By now, you probably know I have a thing about words.
Specifically, my thing is about how words are used and misused, often intentionally to obfuscate the real meaning.
Today, I want to briefly examine the word partner and what it means.
What is a partner?
Here are a few official definitions:
either of a pair of people engaged together in the same activity.
a person or group that takes part with another or others in doing something.
any of a number of individuals with interests and investments in a business or enterprise, among whom expenses, profits, and losses are shared.
From these different definitions, I think two words do the heaviest lifting: together and share.
I do not believe that any real partnership can exist when one party is doing all of the work. That would fail to be a partnership and instead be more of a caregiver or sponsor relationship. Partnerships require collaboration, care, and a shared vision for the future.
Now let’s make it tangible…
Some of my partners
The most important partner in my life is my wife. She and I raise children together, share in the responsibilities of co-habitation, support one another through difficult times and share joy during the wonderful times.
The other most important partner in my life is my business partner in Super Productive, Sarah Ohanesian. She and I build a company together, share in the responsibilities of delivering services to our clients, support one another by bringing our unique gifts to the table to accomplish our shared goals for growing the company.
I’m an Asana Certified Pro and official services partner. Asana shares leads with me, gave me a free business workspace to experiment with, a myriad of resources are provided to help me master the intricacies of the platform, and I have a representative I can meet with to discuss feedback and feature requests. On my side, I advocate for Asana and help our clients to master the system, upgrade, and acquire new licenses, leading to retention and growth for Asana.
I have many more partners that I can think of and all of them are folx or entities that have a stake in the relationship and seek to put into the relationship to a similar extent as I do.
What is not a partnership
Not long ago, Sarah and I were accepted into the Monday.com Partner Program. They had reached out to us and invited us to join. We accepted and were quickly accepted into the program. However, unlike some of the other partnership programs I’ve been invite to or joined, this one was a little different.
There was no partner directory, we got no profile, we had no opportunity to work together to improve the product. No leads were sent to us. Instead of a fully unlocked account to use and try every feature, we were offered an extended trial which we would then have to pay them for at the end of the trial. We came to find out that “partnership” in this context meant only one thing: we help them to sell licenses for their platform.
So…sales. It meant sales…for them, exclusively.
Within a month of actually getting into our account, we got an email noting that we hadn’t yet sent them a lead and it was jeopardizing our standing as a partner.
If memory serves me, the commission structure was 15% of licenses sold. So let’s unpack this “partnership” offer.
Let’s say we find a 100 person company that doesn’t have a project management tool yet or is thinking of switching, and we get them to buy Pro licenses for the entire company. That would be $19,200 in revenue for Monday and from that, they would pay us $2,880 leaving them with $16,320.
So if we managed to close 10 of those opportunities, which even at a 50% close rate would mean finding 20 opportunities, I’d earn roughly as much as a barista. Meanwhile, Monday would keep $163,200.
So, to be clear, we mutually decided that this partnership was not a good fit. While we still advise clients on how to setup and optimize their Monday.com, we do so without the official title of partner — which really means sales person.
Partnerships can be amazing
My partnership with my wife is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.
My partnership with Sarah is among the best things that’s ever happened to me professionally.
My partnership with Asana has been mutually beneficial to the tune of 6-figures for us, and likely 7- figures for them.
When you find two groups willing to work together toward mutual success, you have the ingredients for a great partnership.
But if you just want people to sell your stuff, or you’re looking for the newest euphemism for your associates you pay minimum wage and withhold equity from…that is not a partnership, and you should really stop using that word.