If there’s anything I’ve learned after 20 years of business development in the professional services industry, it’s that having an ally on your side as a strategic partner will benefit and accelerate your company, regardless of the industry sector your business operates in. This is especially critical for start-up companies trying to get their name out in a competitive environment, or even a new business vertical. By effectively selecting the right alliances for your company, you can offer products and solutions to clients that are different from the competition. So… How do we go about selecting the right partner?
The best approach is to attack your market segment from several fronts, while giving you a competitive advantage covering a wider range of resources and subject matter expertise. The process of selecting strategic partners requires them to be thoroughly vetted. First off, the best ROI from a strategic alliance happens when both partners’ capabilities and deliverables are different, but have a common denominator amongst the other partners. It’s also important to have a partner who’s marketing to a target audience in the same industry. This allows working closest to the dollar by focusing on clients in the same swim lanes.
So once you’ve selected a partner, now what? First, you’ll need to have an NDA put together to protect each other’s interest, customer information and any intellectual property that could be potentially shared between you. Second, depending on the purpose of the partnership, a mutual referral program is a great way to incentivize all parties to refer leads and opportunities to one another. Finally, frequent and open communication.
Making industry friends and partnerships can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding IF set up properly from the beginning with agreed upon clear expectations. Here are a few tips for a CLEAR partnership: