Strategic Alliance or Dalliance?

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

Let’s do something together.” I hear it all the time.  It’s all the rage, this obsession with networking, social media, and a business offshoot, strategic alliances.   When it works, it’s great – more people talking about your company and buying your products.  What we’ve discovered, however, is that it’s not a race to see who can have the most Facebook friends, or the most strategic alliances.


handshakeI’ve often wondered how bigamists pull it off – relationships take so much work.  If yours is truly a strategic alliance, and not just a swap of website backlinks for SEO purposes, there will be a commitment of time and resources to support that partnership.  If your relationships aren’t generating a profit, how many of these dalliances can you support?  Fortunately, you won’t require a shrink to get past these relationships – just a well-written alliance partner agreement.  Here is a short list of issues to consider when creating that agreement:


  1. Your Goals – Whether it’s access to new markets, new technology, or a joint venture to deliver a combined solution, understand what you and your ally each seek from the alliance and confirm the ally’s ability to deliver.
  2. Your Commitments – Clearly understand what you and the ally will each contribute to the alliance and any deadlines or funding requirements that must be met.
  3. Your Expectations – While harder to document, there should be a shared expectation in how the alliance will be organized and managed and in the communication style and frequency of both allies.
  4. Who Owns the Account? – In most situations, the customer wants a single point of contact and no confusion over who has ultimate responsibility for their satisfaction.  This means one ally will own the account, and generally, that ownership is valuable.
  5. The Money Trail – Clearly specify to all alliance partners and customers which ally is to be paid for value delivered.  Again, customers want to deal with a single vendor, but in some business transactions they have a responsibility as well to ensure all suppliers to their projects are paid.


Tip:  Base a new strategic alliance on a new sale.  Until there is money on the table, a strategic alliance can be a lot of talk, an expensive dalliance.

Have questions about working with Kaufman Business Law? This is the video to watch.