Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Managing Business Partnerships To Close New Business

From time to time, company's are asked to partner with other organizations to sign new business.  This can be mutually beneficial as long as everyone understands the rules and ego's don't get in the way.   First, both companies must recognize that the potential client is driving the discussion.  It is pretty easy to determine the basis of the deal by just reviewing the Request for Proposal.  It really does not matter who owns the business relationship, provided the long standing relationship does not get in the way of signing the new business.  In other words, in every deal, there is a dog and there is a tail.  The tail can never be allowed to wag the dog, even if the tail has the business relationship with the client. 

We have certainly learned this lesson the hard way.   In one instance, we dealt with a business partner with a very arrogant, obnoxious, rude sales guy, who was the Account Manager for the particular client.  As such, he wanted to control all aspects of the bid process, even though he was ill prepared to do so and the client was not bidding his services.   That was not only evident in the RFP; but became particularly obvious during the Best and Final Presentation when the client contact made it clear that this bid was all about our services, rather than the services provided by his company with the existing relationship.  As such, the BAFO Presentation, controlled by Mr. Obnoxious, missed the mark.  Though we tried to quickly recover during the BAFO, by switching gears, it must be assumed that the prospect surmised that we did not respond to their needs, since we were not selected to provide our services.  Though Mr. Obnoxious protected his commission and his company's business interests, the deal for our services went to one of our competitors.  Given our investment of time and resources, never again, never again will we allow another company's salesman to control our company's fate.   

This was a lesson well learned by all concerned.  First of all, don't partner with an arrogant, obnoxious, rude sales guy because doing so rarely ends in a positive result.  In this case, we could see these behaviors right from the beginning of this process.  And second, though this should be obvious and pretty simple, just listen to the prospect/client and respond to the Request For Proposal.  No doubt, we may find our company someday being the tail, with the existing business relationship.   Hopefully, we will be smart enough to collect a booking commission, or referral fee of some kind for referring the business to another company, when the client is asking for the dog.  In doing so, the best thing we can do is to make the introduction and endorsement, be present at meetings and just get out of the way and let our business partner close the deal.  This is another one of those lessons in business learned the hard way.   

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