A lot of people in business and in sales use certain words in ways entirely different than their meaning. In the past I have talked about the use of the word “relationship” by sales people in a way that is almost laughable at times.
Another word that is thrown about with little regard for definition or intent is the word partner or partnership. When you compare what some people mean or what their intent is when they use the word, versus what the word means you can’t but be struck by how disingenuous some people are.
First let’s define partner:
1. a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavour; sharer; associate.
2. A person associated with another or others as a principal or a contributor of capital in a business or a joint venture, usually sharing its risks and profits.
In my discussions I tend to focus on number 2, with the key word being “sharing”, as I think most people do, but there are many who pick and choose their definition based on very selfish needs.
I remember being part of a business development team during the latter stages of the dot com boom. We were exploring means of disseminating news and information on mobile and other devices. I used to get people from small and upcoming companies come and visit looking to work with us, the company I was with had a high profile name due to the two parent companies at the time. They all opened the meeting the same way, “we want to be your partner in this project”. This did not mean they wanted to share resources, IP or technology. What they meant was that they wanted the ability to include us in their next press release and increase their chances in the IPO derby that was so popular at the time. When we suggested that we share resources, or co-develop, many would cringe.
This week again, I ran into someone that had a different definition of partner than mine.
In anticipation of my upcoming book, I find myself in discussions with potential partners, most vendors where there is a natural fit between the product and the methodology outlined in the book. Some vendors, expect me to not only promote their offering but also expect me to not promote or work with any of their potential competitors. I have no issues with this and understand the need for this form of “monogamy”. What is surprising is when you ask for the same in return, that is, that the vendor not promote other competitive authors or vendors.
I use the word “monogamy” specifically, a further definition of partner is:
3. A husband or a wife; spouse.
One vendor I was speaking to was at first surprised by my definition of a partner, my conditions and insistence for mutual exclusive support. But to his credit he quickly understood and embraced the notion of a true partnership, the possibilities inherent in working together to achieve mutual success.
Another took an entirely different view, I was to promote only his product, use only his product and supplied a list of products, I could not mention, work with or even be associated with. When I suggested that there were some people that I would like him not to support or promote, he practically laughed. More a reflection on him than me I think.
These two examples speak directly to the larger issue of doing the right thing. If one is willing to screw their partner, and remember a lot of vendors will call you their partner, what would those same people be willing to do to those they deal with that they don’t see as partners?
What’s in Your Pipeline?