How will you foster a commitment to your sales relationship? Will you just randomly connect with various business partners or intermediaries, and hope that you’ll eventually get a commitment? If hope is how you plan to build relationships, then you’re in for a tough ride.
Hope is not a strategy.
When you connect with your business partners or intermediaries, you’re investing a lot of money into these business relationships. You create incentive programs and sales plans and train employees in sales management.
Obviously, your end goal is to actually get your business partner or intermediaries to want to sell your product. You want your business to be top of mind when intermediaries connect with end customers. But how can you create a powerful business relationship? How can you get committed partnerships?
Patrick Lencioni is a smart guy who wrote about the 5 dysfunctions of a team.
These five dysfunctions—trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results—can be applied to business relationships. Let’s discuss them one by one:
Trust is the first and most basic layer.
How can you create trust in your business relationship?
Trust is based on vulnerability. What this means is that in a business, you need to be clear about positioning your company.
As a company, you can't be good at everything, you need to be able to admit your limitations and weaknesses. You need to be clear on what you’re good at and what you can do for your clients. That is how you first create trust with intermediaries, resellers, and brokers. If you lack transparency, a foundation of trust is not possible.
Once you get that trust, the second layer is very important:
Conflict is a good thing.
Not all of your ideas or your partners’ ideas will be great.
There are pros and cons to every decision you make. There are tough topics that are difficult but necessary to address. That means you need to get intermediaries to open up and engage in unfiltered, passionate debates about your ideas or sales strategy.
That said—fear of conflict might be the reason why you’re not getting your business relationship to the next level. If you keep agreeing to your partners' or intermediaries’ sales strategy and don’t give corrective feedback, you end up with an inferior decision or sales strategy.
You need to be able to address the tough topics first. Once you get partners or intermediaries to open up and have healthy discussions, you’ll likely end up with ideas and strategies that can help you increase sales and are mutually beneficial to your partnership.
Commitment is about compromises and agreeing despite conflicts.
Let’s say, there’s some disagreement between you and your business partner or intermediaries about a new product launch. Having commitment entails giving each other the benefit of the doubt and creating a relationship where any party can say, “OK. I don’t agree, but let’s move forward with your idea and try it out.”
Both parties need to be able to commit to their deadlines and review key decisions. Despite both of your best efforts, an idea can fail. Committed partnership entails being able to face potential pitfalls and the fear of failure with your partners or intermediaries.
Accountability entails having an agreement and committing to a clear plan of action. When you can’t hold others accountable for their mistakes, missed deadlines, or actions—this allows for mediocrity and poor performance.
Once you agree on something, you need to hold up your end and commit to the plan. You should be able to objectively analyze both of your efforts, set clear standards and progress reviews, and make sure each side is accountable.
Once you’ve resolved these 4 dimensions, there’s a possibility that you’re not looking at the end game. You have a good relationship with your partners and intermediaries, but you lose sight of your collective goals and objectives. You’re doing the right things, but you’re not looking at where it leads to.
To avoid this scenario, you need to constantly look at your strategies and assess how it help you increase sales and achieve your objectives.
Ready to Create Commitment?
In this post, we’ve discussed the five dysfunctions of potential business relationships:
- Trust - You need to be clear about what your business can offer, including your limitations and weaknesses.
- Conflict - Don’t be afraid of conflicts because it can get intermediaries to open up and engage in healthy discussions.
- Commitment - Give your partners or intermediaries the benefit of the doubt, commit to deadlines and mutually revise your strategy.
- Accountability - Both parties should be able to hold each other accountable for their mistakes.
- Results - Always look at how your plans are helping you achieve your collective goals and objectives.
Think about how you can apply these and start to experiment with them. I’m really interested to see how it works out.
Written by : Frie Pétré