If you spend enough time watching TV shows like Dragons Den or The Apprentice you would be justified in thinking that being in business is all about beating other people, with a win at all costs attitude.

These shows make theatre out of arguing, scheming against each other, and being downright rude. The more drama there is, the more exciting the show becomes. Anything but working together leads to success

This is understandable. If you have ever sat in a business meeting or discussed investments with a business person, you’ll know that these are long winded and boring. Not good ingredients for a TV show.

Team work makes the dream work

For the most part, business is very different. Whether you’re working for the same company, or you’re working with a supplier or customer, the majority of business deals are done by working together.

Finding win-win

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey wrote that relationships work best when we try to find “win-win” scenarios. These are situations when the two parties to an agreement can gain from a deal.

For example, if a salesperson is trying to sell a new printer to a customer he is most likely to make a sale by finding a scenario where his printer would benefit them. This could be by helping them save money, by breaking down less often, or by having better environmental benefits.

This would be win-win because the salesperson gets a commission and the customer gets the benefits listed above.

Here are some other examples of win-win:

Licensing agreements

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time and effort trying to build a new brand to help sell products. Sometimes, it’s better to partner with a company that has already done a lot of this work, so you can focus on the parts of the business that you do well.

This is where licensing agreements come in. They work by you paying a royalty for using someone else’s intellectual property, either as a flat fee, or as a percentage of your sales.

Licensing agreements exist in many different spheres. Sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas spend millions of dollars every year buying the rights to produce clothing products that feature the logo of professional sports teams.

Theme parks use licensing agreements to have themed rides and rollercoasters, such as Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. They’re also used in the gaming industry, with TV game show themed slots games such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Deal or No Deal, and others themed after blockbuster movies like Ted and Top Gun.

Case studies

In the internet age, it is very easy to set up a website and begin selling a product or service. You may have no experience, or you may have nefarious intentions. On the other hand, you may be an expert in your field, and just want to build a successful and honest business.

It can be difficult for a customer to differentiate between the two online. This is why case studies can be helpful in building trust, demonstrating your expertise and capability in your field.

Research has shown that 78% of business-to-business buyers check case studies before making a purchase.

The best case studies work in win-win scenarios. A well written and promoted case study can make a lot of difference in converting leads into sales, but it can also help the business that is featured in it.

A case study that talks about the customer and their business is a great way for them to get some free publicity and a backlink to their own website.

This is practiced by many companies, including workwear company A.M. Custom Clothing, accounting software provider Wave, and marketing giant Hubspot.

The best examples show how the product/service solved a problem that the customer had, giving examples of tangible benefits like “30% revenue growth”.

In summary

No matter what industry you are in, it is clear that business is not a zero sum game. To win, others do not have to lose. Instead, if you find the win-win scenarios, you can all win by working together.