Piecing together powerful partnerships

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This article appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of CRN magazine.

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Piecing together powerful partnerships

Strategic partnerships with vendors need to be tightly managed. Resellers have to be creative, but they also must be pragmatic.

This means paying attention to the details so they can execute against the partnership objectives. With failure rate for alliances at more than 50 percent, resellers must follow certain rules.

The first is to conduct a due diligence, assessing the partner’s culture, successes and failures with other relationships, as well as their objectives, capabilities, and level of commitment to the relationship.

A proper due diligence means looking beyond press releases and marketing hype. Resellers need to talk to other partners and customers. They may consider working on pilot projects to test it.

Inexperienced firms often fail to carry out rigorous analysis, and the results can be disastrous.

The reseller also has to ascertain that the alliance meets their needs and objectives. There has to be an alignment with their company. The reseller also needs to assess the strengths and weaknesses that their own company brings to the table.

Successful strategic partnerships need a formal alliance management process that handles all the alliance integration, negotiation, and asses­sment. It has to be documented and formalised. There needs to be clear expectations on both sides, and it has to be mutual. The parties have to agree on what they have in common, and need to share processes such as payment terms, quality and performance issues.

There also needs to be teaming agreements with an explicit under-standing from both parties of their mutual objectives, expectations, and measurement processes as their executives, sales teams and engineers work together.

The alliance needs measurement processes that focus on specific goals and on multiple criteria, such as new customers, increased market share, new products, how much faster time to market, increased quality, or increased customer satisfaction.

The aim of any strategic partnership has to be profits for both parties. Progress needs to be measured periodically and revised accordingly to create solid sales performance and successes.

If both parties mutually define values, expectations, success factors and metrics, it will smooth the way for a solid working relationship.

Leon Gettler is a senior business journalist who writes for a range of newspapers and journals.

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