I've been developing the 5 Dots model for the past few months and I'm realizing which pieces of the puzzle I've learned from others and which ones are just part of my DNA. Ever since my dad started his business in my teens I've always clearly understood the concept of strategic alliances. My dad was selling tax shelters that would help wealthy individuals avoid tax burdens through investment options. Most people that were selling similar products would go out and look for wealthy individuals to sell these policies to, but not my dad.
What my dad learned in his business is that most of these wealthy individuals didn't make decisions on how to shelter their money, that was done by their accountants. So, my dad did all of his marketing to the accountants because if he found an accountant that believed in his program he wouldn't get just one client, he would get numerous clients. As teenagers, my sister and I would address envelopes and fill them with flyers about these tax shelters. My dad sent them to accountants in numerous major cities, not just NYC. In the thousands of direct mail pieces that my dad sent out he found a small handful of accountants that directed the majority of his business to him. I learned a lot from that experience and believe that strategic alliances is built into my DNA.
Over the years I've developed numerous projects through partnerships that allowed our company an easy path to success. That was all based on developing key strategic alliances. We really started to build 4-Profit with a strategic alliance with Avaya in 2000. In 2003 we launched a partnership with IBM, then in 2006 with Cisco and in 2010 with Shoretel. We met lots of owners of IT resellers, but every one of them was introduced to us by their key manufacturer. It wasn't until the last couple of years of our business that we started to recruit individual companies separate from their manufacturer partners. This made our business development efforts very simple and straight forward.
As I go out and help others develop their business development strategy, identifying and mastering a strategic alliance strategy is a critical step to success. I still see so many people cold calling expecting to get new clients. I can tell you that I've never done any cold calling in my career. I believe that investing that time in key individuals who have the ear of your target market is so much more powerful than calling someone who doesn't even know your name. So, where to begin?
The best place to start when it comes to strategic alliances is the think about companies that target your clients but don't compete with you. For example, if you're an accountant it might be a good idea to strategically align with a lawyer, a banker, a commercial realtor, and any other professional services firm that sells a non-competing product to yours. Once you can identify all of those strategic alliance partners it's time to pick the ones that you can develop the best relationship with, the ones that have shared values and a shared level of commitment and skill. In the end, people do business with people they know and trust, so surrounding yourself with others that are trustworthy is a great first step.
For some of us, it might only take one strategic alliance to build our business. As with 4-Profit, partnering with a company like Cisco took many years to establish, but that strategic alliance provided business to our firm for almost 10 years. That's a great investment even if it did take 3 to 4 years to establish. With 5 Dots I'm finding that companies who sell sales automation automation are ideal strategic partners for me. When you are implementing a sales automation system it helps to have a clear target market, a compelling story and clearly defined strategic alliance partners. At it's core, sales automation is designed to take care of relationship management and there are lots of tools to generate leads from this tool kit. A strong and directed business development strategy is key to a successful end result. I've said many times, automating a bad system just makes bad things happen faster!
As you look to grow your business I highly suggest that you focus a significant amount of time on developing strategic alliances that will provide you warm introductions to your ideal clients. In the end, more prospects equals better clients!