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How to Develop Strategic Partnerships and Grow Your Firm

Aug 27th 2019
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Relationships are the foundation of a successful business. That’s especially true for accounting professionals. Before clients entrust you to advise them or handle their tax returns, they need to trust you. As you know, that can take a lot of time and patience! Fortunately, there is a way to hasten the process—by building strategic partnerships.

Advantages of Forming Strategic Partnerships

  • Establish Credibility: Aligning with reputable companies gives prospects confidence in your reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Boost Qualified Referrals: You attract more prospects within your target market.
  • Increase Revenue: Naturally, the more qualified leads come your way, the more likely you are to convert them to paying clients.
  • Save Time: Strategic partnerships take some of the sales burden off your shoulders. That means you can spend less time trying to find new prospects and more time closing qualified leads and servicing your current clients.
  • Help Increase Profitability: By adding clients through your strategic partnership, you can maximize sales cost effectively and keep sales and marketing expenses in check.
  • Expand Your Reach: Having strategic partnerships extends your network, enabling you to connect with people you may otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet.
  • Build Customer Loyalty: Strategic partnerships enhance the value you provide to your existing clients. They give you a way to satisfy clients' needs beyond the scope of your business.

Three Tips for Forming Successful Strategic Partnerships

Here are some suggestions for establishing partnerships that can help boost your business:

1.  Decide Which Professionals and Companies Might Be Viable Partners

Consider who within your network offers services that complement yours. Some ideas include:

  • Attorneys
  • Business consultants
  • Executive coaches
  • Life coaches
  • Office supply stores

Also, don't rule out individuals and companies that offer some of the same services. For example, bookkeepers and tax preparers may have clients who need services beyond what they're capable of offering (or legally allowed to offer). You may even find other accounting firms might make good partners, particularly if their specialties are different or they want to have a reliable alternative available when they can't take on additional clients.

When choosing who to approach about a strategic partnership, consider their capabilities and reputation for delivering customer satisfaction. You need to feel confident that your clients will be in good hands. Partnering with an unethical or incompetent resource will reflect poorly on your business. It's in your best interest to be choosy!

2. Agree on a Shared Vision for How You Will Work Together

Although a strategic partnership isn't the same as shared ownership of a company, you will need to agree upon the logistics of how you will serve mutual clients. Discuss in detail the ways you can help one another fulfill each other's clients' unanswered needs. Also, talk about important specifics, such as sharing assets (office supplies, equipment, etc.) and how you will bill customers when you're both providing services. For example, will you both send an invoice, or will your business send an invoice that includes both your services and those of your partner?

Maintaining a written policy of roles, responsibilities, processes, goals, timelines, etc. related to the strategic partnership will help avoid misunderstandings.

3. Take the Time to Understand Each Other’s Business

Learn about each other's capabilities, skillsets and unique value. The more you know, the better able you will be to identify when clients can benefit from the expanded services your partnership offers. This may require providing training to each other. Also, it will demand regular, ongoing communication. With confidence in what your partner offers and comfort in the process of working together, you can help ensure that clients have a seamless service experience.

Strategic Partnerships: A Win-Win-Win

Can you have more than one strategic partnership? Of course, but make sure the relationships your form make sense and don’t interfere with each other. Thoughtfully formed strategic partnerships benefit you, the companies you choose to work with and your clients. They’re a win all around, providing you and your strategic partners with opportunities for revenue growth and your clients with convenience, quality and value.

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