When I suggested to a business development manager that they should bring their existing partners together in a room to explore how their partners can work together I was met by the same response as when I suggested to another business development manager that they should bring their prospects and partners together at a hospitality function – Are you crazy Richard! What if our existing partners say something negative about us to one of our prospects or another partner.
That is an interesting (glass half empty) response! Let’s delve a little deeper into it.
First of all, if you believe that your existing partners and clients will say something bad about you, then I highly recommend that you get on the phone right now and arrange a meeting with them to discuss in detail what’s working well for them in their relationship with you (always start on the positive) and then identify in detail all the areas that they believe need improving, ensuring that you address the issue that you believe will cause them to say not so good things about you in the first place.
If you don’t do this, you are burying your head in the sand and the relationship will unravel at some point in the near future anyhow.
By addressing their problems you have a chance to turn a negative situation around and the fact that you are attempting to address their issues will be seen positively.
Secondly, what if your partners and clients said something positive about you! (glass half full).
Whatever you say to a prospect to persuade them to choose you, it will never ever be as strong or convincing as hearing from an existing partner or client about your qualities and the value you bring to their organisation.
Key action to take
The key action to take is to ensure that your best partners and clients (your advocates) are introduced to and sit next to your key prospects and then…..step away.
Nothing you say at this point will come close to the value of a positive endorsement about you from an existing partner and client to a prospect.
I suggest you review all the events you have (or could have) with existing partners and clients and identify where you can bring your prospects along.
As an example, I am currently planning a corporate partners workshop with one of my clients and the room will be full of major corporates talking about how they have used the partnership to achieve their outcomes. We will also be inviting a select few key prospects who at the end of the workshop, from experience, will be keen to be part of the “partner family”.
When I was Marketing Manager at KPMG we would do the same at education events mixing clients and prospects. It worked a treat.
If you would like to discover more effective prospect engagement strategies join me at the following workshops