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Mary Schmidt Business Builder & Renovator


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The Three Most Abused Words in Business

Mary Schmidt

Feb 22, 2017

In no particular order:

1. Partner.

As in, “We want to partner with you, Mr./Ms. Customer.”  Calls to mind a meeting I once had, in a Fortune 50 gig, with one of our top sales executives.  He had great fun (snort, snort), “Yes, we want to be YOUR PARTNER, Mr. Customer. Give us all your money!”

“Partner” implies that both parties in the transaction are in it for more than dollars or that single transaction. There’s nothing wrong with being an operationally excellent company who excels at transactional selling. The problem arises when the company’s talk doesn’t match its walk. Don’t yadder about partnering with me, for example, if I can’t even get a live person on the phone (much less find a contact phone number on the web site.) 

(The abuse of this word will also send your attorneys into conniptions.)

2. Strategic. 

3. Alliance.

As in, “Our plan is to form strategic alliances with market sector leaders.”  To accomplish what? Will the big boys be interested? Will they have skin in the game? Working with established, reputable, qualified companies can speed your time to market and give you instant credibility.  The key words here, however, are “established, “reputable” and “qualified.” 

Further, what’s “strategic” about the relationship? If nothing else, the culture of the the “market leader” may not fit with yours and their growth strategy may be totally different (or consist of “allying” with smaller potential competitors and stripping them for parts, so to speak. Always, always do your own due diligence on a potential partner or ally. Look for lawsuits, etc. I recently did a very quick, basic Google of a company and found an SEC investigation, the subsequent SEC judgment and several more civil lawsuits alleging fraud.) 

Oh, and that “alliance” word is also frequently abused when talking about/to customers as well. An ally isn’t forced to - for example - agree to a 42-page T&C to download a single app…:)


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