Strong business partnerships are paramount - comments on this week's Apprentice

26th October 2018

As featured in businessadvice

This week’s challenge saw the teams go head to head peddling products and services at a bodybuilding expo. From this challenge, I would’ve expected to see strong decision making and awareness of the target market when it came to selecting the products and services.

The teams also needed to demonstrate strong relationship building skills with the product vendors who had the ultimate say over whether either team could represent their business at the expo. And of course, excellent salesmanship was also a key requirement in this week’s episode, with Lord Sugar relying on sales figures to decide the winning team. He couldn’t have made it clearer – every candidate was expected to make sales.

Which candidate stood out in a good way?

Team Collaborative were gifted with Kayode’s exceptional salesmanship and people skills, but this week’s team leader Sarah Ann failed to put his best skills to use, sticking Kayode with the service sub-team instead of the product team where he would’ve likely excelled.

What lessons and takeaways can small business owners take from this episode?

Under Sarah Ann’s leadership, the team failed to flatter the vendor of high-end gym equipment, focusing too much on driving down the cost price without putting any energy into building a business relationship. Business partnerships are based on strong relationships. Don’t assume others will automatically see the benefit of working with you. In a business relationship its vital to communicate why you want to partner and to communicate why someone should want to partner with you. Under Sabrina’s leadership, Team Typhoon demonstrated this perfectly, with the exception of Alex’s efforts.

What the losing team did badly

Team Typhoon’s downfall came when the product team failed to exploit the perfect opportunity to drum up sales of their low-selling high ticket items. Not only did they abandon the products for this opportunity, they focused on hosting a push-up competition instead of promoting what they had to offer.

Kurran would’ve undoubtedly been in the firing line had Collaborate lost the challenge. While the team accommodated for his injury, making him responsible for merchandise sales, he failed to muster up any energy or enthusiasm. Instead, Team Typhoon’s Alex became this week’s boardroom casualty, failing to impress the product vendor, fumbling through sales without enough knowledge of the products and blindly relying on potential customers promising to return to the stand. In a challenge like this, it’s essential to understand the market, know your product and learn how to close a sale.