I had worked with this particular hardware and technology partner for two years and in that time we had combined well to be very successful. The partner was always keen they lead the engagement and, as that offered no commercial or operational disadvantage, I was okay with this. We had equal access to the end client and regularly attended joint meetings.
It would seem odd therefore to restructure the relationship if it worked so well. However, whilst it was a success it was also limiting.
The partner was focused on one key vertical and all our business with them was in that sector. The division I worked for was also focused on that vertical, but my company had multiple other divisions that our partner did not operate in. As their focus was hardware based – design, deploy, configure, support – they could equally serve multiple other clients in different sectors.
If we could flip the relationship and we take the lead the opportunities were huge for the partner. However, in bringing to them all this additional business we would also want an adjustment to the way we worked and the commercial terms. The partner would gain significantly more business but now would be beholden to us and would see their margins diminish slightly.
Two things had to be achieved in equal measure. The partner had to accept they would not be the prime contractor and my company would have to add a new strategic partner that had only ever worked with one division with a specific vertical focus.
The process to turn this opportunity into a success took twelve months and required all sides to want to make the change. It was a resounding success and the partner went on to see 300% in their opportunities within the first full year. For our existing customers no changes were made and for future customers it all felt the same as for any previous engagement.
Thinking differently can open opportunities. But to be successful everyone needs to commit to the change and what at first may seem the wrong change can often lead to significant dividends.