Unless your business is in the IT industry, it can be hard to know exactly what products and solutions are right for your organisation. After all, you know you want to work efficiently and give your customers an exceptional experience. But, with the sheer volume and variety of technology solutions available to help you do that, how do you choose the right one?
The key is to work with a trusted advisor who understands your business, your industry, and the unique challenges you face, as well as the solutions and technologies you could use to improve your performance.
Finding the right advisor isn’t easy. You need to work with someone you can trust to give you the unvarnished truth and to help you find the right solution on its merits, not just because the partner is trying to sell you something.
There are five key considerations to keep top of mind when you’re seeking a partner:
Trust is one of the key factors most business owners are looking for when seeking a partner. You need to be able to trust that the partner has your business’s best interests at heart. They can only do that if you have shared values. For example, if you are looking to run a business based on environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing, and corporate citizenship, then you will need to work with a partner that has those same values. Otherwise, you could find them recommending products or solutions that don’t fit with your ethos. Rather than compromise your values, it’s advisable to move on and find a partner that can help reinforce them.
Working effectively with a partner requires you to spend a lot of time with them in person, on the phone, or both. If you don’t get along as people, it’s unlikely you’ll have a productive working relationship. A good cultural fit can be an indefinable connection and rapport you feel with the team. It can also be seen in more tangible ways. For example, if you’re a fast-moving company with staff that often work late, you’ll get a better result if you partner with a likeminded company with staff who are available when you need them.
A partner shouldn’t be an order-taker. If that’s the case, you could be better off working directly with vendors. Instead, your partner should be proactive in providing you with opportunities, information, and ideas to help improve your business. They should be astute enough to provide advice on aspects of the business you haven’t necessarily asked about. Proactivity is essential in a partner that will help drive your business forward. If your partner just waits to be told what you need, then they’re unlikely to make a measurable difference in your organisation.
Your partner should also be willing to tell you what you don’t necessarily want to hear. Rather than simply executing your instructions, they should tell you when they disagree with an approach. They should be able to tell you exactly why they think a different approach is more appropriate and demonstrate how that approach will work for you. A partner that can steer you away from the wrong path can be incredibly valuable.
It goes without saying that you need your partner to be available when you need them. You need them to do what they say they’re going to do, to be there when they say they’ll be there, and to achieve the goals that you’ve set together. If your partner goes quiet for weeks at a time or isn’t available when you need them, it could be a sign you’re not their most important customer.
For a partner to provide useful advice that helps you improve your business, they first need to understand your business. They should be able to see the opportunities and challenges you face, and be able to help develop strategic roadmaps to get you to your goals. If your partner doesn’t seem to clearly understand your business or your industry, and isn’t coming to you with insights and advice, then they’re not playing on your level.
If you’re looking for a strategic partner to help take your business to the next level, contact Konica Minolta today.