Business Partnerships – In Service of a Greater Good

Business Partnerships – In Service of a Greater Good

October 18, 2021

Our business peers often talk about strategic business partner relationships, whether customers, suppliers, or partners, in relation to how they drive key outcomes including revenue, differentiation, customer LTV, etc.  But what makes business partnerships truly powerful is that they can serve a greater good beyond the goals of just one company.

As ecosystems continue to dominate large chunks of the global economy – 30% of global revenues by 2025 according to McKinsey – CEOs are realizing that success in business is increasingly a shared endeavor.  In short, success happens with and through partnerships.

This awareness will change the way businesses are run.  Companies that understand ecosystem-first principles will not only out-perform from an economic perspective but will also become better employers and ultimately help the world address huge challenges like the climate crisis, economic disenfranchisement, and social inequality.

This is a big claim.  But such win-win outcomes are possible if we take ecosystem and partnership principles and apply them broadly to how companies operate.  Look no further than the most important of first principles for effective partnering – building “Trust through Service”.  Just as in our human relationships, say between two life partners, trust is established and nurtured through service to the relationship vs service to self or veiled self-interest.

Companies armed with the right mindset and commitment scale trust by first asking, what can we do to help our partners succeed?  This is the definition of service to the partnership and it works every time if there’s a strong partnership fit between two or more companies and where the two partners can deliver value (be in service) to a joint customer.

Being of service involves an on-going commitment to the partnership, allowing the partners to offer partnership synergies to joint customers.  This includes expectations that both parties will be:

-Reasonable and Fair

-Sustainable and Considerate

-Forward-looking and Adaptive

-Value creating for all parties connected to the partnership

Not all partnerships operate according to these principles but the ones that do outperform by being explicit about the trust/service relationship. Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, listed #partnerlove as a top 3 company objective in a keynote to align the company’s focus on driving partner satisfaction and engagement.  According to IDC, by 2024 Salesforce partners will earn $5.80 for every $1 of revenue that Salesforce takes in and create over four million jobs.

Imagine if companies not only incorporated these principles into how they approach and govern their partner ecosystems, but also to how they manage employees, suppliers, their customers, and engagement across their communities.  Taking an ecosystem approach is directly aligned with the idea of sustainability.  The DNA that contributes to a flourishing ecosystem can help organizations run all aspects of their businesses while also contributing to the greater good.