How to avoid ‘stop-start’ with your partner relationships

In a study by the CMO council, 85% of respondents viewed partnerships and alliances as essential or important to their businesses. Yet, almost half reported high failure rates (failure rate of 60% or more).

In today’s more complex world, where customers are demanding solutions to their many IT and business challenges – not just point products, this is a rather grim statistic. Partnerships nowadays can be make or break for so many vendors and systems integrators. So how do you make sure the investment you put into your relationships is seen through all the way to the fruition of pipeline and closed sales?

Let’s start by looking at what things can go wrong during the lifecycle of partnership:

  • Lots of different stakeholders, all with their own agenda, meaning no single clear objectives or buy-in
  • Change in staff – maybe the person leading the relationship leaves, or the stakeholders move
  • Business objectives change – maybe the market shifts, you or your partner acquire another business or get bought out
  • Or, as is often the case, people just get busy with other stuff and it’s no longer someone’s pet project or KPI

Whatever the reason, the pathway to a successful partnership is often a rocky one. In my experience, without having the basic foundations in place, any of the factors above will be enough to stop a relationship in its tracks. Once that happens, it can be a hard slog to get it back to where it was – with faith lost on both sides.

In our research carried out with the University of Huddersfield, we discovered just how important human factors were: rapport, proactive communication, honest conversations. Being able to establish and maintain a solid relationship, even when things do change, is essential. Committing to a joint plan, with shared objectives and having the right governance and controls in place to deliver that will go a long way. If people move on, or the business shifts, you always have something solid to refer back to and adjust as you go.

Likewise, culture. Establishing a top-down, as well as bottom-up approach to partnering, will ensure the whole business is behind the relationship that is not dependant on a single person to keep the partnership afloat.

And finally, strategy. Ensuring your marketing strategy supports partner marketing will ensure plans are realised and executed, as they will form an essential component to you hitting your KPIs and delivering your numbers.

Partnerships and Partner Marketing are here for the long-haul and can bring untold benefits to your business if managed correctly. This means having the right processes, plans and regular communication in place across all levels of both partner businesses. By doing this you will be able to catch issues early on, work proactively to overcome them and ensure you see an increase in your pipeline as a reward for all your hard work and investment.

Have you experienced stop-start in your partnerships? How have you overcome these problems? We would love to hear from you, join the discussion and have your say [email protected] or @coterieMktg.

Helen Curtis
Founding Director

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