The Board

The Difference Between a ‘Natural Partner’ and a ‘Relationship Manager’

Here’s a topic that comes up often with some of our coaching clients – Especially when there is lack of role clarity around maximizing relationships!

A NATURAL PARTNER (N.P.) is a person (either inside or outside of your organization) who has a strong relationship with your organization and an existing relationship with the Qualified Prospect(Q.P.) – Or a reason to believe one can be established quickly!

Externally, Natural Partners can be on your Board, they can have a business relationship with the prospect, they can be members of the same club or organization or they can be fellow community leaders, etc.

Internally, the Natural Partner can be anyone from the President/Executive Director to top senior leadership, to a staff/programming person who has a great relationship with the prospect.

It’s important that you determine the difference between a RELATIONSHIP MANAGER (R.M.) and a NATURAL PARTNER.

The RELATIONSHIP MANAGER does not necessarily have to have an existing relationship with the prospect. Their job is to do exactly what it says – MANAGE THE RELATIONSHIP. The Relationship Manager is always a member of the ‘Green Team’ – I.e., directly responsible for maximizing relationships on behalf of the organization/impact. It is perfectly fine for multiple people within the organization to have a relationship with a Q.P. – as long as the Relationship Manager has been defined.

The NATURAL PARTNER can have an existing relationship, or the ability to create one immediately, but most importantly, they play and instrumental role in Team Selling. They can:

  1. Help get the visit! Opening doors is one of the most productive things N.P. can do!
  2. Predispose the Prospect to a great visit! A N.P. can send a great note ahead of the visit – “I know you’re meeting with Sharon on Friday – I’m so excited for the two of you to meet, for you to hear about the vision and getting more involved in our impact! I’ll check in with you after”
  3. Follow Up! A call from the Natural Partner (after a check in with the R.M.) can be hugely beneficial. “How did it go? What did you think? What can I do to help?”

 

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