Needed: Business partner matchmaker

It’s funny how often this idea has reared its head in my life. If I had the time and inclination, I might actually do something about it. But for now, I’ll release it to the world for someone else to run with.

We need a matchmaking site for business partners. Like eHarmony.com, Match.com, Lavalife.com; that kind of thing. I think it can help business people find good fitting business relationships. The idea would be to figure out what your business style is and find people who complement it.

  • Are you an idea person in need of an implementer?
  • Are you a highly dominant “Type A” personality who needs people who AREN’T subservient “yes men” to work with?
  • Do you like to take an idea and run with it?
  • Are you a good starter or a good finisher?
  • Are you a visionary?
  • Are you a sales person?
  • Are you a manager?
  • Are you a detail-oriented person?

Everyone possesses some combination of work-and-personality styles that makes them good at some parts of business and poor at others. When we find the right match, business magic happens.

I’ve got a few clients and/or business parthers where it works like that: When we work together, it just clicks. We play off of each other really well. Our skills and ideas of success are complementary. We get stuff done.

Conversely, from time to time I take on a client or I partner with someone and it doesn’t work for some reason. I’ve learned to end those projects early. I ended a couple of them before they even started in July for exactly that reason. The people were nice, the projects were good, but I knew that we weren’t clicking so I put an end to it before we got too far down the path.

So it seems to me that we could match up business people who need to partner (with service providers, employees, joint venture partners, etc.) based on a series of compatability qualities. Off the top of my head I’d say something like:

  • Project management style (starter? manager? finisher?)
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • Placement along a vision-versus-action spectrum
  • The type of people you like to work with
  • The type or projects you like to work on
  • What you bring to the table
  • What areas of weakness you possess

Note to LinkedIn: This wouldn’t be hard to implement on your site. You’ve got the structure and the client base already.

There. The idea is now out there. Here’s hoping that we’ll see bizHarmony.com in the near future!

Note: After publishing this I went to see if there was indeed a bizHarmony.com; after all, I wouldn’t want to have someone click it and be taken somewhere inappropriate. Turns out, there is a bizHarmony.com (although they are more in the M&A space and not exactly what I’m talking about).

Analyzing and repairing your sales process

I think a lot about the sales process. It’s a key element to using the Business Diamond Framework™ successfully to drive innovative change into an organization. Specifically, I use it to create content strategy, which is a burgeoning discipline that aligns content with your business’ aims. In this blog, I’ll talk about aligning content with your business’ sales process.

One of the strategic tools I’ve used in the past to examine the sales process has been the Flowscape and just recently, I’ve found that I’ve started to use it more and more.

Flowscape is a visual thinking tool by the guy who thinks about thinking, Edward DeBono. (See Note 1). He created this tool to map trains of thought and to bring to light the real issues in a confusing situation… which is exactly what makes it perfect for the sales process.

This is how I use it for analyzing and correcting the sales process:
1. List out all the different touchpoints that you produce or develop or participate in (web articles, billboards, business cards, website, Twitter, etc., etc.) and assign a letter to each. It doesn’t have to be in any specific order.
aaronhoos_flowscape1

2. List how one links to the other. For example, let’s say that Twitter drives traffic to your website and on your website you’ve got a place to sign up for an e-zine. So connect them together by noting how one leads to another. i.e., the website (B) leads to the newsletter (D)

aaronhoos_flowscape2

3. Next, map it out using the connections you’ve identified between the letters above.

aaronhoos_flowscape3

So, you’ve got your sales process drawn out in front of you. Now here is where the fun starts (at least for me).

Watch for warning signs: In the above example, it’s fairly straightforward but more often than not I see sales processes that look more like the one below, with crazy closed loops (F>G>H) or marketing that goes nowhere (I).

aaronhoos_flowscape4

Once you have your sales process mapped out, it becomes so much easier to figure out what to do about it. Find a way to connect your sales process together. Eliminate the parts that go nowhere.

Once you’ve fixed your sales process you can start to improve it. Create analytics around each point and make sure that they are apples-to-apples comparisons (or as close as you can get) so you can track prospect-to-customer progress all along the line.

And, make sure that your sales process doesn’t end (as the above examples do at “A”). Figure out how to offer more products and more services, or encourage users to refer colleagues to also buy. In the above example, there might be an additional ebook (or three or four or more), a paid version of the newsletter, affiliate links, a private coaching program, and so on. In other words, create an ever-growing loop. Below is a new and improved flowscape built from the original but improved to include more traffic-driving elements to the website (B) and then a closed loop to create more revenue per customer (D>A>F>H>G>D).

aaronhoos_flowscape5

Notes

  1. Tools for Thought offers more detailed descriptions and explanations.
  2. Purists will probably note that I have slightly modified the Flowscape. DeBono asserts that one thing will always link to another. And while I think that is generally true in many Flowscape applications, I’d suggest that in the sales process, it should happen but doesn’t… and that’s the purpose of creating a Flowscape to begin with. Start with what you have and figure out how to make it all link together.