What could you offer your strategic customer and partner that would allow you to grow your business, and at the same time benefit from their market knowledge? Surprisingly, the answers are pretty straightforward.
1. As a small enterprise, make sure you get exclusivity for your product or service.
When pursuing such a partnership, your partner must be willing to grant you some form of exclusivity for your efforts. This means that if you develop a product for your customer and partner, then they must guarantee to only use your product or service as part of the agreement. You in turn, will offer what you can to help them reduce costs. You must offer them an incentive to pursue the partnership and grant you the exclusivity you need to make the agreement work.
This could be preferential pricing, favorable payment terms, engineering and service capabilities, business knowledge, and even labor. These services would not only be offered to your customer and partner, but could also extend to your customer’s customers. Anything you feel could help your customer benefit from the partnership must be considered. These partnerships are the ultimate give and take. If you needed some incentive about how successful these relationships can be for small enterprises, then consider that most automotive manufacturers have extensive partnerships throughout their entire supply chain with smaller and more flexible businesses.
2. Think of what you can offer that your potential partner might need, and then set out a plan to negotiate a deal.
Let’s assume you are working with a customer that you feel could be a potential partner. As an example, you might be working with an equipment manufacturer and have a key and essential part that they have trusted with giving you the majority of their volume requirements. You are a valued supplier to them, but do not have all their business. In order to close the loop, you offer preferential pricing, volume discounts, engineering and service capabilities, and in return, you require all the volume. While a number of these companies are in the business of making and selling equipment, they may not be interested in supporting the smaller residual spare parts that go into these machines.
Doing so would force them to hold inventory of spare parts, and then send a service technician out to service these customers. If your company provides some of these essential parts, your business might be ideally suited to fill this role, and may be able to provide a vital service for your partner. The strategic partnership secures your business, and in return, your partner saves on price, service, and warehousing costs. You secure more business, and increase your market share. There are a number of possible scenarios that could work in your favor. You might expand your offer provided your partner exhibits your company logo, contact information, and specifications on their equipment and brochures. The idea is to increase your visibility within the market place and ultimately grow business. It’s a relationship that can be beneficial to both parties and can help grow your enterprise.