The first step in the sales process is prospecting. A great strategy for both prospecting and for moving prospects through the sales process is developing Strategic Alliances. Here are some tips to help you form and leverage Strategic Alliances:
1. Identify potential Strategic Alliance partners
The best partners for a successful strategic alliance are businesses with related specialties that sell to the same decision makers (target market). Any size business can form a strategic alliance. For example, an ergonomic specialist and a designer can have a great strategic alliance. By seeing how design is affecting functionality, the ergonomic specialist can recommend some design solutions based on education that the designer has provided. To act on the recommendation, they have to bring in the designer. Similarly, the designer, when doing a design, can bring in the ergonomic specialist to review how these people live and use the space to ensure the design incorporates functionality consistently with their behaviours.
How do you find these partners? First of all, ask yourself, “Who do I know today that’s in a contingent business to mine,” and, “Who else has the same target market as I do and sells to my primary decision maker?”
If no names come to mind right now, then consider these options for finding strategic alliance partners:
- Attend networking functions to find related businesses
- Read your local business paper to identify people in adjoining businesses
- Ask your customers about other suppliers they work with and respect
Remember, all you need to get started is just one other business to partner with. You can add more strategic partners over time.
2. Get to know each other
You need to invest time upfront to really understand each other’s product/service offering. Also, since your reputation is at stake, when you bring in someone else, you need to be confident in that person’s ability to do the work, take care of the account, act ethically, and so on.
Don’t rush this process or you may be sorry.
3. Pick an initial project to work on together
Do something low risk, like put on a joint seminar. It is also a good chance for you to see each other in action. In doing this type of project, divide up the work according to your expertise.
4. Expand the relationship
Once you become comfortable, you can begin to do more together. For example:
- You can begin to confidently bring each other into meetings with clients. You know that your work only covers certain aspects of your customers’ needs and that you now have trusted resources to help out with other areas.
- You can co-market in other ways. One way is called Host Beneficiary. In this relationship, the host invites their clients to receive some service or product or information from the strategic alliance partner (the beneficiary), who then has the opportunity to be introduced to a new population of prospects.
- You can feature each other in your e-newsletters, websites and blogs, etc.
If you’re still trying to go it alone out there, consider forming a Strategic Alliance with other companies. If you choose the right partners, it will make a huge difference in your business.
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