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

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.

Feature Friday: Application Sharing

Visit the ReadyTalk blog every Friday to learn more about a ReadyTalk feature.  

Why use this feature?

Collaborate with ease with application sharing!

This tool helps a meeting organizer share a document, presentation and more, in its original format. Allow your participants to all view the same item by sharing the most commonly used applications (like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and many others.

How to use this feature:

 

  • Start a meeting
  • Hit the Share button in the top toolbar

 

  • To share your applications, select the “Share Applications” button

    • Note: The boxes underneath will no longer be greyed out when you select “Share Applications”. Additionally, make sure to have the application open on your desktop.
    • Select the application you intend to use and then hit “Share”

The interface will change and you will see a control bar at the top of your computer.

  • Remember: When in application share mode, only the application that is open will be visible to the audience. Unshared items will be greyed out.  
  • To stop sharing, simply hit the green arrow in the top toolbar. It will default to this original screen. 

How do you use application sharing in your collaboration? Comment below.

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships, Part 1: How to Discover the Right Areas for Partnership

My background in is product. I have lived and breathed technology product marketing and product management for more than 17 years.  After leading ReadyTalk’s product strategy organization for the past 3-1/2 years, I recently shifted my attention to focus on strategic partnerships and integrations. While my title is new, my involvement in partnerships at ReadyTalk is not.  I have helped build relationships with many of our partners, including Eloqua, ExactTarget, Pardot, and Marketo.  I’m excited to share some of what I have learned over the past few years about creating mutually beneficial partnerships in a three-part series of posts.  Let’s start with some advice on kicking off a partner program and identifying areas for partnership.

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Why Partner?

Thinking about starting a partner program at your organization? The first question you should answer is “why?” Do you want to:

  • Generate leads for sales?
  • Acquire new customers?
  • Retain existing customers?
  • Upsell/cross-sell existing customers?
  • Fill gaps in your product offering?
  • Fulfill unmet market needs?
  • Expand your product portfolio?
  • Offer complementary services to your customers?
  • Extend your sales reach?
  • Something else?

There are many reasons to partner, sohaving a clear picture of the objectives for your partner program is key.  Now that you know where you are headed, the next step is to uncover potential areas for partnership.

Identifying Areas for Partnership

In my opinion, successful partnerships (like successful products) start with a focus on the customer. If you start from the perspective of understanding your customer’s environment, objectives, and top-of-mind issues, you’re in the right frame of mind to find partners who will help you deliver value to users and achieve your goals.

Here are a few questions to think about to help identify promising areas for partnership:

  • Who is your target customer? What does their typical day look like?
  • What other technologies play a role in their business processes?
  • Where are the pain points in their current processes? Are they manually moving data from your app to another app?
  • Can you save them time, help them solve a problem or be more effective at their job by integrating systems? 
  • Have users ever asked you to help them solve a problem in an adjacent space?
  • Have they ever asked you to integrate your product with another application in their workflow?
  • How can you create more value for them through partnership? 

Considering these questions will help you identify categories of companies where partnership or integration can make a difference. In Part 2, I’ll share tips for how to approach a company about a potential partnership and how to vet which partner is the best fit for your organization.

Just starting a partner program? What other questions do you have? Already running a successful program? Please add your own tips.

 

Best Practices for Video Conferencing

video conferencing web camModern video conferencing services provide a cost effective method of global communication unheard of just 20 years ago. For the first time in history, distance is not a limiting factor. On the contrary, individuals and businesses now routinely conduct operations with the touch of a button. In order to make the experience beneficial for all parties involved, it is important to practice well established etiquette techniques.

Arrive Early

As with a traditional meeting, arriving late is disrespectful to other attendees and can be a potential career killer. In video conferencing, it’s even more important to arrive early to the scheduled event. This gives you an opportunity to make sure that all equipment is in working order prior to the event. Check the audio and visual settings to verify that you can communicate effectively. A few minutes of advanced preparation will ensure the entire meeting runs more smoothly.

Adjust the Lighting

Close all blinds and doors to cut down on the potential glare as this could be very distracting to others in the meeting. Adjust the lighting in the room so that the video cameras can capture quality images. Interior lighting should not be too dark or too bright. Normally, the settings used in a traditional work environment are adequate.

Dress Appropriately

Bright colors and exotic patterns create distracting images on the screen. These can cause distractions and eye strain for other participants. Avoid wearing plaids, polka dots, or stripes. Dress in muted or neutral solid colors.

Practice Effective Communication

Unlike the old fashioned telephones of yesteryear which required a person to shout to be heard, modern video conferencing equipment is very sensitive to sound. There is no need to shout. Speak in a normal tone. In the first minute or so, it’s perfectly acceptable to verify that everyone can hear adequately. After that, once the presentation begins, continue speaking. There is no need to stop and ask if you can be heard. The other participants will tell you if there is a problem with the sound on their end. Speak directly into the microphone. Do not make rapid movements from side to side as this will cause disruption with the audio. When not speaking, make sure your audio is muted. This will prevent inadvertent noises, such as coughs, rattling papers, or chair squeaks, from interrupting others. The sensitivity of modern microphones can pick up the smallest sounds, even those you may not notice yourself.

Be Patient

Remember that video conference participants are not in the same room with you. When you ask a question or request information, allow for slight delays in response. This could be caused by the system used or the distance involved. Often times, others are experiencing the same delays from your responses.

Looking for More?

Here are a few other blog posts your might be interested in:

Keeping Connected with Remote Employees

Tips for a Great Virtual Meeting

Lost while working remote? 5 tips for virtual collaborators

Feature Friday: Upload and Share Slides

Visit the ReadyTalk blog every Friday to learn more about a ReadyTalk feature.  

Why use this feature?

Save precious time…Upload your slide deck before your meeting or webinar!

With ReadyTalk, uploading slides is quick and easy. Do this at your own convenience, but it is especially useful when done prior to an event.

This feature allows you to edit, rearrange and push slides as needed. Especially if you have multiple presenters, uploading slides beforehand helps you structure your slides according to  the order of the presenters.

Consider it a sanity saver… often times there are more important things to do at the beginning of a meeting than uploading slides.

How to use this feature:

To upload slides:

  • In the meeting interface, on the bottom tool bar, select “Slides” in the Insert & Manage Section
  • A dialogue box will open, select your slide deck and hit “Open”
  • The upload will begin, and you will have a dialogue box that says “Converting” (this process may vary in length depending on the size of your presentation)
  • When all complete, the slide can be seen in the slide window below

To start the slide show:

  • Start a meeting
  • Double click on the slide you’d like to start with (your slides will be visible in the bottom tool bar)
  • A dialogue box will open asking if you’d like to set up a security code (this is optional and not required, it’s up to you)
  • When a slide is selected for view, it will have a black box around it the bottom slide window
  • You can push slides using the controls on bottom tool bar

 

What best practices do you have for sharing slides? Share your thoughts below.