This word means different things to different people. In marriage it means to love and to cherish. In its most basic and ancient meaning it refers to “one who shares.” And according to Webster’s second definition of the word, it describes people that dance with one another.
As I sit at the HQ of one of our strategic technology partners watching them bring in an extravagant wooden boat filled with sushi for their quarterly gathering, it’s surprisingly the latter of the definitions that strikes me as most fitting for business partnerships.
Why is this? And more importantly how do companies dance that “jig” effectively? Let’s break it down…
Every Organization is Different
Now I’m not exactly a dance instructor but in my experience no one person is quite the same. People come in all shapes and sizes, both in their mindset as well as their….well…shape or size. Companies are no different. Sales methodologies, internal politics, workflows, and best practices differ but like dance partners they have to come together to “bust a move” fluidly.
Communication is Key
The first step should come as no surprise to those who most commonly associate the term “Partner” with their significant others. Much like a dancer communicates with their partner to avoid stepping on toes, so too must both members of a strategic partnership in business. When leveraging the services or products of a partner to further both of your goals, execution makes all the difference.
I see examples of this constantly. For example, there are plenty of companies who throw around banners littered with logos of supposed platinum, gold and silver tiered partners they’ve been known to collaborate with. The reality is these relationships often tend to be one sided or perhaps even dated, having degraded over time.
Companies can find themselves ending up being much like the dancer who has to in more than 50 percent of the effort to compensate for a partner not pulling their weight. When this happens, both parties lose out on what they were getting when they got into the partnership in the first place.
What were they getting, you ask?
A Mutual Benefit
Yes, I know. This sounds like common sense and should go without saying but you’d be surprised how many organizations don’t learn to re-evaluate this as time goes on. Much like people change and in some cases grow apart, strategic partnerships do as well. Sometimes in order to do businesses, choosing to end a partnership can be just as strategic as entering an agreement in the first place.
Being from Texas, and being born on a horse ranch I’m no stranger to a country dance or two. Part of that particular kind of dancing is knowing when to opt for a different dance partner. It’s not necessarily a reflection of performance so much as it is matching the flow of the song. When it comes to prioritizing what partners to align with and deciding where and when to engage, collectively it’s not too far off.
There are many reasons for an org to re-examine partner relations. Not all dance partner will give 100% to the moves they are working to perfect. Similarly, not all orgs are set up for success in a partnership long term.
Which is why it’s important to find the right fit that aligns with current strategy.
Dancing to the right Tune
At the end of the day things will not work out well for you if you’re trying to engage your partner in a Texas two-step to the beat of Drakes latest hit.
While I’m sure that mental image will stay with you, I’m equally as sure the parallel is already starting to sink in. Not all partners are primed for every engagement, in fact you’ll find even some high level platinum partners no longer align with the direction you are trying to go in. That is not a bad thing however, it just means goals no longer align. It’s okay to have more than one dance partner, just make sure you make the most of it, don’t burden your partner with picking up the slack.
The fact of the matter is that building strategic long term partnerships takes hard work. It takes communication, aligned goals, a collaborative culture, and above all else a willingness to choreograph and practice your routine.
Now go knock em dead, there’s a dance floor of partners out there not making the most of their collaborations and you got more than what it takes to be the dancing king or queen of your territory.
Addison Lancaster is the Business Development Representative at Statera. He is a consummate Inside-Sales professional with experience in industries ranging from financial sales to technology. He works tirelessly to perfect the inside sales practice and has fun doing it.