You’ve been in business a while and things are going pretty good, eh? You’ve got your marketing, products, services, website and everything else and life is good. But what about your strategic partners? No, I’m not talking about your golf buddies who throw you a bone on occasion (though that’s still appreciated) or your spouse’s friend who said she’d post your company’s info on Facebook. I’m talking about other businesses that are complimentary to yours - businesses that, in some way, serve the same demographic. If you already have a solid network of partners that meet your wildest expectations, congratulations! This will be a refresher for you (or you can get back to playing Farmville). If you’re not sure who your strategic partners are or aren’t sure if the ones you have are any good, please read on.
One thing to note before continuing is the key word “reciprocity”. Partnerships must be reciprocal and benefits received should sooner than later become benefits given! Otherwise, your greatest allies might eventually disappear, or worse yet, join the opposition. Let’s take a look at why developing strategic partnerships is critical to the long term success of small to mid-size businesses.
#1 – Networking
The first benefit you will receive in your search for strategic partners is simply meeting new people! By meeting with partner prospects or seeking some out at networking groups, you are directly and personally building your brand. It’s highly likely that only a small percentage of those you meet will eventually become partners but that doesn’t mean you can’t luck out on a quick referral (which we’ll get to later). Either way, there are virtually no downsides to getting out there and meeting new people.
#2 – Reputation
By properly vetting your partner prospects and ensuring they are at the top of their game in their respective fields, you’ll improve your own reputation! The formula is simple. Their great reputation + your great reputation = happier and more long term clients.
#3 - Professional Growth
Working with professionals in other industries exposes you to new and sometimes better ideas. While sharing business information with partner prospects, you might get some valuable nuggets of info on how they handle their business operations, client relationships or financial matters. Being exposed to new methods in business, be they great or awful, is a reward in itself.
#4 - Increased Value
“Sure Mr. Client, I may not provide that service but I can certainly recommend some companies that do.” The more you can say this to your clients the better! Once you’ve found a solid group of strategic business partners, your value to your clients increases as you ultimately become a resource for all their needs.
It’s a no-brainer. Great strategic partnerships provide you with a regular stream of referrals. If strong enough, you may even grant each other exclusivity within each other’s respective markets. However, there’s a reason referrals are listed last here. When it comes to partnerships, it's common to focus so heavily on referrals that you lose sight of the wonderful benefits listed above. Engaging in strategic partnerships arbitrarily only stands to cheapen your partnership experience and business's reputation. Be patient, learn about each partner prospect and do some research on the happiness of their current client base. Both you and your clients will be glad you did!
What are some other benefits you see to developing strategic partnerships? Do share!
For those in Los Angeles interested in becoming a strategic partner with an IT firm, click here to learn more about strategic partnership.
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