“Let’s partner,” or many variations on the theme appear in a large number of the LinkedIn and email communications I receive. We all know that’s just another term for “I’d like to sell you something.”
Perhaps it’s my sadistic nature, but every once in a while, toying with someone who sends a particularly strongly worded “partnering” message, I often respond, “It would be great to partner. Can we schedule a conversation about how we have helped organizations like yours improve results?”
The responses are hilarious. One person actually said, “You don’t understand, I’m trying to sell you something! I’m not interested in what you are selling….” If I’m feeling particularly obnoxious, I respond, “Oh, I misunderstood the idea of partnering, I thought it to be something where we might help each other, don’t you want to help me?”
Unfortunately, partnering has become one of those manipulative terms too many use to disguise their true motives, caring more about what they get than what their partner gets. Stated differently, “The partnership is great as long as we get what we want out of it.”
This is completely the opposite of a genuine partnering mindset. Interestingly, a genuine partnering mindset is one of the most powerful means of improving the effectiveness of how our own organizations work, and in engaging our prospects and customers.
Partnering is all about how we work together to achieve shared goals and objectives. It’s a form of collaboration.
Partnering enables each of the partners to achieve goals that couldn’t be achieved without the other.
Partnering facilitates shared discovery and learning.
There are foundations to effective partnering, one of the most important is trust.
In the past, I’ve codified partnering in the following way:
Decoded, it means highly effective partnering requires:
- Shared risk
- Shared resources
- Shared rewards
- Shared vision
- Shared values
Partnering isn’t a sales technique. It is, however a very effective way of working with our customers to help them achieve their goals–enabling us to achieve our goals.
Will you become my partner?
Afterword: Thanks to Fred Copestake for a fantastic conversation on our shared interest in applying partnering in business and sales. Be sure to buy his new book, Selling Through Partnering Skills, it’s a great introduction to effective partnering in sales.