Unlike when I started out in business, today’s communication standards have a wired or digital foundation – not face-to-face. How we communicate is shifting across the board.
A great example can be seen with my college-age daughter and her reliance on “texting” to “talk” to people. I’m one of the few that actually call her and force her to use the telephone part of her cell phone. That way we can actually talk – and I get to hear her voice.
A New Reality
The reality and impact of this electronic world has become clear as our company has transitioned from being a reseller and system integrator of someone else’s product to a software manufacturer of our own solution. That shift has required us to expand our partner network and really own our market creation responsibilities.
It is no longer practical to use the older, traditional model for building partner relationships. In the past, we would spend some one-on-one face time over a series of meetings and trips to establish credibility and work direction. While it worked then, it was slow, costly and generally inefficient.
We understand that personal relationships and reciprocal understanding of each firm is still the key to success. The question is, can you still achieve a great relationship with a remote approach?
The Same Goals
The fundamental foundation to any successful partnership (personal or professional) is:
- Shared goals or interests
- Successful communications
- Honesty and openness
- Mutual respect on positions and perspectives
Today we are establishing partner relationships through electronic communications and marketing. This allows us quick, inexpensive and broad access to multiple markets. The savings in time and money is huge.
But it isn’t without challenges. The goals of long-term, mutual success are the same. However, getting there from scratch requires a little different approach.
A New Approach to Partnerships
Here are seven steps that have been working for me:
- Do your homework. Research the organization/contact and make sure they bring the expertise and culture fit for the partnership.
- Get to the point. In reaching out to them be brief, direct, clear and support the “why” you are contacting them.
- Be patient. You’re asking for something that they may or may not be ready to invest in at that particular time.
- Be ready to respond. Always be ready for the phone conversation where you clearly discuss “what” you’re seeking, “why” it may benefit them and “how” it could be accomplished.
- Prepare yourself with tools. Anticipate questions and have supportive materials ready to help with your message.
- Get feedback. Once you have provided the vision and details, ask for their feedback on interest, timing and other things that will impact along your future activities.
- Be yourself. Whether you gain a partner or just another professional relationship – if it is built on professionalism, respect, honesty, integrity and excellent communications, it will work.
Following these steps have been working well for us – and they may work well for you. This new approach has allowed us to build strong set of unique partnerships for our focused markets. In most cases, I have only had a single face-to-face meeting. With others, there actually hasn’t been any in-person activity.
It still feels a little strange as we get used to this process. But as HL Group settles into the manufacturing role, we’re getting all of the joy of learning new ways to be successful.
I guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks!
HL Group is a mobile application company serving the government, Workday, PeopleSoft, RFID and industrial tablet markets.