Business development is a phrase that can often be difficult to define, particularly as companies tend to modify the scope of the role based on their individual, unique needs and requirements. Sometimes, business development means improving sales, but more often than not it refers to a lead generation role that exists to fill the pipeline for the sales team. Perhaps one of the best ways for this pipeline to be filled is through partnership development. Effective, strategic business partnerships create future leads, allowing the time invested in developing the partnership to pay off handsomely over time. So, how can you find, build, and nurture strategic partnerships to help your business grow? Here are some top tips to get started.
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Both Sides Must Benefit:
Just like any kind of partnership, if only one party is set to be reaping the benefits of the union, then it’s not going to last a very long time. For a partnership to work well, both sides need to be positioned to win. Solid, successful partnerships have mutual benefits. So if you’re considering asking a business to partner with yours, consider the pitch that you have prepared for them. Yes, they’ll be interested in finding out what they can do to help your business develop and grow, but more often than not, will be more concerned about what’s in it for them. After all, why should they invest their time, money and energy into a business partnership, if there aren’t any clear benefits of doing so from the start?
When it comes to choosing a business partner, it’s important to prioritize what your business needs from a partnership and make your choices accordingly. For example, a business that sells swimming pool supplies could form a strategic partnership with a company that cleans pools, or if you sell clothing, you could partner up with a modeling agency. Partner with a company that serves the same target market as yours and is working towards similar goals. It’s also a wise idea to choose a partner based on your business’ needs and requirements; you may be able to meet these faster and easier with a partner. For example, a new business partnering with a more established, experienced company has a higher chance of acceptance for investments and other types of business finance. And if you are a Hispanic company in NJ, find out why securing small business loans just got a lot easier for you.
Another key tip to keep in mind when nurturing a business partnership is that your two companies are not in competition, even if you were once competitors. Unlike the fast-paced, ‘on the deal’ world of sales, developing your business through strategic partnerships focuses heavily on building strong, long-term relationships. These partnerships can take some time to grow and get moving, so it’s important to have patience, get to know your partner, and set expectations from the beginning. Not competing with your partner is an important expectation for both sides to have; if your business offerings do overlap, it’s best to have a plan in place for referring clients to one another, rather than taking business away from your partner.
When it comes to business partnerships, there’s no need to commit yourself to just one business partner exclusively. So, when working through the terms of your partnership agreement, it’s a good idea to protect your right to work with other business partners and keep your exit options open, so that you have the ability to easily walk away if the agreement does not quite work out. Bear in mind that some partners will see the benefits that you bring to their customer base and business, and push for an exclusive deal in a bid to make the value proposition better on their side – but whilst that is a win for them, it’s not always the best choice for you. Additionally, an agreement that allows either party to walk away if things aren’t working doesn’t just allow for an easy exit but can also be the ‘push’ that each partner needs to proactively work at making the partnership an effective one. If each party knows that the other could easily walk away from the table with reasonable notice, they will do their best to ensure the partnership is a win-win.
Perhaps you don’t need a full partnership for your business – but the good news is that there are still several ways in which you can partner with other companies in a way that both sides will benefit. Take a sales partnership, for example – this is where you allow another business to sell your items at a profit. For example, supermarkets that sell branded items are partnered with those brands. Service-based businesses can also benefit from sales partnerships – for example, if you are selling a software program, you may be able to allow developers or designers to ‘white label’ the program or use it on your behalf for a fee.
Lastly, service exchange partnerships are a great way for business to get together and get what they need, whilst saving money. For example, imagine your business needs a new logo and web design, and you find a design company that’s in need of a product or service that your business provides. Your company could partner up with the design agency to provide them with the product that they need, in return for the website and logo that you need – as a result, everybody is happy, and both parties have saved money in the process. Then, the two businesses can still work together by providing referrals to customers or long-term exchange of services, if appropriate. This is a type of partnership that can be created between two businesses of almost any kind, although some will work better than others. For the most part, businesses that sell to other business will benefit the most from a service exchange-based partnership.
When it comes to growing and developing your business, a strategic partnership can help you get to where you need to be, from sales partnerships to working together in a true business partnership.