BUILDING BUSINESS THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
The Power of Partnerships: The Key to Increasing Sales, Margins, and Profits
by Denise Trifiletti
Powerful partnerships are the key to improving sales revenues, margins and profits. They are also the best way for you to exponentially increase your business success. Why is this so?
Partnerships can increase your:
- Qualified leads and word-of-mouth referrals
- Differentiation and competitive edge
- Credibility and effectiveness
- Close ratio and margins
Let's explore what partnerships really are by first defining the term. The one I prefer is this: A partnership is a relationship between two or more organizations whereby everybody contributes, and everybody wins. Risks and rewards are shared, and neither party gains strictly at the other's expense.
As you consider new ways to grow your business, remember that building such "Power Partnerships" can give you maximum sales results while being more cost-effective than any other marketing strategy.
You can build or improve partnerships with your clients, prospects, networks, employees, and vendors by asking yourself, "How can I improve my attitude, skills and knowledge to become efficient and effective at building such partnerships?"
Think of a specific partnership you would like to establish or strengthen. Explore the possibilities of a breakthrough by calling that individual. A potential Power Partner must be a decision-maker, have a problem that you can solve or a need that you can meet, and be willing and able to spend some valuable resources (time/money/energy) on a solution. Ideally, a Power Partner will also fill a gap or meet a business need that you have.
Once you have determined that the potential for a partnership exists (I call this qualifying), you should meet, one-on-one, with that prospective partner. Agree on an agenda, including a discussion of:
- Partnership benefits (goals)
- The parts you both will play in the relationship (roles)
- The values and standards which will guide your relationship (operating principles)
- How you will define and measure your results (wins)
When you use this approach, it is critical that you ask in-depth and open-ended questions regarding each of these four areas. Why is that? Asking in-depth questions can provide you with a complete understanding of your potential partner, enabling you to explore a variety of ways of creating a truly powerful partnership. Perhaps you barter or co-market the products or services you each provide. You may pay each other for referrals that result in actual business. You can also define your expectations in great detail, to avoid surprises in the future. You can ask your potential partner to quantify the value of the anticipated benefits or "wins" resulting from this partnership. Knowing your value proposition enables you to better understand the advantages you bring to the partnership, allowing you to price and negotiate for optimum margins.
Building a powerful partnership means taking the possibilities inherent in the partnership to the highest level, allowing all involved to reap benefits and win. Wins may be monetary and/or intangible, professional and/or personal. Quantify the value of the wins so you can measure your results. Measuring your wins validates the fact that you have achieved the goals that both you and your partner defined and pursued.
How Partnerships Increase Leads and Referrals:
View yourself as a "consultative salesperson" with a large network of strategic referral partners who offer various quality products and services. When meeting with a client or prospect, you ask questions that unveil many needs, and perhaps some of them lie outside your product/service capabilities. You introduce your strategic referral partners to your prospect, and they may be able to meet the prospect's needs. Thus, you gain a satisfied client who refers more business to
you--and who may also provide you with a testimonial. You receive referral fees or other remuneration from your partners in recognition of your efforts. It's an all-win proposition! Meanwhile, your strategic referral partners are driving other potential clients to you. How much business can you handle?
How Partnerships Increase Credibility and Effectiveness:
Armed with a host of top-quality solutions offered by your partners, you are confident in asking questions about a wide range of client/prospect needs. You are not pushing a single product or service; rather, you are focused on solving their problems by sincerely attempting to meet their needs. Asking questions is the key to sales effectiveness. In a consultative role, you can help them to discern their challenges, explore the value of the options you provide, and assist them in determining their best solutions. Some of those solutions may come from you and some may come from your partners. This approach renders you credible, trustworthy, effective and valuable.
How Partnerships Increase Your Competitive Edge:
You distinguish yourself from your competition by providing a true value-added service to your client--a host of solutions through your referral network. Unlike others, you are a "one-stop-shop," providing a resource that saves your prospects/clients time and money.
How Partnerships Increase Your Close Ratio, Sales Revenues and Margins:
Your partnerships will allow you to close more business. By asking a host of questions, you will confirm the value of your solutions, which leads you to employ value-based pricing (pricing based on your client's perception of the value of your offerings). You need not lower your prices to get more business, and you may even be able to charge more.
A good test of whether you are ready to take the next step towards establishing powerful partnerships is to assess the following:
- Do you have an abundant "all-win" attitude and belief in the possibilities of partnerships?
- Do you employ the skill of asking in-depth questions to really understand your partner?
- Do have the knowledge to jointly develop goals, roles, operating principles and a method for measuring wins? Can you apply that knowledge effectively?
Developing powerful partnerships is the key to increasing your sales, margins and profits. This approach has been proven effective, and it can work for you!
Denise Trifiletti, a business coach and an accomplished leader in the fields of sales and training, is the co-founder of Dynamic Destiny Partnerships, LLC and the founder of Women's Community, LLC. Her most recent book is Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies of the World's Greatest Mentors (Mission Publishing, 2004). Denise can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.