Business Development might be a rather obvious partnership activity. Our view it has two facets that you shouldn’t confuse. This is the final instalment of blogs about our Partnership Framework.
“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
Focus on the next quarter – who wants a long-term relationship?
You’ve probably read a lot about Partnership Management, and within the Expertek Partnership Framework we don’t seek to repeat the good practice that has been documented elsewhere. I just want to emphasise that “You cannot develop a strategic relationship whilst focusing solely on the next quarter”. To develop the partnership business, we therefore split Business Development into two activities: ‘strategic’ partner development plans and the ‘tactical’ account/sales management plans.
What is Partner Business Development?
Partner Business Development is a systematic approach to seizing the opportunities for increasing revenues and profitability by winning business through and/or with partners.
It consists of developing (and executing) medium-term (typically 12-24 months) plans for managing and enhancing partner relationships and, where applicable, growing partner sales (typically 6-12 months). Our Partnership Framework develops these as separate documents, but they are closely coupled and can be integrated. The Partner Sales Plan focuses on the revenue objectives and the activities required to achieve them. It can also incorporate non-revenue objectives e.g. the penetration of new market segments or improvements in customer satisfaction. In the Partner Relationship Plan you describe how you will manage the relationship – that may range from the strategic to the tactical. Where appropriate, you can share and develop one or both of documents with the partner.
Why do you need it?
There are two perspectives on Business Development within a partner context: winning sales and building the partner relationship. The former without the latter is likely to deliver short-term revenue at the expense of long-term growth. The latter without the former will result in senior executive scrutiny and the undermining of the partner investment. Planning the activities at the right level of detail helps with teambuilding, internal resources and direction. In addition, it avoids drift and discontinuities between the strategy and day-to-day partner activities.
What are the key activities?
Partner Sales Plan: Creation of a plan for achieving the sales targets for the partnership. The focus is on short- and medium-term objectives and how these will be achieved, both by internal actions and by the partner.
Relationship Plan: Creation of a plan describing how the relationship will be developed to achieve longer-term strategic objectives. This is focused on engagement at all relevant levels and across all relevant functions, as well as on the goals of the relationship.