The 5 dysfunctions of a Business Relationship

5 dysfuntions pyramid

Creating commitment is one of the most heard challenges when talking to companies selling through indirect sales channels.

Despite the increased availability of data and tools, companies and account managers still struggle to obtain powerful business relationships leading to unpredictable results.



Here are three of the main frustrations companies experience in their partner relationship:

  • Long term engagement is unpredictable.
  • Strategic choices are not followed.
  • Marketing material is not used towards the end customer.

I often hear sales managers and account managers say: “the only thing our sales partners are interested in, is in their commission”. Of course, every entrepreneur or company is interested in maximizing their profits but this doesn’t mean that a successful business relationship is only based on providing the highest commission. It would make the job of an account manager quickly redundant.

5 reasons your channel partners turn silent

case study visual

Based on Patrick Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions of a team, you can apply the following building blocks to increase the commitment from your intermediaries and make your relationship more predictable.

  1. Create trust: show vulnerability towards your partner, your company cannot be the best in everything. Be clear about your positioning and your added value.
  2. Fear of conflict: once trust is established, look for a comfortable confrontation with your partner. Talk about the battles you lost in the past and be open about each other’s long-term business objectives. Look for the debate.
  3. Lack of commitment: commitment is about agreeing to not agree. Ask commitment on the debated topics and confirm -in writing- where you agree and where you don’t.
  4. Avoidance of accountability: receiving a written agreement or disagreement is the only way to take the relationship to a next level. It’s a powerful tool to confront and to make sure both parties can ensure the right action.
  5. Inattention to results: make sure to celebrate success or debate failures, this again will reinforce the level of trust.

What are your challenges in establishing a successful relationship with your intermediaries or strategic accounts? Leave a comment below or read our last blog on Objective Setting Done Right.

Written by : Frie Pétré