The Power of a Partnership Network
Partnerships have been a part of my sales process for the last decade and now as a founder, they have never been more important to me. In fact almost as important as my He-man Power Sword was to me (I remember the sword being far more impressive than that).
Despite the fact that over 90% of our revenue over the past 12 months came from referral partnerships, people inside and outside of my organization have found it hard to truly embrace the power of grayskull... I mean the power of the partnership sale. This ultimately pushed me to write this listicle, with some useful tidbits that I’ve learned along the way.
What is the partnership sale?
Put simply, it is the ability to convince a peer at another firm that the services you offer can benefit their clients, contacts and of course, THEM.
The importance of a referral
One call to a partner can lead to 10’s of referrals
10’s of referrals are worth 1000’s of cold calls.
In our business, referrals will close 90% more quickly than cold calls
The Value of a partnership network
A strong list of trusted service providers and partners can act as an ecosystem that generates and self validates leads. Significantly lowering the cost and time of client acquisition.
I am a salesperson first and foremost and I know that a steady flow of opportunities is the key to building a strong pipeline and generating revenue. We know that our strongest partners feel the same way and therefore we pride ourselves on communicating exactly who each of our clients are. It is no coincidence that our best partners also provide financial services to CFO’s and CIO’s. We understand the value of each other’s services and therefore can position each other effectively when making introductions.
Resurrect dead leads
Often what may be deemed as a cold lead can be rejuvenated by introducing them to a member of your partnership network. We had an example where a client was unable to work with us until they confirmed the most efficient tax structure for their fund. We referred them to assure.co and they were able to suggest a quick and affordable structure which meant we could begin our onboarding process.
Savings vs costs
Some of your partnership network will cost your clients money and others will provide savings. It’s important that you are aware of these costs and can use the network to offset these against one another. Our savings on execution and collateral can often far outweigh the retainers and project fees our providers charge, which can help expedite client negotiations.
Know your place in the value chain and sales cycle
In our business we know that FX isn’t necessarily the first thing that our clients think of when starting a fund or company. We are typically engaged after they have decided that there is an international element and they have structured their entity. We spend time educating our partners when is the best time to introduce us to ensure we can provide the most amount of value to their client.
Be advocates of each other's services
I am lucky enough to be able to say that many of our network’s members are benefactors of each other's services. We believe in being advocates of each other and what better way of showing that, than using one another!
What makes a perfect partnership?
Constant Communication - If I’ve learned one thing; it is that it is impossible to be the master of the universe. It is also pretty difficult to squeeze 30 years of expertise and client servicing into a brochure or 30 minute conversation. We spend a lot of time using case studies and working examples to help our partners understand exactly what it is we do and how it can help their clients. SPOILER: It takes time.
Customers are people, not companies - We work with people, not their companies. We want to find partners that empathize with the unique problems of CIO’s and CFO’s have in their day to day jobs and solve these problems together with our networks resources.
Aligned geographically - Our clients all have an international aspect to the way they invest or do business. Our best partners all have a specific regional expertise or are looking to expand internationally. This alignment brings immediate synergies and closes the knowledge gap.
A problem shared is a problem solved - We only work with partners that care enough about their client’s to ask about their other issues (regardless if it makes them money or not). A strong partnership network can often overcome a whole host of problems more efficiently but you all have to care enough to ask!
Commitment - In order for a partnership to succeed, you need clear actions for both parties and accountability from both sides. This can be done in a formal partnership document or good a solid “virtual” handshake.
Willing to refer - Sounds like a no-brainer, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. Most partnerships will fail because the person you are speaking to is unable (or unwilling) to refer their clients to you especially if you don’t have anyone to refer to them. Set a time to go over pipelines and client types and talk about potential matches. It will pay dividends, and save everyone time… trust me.
Quality of leads not quantity - No offense to the 1000 lead generation linkedin companies that bombard my inbox every day, but we’d much prefer 5 thoughtful referrals from a trusted partner than “50 guaranteed meetings with qualified leads for $20”.
Two pronged approach - We always ask our partners to let us know how much they are willing to be involved in the sales process. In our opinion the more they are involved the better it is. It also allows them to experience our sales process first hand and gets them more comfortable with our services.
Reasons why partnerships fail
You need to scratch their itch too - If you can’t refer clients to them, find another way to show value. We offer referral fees and showcase potential client savings. If that’s not important to them then maybe they shouldn’t be in your network.
Credibility - It takes time to build credibility with your partners before they will trust you with a referral. This shouldn’t be underestimated. We often will provide our services to our partners for free in the hope they will become advocates of our services.
No Patience - We ask our partners to commit their time to us. We put together presentations outlining our services and provide links to content that we have written specific to their clients. We invest time in all of our partners and we encourage them to do the same.
Different values - At the end of the day everyone in our network looks to generate value for our clients first and ourselves second.
People don’t ask for referrals - If you don’t ask you don’t get and referral networks aren’t particularly useful if they don’t create referrals.
Now you have the POWERRRRRRRRR!!!
As I said at the top of my musings if it wasn't for our partner network Deaglo wouldn't be here today. Building a solid referral ecosystem takes time and effort from all parties. Once established, you should have no hesitation referring clients amongst yourselves and more importantly showing additional value to your client along the way.
Read the article on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/power-partnership-network-how-make-profitable-ashley-groves/