What does it take to grow your business through strategic partnerships?

Many businesses can greatly benefit from strategic alliances, otherwise known as strategic partnerships. A common example of such alliances is when a company sells their product through distribution channels instead of using an in-house sales team.

These partnerships give companies the opportunity to increase revenue by expanding into new markets and reaching new customers. Companies can even use many different types of channels to maximize their profit.

The importance of fostering partnerships

If your business commits to investing time and resources when first forming partnerships, you will increase your chances of creating a successful, long-lasting relationship. Many companies make the mistake of just passively creating partnerships. This attitude and lack of commitment has the potential to harm everyone involved.

A guideline to establishing successful partnerships

It is important to understand that the most successful strategic partnerships are structured, have accountability, and encourage collaboration. Below you will find eight steps that you can use as a guideline to help you establish new relationships, and keep your existing ones functioning effectively.

1. Talk it out.

Hold a strategic planning meeting while in the process of forming the alliance. The prime stakeholders of both companies should be present. You should also invite people from all relevant teams, such as sales, marketing, finance, and product management. This type of meeting starts the relationship off on positive footing and encourages everyone to share their ideas, concerns, and expectations.

2. Do the math.

Both parties need to agree on both the target revenue and the benefits each will receive.

3. Lay out a marketing strategy.

You should develop a partner marketing plan that clearly identifies the needs of both companies. It should outline all the costs, roles, and responsibilities. Each company can then create a team to refine and implement the plan.

4. Investigate.

It is important to take the time to determine what kind of training is needed for all of your various functional teams, such as sales, marketing, and customer service. Some teams may even require ongoing training, not just a one-time education.

5. Lean on me.

Both partners should agree on the manner and amount each company will support the sales team with their sales calls. For example, if your product or service is complex, you should establish a joint sales team comprised of both a sales expert and a technical expert to meet with customers.

6. Ask an expert.

Find someone who is successfully selling your product or service. Learn his or her techniques and pass them along to your own sales team.

7. Pick your tools.

You and your partner should agree on the metrics you will use to track, measure, and report your success.

8. Start small.

Keep your goals small and attainable in the beginning. This will allow you to have some early wins and focus your energy more effectively. If you start small you can build momentum at a better pace.

Make the time and put forth some effort and you should be able to create long-lasting and effective strategic alliances.

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photo credit: OCL_4672

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.