Having a partner in business is great, but not all of the benefits are immediately obvious. Obvious reasons include camaraderie, sharing responsibility, having someone to bounce ideas around with, having someone to keep you accountable for your progress. All of these are outstanding reasons for having a partner, however, perhaps the most important reason – and one that is frequently overlooked – is the chemistry of your presentation in the marketplace. What I mean by this is that not everyone gets along with everyone else. Sometimes your partner will get along with certain people better than you do. When that happens, your can put your partner out in front so that the sale can be closed by the person who has the best chemistry with the person who is making the purchase.
The following story examines an entrepreneurial dilemma: One partner – who happens to be me – is responsible for sales and makes a contact with a potentially fantastic account. I go out on the sales call with my partner, who is a technical person. He is, in fact, the scientist who will be responsible for the details of making the relationship work, though the goal of the meeting we attended was to close the sale. I’m the one who is responsible for doing that.
After the meeting, I call the prospect a number of times and I send e-mails. But even though the prospect had been extremely excited during our face-to-face meeting about the idea of moving forward toward a very substantial contract, he doesn’t return my calls or my e-mails.
I confess to my partner that I can’t get the prospect on the telephone, and I ask him if he has any ideas about how we should proceed. My partner, the scientist, said he thought that perhaps my style wasn’t a good match with the prospect’s style, and that the prospect might have been intimidated by my high-energy approach. He suggested that he should try to make contact with the prospect in a more low-key fashion.
My partner consulted with me for some assistance, and I coached him on how he might handle the phone call.
He made the call, and sure enough, the situation was as my partner thought. The prospect acknowledged receiving the e-mails and phone calls from me and said, “I apologize, I owe Joel a return call.” My partner was then successful in locking up the contract.
I stayed in the background this time rather than taking the front-man position I usually assume.
I didn’t have a problem about staying in the background. It didn’t wound my ego. The goal – the other side of the river – was to close the transaction. If my staying in the background and coaching my partner on language and on contractual issues could achieve that, then I was happy to stay in the background.
Sure enough, we received the signed documentation that we had been waiting for to move the deal forward.
So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you’re building your career and if you have a partner, use his or her chemistry to connect with people who aren’t connecting well with you. If you are having a hard time, perhaps your partner will have an easier time. Utilize your partner to the fullest and remember: the goal is to get to the other side of the river, not to be the paddler of the boat. Put your ego aside and keep your eye on the ball. In corporate America it’s not so common for people to put their egos aside, but entrepreneurs need to remember that the goal is to get to the other side of the river. It’s not quite so important who paddles the boat.