So far in our serious on partner-to-partner alliances, we’ve discussed what P2P is all about, how to put the right steps in place to enable these relationships and what partners need to do to establish the necessary trust to make P2P collaborations successful. In this, our fourth and final instalment, we look at the red flags and warning signs you should be on the lookout for that show you whether your partnership is going strong or headed for failure.

When Your P2P Relationship is Flying

Like any relationship, a solid and productive partner-to-partner collaboration will simply feel right.  There will be a feeling of mutual trust and mutual benefit. More importantly, the outside world and your customers will be able to recognize the value of your combined team of complementary skills and experience.  

When things are running smoothly, the teams of both organizations will work in harmony from the executive level to the implementation team.  Sales and marketing teams will deliver joint messaging, supported by mutually approved collateral,.  Sales efforts are led and driven by a cohesive team with a focus on customer satisfaction and ultimate revenue growth. 

When Your P2P Relationship is Failing

What about when they don’t send you flowers anymore and don’t answer the phone?   If communication has stalled and you’re barely receiving email updates, it’s a sign that your lack of communication is heading to a critical failure. Putting lines of communication in place at the start will effectively address any area that is going off the rails.  It’s like date night—make sure it is in the diary and that no one gets an excused absence. 

If all the right steps were put in place at the outset, there will be checks and balances already in place.  But the most important element to ensure continuing good partner relations is maintaining the lines of communications across the teams. 

Looking out for these five warning sights might just keep things on track.

  1. Sales teams: When sales teams are divided across companies, it can lead to overt competition and disruptive behavior that’s damaging to the relationship. Devise a deliberate strategy for mixing company teams to help prevent company-to-company jockeying.  Watch out for the warning signs of too much pontificating and competition, and nip it in the bud early.
  2. Marketing:  A joint and compelling proposition should be created and agreed upon from the bottom up.  Consider creating a new joint brand name that can help steer and identify the partnership. Watch out for overcomplicating the marketing collateral and brand identity by trying to accommodate dual branding, which just might not be appropriate. 
  3. Project deployment:  Utilizing project management systems and even a third-party project governance team is a sure-fire way to keeping all parties on track.  If these are not in place, you have been warned. Watch out for finger pointing and a lack of accountability and sense of responsibility. 
  4. Remuneration: The executive teams will have goals and targets to drive both their own behaviour and that of the business.  Watch out for a lack of motivation in sub-teams that may not have that privileged information, and therefore not understand the business drivers.  Giving all stakeholders some level of remuneration will help keep all teams on the same page and going in the right direction. Remember, compensation doesn’t need to be salaried, so consider other softer benefits, too.
  5. Communication, communication, communication:  This is the absolute golden thread that will hold the partnership together.  It can be as simple as making sure calls are returned and email response is timely, so agree on your communications process and protocol upfront. Watch out for any signs that communication is breaking down at any level (executives, marketing, sales, project implementation) as this could be the beginning of the end. 

It seems simple, right? Written down, these tips to ensure that your P2P relationship flies rather than fails may seem clear and obvious.  However, when in the midst of establishing and developing that ‘mutually beneficial partnership,’ important areas are often forgotten, and things sometimes break down.  Trust and real listening are the pillars of P2P success, but nothing beats team get-togethers that  focus on practical outcomes, building relationships and opening up constructive lines of communication between both parties.