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Sean Forkan is the general manager of Symantec Canada.
Sean Forkan is the general manager of Symantec Canada.

LEADERSHIP LAB

Why leaders need to strengthen their partnerships Add to ...

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

Business leaders often feel they need to do everything alone, but the truth is that partnerships are valuable and the health of these relationships are directly tied to the overall success of any company. Having strong financial partnerships, strategic suppliers and technology partners are instrumental in how business leaders can drive success.

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Having spent most of my professional career working in technology, I have come to understand the value of being focused and disciplined in improving and strengthening the partnerships that matter most.

Today, we hear about data breaches, security threats and privacy concerns affecting businesses and consumers daily. While we continue to improve our technology to help our customers navigate the current threats, it is important that we communicate with our partners how these technologies can translate into meaningful business outcomes for our joint clients. Delivering a great product is really only half the battle; it’s not enough to simply innovate.

As you launch new products you need to educate your clients and share knowledge so they know what’s changed, how that will help them, and to ensure implementation is done properly.

Like many organizations, we have a number of partners re-selling and distributing our products, acting as an extension of our team. Empowering our partners has helped us gain great customer insights and has helped open up new markets and territories for our business. By properly engaging with our partners, we are able to address the real challenges that our customers face through the implementation and the ongoing operation of a security or information technology management project.

Here are some useful ways to get the most out of your own business partnerships.

Invest in your partners

Partners are your allies and advocates in the marketplace, so getting in front of them is as important as getting in front of your customers. At Symantec, we are quickly moving to a model where our partners have access to the same training material, assessment tools, implementation methodologies and best practices that we provide to our employees. In fact, we now run many courses where our partners and employees are sitting in the same classrooms, listening and testing on the same course content. We feel this approach benefits our partners by ensuring they have access to the latest and greatest tools and materials. We also believe this will benefit our joint customers as we are able to deliver a seamless sales and delivery experience across Symantec and our key partners.

When your partners win, so do you. At Symantec, we’ve seen this first-hand over the past few years, as we’ve addressed the need for a revamped channel strategy and partner ecosystem. The changes we’ve made (and continue to make) are designed to make it easier for our partners to do business with us and build sustainable and profitable partner business models. We also prioritize our investments in time, personnel and funding on our key partners. Investing in the right partnerships will allow you to enter new markets, build on existing relationships, and in turn, drive your business forward.

Gain insights and feedback from partners

When these productive partnerships are in place, your organization will benefit greatly from partner insights about your joint customers. Don’t be afraid to let partners act as trusted advisers as they are often solving problems that are beyond the scope of just one vendor. Customers can seek their counsel to help adjust and evolve with new market trends. In our industry with the rise of mobility, the explosion of Big Data, and migration toward the cloud, partners ensure that we’re meeting the specific and complex needs of our customers through integrated multi-vendor solutions. We know the feedback we receive from our partners in how we conduct business and how we can improve our offerings is valuable. We ask for it readily.

The business software market can be complex and highly segmented. As a company, you should focus on improving your products and evolving them to meet the need and demand in the marketplace. But along with that, the evolution and improvement to your partner relationships need to keep pace. It not only helps you sell more, but will help you learn more about your own business and develop better products and ultimately deliver a more meaningful business outcome for your client.

Sean Forkan is the general manager of Symantec Canada (@SymantecCanada). Symantec (@Symantec) is a one of the world’s largest software companies, helping businesses and consumers protect and manage their information.

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