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It should be easy to be a tremendous business partner in the B2B world.

It isn’t, though.  Daily, I’ve been relearning how hard it is for business partners to be great..

Our church installed a video system early in the pandemic. I’m hard pressed to count the number of days the system’s been completely stable. Between shaky hardware, software pushed to the limits, and questionable internet service, there are plenty of opportunities for the system to fail. All the vendors involved are quick to point to somebody else (and what they provide) as the problem.

Always looking for life and business lessons amid frustration, identifying a list of what a great business partner does is one takeaway from this disappointing experience. Of course, it’s not that any of the partners involved have displayed great practices. Instead, the powerful lessons come from flipping to the positive all the opportunities where they have failed us.

THAT list of what could have been transforms into great business partner practices.

16 Practices Great Business Partners Embody

You can employ this list in your own business relationships. A great business partner:

  1. Prefers collaborating as a multi-organizational team rather than adopting an across-the-table, arm’s length role.
  2. Is far more interested in discovering (and helping the customer, identify) what solution is needed rather than pitching what’s easy to sell and deliver.
  3. Pushes back on client requests that aren’t smart rather than satisfying them and letting the client suffer through getting exactly what they requested.
  4. Anticipates what the customer will need for success (and asks questions to help clarify it for everyone) and then delivers on it.
  5. Sets mutually beneficial boundaries instead of reaching a point where they give up on the client.
  6. Manages upfront expectations toward realistic levels and then brings them to life.
  7. Offers a compelling, customer-centric reason for when and why the customer is asking for things that go too far.
  8. Avoids downside surprises while repeatedly delighting the client in unexpected ways.
  9. Walks with the customer every step versus pointing toward a vague direction that the customer stumbles toward on its own.
  10. Tests work from the client’s perspective to ensure that everything performs when the client uses it in real life situations since it doesn’t count to say it performed when the provider tested the work with nobody around and nothing on the line.
  11. Documents and shares the knowledge they have that the customer will need.
  12. Can produce a doctor’s note proving that they have had all their sarcasm and snarkiness surgically removed.
  13. Never makes the same mistake twice.
  14. Will perform the occasional miracle when needed.
  15. Ensures the client maximizes the value in the agreement, and more importantly, in the business relationship.
  16. Leaves the customer appreciably better off than before beginning to work together.

That’s what a great business partner does.

That’s what we strive for at Brainzooming, and yes, that’s what I expect in return. – Mike Brown

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