Richard Gibbs and Andrew Humphries, authors of Strategic Alliances & Marketing Partnerships, published by Kogan Page, offer some key pointers to achieve successful business partnerships.
As the recession bites deeper, it is important that firms, large and small, confront the fundamentals of their business models. They must examine their value chain and understand where cost savings and performance gains can be made. For many firms these operational improvements reside outside of the traditional boundaries of their companies, and fall into the relationships that they have with suppliers, sales partners and customers.
Whether you label it supply chain management, marketing channels or strategic alliances, there is no doubt that financial and competitive performance comes from successful partnering. This is just as true for SMEs who can gain access to things like skills and markets that are normally outside of their reach. But firms will require a different set of skills and performance metrics to ensure teamwork is effective under pressure.
Follow a few tips for successful partnering.
Value: Manage the expectations of your partner. Only promise what you can deliver. Only ask for what is reasonable. Take a longer view of achieving objectives and ensure both sides benefit from the contract.
Service and Product Delivery: Concentrate on the quality of the total service and go that extra mile. Look at cost reduction, efficiency and new possibilities as joint opportunities.
Innovation: Sustain your optimism in the face of all the gloom. R&D and marketing are your ways of communicating with the world. New products and services will enhance your image and your bottom line and give you a head start when the economy recovers.
Investment: Don't cut back on those things that contribute to partnership success. If your customer relies on daily deliveries, don't cut down to weekly and expect him to carry the cost of extra stock. If you have some slack in your system pass it on to your supplier if it will help him. Goodwill will translate into long-term loyalty.
Communication: Timely communication is essential. If you are open and honest with your partners you will be able to share and reduce the impact of risks. Get input from suppliers as well as your customers. They have a lot to contribute too. Build up trust to carry you through the difficulties.
By adopting a focused partner management approach to partnering, SMEs and bigger companies can not only weather the economic downturn, but evolve and thrive.
Richard Gibbs and Andrew Humphries are the authors of Strategic Alliances & Marketing Partnerships, published by Kogan Page. Richard is a recognized expert in marketing channels and has held senior positions in companies including Xerox and Novell Inc. Before setting up his own business, Andrew was Head of Defence Aviation Logistics in the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
Story added Mar 19, 2009
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