Glassagh Consulting ideas to drive your business forward
Glassagh Consulting ideas to drive your business forward

Nine steps to powerful partnerships 

We all know the value of developing profitable and ongoing strategic alliances with other professionals, such as solicitors and accountants. But how many of us do it well? I've done a lot of research into this market and would like to share with you what I see as a sensible approach for success. For me it's all about behaviours, and one of the key behaviours is to adopt a consultative approach.


Many professions are excellent at fact-finding and analysis with clients, but this key skill seems to be abandoned when developing strategic alliances. We try and sell when the key is to consult and listen.  At the initial meeting set yourself an objective to talk about their business and to find out how you can add value to them. To adopt a consultative approach needs a process. Here are nine steps you can adopt today.


  1. Knowledge - know your target firm and their market. Know who you're meeting and what their own specialty is. Check out their website or LinkedIn profile.
  2. Prepare what to say and how - asking a good open question and staying silent to hear the answer sounds obvious but is critical to success. If you're keen to show your knowledge, ask a question about the topic which engages - don’t tell or present.
  3. Avoid the hard sell, so don’t use PowerPoint and avoid handouts. The value is in the conversation about their business, not yours – after all you're after their clients.
  4. Beginning the meeting - restate the purpose of the meeting and have copies of the agenda. Get agreement to proceed. If there's a mismatch of expectation you're unlikely to succeed.
  5. Questions, questions. These are your tools. Think about a range of open questions that will get the conversation going.
  6. Topics to talk about - all businesses have essentially three key issues: revenue, costs and risk. Everything else will ultimately fall under one of these. Ask questions about these key areas and use terminology appropriate to the audience, for example solicitors talk about client ‘matters’, not cases or sales.
  7. Areas of stress for the business - if everything's rosy then changing behaviours to refer clients to you doesn’t really help the professional connection. Find out what isn’t going well for them and find ways you can help.
  8. Summarise issues identified and agree what areas should be taken forward for further discussion.


Step 9 - making contact


You might think this is all well and good but how do I actually make initial contact in the first place? Working with business professionals is largely about building relationships and trusts. I’d like to give you two ideas to begin approaching potential business contacts.


Think about your strengths

If you have not already done this, allocate time to put thought into defining your business proposition, as you need to clear about what you can offer a potential alliance.


One thing to consider are our strengths in terms of knowledge? Many business people specialise in their area of expertise and seek alliances to shore up gaps and work with others who are experts in their field. How can you demonstrate you are such an expert?


It is also important to research the firms you are looking at – what do they specialise in, and how will your offering fit. This will ensure you’re compatible.


Don’t ignore your local knowledge

There is no substitute for local knowledge and your existing contacts. You’re a member of your local community and as such a member of your local business community. Some ways of establishing contact in local communities can be seen as old hat but they do work. You may already be a member but how well to you leverage your membership of:


  • Business roundtables
  • Networking breakfast clubs
  • Golf clubs
  • Sports Clubs
  • Parent teacher associations


It is well worth considering how you can join these and discuss how your business can help them.


You should also consider any local seminars or events with topics that are likely to be of joint interest. I would urge you to run your own and we will look at that next week.


Panacea and Glassagh Consulting have now put together a free guide to help you maximise Strategic Alliances, why don’t you download your copy now?


John Joe McGinley

Glassagh Consulting August 2016

Please follow me on twitter @glassaghconsult

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