What is a strategic partnership? So many times we hear the term “strategic” and “partnership” used, abundantly and wrongly. But if you put them together, what does it mean? How do you form one and know if it exists?

In this series of “How Do You Know You Have A Strategic Partnership”, my last three articles discussed the first three of the 5 key pillars for forming strategic partnerships:

  1. Recognition of the Opportunity
  2. Leadership by Example
  3. Crafting and Communicating a Strategy
  4. Delivering the Tactics
  5. Finding Ways to Add Value Constantly and Consistently

In this article, we move on and complete discussing the last two, “Delivering the Tactics” and “Finding Ways to Add Value Constantly and Consistently”.

One of the examples I have been using to demonstrate what a real strategic partnership looks like is Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. They followed the 5 key pillars, so to summarize this series I’ll look at the 4th and 5th pillar.

To ensure the tactics are delivered, the entire company system needs to understand the strategy and be given the opportunity and incentive to execute. 

As with all the pillars, communication is the key. From senior management all the way through to the account managers, the message has to be delivered consistently and often.

I recently stayed with a really good friend of mine, Stephen Cobb. I have always admired Stephen’s work ethic and business intuition as well as the way he can boil things down to their essence. Over dinner, we were discussing what Account Managers roles are, and he summarized the role as follows:

  1. Understand the customer and their needs
  2. Develop an aligned plan that meets their needs and is value added
  3. Deliver on the promise; execute flawlessly
  4. Steward the process: Tell them what we did 

This is really the tactical part of the 4th pillar. Unless we execute nothing changes.

The 5th and last pillar is about delivering value on a regular and consistent basis. Value is such an overused term nowadays. It’s a little like game changer, paradigm, no brainer or big picture. 

For me, bringing value to clients can be new ideas, new ways of thinking, recent industry information, different strategic concepts. But whatever they are, they must be linked to the problems and opportunities facing the client. In other words RELEVANT, to THEM.

And a “one-off” isn’t enough. We must demonstrate that we are constantly thinking of value added things and can deliver at a high level consistently in a way that we would deliver our products and services.

So there we have it…the vital components of a strategic partnership. A strategic partnershipIt takes more than just a few good relationships formed over dinner or on the golf course. It takes years to build effectively and with the commitment from ALL the company resources to focus and execute against a plan. 


Peter M. Beaumont is Vice President of Sales at Hollstadt Consulting and Principal of ConnXN LLC. He is also the author of The Relationship Roadmap, a comprehensive guide to building relationships with strategic clients. Also, see more at www.ConnXN.net