How do you know when an alliance needs to be monitored and tracked?
More often than not, an alliance needs to be monitored and tracked. If you ignore your alliance partner at all, you will be losing ground and your business relationship will not be what you expect. If you ignore anyone, they tend to forget about you, or at least they will not take you seriously and will find other people to pass the time with. The same is true for an alliance partnership. You should remember to treat them just like a customer and always keep in touch. Any business relationship depends on how much you keep in touch and how much information you give them to keep the project alive.
This does not mean that you have to commit to a great volume of communications but you do have to commit to a regular communication strategy that is a two-way commitment. You must also know what is happening with the alliance partner and how you can help to increase the amount of business they do on your behalf. The two-way street approach should be part of any alliance or partnership agreement you put in place. If you do not make any communication commitment, then the dialog or information will be sporadic and it will not provide you with a consistent update on the latest and greatest information. It is only with information that you will be able to take full advantage of the alliance.
When you spend time monitoring and tracking an alliance, you will be fully prepared to step-in with help when needed. You will also be advised well in advance of any potential problems. Problems with an alliance can be many, but through clear and consistent communication, these can be held to a minimum and perhaps even solved before they become too large and threaten the relationship.
Where Alliances Are a Problem
How do you determine potential problems with an alliance?
Alliances and partnerships will always have problems. Nothing ever goes as smoothly as it should. In other words, nothing is easy, it must be nurtured and any possible problem dealt with before it ruins the relationship. So what can go wrong with an alliance? First, the alliance partner may not have enough focus on doing well with your product or service. They may want to sell more of another company's products before they deal with yours. This can be solved by keeping them informed and educated about what they get out of the alliance with you. Second, an alliance partner may not gain enough sales to retain the partnership. You have a choice as to whether they should be dropped and replaced or to work with them to increase the sales.
If you think about it, it is less costly to place a current alliance into a training and supporting position than to try and find a new alliance partner. Lastly, an alliance may have changes in personnel, and the new faces may not believe in your product line (they may want to sell a competitor's line as their favorite). In this case, the business relationship will need to be rescued through additional communication efforts.
Any number of other problems may arise with an alliance but the three mentioned are the most common to the partnerships I have created with my company. I often do surveys of my channel partners to judge any lapses of interest. I also look at the number of product returns from any partner. This is usually an indication of product substitution with another line and also an indicator of a change in focus. You will need to determine your own minimum standards for an alliance and draw that line in the sand for a starting point.
Bette Daoust, Ph. D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite. She decided to find the best ways to get people’s attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the “Networking Queen”. Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in 2005. For more information visit http://www.BlueprintBooks.com