Tip 2: The contributions matrix

Tip 2 in the 25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances article is to “Create a contributions, needs and benefits matrix before entering the first conversation with your proposed partner“:

There is a saying, which is popular among coaches and productivity gurus – although I am not even sure if it is an official saying. The saying tells us that those who forget to prepare, are preparing themselves to be forgotten. The same is true for alliances: in every step, you make with a partner or prospective partner you need to prepare carefully. You need to prepare to get the best out of the steps you make, the best for you, your partner and the customer. You need to prepare to make a lasting impression with the partner and to be remembered, even when you are not pursuing on a joint partnership.

The contributions, needs, and benefits matrix can be a very helpful tool to prepare for your meetings with a partner, even already before the first meeting. This matrix is basically a 3 x 3 matrix as the example below. In the matrix, you simply list the contributions you will bring to the partnership and the contributions you will expect from your partner. You list the needs you have for the partnership i.e. what do you need from this partnership for it to be successful. You assess what you feel your partner will need and list that too. Finally, you write down what the partnership will bring in terms of benefits, to you, your partner and the customer.

Contributions matrix

This matrix will create an overview of how the partnership is balanced and will help answer the question everyone will be looking for at first: “What’s in it for me?

The best way to use the matrix is to come prepared to the meeting by doing your homework. Fill in the matrix before the meeting with your view of the partnership, then discuss it with your partner and adjust where needed. It will help to create clarity quickly and it will help to build trust with your partner. Like in every other stage of a partnership creation, openness and transparency are needed for this document to become a joint document between you and your partner.

The matrix will when done right, easily turn into a joint document that will be one of the foundation layers for your partnership. If you are looking to build a light, but solid partnership without too many documents, this one should be one of the two basic documents. The other one being your business or action plan for the partnership.


This article is part of a series of articles extending upon the 25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances article.  These 25 tips have been rewritten and published in the eBook “25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances” that can be downloaded for free.


Check out some other articles

Alliance Masterclass