Tip 7: Ensure a three-way value proposition

The value proposition is where it all starts, or at least where it all should start. Without value proposition, there is no room for a healthy partnership. You will need to have an idea of the value proposition before approaching a partner. The value proposition may develop as the partnership gets together. After all: your partner will also bring value to the value proposition. However, you do need to have a view on the value proposition before starting a partnership.

Many people talk about win-win propositions and in two-way relationships that is correct. Both parties need to win as a result of the value proposition. However, the value proposition in a partnership needs to deliver value for the three parties involved: your partner, the customer and your own organization. Hence it needs to be a WIN-WIN-WIN value proposition.

It is important to be clear about the value proposition from all three angles. The value for all partners needs to be in balance for a good success. Balance in this case does not necessarily mean that it is equal for all parties. There can be agreed that one party gains more value from the partnership than another. However, when that is the case, it is also in line with the contributions of the partner to the partnership. Often I compare the balance of a value proposition to a tripod used for photography. If one of the legs of the tripod is unstable, the photo is destined to fail.

Defining the value proposition is an exercise with multiple phases to it. First, during your initial phase, you will determine the value proposition as you would like to see it. It will be very hard to find a partner without an idea of the value proposition. Secondly, during your conversation with the partner and while designing the alliance, you will need to refine the value proposition.

When the alliance is launched and in progress, it is also important to review the value proposition every now and then. Situations may change, markets may change and perhaps insights change now you and your partner get to know each other better. It is good practice to review the value proposition during the existence of the alliance and during this review new opportunities are often being discovered.


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.


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