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Partnerships: Get the Balance Right

Last week at Pardot’s users conference, Elevate 2010, I got the chance to interact with some of our valued partners. Talking with fantastic partners like Arketi, BrainRider, Motum b2b, Left Brain Marketing and others really got me thinking about the dynamics of business partnerships and the delicate balancing act they require.

What makes a successful partnership?

  • Setting realistic and transparent expectations that both parties agree to. Knowing what you’re looking for helps you better assess whether a relationship is a beneficial one, and when expectations are transparent, communication is far more efficient.
  • Ramping up slowly at first, and then more quickly as the partnership takes shape. The slow start allows both partners to demonstrate the value of the relationship before either has invested too much. As the partnership takes shape, both parties can become more tightly aligned in their marketing, sales, and product development if needed. Letting the relationship evolve organically to meet the needs of both partners is a crucial part of getting the balance right.
  • Creating a lasting win-win arrangement. If the balance of power is skewed, you can’t expect a partnership to last long. This is the most difficult task of all — striking the right balance between partners for an optimal win-win arrangement that will thrive over the long run.

I’ve found that following these general guidelines has yielded many long-lasting, beneficial relationships with our partners. Pardot has been extremely fortunate to have forged robust partnerships with a number of companies, some of them true industry leaders (e.g., salesforce.com, SugarCRM, NetSuite, GoodData, and more). It’s all about getting the balance right.