I wasn’t expecting that!
Building a business is tough, which is why everyone is not an entrepreneur or business owner. In the UK, there are over 6million people who decided to take the plunge and start their own business for many different reasons. It’s no secret that the lifeblood of every business is driving sales and in today’s climate, despite having so many amazing and seemingly effective tools and resources at your disposal to drive new business, it is harder than ever to find new clients. Of course, you cannot truly beat the tried, tested and established methods of lead generation, but increasingly traditional methods are tougher than ever due to market saturation and this requires a differentiated approach to your market.
It’s time to think differently, open your mind, explore your creativity and find new ways to create sales opportunities. All great sales and marketers espouse the significant value and benefits that referrals and word of mouth brings and I agree, but let’s not stop there.
I believe that building a “business partner eco-system” to advocate and support your sales growth is an essential and highly effective approach to both finding and driving new client opportunities and also raising your company’s profile and market positioning. It’s reciprocal too.
A “business partner eco-system” is the group of people and businesses that sit in and around your business and may or may not be engaged with you in many different ways and on many different levels. It’s essentially a 3rd party network of like-minded people. is an array of potential business partners that you may not have considered. All of these groups can drive your sales efforts
Most of the entrepreneurs and business owners I work without exception place trust at the core of their messaging, but trust has to be earned and is not inherent in every business or relationship. One of the easiest ways to create trust is through a personal recommendation, where the hard work of trying to demonstrate to a prospective customer that you are a supplier/partner that has integrity, can be trusted, has value and delivers on promises has already been done as a mutual contact has already vouched for you. Exposing ones personal reputation is a huge decision and comes with a symbiosis for everyone in the process, you, your referrer and your prospective customer, all of whom are seemingly aligned and can receive value; a true win/win for everyone
I am telling you this as the reason why I advocate that you consider exploring and building your own partner ecosystem of 3rd parties who can silently sell for you and could be on the receiving end of a conversation with your next customer.
Imagine a CEO who is concerned about say, the growth of their business or the myriad range of other challenges they face. They want solutions to their challenges and often will share their thoughts with their own confidants and seek their views and advice. Now imagine if that confidant knows you and responds by saying, “well I would speak to XY or Z company, I know them and they’re pretty good at this stuff and I’d be happy to introduce you………you get the point?
So how do you go about building your “business partner eco-system”. You’ll need to be creative with your thinking and stretch the boundaries of possibility and importantly remember that these groups do not actually have to be clients or be inside your existing network or even known to you yet. You may have to hunt them down and introduce the idea of “networking for mutual benefit” and get to know them, but let me share 20 channels that I believe you should perhaps consider (and there are many others that may be specific to your industry):
- 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
All of the above to a greater or lesser degree have the potential to come across and advocate opportunities from their customers and people they meet and introduce you. Your objective should be to become front of mind when this happens.
In my business career, I can highlight many examples of where opportunities have come left of field and all it takes is a bit of creative and lateral thinking to open up a whole new world of active networking that you may not have considered in the past. Remember too, that if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Happy networking and get in touch if you want to bounce around your thoughts; I love this stuff and never have an unspoken though that I won’t share on driving growth!!