• What Makes a Partnership Work?

    CCI has built a business on managing the relationship between a vendor, their channel incentives, and their channel partner. Over time, I have often wondered what creates a good partnership – what makes one work and another fail. I consulted some expert resources available from my Vistage membership, and what I learned is that, although it is not rocket science, it is hard to get just right.

    Most experts agree that it doesn’t matter if you like each other or share the same interests. What does matter is that you have mutual respect, and that you support each other’s goals and values. Hopefully, your partnership is successful and you will spend a long time together, so you want to make sure you are creating a partnership that can stay aligned.

    And, while communication is very important, if you have your goals aligned from the beginning, and have done the work to create the partnership, you can get by with less communication going forward. Best practice is to establish simple rules around how often you communicate to make sure you are staying on track and not drifting apart.

    Also important is establishing roles, so each member of the partnership knows what is expected of them and when. Usually, each side of the partnership brings something unique and special, and each side needs the support of the other to be successful. Establishing clear roles and expectations makes it easy to ensure you will end up in the place you want to go, creating the value you are striving for.

    Equally important is establishing how each partner will be rewarded, and what, if anything, they contribute to the partnership to get it started. Resources necessary to launching a partnership might include money, training, and services, and it is best to get this nailed down before starting any work. You can dismantle a partnership before it even gets going if these are not determined before hand. And, once it is going strong, there is no time to determine how to divvy up the rewards!

    Will you argue and disagree? Most likely, but by facing issues together you can probably keep them from becoming bigger problems. Sometimes conflict is exactly what you need to get better and move the partnership to the next level. If you remember that you have a mutual goal that you are trying to achieve, it helps keep you focused on working through any roadblocks.

    Debra Delaney is President and CEO for CCI: Channel Management Solutions. Since joining the company in 1998 as co-owner, Debra has been a strong leader and a critical factor in the company’s growth and success.  To view all company blogs go to CCI’s blog site.

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