Keys to a Happy Partnership (ClickZ)

By Stacie Susens

My columns tend to be inspired by what’s happening in my life and, whether it’s work or personal, I often find correlations to the world of marketing automation. In the past of I’ve pulled lessons from yoga and hiking (two of my favorite pastimes). And recently, I’ve gone through a major rite of passage…marriage! This past August 4, I married the one and only David B. Levy.

When I think about my relationship with Dave, there are many reasons why I love him and why our relationship works so well. However, there are key themes that I think most relationships can benefit from. So, whether it’s a client and vendor partnership, or internal team members working together, here are two keys to a happy relationship…er, partnership.

1. Share Similar Values

It’s important that both people or parties have similar values and ideas about what’s important and what’s not. For example, I’ve seen relationships fall apart when they realize one person wants to have children and the other person doesn’t. Before making a big commitment, it’s important to get each other’s core values out on the table to be sure it’ll be a good fit in the long run.

A value discussion is also necessary in the business world. You should discuss things related to your potential agreement or the way you’ll be working together to be sure it’s a good fit. Here are a few values I recommend discussing before going into a business partnership, whether it’s with a marketing automation platform or an agency:

  • Availability.Working for an international company, I need my team and partners to be available now and then for a time that’s not always convenient, but still reasonable for the U.S. or have teams/support to assist in other countries. Are there certain hours, time zones you need them to be on call or turnaround times that you expect?
  • Flexibility.Priorities can always change, which can cause deliverables to change. Is your partner flexible enough to change with your needs?
  • Point of contact.When you enter a partnership, it’s not just about the company; it’s about the people you’ll be working with too. If you have a preference or need for a certain point of contact for your account, speak up.
  • Milestones. In order to determine success, you’ll need to align on what metrics to track and what benchmarks are important to achieve. Especially with marketing automation, there are many metrics that can be tracked. Spend time discussing what’s important; otherwise, you’ll both spend time chasing your tails!
If your ideals conflict, you need to rethink making a commitment or how you can make it work for the short-term. “Never compromise your values.” – Steve Maraboli

2. Communicate Frequently & Openly

It’s difficult for me to express just how important communication is to any relationship. Friends, lovers, partners, co-workers….we can’t expect each other to just know what the other person thinks, feels, or needs at any given time. Sometimes we may just know but, most times, frustration can arise from a lack of communication. And it’s important to not just communicate but to do so frequently and openly.

Here are some tips to help make your communication frequent and open:

  • Reporting.I mentioned earlier the need to agree on milestones and what defines success. Once you have this understanding, reporting dashboards are critical to keeping everyone on the same page with actual results. We all may have good feelings about the latest nurturing program that was launched, but can we show that it’s actually working?
  • Status calls.In our day-to-day jobs, things can often change quickly and unexpectedly. Whether there’s a mandate from above or a data analysis that uncovers a new opportunity or challenge, all parties involved should have frequent communication and check-ins to inform each other and move into action.
  • Don’t be shy. It’s not just about frequency. It’s also important to be open and honest with each other. If you aren’t giving constructive feedback, then the other person may have no idea or may even think they’re doing all the right things. And the reverse can happen as well! The person or partner you rely on most may not realize how much you appreciate their work, unless you tell them how great a job you think they’re doing.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

Relationships and partnerships can be very dynamic. Hopefully you’re happy in your partnerships or are able to use these tips to get back on track. What other tips would you add to this list?

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