Thursday, May 21, 2009

True Companion: Makings of a Business Partner

If you’re a corporate buyer of professional services I suspect you have a myriad of partners.

Let’s start with your legal counsel with its team of $500 an hour Ivy Leaguers helping you survive the litigious jungle that defines business today. Then, there is your accounting firm with its principals of comparable pedigree and billable rate making sure you steer clear of the inquiring eyes of the SEC and IRS.

Now lump in the management consultants, HR and benefit representatives, spin doctors and advertising hotshots. I bet you all of these advisors claim to stand with you as a partner.

The truth is that none of the lot should actually fall in to the partner category. They provide a service. They pick up a check. That’s the definition of a vendor.

Of course, this is not to say a vendor is unable to rise to a loftier partner status. It just takes a bit of creativity in how they leverage their core capabilities, market connections and assets to help you increase sales, profitability and/or valuation in a measurable way.

At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), we offer clients access to a proprietary Network of Relationships® as a means of bringing additional value to an engagement. We explore the natural synergies that exist among our clients and industry contacts, and then facilitate introductions to stimulate partner and teaming discussions.

An even better example is food distributor Sysco and its free consulting service called Business Review. The company helps its restaurant customers increase sales and profits through food preparation advice, marketing support and wait staff training.

In an interview in BusinessWeek, Sysco’s vice chairman explains their motivation, “We felt if we could improve their business, that would improve our business with them.”

Now that’s a business partner.

No comments: