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This week, two things happened to me, both
demonstrating the weakness in many organizations’ approaches to partnering
and alliances. First, I attended a conference on partnering. The
speakers were experienced and focused on helping the participants
understand the power of partnerships, critical success factors, and how to
negotiate partnerships. Their focus was on getting what they wanted out
of a partnership, with little discussion at all about what the other party
in the partnership might want.
Second, the president of another consulting company called me to explore a
strategic partnership. He spent a lot of time discussing what he wanted in
the relationship—basically access to our clients and customers, so that he
could sell his complementary services. When I asked what our company would
get out of the relationship, he stumbled and could not answer. After
thinking a moment, he quickly said he hadn’t focused on that, but would be
willing to talk. You can guess how long that discussion went and the status
of that potential partnership.
While I am oversimplifying, they were missing one of the most important
aspects of partnering: WIIFM, otherwise known as What’s In It For Me!
The part they were focused on was “what was in it for them,” that is, why
they were looking at partnerships and how they intended to profit from the
relationship. However, each was overlooking one of the most important
aspects of partnering: What Is In It For Me --- The Prospective Partner!
What’s In If For Me --- The Partner Perspective:
Current practice in many partnering and alliance efforts are too often
focused only on what value and benefit one party gets from the
relationship. This focus on what one party can get from the relationship
(sometimes on both sides of the negotiation) is the primary reason that the
majority of partnering and alliances fail.
For partnering to be successful, that is to produce enduring results for
each partner, the partnership must be balanced. Several elements are
critical to successful partnering:
Shared resources, and
We have written extensively about these elements of partnering and won’t
repeat them in this article.
But what about: What’s In It For Me --- The Partner???? If we cannot
clearly define the value and benefits of the partnership for the partner,
then we are wasting both party’s time by even beginning discussions.
To drive success in the discussions, put yourself in the partner’s position
and clearly articulate what is in it for them. How do they benefit, how
does it help them more effectively achieve their goals? What does the
relationship with your organization enable them to do? Why will it be more
beneficial than any other relationship they might have?
If you cannot develop clear and compelling answers to these questions, from
the point of view of the partner, then there is no reason for partnering.
You should stop all efforts until you can answer these questions in a
In looking at other organizations as strategic partners, you know what’s in
it for you. The most important thing developing the relationship is
answering the question: What’s In It For Me --- The Partner?
Thinking about What’s In It For Me has tremendous benefits in other areas:
The sales professional should always be
asking this question from the point of view of the customer.
Executive management should be asking this
question from the point of view of their employees and other
stakeholders (investors, board).
Operational management should be asking this
from the point of view of the supply chain.
Product development/management should be
developing every new product with this in mind --- what’s in it for the
customer to invest in the product?
There are many ways to think about it. Focus on your customer, define
What’s In It For Them and your likelihood of enduring success will be much
In EXCELLENCE supports its clients in achieving performance and
organizational excellence. This
is done through consulting, development and training programs.
In working with its clients, Partners In EXCELLENCE seeks to
establish partnerships through the implementation of the five critical
elements of strategic partnering. For
more information on developing effective strategic alliances, improving
the effectiveness of your sales, marketing and customer service
organizations, or improving the results produced by your organization,
please contact us at email@example.com,
or by phone at (949)305-7146.
Brock is the founder and president of Partners In EXCELLENCE.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2003, Partners
In EXCELLENCE, All Rights