Building Partnerships


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Do you work with partners? Do you want to improve a relationship with your clients to increase
your revenues? Are there difficulties in a current client relationship you need to resolve? In this case study, we explain how our client developed business by holding workshops with their clients to find a shared value proposition. We explain how you can do this and identify key learning points.

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Building Partnerships

  1. 1. The Creative Gorilla – Case Study Do you work with partners? Do you want to improve a relationship with your clients to increase your revenues? Are there difficulties in a current client relationship you need to resolve? In this case study, we explain how our client developed business by holding workshops with their clients to find a shared value proposition. We explain how you can do this and identify key learning points. As a result, there was little opportunity to build relationships and incremental revenue. Major Inc.’s Marketing Director concluded that if they were to grow the business in more than just an organic way, they needed to build a greater relationship with clients. They Building decided to hold a workshop with each client, to identify opportunities to drive incremental Partnerships revenue for both parties. Along with the Sales Director, they chose Yes! Imagine organising a first date with someone, And… to design and facilitate the events. As or arranging a celebration with your partner. the first step in our process we agreed the Whether your choice is a simple meal or a workshop purpose and outcomes. It is balloon ride over an African game reserve, it essential that you are clear on these. is likely that you want them to know, “this relationship is special.” PURPOSE To develop with Partners a strategic plan to take To enhance relationships with business advantage of market opportunities. partners, whether suppliers or clients, calls for a similar amount of thought and REQUIRED OUTCOMES consideration. By the end of each workshop, the Group will have: Our client, a large supplier in the IT industry 1. Identified the: we’ll call “Major Inc.”, had a typical relationship with their clients: • Core strengths of the two companies • Key areas of opportunities • Major Inc were viewed as suppliers rather than partners • Markets that should be targeted 2. Created a joint value proposition and strategy • They mainly worked for their clients to make the most of this proposition rather than with them 3. Developed a tactical engagement plan with • Sales calls were often taken up with clear accountabilities to execute the agreed discussion about existing contracts rather strategy than potential new work 1
  2. 2. The Creative Gorilla – Case Study Pre - Workshop Workshop Example Our brief was to make each workshop highly Selling the Workshop participative, interesting, enjoyable and A one day workshop involves a significant productive, as well as relationship building. amount of time for your own staff as well as We varied each workshop slightly, based on clients. The Marketing Director had to sell in the needs of the companies involved. There the internal benefits of the workshops to her will be some differences if you are not in the sales colleagues so that they could be enlisted IT industry but much of the design is to sell the workshops to clients. transferrable. They also supplied the sales team with a list of benefits their clients would obtain. To gain learning whilst controlling risk, Major Inc. chose a smaller client for the first workshop. Participants Participant roles varied at different workshops but were primarily senior sales and marketing management along with service delivery. If you run such an event, representatives from all key areas should participate, to ensure MAP OF WORKSHOP that decisions can be made in the workshop MAKE IT OUTSTANDING and to increase buy in for solutions. In every workshop we run, we start by Setting building the relationships between Major Inc. wisely chose offsite, comfortable participants and have them focus on what venues, close to the partner’s office that would make the workshop outstanding for required the minimum of people to stay over. them. We have a separate article that looks at This avoided too many interruptions whilst this in more detail. minimising costs. DEVELOP INDUSTRY TIMELINE Information Outcome: The Group has a shared Major Inc. supplied us with reports on the understanding of the shape of the industry in industry trends which we summarised. This 2011. helped us to understand the industry and In two mixed teams, using their experience participants used them for the Industry and the industry reports, delegates drew a Timeline exercise. time line for the industry over the next three years, identifying the likely trends and key points with drawings. Typically, we have people work in teams of three; this enables all 2
  3. 3. The Creative Gorilla – Case Study to participate and means that the Group has EVALUATE OPPORTUNITIES more than one perspective. Outcome: The Group has agreed The exercise also gives people the opportunities to exploit. opportunity to show their knowledge of the This stage will vary, depending on the industry. number of opportunities. With one Group it was decided that there was one very strong CONSIDER OUR OFFERINGS contender and no evaluation was necessary. Outcome: The Group understands the With another, the Group agreed to evaluate offerings of both parties. the ideas using the following criteria: This varied by workshop but typically, each • Revenue potential company team prepared a brief history, list of • Time to deliver offerings and capabilities and put this on to a flipchart. Whilst you could save time and do • Demonstrably supports partnership this in advance for distribution, it did provide Based on these criteria, the Group chose two immediacy to the output. opportunities to work on. CONSIDER OUR STRENGTHS Outcome: The Group understands the strengths each party brings to the venture. To vary the style and to ensure a focussed output, I interviewed staff of each partner about the strengths of their company, using a list of prepared questions. The partner PARTNERSHIP IN ACTION company had opportunity to ask questions EXPLOIT OPPORTUNITIES too. Next, we captured the key points on a flipchart. Outcome: The Group has a value proposition that explains how they will exploit the IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES opportunity. Outcome: The Group has a list of potential In this stage, we had the Groups develop a opportunities for co-operative working. print advert which would explain the Individuals identified opportunities for the two proposition to a prospective client. companies to work together more. They Major Inc. will use the partner’s “Planned broke in to cross company teams and went Obsolescence” services to understand and for a walk to discuss potential opportunities evaluate them. Subsequently, they will for working together. On their return, they promote and sell them in to their own prepared charts of the opportunities. customer base. EXAMPLE PROPOSITION 3
  4. 4. The Creative Gorilla – Case Study PLAN ACTION • “Great engagement in both companies, Outcome: The Group has an action plan to combined with determination on both move forward, with assigned accountabilities. sides to move things forward.” • “Very productive and delivered on all the In this stage, we had teams develop an agreed objectives set out this morning.” Action Storyboard in which the actions are split over six periods of time on a chart. Learning Points Following discussion within the whole group, the teams developed a standard action plan If you want to arrange such workshops with tasks, date and responsibilities. yourself, here are several key points you can take from these workshops: • Be very clear on what you want to achieve from the day. Create an example if you can (e.g. an example of a written value proposition) so that the client has something tangible in mind • Be well prepared to sell the benefits to the partner and to your own people EXAMPLE OF AN ACTION STORYBOARD • Agree the outcomes with each partner prior to their workshop MAKING IT ENJOYABLE • Have people from all relevant disciplines Before each section, we ran an exercise particpate in the workshop to reduce the designed to fit with each task. This helped internal sales effort following the build relationships and made the day more workshop enjoyable. • Have the workshop offsite and near the client • If it is possible, obtain information such as trend analysis before the event and summarise it for distribution on the day I trust this article has given you ideas. Whether you are engaging business partners IT CAN BE ENJOYABLE on a first date or want to further establish Feedback your relationship, a workshop can save a lot of sales meetings and accelerate relationship Some feedback on the different workshops development, in a cost effective and included: enjoyable way. • “Very positive and enjoyable. Clarity around the end result was excellent.” 4
  5. 5. The Creative Gorilla – Case Study About the Author John Brooker started DON’T HAVE TIME TO DESIGN AND his career in the RAF and went on to FACILITATE? become a Senior Do you want to build partnerships with Vice President with other organisations? If you have the time, Visa International. you can use this article to design and run He now does what a workshop to help you do that, but if you he loves; running his own company Yes! are short of time or prefer to be part of And… the workshop, you might like to talk to us. The company mission is to enable In Yes! And… we are experienced in organisations to be successful by facilitating facilitating such events and have many flexible thinking and powerful communication. satisfied clients. We can also train your John and his colleagues help teams to think people to facilitate such events and design more flexibly by facilitating workshops, the event for you. developing skills and advising management. To discuss how you can use Relationship His particular interest is innovation. Building Workshops to develop your John is a Solutions Focus Professional, a business, please contact John Brooker: Kaizen Training Black Belt Facilitator and a Write: NLP Business Practitioner. He also has an Speak: 020 8869 9990 MBA from the Open University and tutors on See: the OU “Creativity, Innovation and Change” PLEASE FEEL FREE TO PASS THIS ARTICLE ON MBA Course. TO A COLLEAGUE WHO MAY APPRECIATE IT. His regular clients include major organisations such as Visa International, EADS DS, Openreach and Government departments. As well as the UK, John frequently works internationally in Europe, Sub Saharan Africa and the Middle East. He recently ran a Communication Skills Course in China. He writes a regular “Creative Gorilla” article on creative leadership and flexible thinking, distributing it internationally twice a month. To sign up, please send an e-mail with “Subscribe” in the subject line and your first and surname to 5