In a year of unprecedented change, strong strategic partnerships have become more important than ever. With so much change in the economy, market, and individual businesses, “business as we know it” was impacted. The challenges and seemingly never-ending change of 2020 highlighted the need for benefits professionals to focus on building and maintaining strong partnerships. Not only will partnerships with agents, enrollers, and carriers continue to be important, but other partnerships as well. Things like strong relationships with HR teams and even vendors and service providers outside of the benefits industry are becoming increasingly important.

In an ideal situation, you should present yourself as an expert and extension of a company’s HR team. In fact, benefits professionals should develop strong enough credibility to offer support on things like hiring, talent management, and even elements of finance. Building these types of relationships takes time and effort but are well worth the effort. Here are a few considerations on building strong partnerships in 2021.

Key Basics of Strengthening Strategic Partnerships

To lay the groundwork for a healthy, happy, and fruitful strategic partnership, you need to start with the basics.

  • Value — The first goal of any business partnership is to provide value. Find ways to contribute to a partner’s business with resources, ideas, thought-provoking questions, information, and more.
  • Understand the Pain Points – Get to know your strategic partner. The better you understand your strategic partner and their operations and culture, the better you can offer solutions and assist with important decisions.
  • Extraordinary service — When you and a partner have a shared client, give that client extraordinary service. The way you work with these customers or employees reflects on what they think about your strategic partner. The same holds true for a company’s employees.

Create Mutual Benefit

Mutual benefit is the pillar of any relationship. Business partnerships are no exception. While taking care of shared clients and identifying what they need, you need to be adding value. Regularly added value cements your partnership and ensures high returns and steady conversions.

In his book 6 Principles of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini highlights the importance of reciprocity in influencing others to start new or change existing behaviors. Indeed, the old “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” symbiotic relationship brings continued value to parties involved.

Adding Value to Strategic Partnerships

There are numerous ways to add value to the symbiotic relationship with your referral partners. Let’s look at a few of them.

  • First, dig deeper — Promote the partner’s business by donating to their foundation of choice or volunteering in their community.
  • Then, join forces — Brainstorm activities that benefit both of your businesses. Whether helping a company with benefits or a vendor with lead generation, look for valuable opportunities.
  • Say thank you — Send thank you cards or small gifts for a job well done to strengthen the relationship.
  • Next, dedicate time — Invite your referral partner to an event to give them an opportunity to grow their business or learn something new.
  • Lastly, make calls — Call your business partner to share information or to say thank you. This can do wonders for a relationship. Any verbal or in-person contact (instead of emails, messages, and letters) is highly valuable.

When managing your referral partnerships, set aside a discretionary budget to help you with the process.

Using Your Benefits Toolkit to Add Value

An easy way to add value is to introduce strategic partners to valuable tools. Indeed offering unique tools or solutions can help strengthen any partnership. Partnering with Benefits Zone allows you to provide a number of benefits to partners, especially companies. With a benefits toolkit, you can:

  • Make Open Enrollment an easier and more effective undertaking
  • Take the burden off of HR or Benefits Administrators to communicate benefits information, deadlines, and updates.
  • Share engagement data for a more effective benefits design.

Putting in the Time

Any relationship requires time, energy, and effort. Business partnerships aren’t an exception. So, continue to add value even after your partnership is established and fully functional. A smart value-adding approach has an exceptional ROI.

To learn more about value a Benefits Zone app can offer, please contact us today.