by Paul Martin

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by Paul Martin


After my ill-advised trip, I still scoffed at people who I thought ‘over-planned’ vacations. But, as I started planning more, my goal became sharper: I want memories from the trip. Since setting that goal, old goals dimmed in importance. Your Partner Journey goal may shift a bit, but it must always help you grow business support in a replicable way.

Goal: Grow Business Support

Begin with the end in mind–and the organizational end likely occurs with senior management or board level review of annual organizational income. The chief measurement for business support success compares Budget vs. Actual (B vs. A) or Year-Over-Year (YOY) growth. Those ‘high-altitude’ measurements help plan operational budgets.

But to see more actionable info, include three powerful measurements of growing business support: Win, Keep and Lift:

  • Win: How many new businesses now support your organization?
  • Keep: How many businesses from last year continue supporting your organization this year?
  • Lift: How many businesses spend more now than last year?

Those three metrics serve your goal to grow business support in a replicable way. Think of these as fuel gauge s for your journey–to make sure there is enough fuel available to power your trip/goal.

So now that we have our goal and some ways to help us see that we’re moving toward it, we work on making it dependable and replicable.

Replicable Business Support

Back to our road trip illustration, newly licensed teen drivers are eight times more likely to bend-a-fender within 90 days of getting their license. Were you part of the teenage bend-a-fender crowd? Ugh. I was.

Outliers: The Story of Success-book, Partner JourneyAs people get more ‘reps behind the wheel’, their growing driving experience reduces accident rates.

It’s repetition that shows talent and brings out skill in business development. In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell shows that practicing gives experience that makes an impact.

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

You only get good when you do something the same way enough times to:

  1. Know the process
  2. Improve the process
  3. Communicate clearly where you are in the process

That’s why creating a replicable way–a system–of gaining business support is vital for your success.

Components of Your Partner Journey Map

Again, let’s begin with the end in mind. Ideally, your business support Partner Journey’s final step is a Renewal. That is, your client (sponsor or underwriter) becomes delighted with your organization so that they renew for many years to come. If we use a six-step journey, we now have Stage 6: Renewal.

So what steps do we take before Step 6: Renewal? Let’s work backwards from there.

5. Launch. Step 5 could be the Launch of our sponsorship, schedule or service. The way we launch–and the way we serve after the launch–set the stage for a Renewal.

4. Agreement. Step 4 sets up the Launch by making sure our Agreement clearly (and briefly) outlines roles and responsibilities.

3. Proposal. Step 3 recommends the actions you believe should happen to receive a renewal.

2. Partner Opportunity Interview. Step 2 yields the information you need to put together your Proposal.

1. Lead. This first step represents your initial business connection with a potential partner.

We just reverse engineered your Partner Journey and, now looking forward, it might look something like this:

Map Partner Journey


We’ll dive into each of these steps in other articles but stop for a second to read it aloud from left to right. It is like points along the journey you are driving with your prospective business partner.  That’s why The Partner Journey resembles a map: we want to get to a destination and we’ll take steps to get there.

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