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    Talk about positioning the company in that many customers are looking for supplier partners and not just tools?

  1. Let me first offer a sound of warning. When a customer says they want to "partner" with you, look deep into their soul. Partnering is one of the most misused words—often If a large IDM says they want to be your partner they mean they want to buy your stuff cheaper and not pay attention to any of your needs. Don't set your company up in a partnering situation where it is going to drain resources and you lose money on the deal. You do want to partner with people, but be careful.
  2. The Quest Team has a major module on that in our "Key Semiconductor Account Selling and Management" program. Some words of wisdom are that it is an exploiter, exploitee relationship at this stage of the industry life cycle. We were consulting with a smaller firm being courted by Intel, which was very interested in what it could offer. When they exposed the details of a partnership, it was hopeless—it would have killed the company. It would have given the company to Intel which offered no flexibility in the details. It is very similar to what happened in the automobile industry partnerships. When the customer needed your product, it had to be dirt cheap, and when things got tight they didn't even know your name. That having been said, we need to continually seek partnerships that are mutually equitable.
  3. Although I agree with everything that has been said, I want to offer a positive note. Today, when a customer asks you to partner it means they see you as an on-going industry survivor. Otherwise they don't think you have snowballs chance in hell. Right now the major customers are deciding not to do business with hundreds of companies. These companies are being told to go find someone to acquire them.
  4. A part of your marketing plan ought to be a positioning strategy that makes you attractive, on a partnering level, to each key customers. All of the marketing and sales team needs to understand these positions and sell them.