If your company builds products or services technology that could benefit from an infusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), you need to work with a company that is an expert in the field. By joining forces on an AI partnership, you and your partner can provide additional benefits to your customers via enhanced solutions, competitive prices and superior data intelligence. The more complex the venture, the more complex the planning and partnering process needs to be. Slapping two logos on a slide, putting out a joint press release and calling it a day is not enough.
As soon as you and your partner have finalized the terms of your collaboration, you should begin discussing ways to create and maintain success. Every partnership is different and should be treated as unique, so creating a custom roadmap for day-to-day and week-to-week operations and interactions is a sound idea. Consider factors such as how often the two partners should meet, which key performance indicators (KPIs) should be monitored, and how to generate customer demand for a joint product or service.
Building A Close Connection
Closer connections between the two groups is always preferable to a more autonomous approach. The more your partner is willing to invest in the collaboration (both in terms of resources and dedicated hours) the higher the success rate of the partnership will be. During these frequent conversations, both parties should discuss overall progress and what success means for them. They should determine hard metrics that satisfy expectations and performance criteria. As the partnership progresses, and if problems arise, the data and metrics will help identify how those problems can be addressed.
Setting a Cadence
Partnerships require high levels of commitment on both sides, particularly when it comes to time requirements. You should establish a regular cadence of meetings and check-ins with your partner (both formal and informal) who in turn should be willing to attend consistently (either via phone or in person).
During these meetings, you should discuss progress on short- and long-term goals, the current status of any product/service development efforts and any potential roadblocks. Manage expectations by clearly articulating what each partner is expected to accomplish along agreed-upon timetables.
Communicating With Your Partner
Constantly update partners on progress and results, and expect the same in return, on at least a weekly basis (it can be more frequent depending on the partnership). Major wins and critical issues, of course, should be communicated immediately.
Partners should educate each other on changing market conditions and industry trends, as both parties bring unique perspectives to the table. Even if the partnership is running smoothly, it’s a good idea to have constant, ongoing discussions about potential market opportunities and, just as importantly, any moves from competitors.
Setting KPIs and Tracking Progress
There are several metric-based components to generating and maintaining strong alignment with partners. These may include tracking and coordinating leads and opportunities generated by each partner, and outbound lead allocation. Use a centralized management system to ensure global tracking and transparency. How many client leads are you both creating? How many leads are converted? How much effort did it take to find and then convert leads? How long does it take to mature the opportunities?
For each opportunity, both parties should understand the cost, potential revenue and timeline for each activity. Write it down and ensure you agree. Partners can then create an optimum ROI scenario to benchmark each opportunity. Determine what worked and what failed during initial opportunities to cultivate best practices. Do you have effective marketing materials? Did closing the deal take longer than expected? By creating parameters for every stage of the customer adoption cycle, and discussing them on an ongoing basis, you and your partner will be able to better understand how to successfully approach new opportunities.
Keeping the Focus on Customers
Following these steps will provide solid footing for building and maintaining beneficial partnerships. Remember that you’re solving a problem for your partner by providing them a tool or capability on which to build revenue, but they should be adding unique components of the solution that are central to their core value proposition as well. No matter which best practices you apply to your partnership, remember that it should first and foremost be focused on creating value for your joint clients and prospects.