The past year has many companies looking for fresh ways to engage in strategic partnerships to boost sales growth. When done right, a new alliance – or a new spin on an old one – can enhance your offerings while offsetting costs. Yet partnerships with outside companies are often overlooked in strategic plans to grow business.
Any business you work and share resources with is a strategic partner, possibly one with untapped opportunity to help you achieve shared goals. Developing these types of relationships can be central to a successful sales plan. More than half of organizations rely on partnerships to acquire new customers.
If your company is experiencing a plateau in sales, a mutually beneficial arrangement can help you accomplish several things simultaneously:
- Create new sales channels
- Discover untapped market segments
- Identify gaps in product capabilities
You might even end up with a whole new business model. Ultimately, what you want is to harness the power of a partner to win deals more strategically and free up resources. So, where do you look for collaboration?
Mine Existing Relationships
When looking to reignite your sales, it can be helpful to start close to home. You likely have many untapped connections, especially if you network regularly or have been in business for a while. The benefit of doing so is that you already know these people, their organizations, and what they offer – and they know you. Exploring existing connections and partnerships is less time consuming and can be surprisingly fruitful.
You could start by examining what other value can be extracted from partners or vendors you’re already working with. Maybe one of your vendors performs additional services that your company could use, or they might be interested in purchasing other services that you provide.
In addition, take a look at past vendor relationships and one-time collaborators. It might make sense to assign the task to a team that will investigate partnerships with the most potential to increase profitability and revenue.
Consider Different Types of Collaboration
You don’t have to commit to a long-term partnership just yet. Collaboration can start with the sharing of ideas. In fact, many successful organizations form alliances not to gain customers, but for new insights and innovation. This can take the form of:
- Joint strategizing to address similar challenges
- Mutual consultation to plan how to achieve similar goals
- Developing common messages
- Shared exchanges of information or data
Are there marketing partners, financial partners, or strategic suppliers you could partner with? Gaps in resources or productivity in your own organization can signal areas that are in need of alliances. Perhaps you’ll benefit from a strategic technology partnership. Now more than ever, integrating new technologies into operations can be essential for growth in organizations.
Look for External Partnerships
The most lucrative partnerships can happen when two or more companies combine capabilities to leverage joint services, markets, and customers. Even competitors can work together to produce financial results for both companies. When there are shared goals and target markets, new partnerships can develop organically, and faster than you might think.
To get a sense of just how fast things can change, consider the way Midwestern farmers markets revolutionized their practices during the pandemic. Nothing epitomizes tradition more than small, family-owned farms. Pre-Covid, they were connecting with customers by handing out flyers and calendars at markets to promote their goods. That all changed through a massive collaboration involving scores of farms and small businesses from Madison to Ann Arbor.
By summer the group had:
- A shared web presence for online orders
- Optimized e-blasts with recipes and product lists from multiple farms
- Targeted messaging and time-sensitive deals for repeat customers
- Automatic text alerts with embedded GPS to track drivers
- Centralized customer service
When a couple dozen local enterprises worked together, their down-home brands proved more powerful than any influencer. A more strategic, digitized approach merely expanded the scope of shoppers finding out who catches the fish or runs the orchard. Despite being thrown into chaos, some of them had their best year yet.
Lose Dead Ends
Finally, ask yourself if all of your current partnerships work, or if they are stifling growth instead. Things change. Unrealistic expectations or disagreements on objectives can sink an alliance that wasn’t meant to last. Shedding those that are holding you back might loosen up your potential for more growth possibilities somewhere else.
If you’re looking for new ways to boost sales, our experts can help. Contact Connections Marketing today to find out more about digital marketing trends that are applicable to your business and how your marketing strategy can improve sales.