JFK said "A rising tide lifts all boats." This is absolutely true in the business world. Helping businesses closely related to yours is a great way to ensure a steady stream of business referred to you. So many people discount the role of strategic alliances but why?
Here are a list of common complaints:
"But they're my competition?!"
Everyone has an ideal client mix for sure. Referring clients that don't fit your ideal business plan should be a common practice. By sending your least favored clients to another provider, you are doing both a service. You will grow in two ways from this. You'll spend less time with a customer that you don't want to talk to and you will build a more amicable relationship with your competitor who may have clients that don't fit their mix and get sent to you. This is particularly helpful in captive insurance agencies or law firms.
"It seems like a lot of time with little payout"
One of the hardest things to do in any business is put an exact figure on Return on Investment (ROI). This is extremely tough in relationship driven marketing activities since referrals and leads don't often clarify where they came from and you may even have business development teams overlapping regionally. In the long term, however, investing in relationships does pay off. The investment in building relationships yields industry credibility and reputation. These elements are priceless to grow your business.
"I Don't know who to partner with or how to partner"
This is perhaps the most legitimate argument and most honest. The instinct in our society is to grab more for your self so "giving it away" seems counter intuitive. Further, with many untrustworthy people in the marketplace, who do you go to to find your next great partner? There are a few easy answers. Try your local chamber of commerce - this is a great starting point for people looking to build a strong business community. Other places to look include your local BNI chapter or industry specific groups like the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) or the Society of American Florists (SAF).
However you approach it, building a strategic partnership does require a commitment of time and effort. Check our Resources section for what to say to start building a great strategic relationship and begin building the relationship that could catapult your business growth.
If you have any other questions or concerns, leave them in the comments below and we'll try to answer them.