Who are your strategic partners?
Who are the professions that go after the same customer base that you work with? For example, a realtor might have a mortgage lender, financial advisor and a divorce attorney as good strategic partners. A painter might have a plumber, roofer and flooring company as strategic partners.
Strategic partners can be a great source of referral business. Once you’ve identified these important business alliances, it’s important to have a strategy for getting to know them and finding ways to nurture the relationship so that you continually send business back and forth. Unfortunately most business professionals don’t build relationships with their strategic partners and as a result, don’t receive the maximum referral business that they could.
How can you nurture your relationships with your strategic partners? Try some of these simple strategies and see the referrals blossom.
- Get to know them – The more you build relationships with people, the more you will always be top of mind. Take an interest in them and get to know them personally – what do they like to do in their spare time, what about their family, where do they like to vacation, etc.
- Find a way to give to them – The more you are able to give to others, the more you will receive. As Ivan Misner of BNI always says…Givers Gain. It is a basic concept of life and it definitely applies to business. One of the thing you will find when you refer business to someone else is that they feel a sense of obligation to find you business as well. It might take some people longer that others, but know in their hearts that they are making an attempt to help you.
- Make sure they are actively working with clients – There is nothing worse than developing a relationship with someone that never has contact with customers or prospects. For example, the business owner that sits in the back office handling accounting and managing staff probably isn’t the person to spend a lot of time with – but their sales staff might be the right people.
- What type of clients do they work with? – Confirm that there is synergy with the types of customers you both work with. For example, if your strategic partner is working with people with no money or in another part of the country and you need people that are local and have an income of at least 300k, you might not want their referrals.
- How do they market?– Understanding how they market to prospective clients can be a terrific opportunity for you to potentially work together. You might go to networking events together, you might work a trade show together or maybe co-brand a direct mail piece.
Building relationships with strategic partners can be one of the most valuable marketing tactics you can implement. Know that it doesn’t happen overnight, but the time and energy you put into it will be one of the best marketing investments you can make.