In this article, we intend to bust the many myths around the difficulty of forming strategic partnerships. People are so often impressed by logos on a landing page and business deals that they forget that any partnership can be forged with a few simple steps.
Here, we lay out those steps with what is known as the BUSSLER method — Bond, Unify, Sign, Serve, Lead, Empathize, Repeat.
The first step to forming a B2B partnership is to bond with your potential partner. So many people get caught up in “your business” and “my business” thinking. Next level thinking is “you” and “me” — the actual people behind those phone calls and emails.
Drop the jargon, drop the filler, and drop the formalities. Connect human-to-human instead of seeking out a signed contract, and your future partnership will be much better off for it.
The next steps is to unify your business goals. Lay out the business needs and goals of your potential partner, and your own, and find points of intersection. Ask these kinds of questions: Where can you help them? Where can they help you? What weaknesses do you have that they are strong in? What weaknesses do they have that you are strong in?
Once you map out this alignment, you’re ready to take the partnership forward.
The next step is simple, but it’s not the last by a long shot — sign an agreement. This can be done with a simple Memorandum of Understanding. It’s not a legally binding contract, but more of a written handshake. It’s also a bit of a token of effort, where you’re asking your future partner to do a tiny amount of work, just to show that they’re interested.
This is when your partnership really starts — you serve their needs. Ask not what they can do for you, but ask what you can do for them. By giving before taking, you automatically win. In this step you generate surplus value in the partnership, and by the power of reciprocity, you’ll probably get something back down the line (but don’t expect it).
As you continue to serve your partner, remember to take the burden of responsibility in the partnership upon yourself. As you see more and more opportunities to collaborate, lead and take them.
Successful partnerships are not a time to sit back or to follow. In order to create a powerful alliance, you need to lead the way.
Remember that nothing lasts and everything is constantly changing, so empathize with these realities and the realities of your partner.
It may occur that your partner no longer has the resources to maintain the partnership. In that case, find ways to either reduce or shift the load, or smoothly cut the partnership. It will occur that your partner’s needs change somewhere down the line, which is why it’s important to continuously seek feedback and question their needs, to improve your relations.
Now you’ve created tight, lasting partnerships. And if you can do it once, you can do it many times. Repeat this process with as many partners as you need. As a think tank, we intend to create a massive, global network, so we repeated this process 100 times in 100 days.