by Paul Martin

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by Paul Martin


So I left on a vacation with my wife without a plan. I needed to get time away from the office for a week and get a different perspective on things. We hopped in the car and drove to a part of the country where I visited as a child. I didn’t have a plan. No hotel reservations. No list of sites to see. I just went. And it taught me a lesson on planning a business support journey.

Nothing really memorable happened on that trip–just a lot of hours of windshield time. I spent so much mental effort on trying to make decisions on the fly that I really didn’t have time to get a new perspective. Wasn’t that the reason I left on the trip?!?

Unfortunately, many of us take our business partners (clients, sponsors, and underwriters) on a trip without much of a path in mind. We have a vague idea that we would like their support, but not a clear map to get them there.

Begin With The End In Mind

When we know where we want to go, we can lead people to the destination.  We have a vision for the business partner relationship. With that destination in mind, we can put a business support journey together.

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote “Begin with the end in mind” (habit number 2). That’s a good approach with building business partners, too.

Most of us, get a little short-sighted and say we just want some kind of an agreement from our prospective business partner. The truth is we want more than that–and now is the time to be crystal clear with our ‘end’. Generally, we don’t want just an agreement; we want a renewal after this agreement. Ideally, the prospect will be a business partner for years to come. So our destination is a renewal.

To gain a renewal, the prospective business partner will enjoy and trust us through several stages.

5 Keys for The Business Partner Journey

Business Partnership is not like a child who follows the command of a parent to “get in the car and let’s go”.  The Business Partner must be willing to go with you. Let’s put together an adventure that business partners typically like. First, let’s talk about some things that business partners like and don’t like:

  1. Save The Partner Time. To a business leader, the only thing more valuable than money is time. Help them save time by reminding them what you intend to do at each step.
  2. Save The Partner Money. Be prepared to show the business leader that you have a way of hearing their desires and putting together a plan that makes financial sense.
  3. No Surprises. Your proposal must be clear–and preferably concise. Be brief but be sure to include anything that could 1) make the business partner excited and 2) make the business partner disappointed.  Remember, you want a renewal–not just a one-time commitment.
  4. Be Clear. Use words and phrases that are comfortable to the Business Partner. Ideally, use their words as much as possible in your proposal. After all, it is their money so use their words.
  5. Celebrate Them. Identify moments in the relationship that celebrate their partnership with your organization that surprise and delight them.

The Partner Journey: A Clear Map and Destination for Business Partners

Our goal is a renewal of their commitment so let’s draw up a map that makes it likely. We’ve had great success with a simple six-step journey that looks like this:

The Partner Journey represents a business process. It isn’t a timeline. For instance, we don’t need a separate meeting for each step (read Key #1 above). Some of the steps reside behind the scenes so that the Business Partner doesn’t see them–but you do.

Your Partner Journey likely looks a little different–because of the natural strengths of your organization.

We’ll travel through each step in The Business Partner Journey in coming articles. This journey saves time for both you and the partner–and will set the pace to gain a renewal.

Trip Planning Today

I learned from that poorly planned vacation and now making memories is the goal–not just “getting time away”. The Business Partner Journey helps you plan and build partner support now and into the future.

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