Every year, before stepping foot on the field, every NFL team spends hours (yes, really) going over their playbook. Each team member studies and studies each play until they know every single one by heart. When the team huddles and the quarterback calls the play, every player immediately knows exactly where he’s supposed to be and which direction he needs to move after the ball is snapped. The quarterback knows when to pass left and when to throw long and every receiver knows exactly when/why/how the quarterback will pass him the ball.
Unfortunately, there’s not really a “playbook” for creating strategic alliances in the finance world (wouldn’t that be nice??)
But the good news is: there are still some things we can learn from the NFL.
Here are 7 tips from the NFL that we can apply to building strategic alliances:
- Know your team. For a real estate agent, the worst time to connect is during the summer because that’s their busiest season. On the other hand, this is the best time to connect with a CPA because it’s the lull between their two busiest season, spring and fall. If you’re trying to connect with a millenial, don’t call them! Email, social media, even texting are all better options. On the other hand, there are many Gen-Xers who still prefer to get on the phone or better yet, to meet in person. Know your team so you can connect with them at the best time and in the best way for them.
- Do whatever you need to do to get their attention. Have you ever been on the field during a football game? Even a high school or college game. It is LOUD. The guys on the field are constantly talking to each other, yelling, whistling, whatever they have to do to get each other’s attention. If you email someone and they don’t respond, follow up with a phone call. If they tell you they don’t have time to meet with you, offer to pick up lunch and go to their office. If you know they have a membership at a certain golf course, get a membership and offer to pay for a round of golf. Do whatever you need to do in order to get the attention of the people you want to connect with.
- Keep your options open. Every single play gives the quarterback more than one option for where to send the ball. After the snap, he takes the time to analyze the situation and make the best decision possible and what works once may not work again, even on the same play. Don’t limit yourself. If it’s clear that a connection isn’t happening with one person, let it go and move on. Don’t let yourself get stuck.
- Plan ahead. You have to have a playbook to win. You can’t quit in the middle of a football game, or in the middle of building a strategic alliance. When it gets tough, don’t quit, just change your play. Learn to anticipate the problems that could come up so you’re ready for them when they happen.
- Identify key team members. Who’s the quarterback? Who’s your defense? Who’s playing each role on your team? Does everybody know their role? If not, it might be time to clarify things.
- The “off-season” isn’t really off. When the season is over, NFL players get a break but they don’t really ever stop completely. They’re still training, working out, eating right, doing everything they need to do to stay in shape for the next season. You need a year-round plan for how you’re going to stay ahead of the competition. What will you do over the summer to make sure you’re ready for the tax season? What will you do during tax season to make sure that your established relationships with CPAs survive their busy season? The work isn’t over once you’ve found your team. What are you going to do to continue developing and strengthening those relationships?
- Know when it’s time to trade. If an alliance isn’t beneficial, it might be time to “trade” that player to another team and pick up someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and do what’s best for your team.
For more info on how to build strategic alliances, read this. (link to 10 steps to creating strategic alliances with professionals other than CPAs). This is one of the most important things you can do for your business, so be sure and take these tips to heart and implement them in your process.