Experience has shown me however, that this is not always true – there may be brands who are in different phases of their business growth cycle and will want to be more strategic about their involvement with you, even if they’ve initially agreed to everything you’ve offered them.
A classic point in case, was a client I worked with who was doing a great job rolling out the red carpet to their corporate partners. However, they began to notice one partner in particular who seemed to be holding back from being involved in too many of their events. First attempts at encouraging the partner to become more involved were unsuccessful and it wasn’t until my client started asking whether everything was OK and how could they do things differently (as they felt that perhaps the partner wasn’t happy with how things were progressing), that they were thrilled to discover that the partner was in fact delighted with the way the partnership was shaping up. (The relationship was only two months old and already the sponsor had gained two new clients and three requests to provide quotes!)
Throughout the discussions, my client learned that the partner had grown too quickly in the past, which had stretched them beyond their limits. This time around they were wiser and saw this partnership as a long-term growth strategy for their company. They made sure as part of the negotiations that they were the only brand in their industry, so they did not have to deal with competitors. Once that had been achieved, they wanted to settle in and walk before they ran and most importantly they wanted to ensure that the calibre of the work they were providing to my client’s members is of an exemplary service and standard.
This situation could have easily been misinterpreted and mismanaged with either party assuming that the other was not ‘fully onboard’ with the partnership, but once again communication and commitment to the long term relationship won out. This experience has now changed the way my client approaches all partners and their desired level of involvement. They understand the need to explore each other’s vision for the partnership and learn and share how to support each other’s journey.
It made me want to ask you how well do you know your partners and their business strategy? How is your organisation supporting their growth (remembering of course, that in any successful partnership, your growth is their growth and vice versa)?
The take away message from this lesson for my client was that the more involved you are with your partners, the greater the chance you have of successful, long term, financially-viable relationships. Moving forward if something doesn’t feel right… create a conversation, ask the question, get to the bottom of the situation and ensure that you tailor your benefits so that everyone wins.