Increase Sales With Strategic Alliances Or Partnerships

Formal joint ventures or what is now called strategic alliances are common for larger businesses where one business cannot handle a specific project, does not have expertise in a particular field or needs help with a new product. However by uniting forces with one or even two other organizations, these innovative firms can divide and successfully conquer the project. The results are increased sales and additional loyal customers.

Some examples of successful strategic partnerships or alliances include CISCO/IBM; CISCO/SalesForce.com; SalesForce.com/Dell; and not let us forget ATT/Apple Phone. In the book, Strategic Alliances: Three Ways to Make Them Work by Steve Steinhilber, he shared that CISCO through its strategic alliances increased overall revenue by $4.5 billion. Yes, you read right billion not million dollars.

With so many small businesses to single office home office (SOHO) firms being established, this proven strategy of uniting with another company just makes common sense. However, because of the fear that working with a perceived competitor might be damaging, those folks who could dramatically benefit the most quite often ignore the idea of such a strategic partnership.

What I know to be true is this is a proven way to increase sales, expand market presence and truly be recognized as an innovator. During the last 10 years, I have established numerous strategic alliances and most of them have been beneficial.

My first strategic alliance was with Laura Novakowski who I meet at a conference where I delivered a keynote to over 150 executive coaches and consultants. After my presentation, she purposely came up to me to introduce herself. She was a nurse with a MBA located in southeast PA and I was a sales professional, public educator with a Masters in Instructional Design. However from that initial connection, we shared conversations, wrote an e-book together, co-authored a monthly Ezine (Power Choices) and helped each other with marketing to actual facilitation challenges. We have made joint sales calls since that first encounter. Laura continues to be a strong strategic partner and a great friend.

More recently I have united with another proactive business professional Theresa Valade. We have known each other for several years. During one of our regular catch up meetings, we realized that we both shared some similar target markets and both had different contacts. After several brainstorming meetings, we conceived a specific joint marketing plan and already have a couple of organizations interested.

In reviewing why my these alliances have worked, I realized three key elements were present in each and everyone. First, there must be shared positive core values. If you and the other small business owner have different core values, then this is a deal breaker. One of those key values is commitment to the relationship.

Second, each person must be willing to do 50% of the work at all stages. When a strategic partnership is one way, this will not work. For example over the years, other consultants who wished to work together have approached me. They wanted me to do 100% of the marketing and selling and they would do the facilitating. The profits would be split 50/50 and this demonstrates someone who is one way.

Third, results must be measured. Unless you set benchmarks and monitor your progress, this strategy will not render the results that are possible.

Strategic alliances can and do work provided you get out of your own way and find others who share the same values as you. Just think of it, instead of you just pounding the pavement, attending all those business to business (B2B) events, now you have another person working with you. Bottom line is you can reach more people in less time and quickly increase sales.