Over 80% of Fortune 1000 companies have key partnerships to help them grow faster. However, over 50% are unsatisfied with their business partnerships. How can entrepreneurs create breakthrough partnerships from the beginning of the relationship?
I have been involved in doing strategic partnerships for mid-market businesses since 1985. Over the years, the way we partner has changed, but the foundational elements of what makes a good partnership have not. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned that can help you increase your success in developing stronger partnerships in today’s business environment.
I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Why I should do business partnerships? I’m part of the 50% who has been unsatisfied with the quality and results of my partnering activities.” Today, I share why partnerships are critical to your business today and as you continue growing to the next level. Next week, I share several implementable ideas that make sure you’re investing time in only great partnerships and alliances.
Business partnerships offer midmarket privately held businesses an ability to achieve advantages in size, scope, and acceleration in their critical markets. In the past, many of your clients were either local or regional businesses. Over the years, as your markets have grown, so has the competition. Many of our organizations’ new business models have made it critical that we continue growing and building market share so that we can replace the customers we may lose to low cost competition.
We need to increase how we reach our best potential customers. We need to make sure that we have access to key customers faster. Target marketing is becoming more critical to even the simplest family businesses. If you have a good product or service for a targeted client market, we must be able to reach them earlier in their decision making process. We need to earn the customer’s trust and make sure we are shaping these conversations early in the new product cycle.
Successful partnering should provide you with increased market penetration. It should also allow you to invest your resources where there is a greater chance of success in the markets. Early adopters are playing a more critical role in your buyer’s decision criteria by sharing the success they have had across many different media. Many of the clients I work with today tell me that their key clients are better educated than their business development team on the potential advantages a product or service offers to their business. We have entered an era where your sales leaders must know what’s going on in a client’s organization earlier and more often. Having partners providing you with a better understanding of what is going on in their client organization is critical to your success.
Partnerships should be looked at as opportunities to develop new markets at lower cost. Today, involving the customer within your new product development cycle allows you to reduce costs on creating new products and services. Partners can provide critical insights into other products and services that their clients are interested in that they would not like to provide to them. I’ve found many of my partners less likely to develop new products and services for their better clients. Many times, they go out and find new clients rather than developing stronger relationships with their current customer base.
I believe this is an unintended consequence of how their sales compensation programs are structured. New clients pay the sales professionals more than nurturing their current clients. Many smart organizations are just starting to develop client development systems leveraging their inside sales and customer service professionals to help grow their share of the current clients’ business.
Finally, partnerships can provide you a better understanding of where your market is going and where you might want to position your business in the future. Having great partners provides you with a wider understanding of what is going on in your market, both locally and beyond.
Next week, we talk about how to begin developing great partnerships and how you can take advantage of several simple ideas that I’ve used to help both my organization and my clients grow their business faster and at lower cost than you can imagine. See you next week.