The truth behind lifestyle channel partners

When discussing the challenges of managing your partner relationships, many of you have heard me use the phrase “lifestyle partners”. What, you might ask, is a Lifestyle Partner? This is a business that has developed a very nice lifestyle for the owners and management of the business. These folks don’t rush in the morning to get to the office early and they leave at a reasonable time at the end of the day.

If they have some family or personal obligations it is no problem for them to leave the office for a few hours or even for a few days. I don’t want to give the impression that a lifestyle partner is always a bad partner to have because they can be a very good for you.

The challenge with lifestyle partners is that they are so comfortable in the lifestyle they have created that they are often not very willing to change. Lifestyle partners will potentially eat up your time without giving you the desired returns, which is why I recommend you exercise caution when managing a lifestyle partner.

As I describe these partners many of you are nodding your head, recognizing that you have one or more relationships like this. Again, this is not necessarily bad news. What you as a Channel Manager must decide is whether or not you are getting your return from the time investment you make. A lifestyle partner might agree with every suggestion you make about strategy and growth but neglect to execute on your recommendations. A good indicator is that the partner will not grant you access to the resources needed to execute the initiative.

A partner will only change if they decide they want to change. So before you invest too much time trying to change your partners, determine if they are a lifestyle partner and if they are, use your time wisely. Don’t waste it trying to change them when you could be spending it developing other partners.

I am not suggesting you don’t work with lifestyle partners, just find a balance between the time you invest in the relationship and the expected returns.

Roberta Fox is the Chairman & Chief Innovation Officer for Fox Group based in Newmarket, Ont. Fox was the former director at AT&T Solutions and a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting.

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