It seems to be more common these days that we find ourselves forming Partnerships.
Sometimes we find a company with a different but complimentary skillset to our own, and several times we have been approached by other companies with the same need. Perhaps this is a reflection of the increasing fragmentation of our markets, or raised expectations of levels of service.
On a macro level it reflects the country’s move away from manufacturing to servicing. Many of our clients sell products as local, UK or EMEA suppliers which they have not manufactured themselves. To them, their product manufacturers and suppliers are Partners, whose products they distribute and resell.
It is occurring increasingly frequently in what is sometimes known as a ‘relationship economy’, where 97% of companies think that partnerships are critical to success (PWC) and Deloitte tells us that we are five times more likely to be successful due to collaborations. In other words, we are only as good as the company we keep!
Therefore, apart from the obvious advice to ‘make it easy’, here’s a strong model which to use in managing your Partner relationships, based on the acronym DANCE: it provides the basis for understanding how to approach Partnerships:
D = Discovery – who are your ideal Partners? Be clear on why this is. Then pursue them and woo them.
A = Assembly – build trust. Track the events by using data from the Partnership to prove its value to both parties. Recognise and reward good actions – even something as small as saying ‘thank you’ is very important as it highlights the value you place on the Partnership.
N = Nurture – set expectations and ensure you reflect their different reasons for Partnering. Ensure they are kept informed and have regular formal reviews – you can’t have too many – they’ll let you know if they’ve had enough (just ensure it comes from them, not you!).
C = Customer facing – treat Partners like customers, putting them first so they feel valued. Don’t overlook your own skills and experience, but if you are clear on why you need them as a Partner, these skills can be used to support the Partnership, not replace it.
E = Engagement – match your Partner to your requirements. Draw up a PVP (Partner Value Proposition) and ensure that your relationship delivers on this. Be clear on your mutual deliverables.
This DANCE model will help clarify your purpose in Partnering, and help you make a success of it. It’s also a useful measuring and judgement tool.
Time to do the Partnership dance…
My thanks to Dave Plunkett, Tutor at CIM, for his guidance with this.
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