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Mutually Beneficial Partnerships, Part 2: 4 Steps for Identifying & Approaching a Potential Partner

Posted by Anita Wehnert on
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Congratulations! If you read my first post on this topic, maybe you have identified a category of products that can help you address unmet customer needs, create differentiation, and win/retain business. So, you may be asking yourself: “now what?” In part 2, let’s turn our attention to how to uncovering the specific partners that are the best fit for your organization and how to get your foot in the door.

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Step 1: Identify Criteria

First, think about your goals and create a list of criteria that will help you pinpoint the partner who can best help you meet them. Here are just a few of the things that we typically consider when searching for a new partner for ReadyTalk:

  • Target audience (geography, industry, company size, persona, etc.)
  • Size of customer base
  • Size of sales team
  • Willingness to partner
  • Available joint marketing programs
  • Available API
  • Technical fit
  • Mutual customers
  • Existing partnerships/potential conflicts of interest

Step 2:  Build a Short List

Next, it’s time to narrow down a short list of specific companies that you want to approach about partnering. Start by jotting down the key players in your target space, but don’t forget about the little guy! Take a deeper dive to uncover smaller, up-and-comers who may be a perfect fit for your organization.  Once you have this inventory, do your homework and evaluate each potential partner against the criteria you identified in Step 1. Based on this assessment, prioritize the top 3 companies you want to target.

Step 3: Craft your Pitch

So, now you know who you want to talk to … the next challenge is: what do you say to them? Before reaching out to a potential partner, you need to have a clear and compelling answer to the age-old question: “What’s in it for me?” (Remember – this series of posts is about mutually beneficial partnerships, so the “me” in this question is the partner!)

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Think about your target partner’s business objectives. Are they focused on acquiring new customers? Growing existing customers? Beefing up their product portfolio? Expanding into new markets? How can you help them make progress towards these goals? 
  • Do you share mutual customers? Provide a list or accounts and articulate the value the partnership will bring to them. 
  • What else do you bring to the table? Consider things like exposure to your customer base, joint marketing programs, sales team alignment, etc.

Step 4: Get the Initial Meeting

Short list? Check! Value prop? Check! Your next objective – find the right person to talk to at each company and schedule a call. Leverage resources like LinkedIn, the company’s website, and your own professional network to reach the right contact. When you can, ask for an introduction from a mutual contact vs. going it alone. This can help create credibility and grease the skids for an initial conversation. 

In your first email or voice mail, briefly introduce yourself and your company, tell them what you want to do, and touch on the highlights of what’s in it for them. If at first you don’t success, be persistent!

And, once you have that meeting on the calendar, be respectful of their time and be prepared. Here’s a sample agenda for one of our initial partner calls:

  • Introductions
  • Confirm their business goals
  • Communicate WIIFM
  • Touch on your objectives
  • Explore interest in partnering
  • Identify specific next steps

Stay tuned for Part 3 next week, where I’ll talk about tips for launching a new partnership.

Just starting a partner program? What other questions do you have? Already running a successful program? I’d love to hear your own tips.


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