How Do You Select The Right Strategic Partner? Three Guidelines

Interview with Jim Soss, CEO, Red Aril

Situation: A rapidly growing company is expanding both in its primary market and into new verticals. A number of companies are interested in strategic partnerships. How do you select the right partner in the right space?

Advice:

  • At the end of the day it’s about a connection with the partner which extends across both organizations.
    • Look for cultural synergy with the other company. Do your and their managers and employees “click” or are they oil and water? This is a gut assessment.
    • Is the quality of people in both companies complimentary? Is there similar drive for quality and attention to detail?
    • Will technical integration be smooth? Are systems complimentary? At a minimum are there the right skills on both sides so that this won’t hinder the project.
    • Are sales and marketing approaches compatible? Will teams be able to work together? What about other departments?
  • You need to have strategic commitment across both organizations.
    • Partnerships don’t work if there is only alignment at the top. Executives can’t shove a new opportunity down the throats of those who report to them. There must be excitement about the opportunity across both sides of the partnership.
    • There must be complimentary competencies, capabilities and commitment.
    • Is there a clear understanding of the goals and objectives succeed?
    • Reward structures and incentives must be aligned down through the two parties. Conflicts will lead to struggles.
  • There must be a strategic alignment between the two organizations so that both see the partnership as complementing their broader strategic plans.
    • There must be a fundamental strategic win-win. The venture must be seen by each party as core to their business, plans and results. If this isn’t present, the collaboration can be drowned when a better opportunity that comes along.
    • Look for some gauge that the partnership is as important to the other party as it is to you. What other partners do they have? Is the size of the opportunity enough so that you are assured of their ongoing attention?

You can contact Jim Soss at jsoss@redaril.com

Key Words: Partner, Partnership, Connection, Culture, Synergy, Quality, Integration, Systems, Complimentary, Commitment, Alignment, Capabilities, Rewards, Incentives, Strategic Plan

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