Posts Tagged ‘alliances’

Empty Partnership Offers

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

 

“I am flattered that you would consider partnering with us, here is how it might work…”

 

I have sat with six experienced private investors and bankers talking to entrepreneurs and executives with impressive mid-market and small businesses in the past month. Universally, their entire approach bar one notable exception, is driven by a poverty mindset and fear. “How can we minimise our risk, our upfront investment, our commitment (time, cash, resources and so forth)  and get the other partner to show us their true worth while exerting maximum control?” It is not what you say or the other partner hears that matters, it is how you act.  If you really are a prudent risk taker, act like a peer and let go of the fear. Otherwise stop wasting everyone’s valuable time.

© James Berkeley 2017.

Success Trumps Ego

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

 

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If your ego won’t allow you to share credit with those who have contributed substantially to your success, why should others help you in future (clients, investors, peers, employees, business partners etc)?

Successful people always look more successful when their stories reference people often less successful than themselves, who have helped them in vulnerable situations.

Even Donald Trump in his bombastic interviews rarely avoids talking about the “little people”,  who gave him a helping hand. He just leaves you thinking that only he could walk on water!

Many aspiring business managers and execs would be wise to think about whether their conversations, presentations, speeches, media interviews and marketing collaterals sufficiently share the credit with others.

If it is all about “Me, Me, Me”, why should I return your call, stop to talk or consider working together?

Copyright 2016 James Berkeley. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Decision Maker or Decision Taker

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

I talked yesterday to an investment manager in a highly acquisitive business at the behest of a client I represent, who thought their firm would have a high level of interest buying them. They had known each other as family friends and my client was certain his friend was the “decision-maker”. The manager’s opening line when asked about their interest was, “Are they desperate to sell the business or just figuring out a fit?” When I asked why he posed the question, he responded, “We are on a buying spree, I am just working out how fast they want to move and how much skin I would need to invest in the game (encouraging his superiors to commit)?” The last comment immediately set the alarm bells wringing. Despite my client’s assurances, his friend is a “decision taker”, not a “decision maker”, at least one, who can sign off on the deal without others approval.

I observe that 70% of the time my clients and prospects conversations with potential prospects, clients and partners ends in failure because they enter the conversation at the wrong level (not seen as a credible peer by the “decision-maker”) or worse talk to and invest time in people, who cannot say “yes” without others’ approval (“decision takers”).

Whether it is selling a business, selling a new product or service or exploring a strategic partnership, here is how to swiftly avoid spending oodles of time talking to “decision takers” and ruthlessly get in front of “decision-makers”:

  1. Be clear exactly what you want to talk about and how the “decision maker” is demonstrably better off from buying, using or hiring your expertise.
  2. Visualise exactly who the “decision maker” (by name or title in that organisation) is, who you must build a trusting relationship with and mutually-explore where you might be of help to each other. If you need others (non-decision makers) help identifying the appropriate individual, use language to position it in away that is beneficial for them (“I know you work with XXX, I thought he would be appreciative of hearing about how my firm could help transform your firm’s future and in so doing he would be appreciative you of you introducing us”).
  3. Work out the shortest, quickest route to that individual (referrals, networking, speaking etc). In larger firms there might very well be multiple “decision-makers” who you need to map out.
  4. How do you create the warmest welcome (identify shared interests, experiences, short-term needs, immediate value) to open the conversation with.
  5. What is the right mindset you need to have entering the room (“We are two peers irrespective of our past or accomplishments having a one-to-one dialogue without fear or guilt to help transform our respective futures.”)
  6. What is the best environment and time to meet the “decision-maker”? (when and where are you going to have an uninterrupted conversation, where will you both feel comfortable and rapidly progress the conversation)
  7. What ideally do you want to accomplish in that meeting and how can use the time most effectively to move towards your goals? In other words, how do you know if it has been a success and what are the signs (decision maker’s responses) that you have maximised your own time usage and the dialogue is moving in your desired direction.

The bane of every client facing person is time wasters. When you are your own worst enemy, it is time to adopt a new approach.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Free” Article: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Here is a “free” article titled, “Where Angels Fear To Tread” for members of my professional communities, published today in the Global Trader 2015 eBook.

Global Trader is the pre-eminent UK publication for executives with the fiduciary responsibility and a passion for global expansion and investment in their firms.

In the eBook, James explains how to establish a local business in a frontier market, where there is no local consulting or advisory market expertise of note to draw upon. Also known as “how to fly by the seat of your own pants and succeed.”

Drawing on his own experiences in some of the world’s most remote markets working for local and global management teams in major multinationals (Allianz, Hilton, Ericsson) and smaller entrepreneurial organisations, he discusses six conditions and criteria for successful assignments.  How to make critical and informed decisions? How to balance qualitative information in the absence of hard data and analytics? How to live with ambiguity? How to mitigate risk while maximising rewards?

Click here for further details Global Trader 2015 eBook

For those wanting more specific help, applying these and your own ideas write to james@elliceconsulting.com

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s Spend The Night Together

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

The classic Rolling Stones refrain ends with “Now I need you more than ever”. Many experienced professionals in advisory businesses often have a very similar mindset when it comes to entering into collaborative discussions with other firms in order to profit from a client opportunity. Here is why they are more often wrong than right.  Trust trumps money. No amount of riches will arise if promises and expectations are not openly shared or honoured to the satisfaction of both parties.

In the opening conversation, my best clients at a minimum, ask five powerful questions:

1. “I am curious, what motivated you to contact us about this opportunity?” Find out the business and personal reasons.

2. “Do you a short term opportunity in mind?” You want to hear a buyer’s name, organisation and need. If the other party cannot provide that level of clarity, your retort is “I will happily tell you briefly about my firm’s expertise and an ideal client. However experience tells me it is a poor use of our valuable time to have a detailed conversation about a conceptual collaboration that may very well not happen.” Stop there, don’t go into the following questions.

3. “What stops you doing this yourself?” Identify the perceived or actual gaps in the potential partner’s competency and passion to address the client’s need.

4. “What has been the secret of past collaborations with people like me?” You want to find both the substance (expertise, knowledge, contacts) and the style (personal chemistry, appearance, image) that best suits the other party.

5. “What are your expectations about the investment each of us would ideally make in the relationship (communication, priority, accountability marketing, sales, revenue sharing, resources, branding and so on)?” You want to lay the cards on the table. Note, not all the cards are of equal value or importance in meeting or exceeding your client’s expectations so devote time accordingly.

In my experience, on average most service businesses will have between 10 to 40 such exploratory conversations in any given year. Typically, there is 1-10 hours spent on due diligence. 80% result in “it was great to meet you” and no business. Only 5% result in a long-term relationship. In other words this can be a huge “time dump” if you don’t apply the rigour I am suggesting. Equally, no advisory business can ignore alliances as a growth alternative.

Know where you are headed, ask the right questions and use your time wisely.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Uncommon Partnerships

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Earlier this week I was at a fundraising “thank you” for the National Horse Racing Museum hosted by The Jockey Club in London. The event drew an august crowd of donors and supporters and they received the obligatory overview of the Museum’s plans in the confines of Christie’s, the global auction house. A very convivial evening experience. What later became obvious talking to some of the organisers was the huge missed opportunities to harness the power of the alliance (stronger credibility, attract wealthier and more influential people, provide them increased excitement and perceived value, offer multiple ways  for future contact, repeat contributions, referrals to others and continuous communication). This sadly is the common outcome of most alliances.

My observation based on hundreds of alliance conversations and a handful of powerful alliances that  I have formed for global organisations is that very few take heed of the old real estate sage’s wisdom “you make money on the way in, not the way out.”

In other words, there needs to be strong, factual evidence BEFORE entering the alliance what goals can reasonably be achieved and how to best make that happen, and the results that arise AFTER the duration of the alliance are viewed simply as a bonus.

Yet the majority of alliances I see in professional service firms, financial services, and international growth and expansion initiatives are not formed on that basis. Little wonder that that 90% of partnership or alliance discussions never result in any business being done, 75% of actual partnerships or alliances formed cease to be effective within a year and no more than 10% of partnerships or alliances run the duration of their projected lifespan.

Here is a few key steps for any business or not-for-profit to undertake BEFORE expanding valuable time, money and effort on alliance discussions:

  1. Strong Personal Chemistry (share same values, trust, social skills, empathy and so on)
  2. Track record of success with other alliances and strong references
  3. Each partner’s self-interests and desired outcomes are transparent
  4. Each partner comfortably shares their strategies and  agreed investment plans
  5. There is a demonstrable short-term opportunity (name of an individual, organisation) with a clear “need”, where the power of the alliance will result in a dramatic improvement to the individual or organisation and mutual benefit to both partners.

Let me remind you what doesn’t work. Detailed conceptual discussions based on perfect paper exercises. Effective alliances are about people with the requisite skills and volition doing something together, not thinking about doing something together.

© James Berkeley 2014. All rights reserved.