For small business, building and maintaining a strong, powerful sales team can be quite costly and take up a lot of time. One extremely effective sales growth strategy is to establish partnerships with local businesses that benefit one another. This tactic has been practiced for eons, and it's greatest by-product are new sales opportunities.
Many business owners attempt to take on sales themselves, removing them from what they excel at which is providing the services they are selling. This is a big problem, especially when you are a new business. How else are you going to get any visibility, if you don’t have someone strictly focused on doing just that?
A Strategic Alliance is described as:
These are formed so both companies can mutually benefit in multiple ways:
- Generating new leads
- Sharing business opportunities
- Sharing industry ideas
- Sharing marketing strategies
- Target specific markets
- Offer a more diverse service than their competitors
When you develop a bound with another company and begin working together, you are essentially doubling your sales team by giving your company another voice to represent it; ultimately doubling your chances of winning more clients.
Choose an alliance that is good for both parties
When considering a partnership with another company, there are several things you should consider. Most importantly, be sure they are critical the success of your business goals or objectives. Remember, they will be representing you in the eyes of the client, and vice versa; take special consideration in who you are choosing. A few things to consider are:
- Reputation- Who are they and what are they known for? Have they been a positive force in your industry?
- Opportunity- What are they bringing to the table and what benefits do they offer your clients? Will this alliance make you a stronger player in your industry?
- Social Awareness- How are they perceived by their employees? By the community? By their competitors?
- Cost- Are they in line with your price structure? Can your clients afford their services as well as they can afford yours?
It is essential when developing these alliances to understand which of these criteria the other party views as strategic. If either partner misunderstands the other’s expectation of the alliance, it is likely to fall apart.
They have your back!
When choosing an alliance trust is perhaps the most important factor . This is because you are sharing clients and in some instances you may be able to serve a client on your own and turn your back on your partner, or vice versa. This can create resentment and ruin future deals.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to have a strong emphasis on communication among one another. Share ideas, discuss options and if one partner can offer a better solution than support them.
To ensure transparency, have a member of each party be present during key moments that include:
- The introduction
- Key business meetings
- Logistical discussions
That way there is never an opportunity for the other "partner' to feel “left out” and start second guessing their partner.
Understand your Partners Community Involvement
Another point to consider is your new partner's social responsibility policy. Do they have one? Are they connected with the community in some positive way? If you opt to donate 10% to a local charity will they support your decision?
Join forces and work together to make a positive difference in the community. By doing so, you can make a greater impact on those you serve and be viewed as positive influencers working together to help others.
Crush your Competition
Strategic alliances allow your organization an opportunity to widen your reach and offer services you had not been able to offer in the past. This puts you ahead of the competition and when you're asked, "What makes you different from all the other______ in the area?", you can share your story and discuss the extra value you now offer. By serving your clients in areas they weren’t expecting, you can improve your chances of keeping that client around for a long time.
Here are some examples of a few well-known strategic alliances:
Starbucks/Barnes and Noble-1993 Barnes and Noble started allowing Starbucks to put coffee bars in their stores.
- Apple/AT&T- partnered together along with Motorola, Sony and Ericson to bring you the I-phone.
- Northwest Airlines/Dutch airline KLM-1993 partnered together and saved both airlines from going bankrupt
Open your eyes, these alliances are everywhere!
A strong alliance gives your company a chance to grow in ways you never planned on and potentially turning your small business venture into the business of your dreams.