The Business Relationship Productivity Imperative with Mark Smith

business relationship productivity visual

Multiple businesses were crippled by the pandemic in 2020. Millions were left unemployed due to the recession. Businesses are also operating with limited financial resources. 

Amid all the chaos, the one thing that we can’t replace is time. 

Businesses have to ensure that they’re strategically partnering with businesses and getting the most out of these relationships. 

Unfortunately, ALTITUDE found that business partnerships are less than 50% productive or effective. In addition, EMC declared that 60% of their time was spent on non-objective or growth-focused tasks. This data shows that businesses aren’t getting the bang for their buck when it comes to partnerships.

Now how do you improve business relationship productivity? In this blog post, we’ll discuss the advice we received from CEO & Founder of ALTITUDE Mark Smith.


How ALTITUDE manages business relationships?

ALTITUDE uses a process called Holistic Integrated Planning (HIPⓒ) to enable structured planning sessions with its strategic partners. 

Their modules cover the following:

This process has helped generate over $2 billion of incremental pipeline and over $500 million in terms of closed deals in 36 months.

The secret sauce to their success? The art of following-up

Why following-up is crucial for business relationships?

To drive successful business relationships, you have to understand why partners don’t execute the action. Not knowing can lead to anger or frustration. 

This is the reality when it comes to working with different personalities and different personas. When trying to implement changes, it’s a challenge to make people act differently from the rest of the group. 

A lot of ALTITUDE’s customers start with a great vision, according to Mark Smith. Later on, management declares that more structure is needed. 

In this scenario, follow-ups provide the perfect solution and it can help business track progress and implement a structure. However, it’s often hampered by fear and a lack of accountability. 

How can leaders make teams productive?

The challenge for leaders is to make teams think and act differently to implement productive changes to business relationships. Here’s how you can get it done.

1. Drive performance with influential figures

Leverage influential figures as the base of your performance and change-related initiatives. Tasks run smoothly when key influencers are on board.  

2. Map stakeholders

Time spent on plans that will never be executed is costly and expensive. Never leave business to chance. Getting the best outcome involves mapping stakeholders and ensuring key figures support the initiatives of your plan. 

3. Accountability to establish a winning culture

If you can establish a winning culture, then it becomes self-sustaining. 

Based on Mark Smith’s experience, Oracle has the most stimulating and effective culture. If businesses can get the culture right, that means that people will do the right thing even without a push. 

4. Extreme ownership

Establishing a winning culture entails extreme ownership and accountability. 

Individuals must take responsibility and be willing to admit what they could have done differently. Without commitment or a clear plan of action, focused and driven people would hesitate to call out their peers on actions and behaviors that are counterproductive to the team. 

Business partnering productivity (BPP) formula 

Now that we know the measures that could speed up productivity, how do we measure success?

Mark Smith shared the business partnering productivity formula. 

This formula states that a businesses’ partnering velocity comes from sales velocity to the power of one team execution. 

In the image below, the formula for one team execution suggests that sales velocity is based on the number of opportunities times the size of those opportunities divided by the length of the sales cycle. 

To put it into perspective, businesses have to ask these questions:

All of these questions are a part of leadership. If a business improves its one-time execution, then it will ultimately increase sales velocity. 

After all, creating opportunities and making it succeed as quickly and as lucratively as possible—is what sales is all about. 

Change model – ask the question?

Implementing measures that will lead to productivity entails implementing new rules, which brings us to the change model. 

All leaders have to adapt and incite change amongst partners who don’t think like them. The good news is people are willing to change when it’s reinforced. 

Ultimately, this brings us back to the importance of following-up and using a BRM (Business Relationship Management) tool to get the desired results from our partnerships. 

Optimizing partnerships

Next, is to optimize and measure the quality of partnerships. 

The spider diagram below highlights 12 points that can help businesses measure the quality of their partnerships. 

Often, businesses enter into partnerships thinking that it’ll be good, but there are fundamental problems lying around. Hence, Mark Smith shared ALTITUDE’s spreadsheet that’s used for assessing each relationship. 

Managing differences in culture 

Most of the elements in a partnership can be solved through the planning process, but culture is the most difficult to change. 

To put it into perspective, organizations are either a dog or a cat.  

Dog-like organizations love short-term partnerships. They pursue relationships quickly and partner as soon as possible. Shortly after, they seek more businesses to partner with.

For example, product-oriented organizations that drive revenue monthly and quarterly are on the hunt for short-term gains and quick results. In contrast, cat-like organizations pursue long-term partnerships and tend to be stealthy. They stalk their target and consider plenty of factors because they’re in it for the long-haul. 

For example, a management consulting firm typically looks for long-term service-based engagements. 

Just like a cat and dog, these two types of organizations will not get along.

So it’s important to know—is your organization like a dog or a cat?

If we discover that our partners have a fundamentally different culture, then we have to be brave enough to walk away from these partnerships.

At the very least, we can set minimum expectations to keep the relationship going. 

If you’re working with a short-term partner, create short-term milestones so that the company can satisfy its requirements. Conversely, long-term deals have to be engineered into the partnership cycle too. 

Managing partnerships = Having critical conversations

Having productive partnerships requires achieving consensus to be successful. 

This entails initiating and managing a series of critical conversations in order to market together. Be brutally honest and realistic about your situation. Make it easy by listing the outcomes that you require for successful business relationships and have critical conversations to ensure proper implementation. 

Re-watch the webinar here


By Frie Pétré