Entrepreneurship and business ownership are difficult, which is why not everyone is an entrepreneur or business owner. Over 6 million people in the UK have taken the plunge to start their own business for many different reasons. No doubt about it, driving sales is the lifeblood of every business and in today’s climate, despite the wealth of amazing and seemingly effective tools and resources available to you to do so, there is more competition than ever to find new customers, and traditional methods of lead generation are tougher than ever due to market saturation, so finding a new approach is essential.
Now is the time to think differently, open your mind, explore your creativity, and create new sales opportunities. Almost all great sales and marketing experts agree that referrals and word of mouth have significant value and benefits, but we shouldn’t stop there.
The Business Partner Eco-System
Creating a “business partner eco-system” to support and advocate your company’s growth is a vital and highly effective approach to finding and attracting new client opportunities, as well as enhancing the company’s profile and market positioning. Also, it’s reciprocal.
It is the network of people and businesses within and around your business that may or may not be in contact with you in many different ways and on many different levels. It’s basically a third party network of like-minded individuals. It gives you access to potential business partners you may not have considered otherwise. All of these groups can help drive your sales.
Trust is at the core of the messaging of most of the entrepreneurs and business owners I work with, but trust must be earned and isn’t inherent in every relationship. The easiest way to win trust is through a personal recommendation, where the hard work of trying to prove to a prospective customer that you are an honest provider can be done easily. It sends the message that you are to be trusted, have value and can deliver on promises. It is a huge decision to share one’s reputation and it comes with a symbiotic relationship for all, you, your referrer, and your prospective customer, which makes it a true win-win for all.
This is why I suggest you establish your own partner ecosystem of 3rd parties who can silently sell for you and who may well be the next customer you do business with.
Establishing your own Business Partner Eco-System
Consider a CEO concerned about the growth of their business or the myriad of other challenges they face. As they seek solutions to their challenges, they may share their thoughts with their own confidants and seek their views and advice. Consider the scenario where a confidant you know says to you, “Well, I’ll reach out to XY or Z company. I’ve worked with them and they’re pretty good at this stuff so I’m more than happy to introduce you.”
So how do you go about establishing your own “business partner eco-system”? It’s important that you think outside the box and work to stretch the boundaries of possibility, and it’s important to remember that these groups do not necessarily have to be customers, or even part of your network yet. If you haven’t met them, introduce the idea of “networking for mutual benefit” and get to know them. Here are 20 possibilities that you may want to consider (there are certainly others depending on your field):
- Management Consultants
- Professional Advisors
- Marketing Agencies
- Banks and Lenders
- Local networking and community groups
- Membership groups
- Non-Executive Director networks
- Business Associations
- HR Providers
- Training Companies
- Recruitment Companies
- Early-stage investment companies (seed capital, start-up and accelerator groups)
- Mergers and acquisition brokers
- Your own supply chain
- Friends and families of your staff
From time to time, all of these to a lesser or greater extent will come across opportunities from their customers and people they meet and introduce you to. The purpose is to become top of mind as soon as this happens.
Make it happen
In my career, I have seen many instances where opportunities have arisen out of the blue, and just a little bit of creativity can create an entirely new world of active networking. Keep in mind that if you don’t ask, you won’t get!
Have fun networking and get in touch if you want to bounce around your thoughts. Whenever I can, I will share my thoughts about driving growth! I love this stuff and never keep a thought to myself.
Entrepreneurship is my passion and I’m energized by hearing people’s stories, so let’s discuss your journey together.