I’m ever amazed at the range of maturity that exists within business. This week, one exclusive partner performed so poorly due to bad resource planning, that it’s damaged my relationship with our client. And, when I asked if I could help, they blamed their delay on the client. Tried to have coffee with my client and they were unwilling. Appears I will have to wait until the sands of time pass and my client is dealing with other issues – or until I have a real opportunity to help them. I’ll be looking for an olive branch – and another partner.
A second new partner promised 3 months ago to deliver the content necessary for me to weave them into add-on deal flow. This was at their request – not mine. This week, I casually mentioned that I would be looking to bring on others to do the work they had not done as an easy way to let them off the hook. In reply, this partner asked for exclusivity or they wouldn’t deliver. Hmmm. And, if I didn’t grant them exclusivity they would cancel a meeting they set that would drive this piece of business FOR THEM. Double Hmmm.
When issues like this arise, I always look for my part in the exchange. What communication could I have done differently, did I expect too much? I’m sure these exclusive partners of mine will have a different view of the exchange, yet, as a leader, I must take care of my clients and our reputation.
As a mentor to entrepreneurs, I teach the rule of three’s. Ask for something three times, and then if no forward motion occurs, then ask why? And, find another source to deliver on the request. If you need any vendor (attorney, designers, CPA, developer, florist) interview three, get references, review their portfolio, and then go with your gut. Always keep (2) other relationships in the wings and spread your deliverables across multiple vendors because life happens. Your go-to designer may be vacationing in Fiji and unable to turn around that poster you need for an upcoming event. Build your bench.
Managing your sell through channel is an art. If you have a product and only have one exclusive partner to deliver that product. What happens when they move to Fiji? What young business people don’t always understand is that multiple options for the end client promotes a market! It creates more chatter and buzz about the product – and ultimately – is 99% better than an exclusive relationship.
My recommendation? Review your staff – do you have a succession plan for your key employees? (Yes, even you.) Review your vendors – do you have backups? Lastly, evaluate your channel. Retire those who are not aligned, and continue to cultivate at least three key partners to carry inventory, be expertly training, and have a track record for delivering results.