This week we’re going to discuss strategic alliances. We know you’re already well aware of the benefit of cultivating these alliances with CPAs but now we want to expand on that. If you limit yourself to only creating relationships with CPAs, you may be missing out on some serious potential cash flow. There is a whole world of professionals out there that you could (and should) be aligning yourself with! From lawyers and insurance agencies to contractors and religious groups, you just never know where your next new client could come from!
On that note, here are 10 steps for creating successful strategic alliances with professionals other than CPAs:
- Get creative – We all know the obvious partnerships, right? Attorneys, insurance agents, etc. But have you considered connecting with real estate agents in high-end areas? What about alumni groups? Retired (or soon to retire) advisors? High-end spas? Any professional who reaches your target audience is a professional with whom you want to have a relationship.
- Do your research – Once you’ve identified the professionals you want to partner with, do some research. You need to find data that supports your belief that a strategic alliance will be mutually beneficial.
- Make the first call – Reach out and schedule a coffee date to discuss how you can cross promote each other.
- Provide immediate value – Respect their time. Show them the knowledge and value that you bring to the table upfront and how this can benefit their clients. This is where you have to sell yourself. Make yourself valuable in their eyes.
- Make your pitch – Clearly describe your target market and ideal customer. Illustrate how the relationship will be mutually beneficial and show them the potential for increased revenue. Get specific. What is unique about what they do and how it relates to your clients and vice versa? What goals do they have that an alliance with you could help them meet?
- Determine the structure of your relationship – For some professionals, a more laid-back approach, where each of you share referrals whenever you can, works. Others want a more formal agreement. You could establish a set referral fee for each client that signs on or simply trade off referrals. There are many ways to structure this relationship, so make sure you are both on the same page.
- Brainstorm opportunities and expectations – Identify more opportunities to work together. Focus on the audience, business themes, and interests you have in common. Discuss objectives, potential problem areas, and expectations for your relationship.
- Set measurable goals – What do you want the relationship to accomplish in the next 12 months? Set minimum goals (what needs to happen in order to continue the partnership beyond that year) as well as ideal goals (what needs to happen in order for the relationship to be considered a success).
- Have a plan – What happens after the first year if the relationship is successful? What happens if it isn’t? What happens if it’s successful for the first year and then in the second (or third, or 10th) year, the relationship stops being mutually beneficial? Have an agreed upon plan that you can refer back to as time progresses.
- Follow up – Decide on a timeline for your first progress meeting. Be honest about expectations and be ready for an open conversation about what needs to change moving forward.
Your relationships with these professionals will be constantly evolving as both of your businesses change. By having a plan and sticking to it, you will avoid being caught off guard if something changes on the other side of the partnership. Strategic alliances are only strategic as long as both parties can get on the same page and stay there.
Next week we’ll be talking about the importance of powerful testimonials and how to get them. See you then!