How should I maximise my networks?

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Support your partners
Getting a partner is only half of the battle, getting them to actually sell something is the other half – you need to provide your partners the support they need to sell your product or service.

“Give the partner everything they need to succeed... A salesman’s suitcase. I trained them, I went on sales calls with them, they watched me sell, I watched them sell, I mentored them… I was then ready to engage in a partnership conversation.” Matthew Michaelwitz, entrepreneur.

Learn from your partners
If you are looking to build your expertise, take advantage of the knowledge of your partners who may be happy to share the value of their experience with you.

“I have the greatest level of respect [for my partners]. These people want to help us. What I learnt about selling overseas… was from the people overseas.” – Sean Ashby, Aussie Bums.

Leverage your supply chain
If your supply chain is multinational, it is likely that they will have offices around the world and will serve customers that could also be your customers. If you have a strong relationships, leverage this by asking your partners to introduce you to their end customers.

“[Our supply chain] is more than willing to help us [by putting us in contact with their end customers] because there are synergies and it is a mutually beneficial relationship” – Linh Bui, HMPS.

Draw on your partners when things go wrong
When something goes wrong with your shipping or product (and it will, at some stage!) it is vital to have a strong network of local partners who can help out if you don’t have your own presence in the market.

“You’ve got to have a good network of either agents or in-country personnel to support you [when things go wrong]” – Aaron Begley, Matrix Composites and Engineering. 

Show your appreciation for their support
Everyone likes being appreciated and partners are no different. If you thank people, they will be more likely to help you again next time.

“Our referral program… if someone’s told someone to eat Carman’s, we ask for their details and then we send them a little thank you present in the post. People love that.” Carolyn Creswell, Carman’s Kitchen.

Hear from some of panellists at our recent SME briefings on how they maximise their networks