In case you haven’t heard Salesforce.com, the enterprise cloud computing company behind the popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool, has joined forces with Intuit – the small business accounting (Quickbooks) and tax software (Turbo Tax) behemoth.
This partnership means a lot for both companies. Salesforce.com will deepen its penetration into the small business market. Quickbooks, currently used by 4.5 million small businesses, will strengthen its position with Salesforce.com’s 85,000+ clients and become a reseller of the popular CRM tool. Both companies will undoubtedly benefit from increased revenue and customer share of mind.
As an entrepreneur, what does this mean and why should you care? Glad you asked. It means that the integration of your customer and financial data should yield improved marketing intelligence and hopefully, enhanced workflow.
How Integration Affects Your Small Business
How often does your accountant talk to your marketing team? And if you are a one man show, my bet is that you view these two functions as completely separate entities. Historically, the buzz word “integration” is a tough pill to swallow for large organizations. In a Utopian business, marketing and finance would work hand-in-hand. So it comes as no surprise that the flexible and agile small business may have an easier go with it.
A good CRM tool will manage your customer, sales, marketing and support information seamlessly. CRM is really helpful for companies that focus on lead generation, retention and acquisition (which should be all of us). In contrast, accounting software helps manage financial and payroll business needs. When these two tools join forces, your marketing teams’ access to real-time financial data should enable your marketing dollars to work smarter and more effectively.
Why Strategic Partnerships Make Sense for Entrepreneurs
Countries, corporations, industries … every successful business entity has partnered up to create value. In its simplest form, a strategic partnership is an alliance between two parties, formalized by contracts – not to be confused with a legal partnership (Wikipedia).
Why is collaboration essential to an entrepreneur’s success? It’s simple. One company may possess the skills, trade knowledge or assets that your company doesn’t have and vice versa.
The goal of a strategic partnership is for complimentary brands to align themselves to one vision for the good of all parties involved. Not only do strategic partnerships reduce costs associated with internal development, but they offer a great resource for untapped markets, new clientele and a stronger competitive position in the market.
Form a Strategic Partnership in 30 Days or Less
To get started, first identify your partnership goal. Start with the basics and review your business plan, consider target audiences and glean customer insights. An informal query, focus group or research can help you identify activities and or products that your target audience has a high propensity to engage in or utilize.
For example, independent research on Mass Market Women (specific target), reveals that a) she’s the hub of the home and family life and b) media is her “me” time. Translation: She facilitates multiple roles and has a high propensity to engage in activities that enable her to escape, relax, unwind and be entertained. If your company targets this woman, then look to other companies that provide complimentary services that speak to her need to relax and unwind.
Next, develop a list of 10 companies in your local market that could benefit from a partnership with your business. Ensure to position your business to give the advantage – not just take it.
Now it’s time to make contact – a simple phone call and or email will suffice. Let your prospective partner know who you are, what your company does, your reason for calling and lastly, ask if they look for innovative ways to increase revenue and customer base.
If they say no, hang up immediately. What company doesn’t want to a) increase revenue and b) grow their customer base? And remember, clearly communicate a well-thought out proposition. I don’t know many entrepreneurs, including myself, that have time to guess what you want or dig through innuendo. “Let’s work together” doesn’t cut it.
If they are a ‘strategic partner’ and say yes, schedule a brief meeting over coffee to discuss your idea. Most small businesses will be pleased to collaborate on innovative ideas with potential.
If you’ve won over your new partner and negotiated the details, congratulations! Don’t for get to put it in writing by drafting a contract. The best part about strategic partners is not just the revenue. The lessons learned from a new view point and intrinsic added value for your customers will ultimately improve your small business.
I challenge every YFS to get started today and let me know how it goes in the comments section below. Did you enjoy this article? If so, subscribe to YFS Magazine and never miss an update.
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