EA ProPanel
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Ecosystem Aces Pro Panel #3: Building Trust in Partnerships

Indu Manglotra

On the third edition of  the Ecosystem Aces-Pro Panel Chip Rodgers was joined by Ecosystem Pros to discuss the topic that is the most important when creating a solid and lasting alliance - trust.

Our panelists:

Watch these pro panelists in their discussion

Let’s get into the conversation!

Virtual Connection and Trust

Chip opened the conversation with a quote: “Trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets”.  

We all know that trust is the foundation of a successful partnership.   If people and companies do not trust each other, a partnership is doomed.  Due to the pandemic, working virtually has become the new normal, and many organizations are still continuing this trend.  So, the challenge we face is how to build and sustain trust with our partners in a virtual environment.

Partnering in a virtual environment has been a game changer. We now have more interactions with our teams, peers and partners on emails, phone calls and the occasional video conference compared to the good old days (prior to covid) when we had an opportunity to meet with people physically. The physical cues to which we had grown accustomed, have been diminished through virtual connections.

Face-to-face meetings are beneficial when trying to create new partnerships.  And because face-to-face encounters often aren't possible with virtual constraints, it’s beneficial to find new ways to establish trust through our behaviours and actions

One seemingly simple way to do this: keep your word. According to our panelists, it is the best way to gain and maintain the trust of important business partners with whom you have little chance to interact in person. Doing exactly what you say and what you're going to do can help you and your partner develop a strong sense of mutual trust. Adopt and implement the principle of “actions speak louder than words”. This will support your case that you are reliable and follow through on your promises.

When establishing relationships with new partners, be upfront about your intent and communicate very clearly.  There are times in any partnership when you will need to engage in difficult conversations. State your intentions clearly, speak kindly, and let others speak as well.  This will help to set expectations, and again, build trust.

Communicating Goals and Objectives

One of the most important principles in establishing a partnership is to express objectives clearly and promote transparency with your partners.  When companies enter into a partnership with each other, both have objectives in mind. In order to ensure alignment it’s important to communicate these objectives to our partners as well as to understand and be mindful of your partner’s goals, in addition to your own.  A partnership goes in both directions and there should be mutual benefit.

Also, be specific about the intent behind the partnership, and show that you have viable reasons to sign the partnership agreement with this company. Discuss and communicate the tasks and processes very clearly from the beginning and ensure the parties involved understand it clearly.  If the goals are not clear and aligned from the start, it could become a challenge to build trust down the line.

It's crucial to comprehend and talk about the benefits that each party will receive from working together. Regular meetings to monitor progress and determine whether everyone's KPIs are being reached are also an excellent idea.

To ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and constraints throughout the cycle, one of the most important rules to establish is clear expectations for the compensation plan.

Compensation is the key to bringing everyone onto the same page, and ultimately, supporting your mutual customers.  After all, that is why we are selling with the ecosystem - to support the customer.

Navigating Cultural Differences

Respect for one another's cultures is a crucial consideration. It's a good idea to educate yourself with other countries' cultures when dealing with partners from other nations.  It will help to build a better understanding and rapport with them.

Do some research about the business culture and operations of the partner companies if they are from a different region. To make sure your assumptions are accurate, be sure to ask questions and communicate clearly.  For example, some cultures, like Western Central Europe in particular, take their annual vacations around August. When people take that time off, not only do we have to respect the cultural norms, we also have to adjust our expectations with deliverables and timeline. By making adjustments, we can work within the limitations and the various cultural dynamics that exist with our partners and clients.

Overcoming Challenges

Working with a partner comes with both rewards and challenges. Like all relationships, there are likely to be times in a partnership when a miscommunication or conflict will arise.  Knowing how to handle disagreements and conflicts is critical and, when handled well, can actually strengthen your mutual trust as you emerge from the other side of the challenge.  Setting up ground rules can also help reduce potential future conflict.

All of the panelists agreed that being open and honest with partners when faced with challenges goes a long way to building trust.  It is important to acknowledge the situation and support partners in resolving issues. Demonstrating to your partner your concern for their success and helping them overcome challenges can actually be trust building in long term relationships. Taking action to resolve problems so that everyone feels heard and to reach a resolution protects your relationship and business.

Building Trust When Working Through Marketplaces

Our pro-panelists believe that marketplaces are transactional and have an impact on the ability to develop trust with partners and customers. A marketplace is used for transactional purchases that often don’t involve the sales team.  When dealing with transactions taking place through a marketplace, there often isn’t anything built naturally into the process for developing trust with your partner. So it’s even more important and will take additional effort for partner professionals to build strong relationships with partners and customers, regardless of how they are acquired.


Like all partnerships, business partnerships are built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. The initial phases of partnerships are critical for long term trust and mutual value. You must establish trust with a partner from the outset of your interactions in order to create a long-lasting and fulfilling partnership.

Thanks to Dan, Tony, and Dede for joining and contributing such outstanding ideas and experiences to this session of Ecosystem Aces Pro Panel!

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About Indu Manglotra

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