Smart businesses build collaboration into their DNA.
In our hyper-competitive world one way to stay ahead is to specialise. By narrowing the scope of a businesses’ operation it is able to concentrate wholly on their most profitable area, while also benefitting from letting go of poor performers. It is a strategy that has been employed by many businesses over many years with great success. But what happens when the customer wants something you can’t do? (Or, more likely, don’t want to do?)
Often our knee-jerk reaction is to acquiesce to their request out of fear that we’ll lose the business. We worry about the how later, often to the detriment of our core business. And with innovation being thrown around like the latest ubiquitous fashion accessory, it may indeed be clear that it’s necessary, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Innovation can indeed be costly in terms of time, financial and most significantly, human resources. And even if a business has the resource capacity to innovate, process and methodology are just as important, with even the best incubators unable to boast a 100% success rate. These significant barriers are just some of the reasons innovation remains aspirational. Some businesses do manage to succeed with an ad hoc approach. However, concerns remain. Their solution is still not fast enough for a customer that needs a solution yesterday, but, most worrying, is that the unproven innovation risks undermining the valuable and hard-earned credibility of the core business. The good news is that innovation is not always necessary, either. Chances are, someone has developed a solution for your customer’s problem. And, more often than not, you probably already know someone who does it well.
So, how can you react positively to an unmet customer need?
Smart businesses understand themselves. They know what they do well, and what they can’t do, or afford to do well. This clarity provides confidence, both in selling their abilities, but also in declining work that is outside of their scope. Of course, saying ‘no’ to a potential customer is not a great way to close. Rather, like the polite waiter, offer a trusted alternative that may satisfy. This is much easier to do if collaboration is a natural part of your business practice.
Smart businesses build collaboration into their DNA. They understand the power of specialisation, but also its limitations. They engage in professional partnerships with like-minded businesses that further each other’s interests. They remain true to their core strengths while offering customers superior value by facilitating other prosperous relationships. At the end of the day, the customer benefits from the synergies created via collaboration.
Collaborative businesses also accrue additional benefits. By partnering with specific businesses that complement their own, they dramatically extend the amount of qualified leads they receive for negligible cost. Instead of wasting qualified leads, they proactively court partners where mutual benefits can be created. By being both confident in their abilities and open in their approach, the collaborative business becomes a hub for idea-sharing, lead generation and value creation.