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How to Select Business Partners Based on Their Value-Add

SWOTSWOT - explained below

If you are involved in working with business partners, this will be of interest. A simple process that will make clear to you, your business partner and your client, why you are working together.

The main issue I have experienced with business partnering is when companies work together because of an agreement struck by people not in the field. By people who are tasked with putting partnering agreements in place but never having to stand or fall based on the value of these agreements.

To look at these partnerships from a client’s perspective, they would expect to see value adding not value overlay. If they are expected to absorb the risk of multiple parties working together to deliver an outcome, they are entitled to have a better reason than “because our companies have struck a commercial agreement out of head office”.

What I have settled on for my purposes is so simple and yet it has been incredibly effective.


The process is called SWOTSWOT and the steps are these:

  1. Do a SWOT analysis on your own company.
  2. Have your potential business partner do a SWOT analysis on themselves.
  3. Meet - no more than 30 minutes - drive focus.
  4. Lay both SWOTs on a table in your meeting room.
  5. Determine if your Strengths cover any of their Weaknesses.
  6. Determine if their Strengths cover any of your Weakness.
  7. If the answer is yes to #5 and/or #6, then you have a value adding partnership that can be explained in an elevator pitch to your client.

In my experience, having used this method numerous times, it works every time.

The sales teams’ pitch and fervor is pared back to bullet points in quadrants on a single page. No room for rhetoric or posturing - only room for fact based communication.

You might also find you end up working with less partners, more frequently. If so, you will move higher in the trust scale with each other and that can only be good for your business and your clients’ outcomes.

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