In my previous post you can see that a lot of intelligence is gathered prior to picking up the phone and initiating a discussion with a potential partner. Now that you’ve prioritized the prospects and outlined your expectations, you are ready to start making phone calls.
Wait a minute, who exactly am I calling? Some companies have a business development group in place that handles partnerships. If not, you might be speaking directly with the President or CEO. Regardless, remember that they have their own agenda and you should be open to learning about their business as each partnership is unique. Executing a standard non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is the first step in opening up a dialogue, so make that part of your initial call.
NDA signed? Check. Discovery call scheduled? Check.
Prep for the initial discovery call by outlining what you have to offer and developing a set of questions designed to uncover specifics that help determine if you want to move forward. A discovery call should be collaborative (not salesy) and should be open to exploring what each company has to offer. Know ahead of time what you want to get out of the partnership so you can stay focused on your goals, but be prepared to be flexible; you never know what you might hear.
Maybe they have the customer base that uses your product. Maybe they sell to the same buyer persona you target. Maybe the products and services are complimentary.
You’ve targeted, had conversations, and now you have a handful of prospects that want to proceed.
Now that you’ve met a company you are interested in working with you’ll want to negotiate value and set expectations with each other. While many companies don’t use contracts with their partners, they will setup a checklist or project plan that is agreeable to all. This checklist or project plan will help all parties negotiate value.
So what do I mean by negotiating value? Set a value to the products and services you are offering as well as the marketing resources you are willing to commit. As an example, in the previous post, my company sells data cleansing services. I have found a CRM company that wants to work together, so I’m willing to give this partner a discounted rate for services for xx months for their own use and in exchange they agree to promote my product to their customers for xx months. The promotion value should equal the value of the services offered. I want to make sure the value is balanced; otherwise the partnership will not run well.
To keep the partnership in high gear, plan on quarterly meetings to reset expectations, discover joint marketing opportunities and continue momentum on programs that are working. Plan a retrospective meeting both internally and with the partner to evaluate the outcome of marketing initiatives.
Key takeaways: to find the right company to partner with set expectations up front, as the partnership evolves negotiate and renegotiate the partnership value for both parties, find ways to build on the relationship to make it successful.
Do you have comments and great ideas about identifying partnerships? Please feel free to start a conversation!