DEFINITION: col·lab·o·ra·tion /kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something.
Perhaps the best takeaway of a collaborative approach is that exercising it means making the competition irrelevant. How you might ask? It’s straightforward; understand your customers’ needs completely and bring solutions that matter, ‘to them’. Let’s remove the veneer for a moment and deal with what it really takes for a company to BE MORE.
Collaboration matters because it is ultimately about leveraging relationships and trust to gain partnership status with your customer. When the relationship boils down to price or comparing your product feature by feature with the competition, it can be a race to the bottom and does not always guarantee that the ‘Best’ player wins.
However, it also spurs new pathways to success for both parties. It ensures that problems get solved as they arise. Customers often look for coaching; an intelligent sounding board and a fresh perspective, let’s face it - we all do. In a collaborative relationship, you are often, the first port of call.
A natural outcropping of these problem-solving moments is an opportunity to grow closer in trust and professionalism. When we collaborate we create an environment for shared learning that forges new avenues for communication.
"Open dialogue means sharing ideas, ruminations, and thoughts freely, in a safe and comfortable forum."
When we are united, we learn from one another and this boosts morale across both enterprises. We intrinsically put stock in being worthy and valued. When applied in business, it allows us to nurture the values shared by both companies. Perhaps the definition of Win-Win can be whittled down to value-based mutual collaboration.
It is interesting to note that collaboration leads to higher retention rates. Value-based alignments between companies and their customers naturally lay the foundation for a more engaged workplace. The atmosphere is then one is confidence, not fear; gain not loss; trust not suspicion. When it is front and center in the workplace, the feeling of safety it brings goes a long way toward preventing your people from looking for solutions elsewhere.
Perhaps we can take this notion of Collaborative selling one step further and define the model as COLLABORATIVE SOLUTIONING: The principles of solving challenges.
Organizations that make collaboration a focal point of their culture realize solutions that are identified more quickly, more creatively, and more openly. Out-of-the-box thinking is not an output of constraint but is born in safety. A collaborative solution is truly the principle of solving challenges.
So next time you meet or e-meet a customer think ‘Collaboration’ from a perspective of how can I help ‘solve’ not so much how can I help ‘sell’?
Dina Wiltshire is 4xi's Strategic Partnerships & Growth lead - she works with clients who are seeking opportunities to improve, grow, and thrive. In addition to growth, Dina has a wealth of experience in a number of areas of business from leading call centers and call center design, to operations, and project management.
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