it sticks.
If you’re a startup, be realistic without being a doormat. Older or bigger firms will try to flex their muscles. That’s OK. But proportional fairness and pragmatism is important.
Don’t agree to a deal that will be disadvantageous to you but disproportionately benefits to your partner. You have to be able to grow as a result of any partnership.
That also means keeping a close watch. Monitor the situation to make sure both parties keep agreements.
3. Make sure the partner helps you gain more traction.
Not too long ago, my firm was approached by a company wanting to be a strategic partner. The firm’s products and services were a nice fit.
But early in the discussions, problems arose. The company’s representative didn’t keep two commitments for telephone conferences. That’s one of my personal pet peeves — broken commitments that can’t be reasoned out.
In the first broken commitment, the person had a plausible explanation for not calling at the agreed time, so we gave the person the benefit of the doubt. But it happened again. Negative, unnecessary surprises aren’t acceptable. So we walked away.
To move ahead, traction is needed. Momentum was not going to develop from such a partnership.
If you partner with a bigger well-known firm, you can gain scale quickly. It also makes it possible to attract other good partnerships.
3. Both sides have to commit adequate resources.
Why enter into such a partnership unless both parties treat the enterprise seriously? Commitment of resources means both parties should keep commitments of time, money and energy.
As un-forecast events develop and trends evolve, be flexible and go with the flow.
From the Coach’s Corner, because you’ll want both parties to feel positive after the negotiation is complete, see the best practices in negotiations – 22 dos, don’ts.
“The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn’t even thought of – and then meet it.”