True love vs. arranged marriage: more on agency partnerships

Rarely do arranged marriages work out. Sure, they are sometimes portrayed in movies as a romantic thing with a happy ending. But that comfort only often comes after years and years of living together. And they all start with two people shyly looking at each other…scheming, well-meaning parents in the background…

But you ain’t here for the next episode of Downton Abbey. You’re here for a bit of new business wit and wisdom.

In new business pitching, arranged marriages still rarely work out. I’ve seen them most in government pitches, typically when there’s some sort of mandate to give business to minority businesses of all colors, shapes, sizes and sexes.

So, how can you avoid arranged marriages? Of course! Call me crazy, but can’t you…date a little bit first? Here are a few ways that might work:

  • Of course, a signed mutual non disclosure agreement and “no poaching” clause. I know. Neither one of you would do something to intentionally harm the other. But go ahead and throw it on a piece of paper so all on your team know the story.
  • Of course, part two. A couple of meals and respective agency tours. You really have to get to know the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of this potential partner.
  • Give each other some work on existing client business. This does three things: road tests the relationship and work product; provides honest “see, we work together” proof; and helps pay off the time you have spent to date courting each other.
  • Build and share the understanding of the financial arrangements. How does the money work? Is a strict trade of opportunities? Is there a mark-up? I like a mark-up of some sort. The agency giving the business should profit from the transaction to make it worth their while. This minimizes the impact of failed introductions and pitches.
  • Keep track of the love. Here, “love” means top line growth or bottom line savings. Yes, that’s bottom line growth. Back office functions that are made more efficient through volume. In some cases, you may find the annual savings in bottom lines will be higher and easier to achieve than new business revenue.

You can find out more about this idea in this three-post series, how to get three more meetings this quarter. So, if you’re suitably inspired, I would encourage you to find a complimentary partner. There are great firms out there that can provide a wealth of new services to your existing clients. And, put you in a better place when pitching new business. You can avoid the shy looks and great unknowns of a shotgun-type affair.

Happy pitching.

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