Many of you who know me, especially friends, associates and yes, partners in the non-profit world, have heard my catch phrase regarding companies who do not handle partnerships well. I often say “They do not even know how to spell the word partner”.
I have been an official part of the business world since 1976 when I began full time employment a few days after my college graduation from Butler University. Unfortunately, I have witnessed more examples of misguided and poor partnerships then I have of good ones. It is truly a shame since there is nothing more beautiful than a well-orchestrated, smooth execution of a business partnership.
My personal belief is all good partnerships are based upon the premise of both parties winning. This can range from substantial benefits to small hardly noticeable wins. However, there must be positives in both directions. My legal counsel reminds me every single time they are involved in setting up partnerships or business agreements that the key reason for the agreement is to spell out what happens when one party desires to no long be part of the agreement. Hence the old saying of a “win/win” relationship could not be truer!
Win/Win for 40 Years
My father, William Wayne Love operated a contracting and painting company for 40 years based upon a hand shake only agreement with his major supplier of materials. I remark about this unique and special arrangement any time someone brings up the idea of a partnership. On two separate occasions, my father did not estimate his business taxes properly after very successful years and was caught with no ability to pay for supplies for large jobs. On both occasions, the supplier extended terms well beyond the norm, so my father’s business could complete those significant projects. Win/win, you bet! Even when other suppliers offered better prices later on, guess who dad ordered from?
Benefits of a Good Partnership: Sales and Marketing
Witnessing such a strong partnership made me quite aware of the many benefits such arrangements can provide. The most obvious one are the sales and marketing related ones. Nearly every single partnership we have been part of in the non-profit sector has produced quality lead after quality lead, which more often than not, turn into sold accounts in less than half the time of other leads. Some of my very best marketing opportunities such as speaking engagements, special sponsorships, group dinners and so many others have sprung from our partners. I trust they would say the same in return…
I have always been associated with the premier database or as we refer to them now CRM offerings for the charity world. For each of the products ranging from Fund-Master to eTapestry to Bloomerang, our product related partners provided extra functionality for our customers. Those partnerships made nearly every customer’s life and the ability to serve their constituents improve dramatically. In some cases, we shared revenue with partners as their portion of our product line was adopted by thousands of customers. Win/win, you bet!
My Favorite Benefit – You Choose the People to Associate With!
My last comment is my personal favorite because it revolves around the people portion of partnerships. We often have choices of which organization we want to partner with. I love choices for many reasons. In nearly every situation where I have a choice, I always pick the option with the people I desire to interact with going forward. So many great friendships of mine have sprouted from partnerships. It is such a joy to be able to successfully conduct business while staying in touch with such friends. Think how nice it is to always look forward to the next partner meeting, call or conference. Certain trade shows and conferences are almost like family reunions to me. Win/win, you bet!
Bloomerang is only a few months old, but we already have more partnerships than we ever had in the days of Fund-Master. Many are old friends that not only do we trust here at Bloomerang, but we know will be great partners for our clients! I encourage you to check back often because we are adding 2-3 new partners every week!
img via orinrobertjohn