"Strategic Alliances are reciprocal relationships with vendors in complementary industries who are talking to the same prospect base that you are talking to." excerpt from Lemonade Stand Selling
I often conduct workshops on this subject and have learned that it can be complicated. There are several definitions of strategic alliances. I choose the one above because it is the simplest, most straightforward in my opinion.
You want to build a strategic partnership with someone in a complementary industry because they are speaking to your prospect - they are hearing prospects talk about the problems you can solve. At the same time, it is a reciprocal relationship. You are doing the same for them. It can't be a one-way relationship. Those are referral partners and while they can work they don't fit this model.
It works when you find the right person in that industry. Remember that it is always about relationships. You can't open the phone book, or Google the topic and pick someone at random. You do have to start the search process and then meet these people. Get to know them and get a feel for how they do business. Can you refer them? Do they understand the strategic process? You can't enter into one of these relationships with someone who doesn't get it. So move on!
In addition, these relationships must be nurtured on a consistent basis. You can't just exchange stacks of business cards and expect the process to work on its own. You have to engage in the relationship building process with your strategic partner weekly, monthly, daily - whatever it takes to be sure you two are keeping each other in mind.
Ask yourself this question - who is speaking with my target prospect and would be hearing them speak about the problem I solve? That will tell you what the complementary industry is. Once you discover it, start looking for people within that industry who you can start the relationship building process with. Lastly, monitor the progress to be sure you are building a strategic alliance.
What will we be exploring next? Lemonade Lesson #14 - Networking. Now there's a big topic. We'll break it down into pieces as we move along.