Having a strong Strategic Partner network can make the difference in success and failure for your small business.
Establishing a network of businesses that have similar customers as yours but that is not a competitor, can help you maximize your marketing budget, time, and resources.
A strategic partner can be anyone from a fellow business colleague to a distributor or even clients. It’s not even about the products in some cases. If you have a Vision Alignment with another business, that can be enough to establish a symbiotic win-win-win relationship. If you gain something from the relationship and your partner gains something from the relationship and the clients gain something from your strategic partnership then they win also. It’s what business is all about. I even have relationships with “friendly” competitors that do something similar but for different clients and vice versa.
What a strong strategic partnership can do for you.
The more people that are selling you is always better. You can’t be all places at all times. Not everyone has the same connections. With more connections, there are more opportunities. Also, there are collaborative opportunities. Rather than hosting a trade booth on your own, why not share the space and the cost with a few strategic partners. If you running a direct mail campaign, make the piece a little bigger and include some strategic partners on the piece and share the cost. Collaborate on ideas with your strategic partners. They also make great accountability partners.
The big thing with strategic partnerships is it has to be reciprocal.
You also have to have the same vision, values, and mission. Without cohesive ideology, the partnership is out of balance and eventually will break-up. Sometimes these breakups can be amicable sometimes they can be nasty.
When approaching someone as a strategic partner have these questions in mind.
- How can I benefit from working with you?
- How can you benefit from working with me?
- What do we have in common?
- Who are your clients/customers?
- Where are they?
- Do we have a similar business model?
- Are there clients you don’t like or feel you can’t work with that are target clients for me?
- Do I offer services that you need?
- Do you offer services I need?
- Are you looking to grow your business? How large?
- How many clients do you have now?
- What kind of relationship do you have with your clients?
- Do you have other strategic partners? Who are they?
- Do you have other strategic partners like me? What is my Unique Sales Position?
- Your Unique Sales Position?
- Type of clients are you looking for?
- Best form of marketing?
- Do you have a resource or links page on your website that I could be on?
- Do you want to me on my website?
- Do you have literature/support that explains your business and products?