Identifying and Building Strategic Partnerships

Most partnerships in business occur accidentally and without forethought or strategy for a short-term gain. These partnerships might not meet long term organizational goals and expectations or correlate with the company’s vision. When this occurs, long-term partnerships and benefits are difficult to sustain. The use of consistent objectivity must be applied to identify and evaluate the most promising partnerships.

A successful long-term partnership is one that benefits both parties equally. It reflects mutual respect and shared goals. Partnerships are utilized to fill gaps and uncover trends and target markets. Partnerships that are strategically identified and built are long lasting and aid both parties in achieving goals that they would not be able to achieve independently without significant risk.

To identify potential business partners, take a look at your target market and find the gaps in what constitutes a total solution and what you can minimally offer the customer. That gap represents your partnering roadmap - where you should look to partner in order to create the total solution. These gaps could be present in operational processes, vendor capabilities, and customer demands.

Next, identify organizations that could fill these gaps. Question whether or not these companies share the same values, are compatible, have a good reputation, are committed, and whether or not these companies provide additional access to other potential partnerships. Do a ton of research on these organizations through trade associations, public information, and employee interviews when possible.

Once you have narrowed down the organizations for potential partnership, create a proposition worksheet. This is your one and only chance to impress and win over your future partner. Your proposition worksheet should be in the “What’s In It For Them” WIIFT format. Put yourself in your prospective partner’s shoes and ask yourself why would they want to partner with you? Why do they need to partner with you? What capabilities do you have that they could use to be more competitive? Put all of this together to establish your proposal summary. Be sure to explore options for marketing and cross branding. These are often overlooked and could add tremendous value to both parties involved.

Now you can start making calls and sending your proposition summary to the organizations you have identified as a good partnership “fit”. If the prospect is interested, discuss what resources are required to make the partnership work. Perform your due diligence. Always, always draw up a partnership agreement that clearly outlines the terms of the partnership and what happens if the terms are not met. Work with your prospective partner to establish partnership goals, action plans, rules of engagement, and milestones.

Identifying and building strategic partnerships can help give your company a competitive edge in the market. Additionally, it provides both organizations with greater resources to operate more efficiently and better serve customers.


April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.

Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.

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