One option for increasing sales is to partner with complementary businesses, put your products or services together and tackle bigger markets jointly.

You share sales and marketing costs and can significantly increase revenues for both parties. The relationship can be informal, formal or you can even launch a joint venture.

There are two keys to making this work:

  • Both partners need to give to the relationship so that both win, and
  • Both partners need to give to the relationship so that both win.

Yes, the biggest killer of any type of partnership is when one partner takes without giving back. Unfortunately, it happens too often.

You don't always need to give equally and it is usually very hard to actually give 50/50 at any point in time, but both partners need to win over the long haul. You need to continually work on the relationship and have a plan ahead of time for situations where it may no longer work.

Unless you have the resources of the big guys, partnering with complementary organizations may be one of the best ways to survive economic downturns and thrive during the upswing.

Remember, if the pie is getting bigger, you don't need to squeeze your partner to win. In fact if you do, the pie will eventually shrink again. Don't be greedy, you can both get enough.

After all, you were smart enough to make the pie bigger… stick around to enjoy it.