Target markets: partners
One of the best ways to gain faster entry into your target markets is through strategic referral partners. Having the right partners - the connected ones who service their clients well - will yield big dividends for you. Here is a quick list for you to understand who are the partners you seek:
Are they selling to your same decision maker?
This one is both obvious and often overlooked. Let's look at the IT space. Most companies sell to the CIO but also require buy-in from the CFO. If your company sells network security and my company sells data storage, we could meet and talk about the customers we have and the prospects we hope to land. Invariably, we will run into opportunities to help each other - if we are both open to it.
Quick case study from networking events:
I can't tell you how many people I hear who want to partner with Certified Public Accountants. It happens at least twice in every meeting I attend. What I rarely ever hear is someone saying "I have some good relationships there, let's compare notes." Wouldn't that be easier? Why should two people be looking to forge relationships with new prospects when they could just share their existing ones, in effect doubling what they have?
What about partnering with companies that can make your offering more robust? This is kind of the peanut butter and chocolate approach. There are lots of companies that sell office cleaning services just like there are companies that sell office supplies. Both of these companies benefit from knowing property managers, commercial realtors, interior designers, office furniture companies - I could go on and on. The key is that their services are necessary and have the slightest overlap.
If a customer needs someone else's product in order to maximize return on investment when buying yours, you had better be able to make some referrals. Real estate is a great example. There just aren't a lot of cash buyers these days. If I were selling houses, you can bet that I would have at least three different mortgage lenders to whom I would feed leads. Why? Because having only one is very limiting to my customers AND to my referral stream!
1. Identify the decision makers to whom you frequently sell. Make a list of five of them.
2. Who do you know who is selling to these same people? (Do not name people in your office.)
3. Are you looking to meet CPAs? Of course you are. You know lots of other people who are too. Partner with them.
4. What other products or services do your customers need to make yours work better? Have people in mind to refer.
5. Compile a list of at least five people in each category as a partner. If you don't know five, call me. I will help.