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3 ways to improve your partner relationships

By Anna Pantazis
February 4, 2022

3 ways to improve your partner relationships

When two organizations agree to market and sell a solution together, they bring different viewpoints, cultures, and values to the table. Partners may find they have differing stances on everything from priorities to key messages, expectations, and even budgets. 

Some pitfalls that can thwart partner relationships include different expectations, success metrics, or goals; disagreements over resource needs; and misunderstandings over who gets to claim the sale.

Managing all this can be challenging. One thing’s for sure: a boat with two people rowing in opposite directions doesn’t get anywhere. So here are three considerations that can help get your partnership into shipshape.

 

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1. Improve communication

To help ensure partnership success, communicate what everyone wants and needs up front. Communication can be the hardest aspect of partnering, so you may need to work at it. Start early in the partnership and take as much time as is necessary for thorough, clear communication between all players.

 

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2. Ask the difficult questions

Some topics aren’t as much fun to discuss as others. Communicating about certain aspects of your partnership can even feel awkward at first. But discussing them honestly and up front can clear the air and be more pleasant than disagreements over these issues down the road. Be sure to develop a good understanding with your partner around, for example: 

  • Which brand will take the lead?
  • How much information will each partner share?
  • How will you split income and expenses? 

 

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3. Keep everyone accountable

For partnerships to run smoothly, everyone needs to do what they’ve said they’re going to do—and do it, without too many exceptions, on time. They need to show up prepared for meetings and deliver feedback and other information promptly. Teams and individuals need to set schedules, agree on action items, and then act in good faith. 

To make sure this happens, appoint one person the job of keeping everyone across the partnership accountable. By giving everyone a clear understanding of project schedules and individual responsibilities, and gentle but firm reminders of due dates, this person can mean the difference between dysfunction and a thriving partnership. 

A third party can help

Marketing agencies are skilled at smoothing the implementation of a partnership. If you’re working with one, you may be able to lean on your account manager, who can use their insights, experience, and expertise to help keep your partnership moving smoothly. 

An account manager can follow up with partners when deliverables are due, instead of your having to fill that disagreeable role. This saves time and preserves the relationship. Many times, partners are in different time zones; an account manager can coordinate review calls and feedback to overcome time-zone challenges and other hurdles.

Because your agency is an impartial third party, asking crucial but potentially troublesome questions can be easier for them. They can moderate conversations to make sure both partners are getting equal input. They can be the neutral zone between partners and ease that pressure, so you and your partner can focus on the relationship. So, lean on your account manager. They’re there to help!