Leveraging Business Relationships for more Profits

When should you leverage the relationship?

Leveraging sometimes brings a negative connotation to the mix. It does not have to be that way. Leveraging with alliances can work into a win-win situation were both parties become more profitable and they form more solid business relationships. Leveraging should be taken seriously and not as a way to step on another business to make your own headway. If you work with the alliance partner, you will both be able to leverage the relationship for mutual benefit.

For example, a store I was working with in the past had several channel partners that they wanted to leverage. A meeting was setup to discuss how the relationship could be expanded so that it benefited both parties. It was discovered that the partner wanted to learn more about the products the company was selling and get more into the training aspect for its customer base. The parent company on the other hand wanted to find ways to support the customers of the partner in order for the partner to gain more sales.

In this case, both parties were able to leverage the others' contacts and offer better customer service. The channel partners also were able to find additional customers because they had more of an inside track on the products being offered. They were able to train new customers and give a new dimension to their offerings. The parent company profited from the additional sales.

Through leveraging the current customer base and the product lines, both companies could offer better customer service. As a result of this success, the parent company offered the same alternatives to other channel partners and found that most of them welcomed the additional opportunity. The opportunity, in order to be successful, has to be presented to the right level of decision makers.

Who You Need (to Form a Relationship With)

At what level should the relationship be established?

A question that is often asked is "How do you get to the right person in an organization for making the decision?" The answer is not an easy one as some organizations have decision making at various levels, and of course it depends on the size of the organization. If you are dealing with 10 or fewer employees, you are likely to need to work with the owner or CEO of the organization. It is imperative that you do not deal with those that cannot make the appropriate decision. You may find that you are dealing with influencers, but in the long run they cannot make the decision to go or not to go with the alliance.

So how do you get to the right person? There are many answers to this question, but the simplest answer is to start at the top. I know that many CEOs do not want to deal with sales people and certainly not with a lot of the everyday information that comes their way. So getting to them may be a bit difficult. The best way to form a relationship is to appeal to their business pain (that which concerns them the most) and offer a solution to that pain. For example, a company I worked with wanted to setup a channel or partner network to sell their products, since they only had a couple of dealers at the time but needed to move to the next level. They had to deal directly with the owners of the companies and offer them a profit, as the proverbial carrot, to entice them.

Profit is not the only way to get to the CEO, you also need to understand their business goals and see how you can fit into the formula before making the approach. The key here is to show that you have something to offer that is of value to them.

Bette Daoust, Ph.D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite. She decided to find the best ways to get people's attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the "Networking Queen". Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in 2005. For more information visit http://www.blueprintbooks.com

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