This month’s focus: Sometimes It’s Not The Potential Client That Need To Be Sold – But Your Own Partners.
There are times in business where we’ll partner with other companies where at first blush seems like “win – win” mergers of collaboration for a common goal, i.e., You both benefit from a business transaction where both worked in a symbiotic manner where if not for the resources of the two – the desired business transaction would probably never had been possible. e.g., You want to sell a product globally but don’t have those resources, so you may decide to team up and list on Ebay™ giving you the reach but without your product, Ebay has nothing to gain a commission on. In effect both need each other.
The same works in business to business type arrangements at all sizes and levels. And yes, franchises can fall into this also. The local store is locally owned, however, without the resources made available at a corporate level it doesn’t quite work. Food costs, advertising, et al would be near impossible to facilitate effectively. But when those rules that govern these collaborations work for one side only and not the other, a decision must be made as to stay in that relationship – or divorce from it. For allowing a symbiotic business relationship to turn into a parasitic one is: a matter of choice.
Case Study: In the early 90’s I made a career change and took a position as sales manager for a locally run radio station cluster. At the time it was an intriguing, as well as challenging position. One stations format was bifurcated into two completely different formats. The mornings were dedicated to a new format dealing in motivation where the top speakers (e.g. Dr. Wayne Dyer, Zig Ziglar and others) at the time were broadcast via a syndicated network. The afternoons were Spanish language only. Both were very new concepts at the time and the challenges to attract advertisers at times neared daunting. Especially when it came to national advertisers.
At the time national ad buys were done either in-house or, a station could contract (for an annual fee) with an outside vendor that specialized in them. If an “ad deal” was made a split of commission, or other terms were the result. It had the appearance of win – win. However, if you inked this “marriage” it also set a rule that only they – not you – could chase national advertisers. All local was yours, all national was theirs. It all works well until one side seems unable to fulfill expectations for prolonged intervals. (and continually collects that annual fee for the privilege)
As stated, at this time Spanish radio broadcasting was in its infancy and companies such as McDonald’s™ had yet even addressed it. I knew this was a golden opportunity being missed by many however, with the contract in place I could not approach them, only our “national” rep. Yet, even though I helped draft how and why they should be able to present this opportunity and the “win – win” that it held for not only us but for McD’s the answer kept coming back, “Sorry, they don’t seem interested.” I became incensed and called for a meeting with our “national” representative.
I demanded that if they were truly a company with both our interests at heart that if they couldn’t get more than a “Sorry” than what they needed to do was get a meeting with the ad agency in charge and allow me to do the presenting. For I was convinced the one’s that were unconvinced; were our partners – not the ad agency.
I was told, “Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.” That’s when I stated (all with the station owners approval before hand) that unless they did – there would be no longer any checks coming from this station. And, I would be glad to notify any other stations we conference with of just how abstinent they were in setting up real opportunities when we were supposedly “partners” in the ad business. After some hems and haws they relented and set up the meeting.
Needless to say not only did I convince them of the value, but was allowed to modify their national ad material to fit into the Spanish language format in-house. Something that for anyone that’s ever dealt with McD’s (or other global brands) knows is not only improbable but darn near impossible.
That original campaign was one of the most successful and longest running consecutive media buy’s in that stations history. Needless to say what McD’s has done with Spanish radio ads since.
In the end it wasn’t the potential buyers that needed to be convinced I could deliver – It was convincing our very own supposed “partners.” Not until my presentation that I would indeed make good on my word did they decide that maybe; I might have the right presentation skills and words that could persuade the potential client.
If I just sat back and took “Sorry…” Who knows if Spanish radio advertising would be as far along today as it is. For at that time, no one thought it was even relevant. Even our own business partners.
Remember the old adage “Don’t take no?” There’s another that’s just as important, “Don’t let you partners brush you off with “Sorry…” either. The costs and potential loss of future income could be inconceivable going forward.
© 2015 Mark St.Cyr
Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.