How to Kill a Partnership


Spotify and Starbucks, Aston Martin and 007…

Some partnerships are destined to succeed, and some pairings just don’t make sense. Sometimes, a partnership agreement sits gathering dust, without yielding a single new opportunity for either party. So, when it comes to partnerships, what makes the difference between success and failure?



There has to be something that plants that first seed of possibility, something that makes one or both parties initially contemplate the possibility of partnering. It could be products or services that complement each other, possibly a shared customer-base or target market. In order to take the conversation further, shared values and corporate culture are essential to the foundation of a strong relationship.

Where could things go wrong? Too much synergy, not enough differentiation – a significant overlap of services could lead to a competitive environment, making division of new business a more likely scenario than collaboration.



If one party is far more invested than the other, it will only lead to frustration. Parties must be equally matched in terms of engagement and proactivity, and must benefit from the relationship equally for the best chance of success. The best partners understand that “your success is my success.”

Prepare yourself for failure if: One party puts little/no effort into building the partnership. One party stands to gain far more than the other. One party is only interested in “what’s in it for them.”



Reciprocity is fundamental. There has to be trust & transparency on both sides in terms of client introductions, sharing of strategic information (pricing points, intellectual property, etc.) for any partnership to have any chance of being fruitful.

What to watch out for: Unwillingness to share leads, make introductions or discuss new opportunities. A sense of being kept at arm’s length from projects that have been discussed as collaborations, withholding of information, meetings or project timelines. Feeling more like a competitor than a partner!


Education & Understanding

Every party involved in the partnership must understand the reason for it, the synergy that sparked it –from the salesforce and marketing team to the C-Suite. If an employee doesn’t understand how the companies complement each other, how can they believe in the partnership or be expected to work towards mutual success?

This feels like an under-valued aspect of new partnerships; it’s important for both organisations to take the time to educate employees about the real, tangible opportunities, rather than throw two departments together and expect results. Without buy-in from key stakeholders at every level, expect the partnership to die a slow death.


Our Partner Network

Winterhawk has built an extensive partner network, with like-minded people who are equally invested in the relationships. Project challenges have been resolved by working together, and successes have been shared – but it’s not just success that motivates us to seek out new partnership opportunities. We seek out opportunities which will benefit our customers and help to strengthen their system security.