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Choosing Your Trade Allies



If you're looking for allies to help you get your projects through the pipeline, you have to find the right people.  They need to be reputable and know what they’re doing, which is no mean feat. 

Once you’ve determined they’re the right fit, the first thing you need to do is educate them about your offering.  Secondly, you have to get them motivated to push it.  That motivation depends on the particulars of the internal champion you’re hoping to groom.  The value proposition is key because this person will be the lubricant or the sandpaper between you and your customer.  The more they understand about your value proposition and your motivation, the more effective they’ll be.  Both of you need to be in the best position to make sure things happen. 

Thirdly, if you’re pulling people out of their panel trucks and into a classroom or perhaps out to lunch, you still need to make it worth their time.  The same goes for a potential ally who is more corporate or sales-oriented.  If someone is lending you an open ear, you need to make it worth their while. 

I've had experience in a variety of industries concerning trade allies and I've had varying success.  I've also had several ninjas come to me and say, "We've got this new product we're rolling out, and we're trying to establish a trade ally network."  The first thing I say is, "Just answer me frankly – why should a trade ally spend time pitching your product when he has a finite amount of time sitting in front of a valuable prospect.  Why would he opt to talk about your product over some other product he's representing?" 

This forces you to hammer down the clarity of the message, how compelling it will have to be.  Your trade ally has to gain from participating and selling your offering.  Otherwise, you’re simply asking for promotion.  Working with a trade ally has to be a two-way street in order to be a worthwhile endeavor.

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Posted by Mark Jewell