Imagine having a sales team cheerfully working for you every day for free. Impossible? Not if you understand the concepts of complementary industries and strategic alliances.
All businesses need customers in order to succeed, and they need a steady stream of new customers in order to grow. Finding those customers requires prospecting, which simply means identifying people or organizations able and willing to purchase one’s product or service.
An effective prospecting plan can include advertising, telemarketing, cold calling, exhibiting at trade shows, and other activities that involve a financial investment beyond the means of many small business owners. That’s where strategic alliances can literally save businesses – by increasing exposure without the exorbitant cost.
A strategic alliance is a relationship whereby two or more parties share their databases, industry information, referrals, and prospects, while jointly absorbing the marketing, sales and distribution costs associated with their common business development. Strategic alliances are ideally formed with non-competitive companies in complementary industries, i.e. companies seeking exposure to the same or similar target markets.
“Coming together is a beginning;
keeping together is progress;
working together is success.”
– Henry Ford
Thinking complements is a different way of thinking business. It is finding a way of making the pie bigger, rather than fighting the competitors over a fixed pie – a new way of doing business. Strategic alliance partners work together to accomplish what cannot be accomplished alone. They are like-minded people working toward mutually beneficial goals. Over the long term, it’s a win-win arrangement.
For example, a realtor, a mortgage broker, and a lawyer are perfectly suited to a strategic alliance: each targets new home buyers and each provides a very different service. The realtor finds and sells the home, the mortgage broker arranges to finance and the lawyer draws up the documents necessary to complete the sale. The group could add even more value to clients by working with a moving company, an alarm company, an insurer, a landscaper, etc.
Think about your own industry and industries whose target market is the same or similar to yours. Generate a list of businesses in those industries that would make potentially good strategic alliance partners. Then start contacting them and building relationships with those that appear to be a good fit. You’re on your way to making that free sales team a reality!
If you need some help with this exercise contact Donna Willon, your success coach, and business advisor specializing in strategic alliances, Coquitlam, and the lower mainland.