How to Pick a Good Strategic Partner

With my recent nuptials, it only seemed right to review how to pick a good partner – a good strategic partner in business, that is. A good partner exponentially leverages your reach so that you share resources, gain a competitive advantage, share risk, and ultimately bring more prospects and customers to your doors.

Since this area is rife with risk, here’s a brief checklist on how to pick a good strategic partner:

  1. Pick a Partner with a Complementary Target – A good fit is a business that has the same target, offers a complementary product or service, or shares a geographical region. It should also be a person that you like, trust, and respect.
  2. Agree on the Terms – Before inking the deal, take a moment to agree on start dates, deal stoppers, remuneration for each party, cancellation terms, etc. Remember: the devil is in the details.
  3. Ensure a “Win” for Your Customer – If you are a building contractor, for example, teaming up with a real estate agent is a win for both of you. The same is true for a graphic designer and a printer. However, a tax accountant teaming up with a graphic designer together, makes your customers go “huh?”
  4. Establish a criteria with which to measure your success. I LOVE metrics! Make sure you know at the outset what is the outcome you’re seeking. It could be opt-ins, number of callers, sales, etc. And make it logical and easy for your prospects. Here is one detail that drives me crazy: Making your customer visit 7 different neighborhood stores and get a stamp in order to receive a free gift. Ugh! Too much work without enough benefit.
  5. Put it in Writing – Although it all sounds easy enough, I had miscommunication. So, even without a lawyer, put together a simple Letter of Agreement, or if it’s complicated, splurge on a contract so that there is no mistake.
  6. Delegate Tasks Clearly – Execution will make or break your partnership. Ensure you know who is doing what and when. Each of you are bringing a core competency to the table. Divide and conquer!

What’s your experience with strategic partners? Please share with comments below.

5 Comments
  1. You’ve missed a VERY important and essential quality of a great strategic partner–they must share your core values. Because decision making is based on core values, if you don’t come from the same foundation, you’ll likely have difficulties in the future. This applies to marriages as well!

    • in one of your previous posts about Fate & Destiny [or something like that, dont remember exactly], an individual's response determines his fate. —————————————————————————————A totally random thought — Its understandable that we dont have too many technological inventions in India.. probably due to lack of infrastructure. But how come we dont even have good economists? That sure doesnt need laboratories to experiment with

  2. I agree! Thanks, Lisa. Core values count!

  3. You very succinctly put together the things that people should be thinking about when forming strategic alliances. To echo your thoughts, there has to be a strategic benefit and the customer has to considered in that analysis. Of course, I also have to echo and stress the importance of putting it in writing. If nothing else, it is a confirmation that both partners have the same expectations and assumptions about the relationship. I also want to add, make sure that the writing is in plain language that you can both understand and is as complete as possible, at least taking into account the items that you suggest be covered above. Contracts show and foster trust, not mistrust as so many people assume.

  4. When a lawyer like Laura Kwartler says: speak in plain language, pay attention! I also really like this quote: “contracts show and foster trust.” Thanks!

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