Building High Performance Business Relationships
Increasingly, executives are finding that collaborative relationships with key customers and suppliers provide an opportunity to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage and drive the co-creation of value. However, most attempts at collaboration do not meet the expectations of management in one or both sides of the organizations involved. Why? Based on our research, business relationships fail to meet expectations and do not achieve their potential because one or both parties have unrealistic expectations going in or the expectations are realistic but they were never articulated and agreed upon. Thus, there was no joint plan for achieving each organization's goals and without a plan goals were not achieved. In many cases, within each organization there is not a common vision of what success with the other side looks like.
Success does not need to be left to chance, there are two tools available to enable management to structure relationships with key customers and suppliers: The Partnership Model and The Collaboration Framework. While both tools enable the development of joint goals and an implementation plan, The Partnership Model also addresses relationship style issues.
“It is incredible what we learned about our customers in these meetings. In some cases, we found that certain goals we had were, as a matter of customer policy, never going to happen, so we were able to immediately pull resources back. In other cases, we uncovered opportunities for collaboration that we had no idea existed. Either way, the sessions helped us, and our customers, make much smarter investments with each other and accelerate returns on those investments.”
—Jenny L. Verner
President, Specialty Canola Oils, Cargill, Incorporated
“Through this partnership model, we were able to turn around a relationship that had gotten so bad we had gone several years without doing business and a few involved vowing never to do business again. We were able to learn what our customer really wanted and what they needed. We were able to share our wants and needs as a supplier. We learned that we were really not that far apart. This process manages through individual personalities and allows the business factors to win out. Today, we hold the relationship with this customer as one of our very best. We can be very frank and honest with each other today. We know there are no ulterior motives and we are able to make decisions that work not just for the short term.”
—Bernard F. Leonard
Group Vice President,
Food Service, Retired,