How strong and profitable are the business alliances that you currently have. Are they a result of a plan or have they just evolved over time?
Some of the most unlikely business alliances are the most powerful, take for instance AC/DC and one of the Australia’s best wineries, Warburn Estate.
AC/DC are famous for loud Rock and Roll but it seems they are also wine Cognisors. They teamed up with Warburn to create a range of vintages named after their most famous songs, which are now selling very very well.
Establishing alliances with other like-minded professionals makes sound business sense for so many reasons:
1. Life is less lonely
Many businesses are small and there are 1.7 million "one-man-bands" operating in the UK alone. 1.7 million organisations in which an individual wears many hats. Even in a small business of 3 or 4 people, it is not uncommon for them to fulfill roles they have neither the training or in some cases the competence to complete.
Establishing alliances with other sole traders or small business can be empowering, as it can make working alone less lonely, whilst also opening your business up to new potentially lucrative opportunities.
If we always do what we have always done, then we will never change and evolve as a business. New strategic alliances or even reinvigorating existing connections can open your business to a number of opportunities that perhaps you have never thought of or had access to. One of these is that the correct partnership mix, can allow you to enhance your offering to clients.
3. Widen your proposition for clients
It's a well-known fact that it costs around five times as much to acquire new customers as it does to sell to existing ones. So why do many advisory businesses spend so much time and energy seeking new clients? When their greatest opportunity is to maximise their existing client relationships?
You may have heard the phrase share of wallet, or in plain English, the level of financial engagement you have with your clients. You may feel that you are their primary source of advice and financial education but have you actually maximised your relationship with them and ensured they have consolidated their wealth under your guidance? Or do they use other sources of financial advice?
The secret is to ensure you identify your most valuable clients and then understand their lifestyle and life stage requirements. You can then provide them with a service proposition that allows you to consolidate their assets. This will ensure that they remain loyal with the added bonus of helping you maximise profitability.
If after this analysis you find you have gaps in your proposition that would be right for your clients then your strategic alliance strategy should revolve around seeking relationships with those professionals that can meet these clients’ needs and broaden your proposition so you can provide a truly bundled proposition for your clients.
4. Get more of the clients you want
Do you have enough of the clients you know are profitable and value your proposition? If not then a focused way of obtaining them is to use strategic alliances. If you have done your client segmentation exercise correctly you will know the profile of the clients that you want for your business. Conversely, you now also know the types of clients you don’t want.
The ‘Time Vampires’ who suck time out of your business without adding value.
As you approach a potential alliance, it’s powerful to outline to them not only your proposition but also the client identikit of those that are best suited for this service. If they have clients like this then your task is to create the alliance and work with them to communicate your proposition to their clients.
If not, then it’s time to reflect and decide is this an alliance worth making? Now it may offer other attractions, such as a chance to learn new skills, establish a wider network and expand your proposition. However, if new client acquisition is your goal then perhaps it would be best to move on to an alliance that can deliver this.
The right relationship can increase the profitability of your business. The secret is knowing which are profitable and which are costing you money. Each year you should review the profit and loss of each alliance. Those that are profitable you should nurture. However, any that are costing you money need reflection and action. Perhaps, it’s time to sit down and review the relationship and change the balance in your favour to reach profitability.
6. Business networking
Effective networking is the key to success with other professionals, but when was the last time you sat down and reviewed your networking strategy? The more thought and planning you put in at the start the greater the returns and reward.
Referrals have built many businesses and will continue to do so. However, the right clients at the right time can deliver the right profits and it’s essential you have a referrals strategy. The biggest benefit of a strategic alliance (if they are selected correctly and managed professionally) is the referrals that they can provide in terms of the right clients and other similar business relationships. If done incorrectly, the wrong fit can provide you with inappropriate clients that cost you time and money so it’s essential to do it right and have a plan.
8. Develop as an individual
Mahatma Gandhi once said
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
I agree with him. When we stop learning as a business or as individuals, then we stagnate and fail to see some opportunities that exist in our fast evolving environment.
Seek out those can grow you and your business. Seek out these with skills you do not possess but would add value to your clients. More importantly seek out those who can help you upskill to develop a more impactful and attractive proposition for your clients.
I began this chapter by saying that being in business can be a lonely place. A lot of people fail to recognise the true value of having someone to talk to or confide in, and it’s a real shame, because mentoring matters. It makes a difference and it can impact your business in very tangible ways. When considering your strategic alliances plan don’t overlook the possibility of seeking out a mentor for you and your business as part of this process.
10. Evolve your business
If you want to change the way you work for the better, you need a plan. Now that plan will cover a lot of areas, your clients, social media, processes, objectives etc. A powerful addition to that should be developing strategic alliances that can help you evolve your business and take it to where you want it to be and increase profitability. Because if done correctly and as part of a written action plan, alliances with the right people can really open your eyes and change the way you work forever.
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 at
John Joe McGinley
Glassagh Consulting August 2016
Follow me on Twitter @glassaghconsult