Several of you have commented on how developing partnerships can be a real challenge, so I’m sharing a case study to explain how I’ve successfully grown an alliance. As I said in my previous post on this topic, approaching an alliance as a marriage really helped! There were 3 key elements I described – trust, liking and time.
My partner is an SEO company whose goal is to improve the visibility of its clients’ websites by improving their Google rankings. They are very successful at helping businesses achieve this goal and their clients see increased numbers of leads via the web. However their clients were not converting those leads (incoming call/emails etc.) into customers as effectively as they would have wanted – which is where I could help. How did we built a successful alliance? There where 10 key steps:
1) Liking – my partner had already known me well for the past 2 years. There was mutual liking and respect already in place.
2) Understanding each other’s services – my partner knew exactly what I did and genuinely understood the value of the business coaching I do – because they had been coached themselves. This understanding was crucial to building trust. On the flip side, several of my contacts used their SEO services, so I understood the value of their service too.
3) The relationship evolved naturally over time – My partner approached me one day out of the blue to ask if I could help his clients with their sales conversion rate issues. He already understood how I could do that, based on his experiences over the past 2 years. At no time was our working together forced or contrived.
4) I adapted my personal working style – I recognised the differences in behavioural style between my partner and I. So I adapted my approach accordingly. This is a whole different topic, but in a nutshell, my style of working is open with fast decision making based on key facts only. Theirs was more cautious requiring more analysis of options, time to make decisions and discussion of issues. If I hadn’t recognised those behaviour traits, the relationship might not have worked.
5) We shared similar values – a passion for helping our clients, openness and honesty.
6) We offered complimentary and non-competing services – we understood that we each offered services that the other couldn’t provide and that they were highly complementary to each other.
7) We shared a mindset – We both shared the mindset of pro actively connecting our clients to high quality service providers
8) We made referring easy – Instead of just referring clients to each other verbally, we decided to run educational business seminars together. The referral was as simple as “would you like to come to a free seminar and see if these guys can be of value to your business?”
9) Living the Law of Reciprocation – The seminars represented a win:win opportunity for partners and attendees, but someone had to take the first step, so being the one with the experience of seminars I took that 1st step. I coached my partners on how to run and market seminars and offered them resources from my team to help market and manage the events.
10) No Commission – at no time have commissions for cross referrals ever been paid, or even discussed.