When Selecting a Business Partner, Avoid the Dreaded Loop of Mediocrity

When Selecting a Business Partner, Avoid the Dreaded Loop of Mediocrity by Tony Lothariusby Tony Lotharius, Senior Vice President, Sales. Tony leads the external sales team at Scivantage with almost 20 years of financial services business development experience in both the buy side and sell side communities. Having worked at small start-up software companies to global Fortune 500 banks, Mr. Lotharius has grown sales of investment technology and consulting services throughout North America and Latin America.

The choice is more than a simple decision. In my career, I have been fortunate to have been involved with countless business partnerships and have learned valuable lessons from each. Selecting the right company to do business with is a monumental event that has far reaching impacts from enabling future success, ensuring failure or even worse – creating a loop of mediocrity.

We work hard to be a partner to our clients. As our prospective clients work through the selection process for our products and services, we try to communicate that they are selecting more than the software product they see before them. They are selecting our entire company, our values, experience, and most importantly our people.

Three potential outcomes to consider when selecting a business partner:

1.   Success – Chosen providers who can utilize and share their experiences, relationship management approach and knowledge, in both planning and practice, will elevate your results. In a successful vendor partnership, a thorough review includes understanding if your partner has the talent pool to truly be a contributor to your success. It is important to know how your partner will react when challenges are presented. More importantly, can your partner anticipate and prepare you in advance for any potential challenges?

Since results may be measured differently, both parties must know exactly what they are trying to achieve. Whether working towards increased revenue, stronger industry recognition, operational efficiencies, or your own client satisfaction for example, the same principle applies. We strive to establish a strong symbiotic relationship that is maintained and supported throughout the entire relationship.

2.   Failure – Unfinished projects, defections of personnel, missed revenue goals, unhappy clients – these are all possible outcomes when the appropriate partner has not been selected. You might wonder whether middling mediocrity falls under failure. In fact, there is a hidden positive in a failure because it is usually more evident, faster to be revealed and easier to start anew. The “fail fast, fix fast” saying is aptly applied here.

3.   Mediocrity – Of the three possible outcomes, mediocrity can be the easiest to slip into, hardest to identify and most difficult to repair. How do you prevent selecting a provider who will do “just enough” that mediocrity isn’t noticed until it is too late? Truly collaborative partners will show their worth even before the contract is signed, partnering with you to build the business case for your relationship and demonstrating the commitment to mutual success.

For example, we sometimes hear a goal of finding the “lowest cost” provider (more on this in my next blog). Unfortunately, selecting the lowest cost provider will seldom elevate a company to success. A vendor who provides a commoditized tool at the lowest price may initially appear optimal, but without a true partner your goals for revenue, delivery and surpassing market demands may be materially underperforming. Underperforming internal goals and industry peers could be directly attributed to selecting a provider who does not deploy leading relationship management practices, contain advanced product management capabilities or have the necessary partnership experience to deliver on agreed upon goals.

Not choosing the right partner could sentence your company to a hard to identify, and hard to remedy, loop of mediocrity. In addition to the product, selecting the right combination of values, experience, capabilities and people in your software partner will contribute to your ultimate long term success.

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