Partnering for Profit --Sherburne
Now, for the partnering…
In my year-end cleaning frenzy, I came across a book I have had for some time. In fact, it was published in 1995, but still contains some great advice that is as relevant today as it was then. “Getting Partnering Right: How Market Leaders are Creating Long-Term Competitive Advantage” was written by Neil Rackham of SPIN sales training fame, along with Lawrence Friedman and Richard Ruff. It’s available on Amazon, if you want to read the whole thing.
The book identifies three critical success factors that are always present in successful partnering relationships:
1| Impact: The partnership will increase productivity, add value and, ultimately, improve profitability.
2| Intimacy: A successful partnership will be more than a transactional relationship; as the word implies, the relationship must develop a closeness, sharing and mutual trust.
3| Vision: Successful partnerships will share a compelling vision of what the partnership can achieve and how it is going to get there.
Sounds simple enough. Once you have identified potential partners, though, you should go a level deeper to investigate potential viability. Here are some key elements you should ensure are represented in a potential partnership.
• Efficiencies and Economies of Scale. Will this partnership help you to cut costs and achieve efficiencies in some way? Perhaps, one of the needs you have uncovered is the desire to outsource projects from concept through execution. You have a prepress department, but your team has limited design skills. Your options are to hire a creative team, or to find and partner with a design firm that meets the critical success factors mentioned above. In today’s climate, you are likely better served by the latter.
Perhaps you may even end up partnering with one of your customers, deepening and strengthening the relationship to the advantage of both. One firm should take the lead with the account, but both should work collaboratively on projects to leverage the combined core competencies. For example, the design firm needs to understand your production capabilities and limitations to ensure manufacturability. You, in turn, should understand where the design firm really shines in order to bring them in to deals that have the most likelihood of succeeding. This will deliver efficiencies and economies of scale for both of you.