A New Beginning in Diplomatic Change

From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

  1. Forward
  2. In the News
    Pursuing the Leadership of Individuals
    When Preferential Business Relationships are Not Appropriate
  3. Questions & Answers
    Where did iunctura.com go?
  4. Shameless Self Promotion

Forward

Providing business development to the defense contracting industry, War is serious business. I apologize for the delay in serving your needs and in advancing your understanding of business relationships. As you may derive from current news, relationships between organizations (whether government, military, domestic, or industrial) can mean the difference between success and failure.

In this newsletter, you will see examples of how and when to leverage diplomacy in business relationships. The art of strategic relations come from international relations -- so while a business is a smaller economy than a country the methods I briefly present apply in both arenas.

With such a brief overview, I could not possibly answer all your questions in this issue. Please forward additional questions to questions-newsletter to be addressed in future issues.

In the News

Pursuing the Leadership of Individuals

You may have experienced this in your own business, but with competition, sometimes the actions of one company are taken personally by another. As we see in the United States war against Iraq, from the beginning the United States presented an assurance that the war is against the leadership of Iraq, not its citizens. What is the way the United States actions were perceived by the population?

It is better to have your competition working for you than against you. While that is not always possible, actions against a competitor should clearly be presented against the company as an entity, not the company as peoples. When leveraging a competitive action, remind people your actions are not against the employees of the company, but the product and leadership of the company. It is important to stress that the competitive action is being taken on behalf of the customer.

Your business will not advance if you destroy available talent stored in other organizations, while trying to acquire customers. Imagine your business gains 20, 30 or maybe 40 percent of market share. Eventually you will need to bring on more people. The fastest means of acquiring ready-trained staff is to remove them from your competitors. Can you trust bringing on your competitors best if you have leveraged your resources against them in the past?

How do you think special talent will feel if you your past campaigns were perceived as personal attacks on them as individuals? To avoid such suicidal neglect of future talent, overcome your competition through a more indirect method. Focus your efforts on gathering market share, do this by expressing value to the customer almost neglecting any negative aspects of your competition.

When you point out the weakness of your competitors, like gossip, the receiver feel you might have something to hide. When you focus on your products strengths as they pertain to the receiver, they stay oriented towards filling their needs. Often it is valuable to state, "In common with many of our competitors we do A and B, in addition, we also provide C."

This method presents where you have similarities, and then extends your value by demonstrating where you go beyond the normal. You do not even need to mention the name of competitors to position yourself the better solution. The relationships aspect of this influencing relationship is (a) you are not degrading possible resources you will need in the future (those who currently side with the competition), and (b) you are presenting yourself neutral to the competition and primarily concerned with the customers needs.

In the Iraq conflict, President Bush presented only his position and concern, sometimes neglecting the needs of the international community. Often terms were presented, as "This is how it will be" instead of a more friendly, "What solutions could we consider moving closer to this goal." While an aggressive forward solution may solve the short-term problem, it limits the relationships necessary for future objectives.

[Would expanding this commentary be of value to your company? The key points to take away is (a) leave judgment calls to the decision maker, stay neutral in aspects of the competitor, but don’t hesitate outlining similarities; (b) be clear about who your actions are against, stay alert and aware of assumptions of errand perceptions, while monitoring your actions.]

When Preferential Business Relationships Are Not Appropriate

I have special list of reporters who receive preferential news about my consulting and publications. In addition, this list is available to select customers to share relevant news related to business development activities. This “Hot List” gives reports a scoop on industry specific information and helps their publication stay ahead of their competitors. While this is appropriate for a management consultant, it would not be acceptable if my firm were a publicly traded company.

An article in the Financial Times (November 25, 2002) discusses an SEC settlement about Raytheon who possibly shared information with analysts which was not previously made public. Three similar cases are underway against Motorola, Secure Computing, and Siebel Systems. Was this a blatant disregard for disclosure laws or an attempt to gain favor with analysts?

These disclosures could have been many things; but it is very likely they were just simple mistakes by people who were privy to such information. Often in face-to-face meetings, we say things or provide information we feel others want to hear, but when it comes to disclosure, we need to speak with self-restraint. When you are a publicly traded company, a quiet conversation between friends could turn into a scandal if you exchange the wrong information. Just ask Martha Stewart, or any other players in recent stock scandals.

Business relationships are different from personal ones, you do not have to impress anyone and if someone is offended by you following the rules, remind them it is not anything personal. Relationships in business are governed by your own internal rules, your company’s rules, and legislative rules. Insider information can ruin you and your company -- follow all rules when sharing it.

With some advance planning, you can avoid challenging situations relating to your companies disclosure. For example, have a clear picture about what can and cannot be shared in meetings. If you will be discussing sensitive information, hold a private briefing with your staff before the actual meeting to outline what may or may not be disclosed. In the meeting, take your time and do not give anyway anything that can come back to harm you. If the other party does not respect your discretion in disclosure, then you do not need to be talking with them anyway.

Disclosure in business relationships is about respect for the needs of others. Often individuals leak information for short-term self-gratification, often with no consideration for the long-term fall out. Before sharing any information, have clear objectives, and consider the needs of others involved.

Have you seen a news story that I may find interesting as it pertains to strategic relations? Does your company have a story about results with strategic relations? I'd like to hear about it. Email me at feedback-newsletter

Questions& Answers

Where did iunctura.com go? I cannot access the site anymore and I wanted to read more of your articles.

It is actually a long story, but in short, I took it off-line and move ahead with launching Iunctura (pronounced ?yoonk-too-rah?). Iunctura is Latin for ?bringing together of people? and better serves the theme of my Strategic Relations newsletter series. This new site hosts my subscription newsletters, including Inside Strategic Relations, Applying Strategic Relations and the Strategic Relations Journal.

I have stopped selling digital copies of my Tool Kits, and now only make them available to subscribers (at no cost.) Print editions are still available in quantity; meanwhile, I am concentrating on newsletter publication and two upcoming books. Of course, I am doing all this while serving several intense consulting projects.

The iunctura.com website was producing very poor leads, so in order to serve my loyal customers better; I cut out the dead wood. When the site comes back in a few months it will feature only my consulting services. Is there anything in your business that is not as productive as it could be? What would happen if you just cut it out to concentrate on your key revenue channels?

If you have a question you would like to see answered here, write questions-newsletter (I'll even hide your name if you like.)

Shameless Self Promotion

Grow Your Business Profitability with Strategic Relations

You will find a wealth of information on-line with a subscription to of Applying Strategic Relation. Learn how to apply the principles of strategic relations to leverage your assets to develop more business, keep your best employees, and earn a better quality of customer. This password-protected area of Iunctura.com is only available to subscribers.

The Applying Strategic Relations private membership area features a Question & Answers Forum, exclusive in-depth materials, and enhanced features to Inside Strategic Relations. Available free to subscribers of the Strategic Relations Journal, full membership access to Applying Strategic Relations can be yours today. Click here for more information.

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Inside Strategic Relations is for Sales and Marketing Management who want to turn business relationships into profits. Members read past issues at https://iunctura.com/archive-newsletter

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