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Best strategies for identifying and approaching potential partners

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In the dynamic landscape of business, forging successful collaborations can be a game-changer. However, the process of identifying and approaching potential partners requires careful consideration and strategic planning.

In this week’s edition of Let’s Talk, our experts delve into effective strategies to help you navigate this crucial aspect of partnership development, ensuring fruitful alliances for your ventures.

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Shant Soghomonian, General Manager and Sales Director ANZ at Dell Technologies

Shant Soghomonian, General Manager and Sales Director ANZ at Dell Technologies

“Delivering technology and business outcomes to customers requires an ecosystem of suppliers, customers and partners to deliver the success. At Dell Technologies, our partners are an essential component of our business, and without them, we would not be able to deliver the outcomes our customers demand.

“When we look for new partners, we approach it by asking a series of questions: do they have technical or services capabilities to compliment Dell Technologies solutions? Are we a good fit for their business model? What’s the joint investment needed to ensure our mutual success? Sometimes a partner will be obvious, and at Dell Technologies, our partners create large amounts of value, both for us and for themselves and the industries they serve.

“Partners give us a pathway into markets we might not otherwise be able to access. They have specialised knowledge of their markets, technical and services skills and, most importantly, they have the human connections and relationships that are critical for doing business.

“To ensure the success of our partners, we give them access to industry-leading resources, training, and support. Underpinned by our simple, predictable and profitable partner program and close alignment with our team, ensures our partner ecosystem is fully supported for ongoing success.”

Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia

Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia

“Building a profitable small business from the ground up has its challenges. With an average of one to three employees and often very small marketing budgets, small businesses owners have to figure out how to do a lot with very little.

“This makes the prospect of forming a partnership quite appealing. Collaboration can take many forms and doesn’t need to be complicated – but it does need to be the right fit. Think about other small businesses in your community whose goods or services complement your own. For example, if you’re a plumber, make a list of local hardware stores that you could do a cross-promotion with, or if you’re an accountant, consider partnering with a local law firm. Beyond finding customer synergies, however, it’s important to identify those businesses that share your values when it comes to delivering exceptional customer service and high-quality goods or services.

“Once you identify the right partner, the fun begins! From offering discounts to each other’s customers that you promote through your email databases and social media channels, to co-hosting a customer event, to conducting in-store “how to” demonstrations, there’s no shortage of ways to gain valuable exposure to your partner’s customer base.

“Marketing your small business on a tight budget is hard. Opening your mind to the power of partnerships, and their ability to amplify your marketing efforts, can make a big difference.”

Angus Mansfield, Regional Director of Partnerships, APAC at monday.com

Angus Mansfield, Regional Director of Partnerships, APAC at monday.com

“Successful partnerships hinge on achieving mutually agreed outcomes and shared values, and these two principles are key for finding strong collaborators. At monday.com, transparency, inclusivity, and customer-centricity are foundational to our culture, and we seek partners who share similar values and are enthusiastic about collaborative work and driving impact at scale. Our partner ecosystem includes a dedicated team, and a focus on partner enablement through things such as leadership events, sales boot camps, webinars, interactive learning experiences and more. We believe in a strategy that enables impactful training to empower partners to understand the monday.com platform and deliver innovative solutions to their customers, contributing to our shared success.”

Lauren Swidenbank, CEO at Collabosaurus

Lauren Swidenbank, CEO at Collabosaurus

“Brand collaborations are up to 25 times less expensive than digital advertising.

“Not only can brands save money by teaming up for clever marketing campaigns, they can make a lot more. Collaborations unlock an untapped revenue stream, enabling businesses to reach an entirely new audience of potential customers.

“However, bringing to life a successful and mutually beneficial brand collaboration relies on getting a few ingredients right:

Consider the audience
A brand partnership works best if both businesses are targeting the same types of people, even if they are operating in completely different industry categories. Think about both the demographics and psychographs of each brand’s target market and whether they align.

Find a complementary brand
While it can be tempting to partner with similar brands in the same sector, the most unexpected brand collabs are often the most memorable and drive more buzz. Therefore, throw out the rule book when considering the types of brands to buddy up with.

Know your value
Consider all your assets and what you can bring to the table. Whether it’s social media reach and engagement, high value connections, an experiential offering or interesting products, create an offer they can’t refuse.”

Beni Sia, General Manager & Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan at Veeam

Beni Sia, General Manager & Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan at Veeam

“Identifying and approaching potential partners for collaboration starts with a conversation about the added value they would get from the partnership. For Veeam, these can vary from something simple as addressing a solution gap, replacing and modernising existing solutions or alleviating a previously unmet customer need.

“At Veeam, this approach is a combination of creative thinking and pragmatism. Creativity enables us to think outside the box and avoid defaulting to a “tick-box” approach when designing initiatives that deliver great outcomes for partners. But it’s important to strike a balance between creativity and being practical too. This means thinking about how to deliver impact to the partner’s bottom line.

“It is also important to communicate to potential partners that their success is your success. This is why our partners’ success is our mission. A win-win situation ensures better collaboration and propels both parties towards continued growth, together.”

Trena Blair, CEO of FD Global Connections

Trena Blair, CEO of FD Global Connections

“Expanding your business in the USA through collaborations involves a strategic approach and takes significant time to formalise.

“First, clearly define your collaboration goals, and then undertake thorough market research to understand the market and pinpoint potential partners. Identify key trends, competitors, and potential gaps. This helps to pinpoint the type of partners you need and where to find them.

“Create a detailed profile of your ideal partner. During your search, consider factors such as industry expertise, market presence, financial stability, and cultural alignment benchmarks.

“The USA market values long-term relationships, so invest time in cultivating connections. Build your network by attending industry events, trade shows, and networking events. These gatherings provide opportunities to meet potential partners, understand market dynamics, and establish connections within your industry.

“Craft a compelling pitch that highlights the mutual benefits of collaboration. Clearly articulate what you bring and how the partnership aligns with both parties’ strategic objectives. Build relationships gradually, focusing on trust and shared values.

“Once you’ve identified a promising partner, negotiate agreements. Clearly outline responsibilities, expectations, and the scope of the collaboration. Seek legal advice to ensure all agreements are well-drafted and protect the interests of both parties.”

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and founder at Newxel

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and founder at Newxel

“Partnership amplifies our strengths, enabling us to overcome challenges and achieve goals that are unattainable in isolation.

Define Your Objectives: Before seeking out partners, clearly define what you hope to achieve through the partnership. Whether it’s entering new markets, enhancing product offerings, or leveraging technology for innovation.

Identify the Right Partners: Look for companies that complement your strengths and weaknesses. Potential partners should bring something your company lacks to the table, whether it’s technology, market access, or a customer base.

Conduct Research: Conduct thorough research on their business before approaching a potential partner. Understand their market position, product offerings, strengths, weaknesses, and recent activities. This information will help tailor your approach and anticipate how they might benefit from a partnership with your company.

Evaluate Cultural Alignment: The success of a partnership hinges not just on strategic alignment but also on deep cultural match. It’s crucial to forge relationships with companies whose values, work ethic, and organizational culture mirror our own, ensuring a seamless and effective collaboration. This perfect match encompasses the overall vibe, dynamics, and even the size of the company, which are fundamental for a fruitful partnership.

Leverage Your Network: Utilize your professional network to gain introductions to potential partners. A warm introduction from a mutual contact can significantly increase the chances of a successful first meeting compared to a cold outreach.

Craft a Compelling Value Proposition: When approaching a potential partner, be clear about what you bring. Highlight how the partnership can help them achieve their goals, such as strengthening their team or enhancing their technology stack.

Negotiate Win-Win Agreements: In negotiations, aim for agreements that offer mutual benefits. A successful partnership should drive growth, generate value, or enhance capabilities for both parties involved.

Communicate Clearly and Evaluate: Once you initiate contact, maintain open and regular communication. Be transparent about your expectations, timelines, and any concerns that arise. Effective communication is key to building trust and ensuring the partnership’s success. After initiating the partnership, continuously evaluate its success against your objectives.”

Jodi Duncan, Marketing and Behavioural Insights Consultant at Fletch and Co.

Jodi Duncan, Marketing and Behavioural Insights Consultant at Fletch and Co.

“Identifying and approaching potential partners for collaboration involves a strategic and methodical process. When diving into this process, it’s important to remember that collaborations are not just about expanding your reach, but about enriching your brand with diverse perspectives and expertise that drives innovative solutions.

“The best place to begin is by identifying businesses, or individuals, whose values align with yours and whose offerings either complement or enhance your own (sometimes this could be a competitor… so don’t overlook them). This alignment is crucial for a cohesive and authentic partnership. From there, adopt a targeted approach in your outreach. Personalise communication, highlighting mutual benefits and shared goals, but be sure to not overload them with too much information straight off the bat – this is key to ensure your pitch piques their interest. Showcase how the collaboration can create a value proposition that is greater than the sum of its parts, tapping into new markets and audiences. Remember, the key is to approach with a mindset of mutual growth and value creation, setting the stage for a partnership that is not only successful but also sustainable and rewarding for BOTH parties.”

Michael Haynes, SME Business Growth Specialist at Listen Innovate Grow

Michael Haynes, SME Business Growth Specialist at Listen Innovate Grow

“Be clear on your goals and what your company wants to achieve from the collaboration. For those of us operating in a B2B context, it is important that you understand the strategic priorities of the key decision makers in your organisation. An example of such a priority could be to penetrate a particular industry, market, customer segment or specific clients/key accounts.

“Following this, you must identify the organisations that have the target audience you seek. Some examples are associations, business groups, companies that offer complimentary services and/or service the same target audience.

“Be sure you understand who are the decision makers , their strategic priorities as well as how you can help them achieve them-hopefully easier, faster or better. Have some specific ideas in mind before initiating discussion.

“And finally, make sure that selection criteria as well as measures of success have been identified and agreed upon by key decision makers to evaluate collaboration opportunities.”

Tim Ament, Senior Vice President and Country Chief at Ingram Micro

Tim Ament, Senior Vice President and Country Chief at Ingram Micro

“At Ingram Micro, our entire business is built on collaboration – both with our technology vendors and with reseller partners who deliver our technology to the end user.

“Our approach to collaboration is built on mutual trust and putting in the extra work to ensure our partnerships have a rock-solid foundation. One of the most important lessons we’ve learned about collaboration is how critical it is to have open, honest communication.

“And communication means there is mutual trust in the relationships we’ve built. This trust means our partner resellers and vendors know we’re ethical and will do the right thing.

“By building collaboration on trust, we create outcomes that work to the benefit of each party. It means our partners will be able to grow their business, and we will grow ours. And as we grow together, the relationship deepens, creating new paths for future collaboration.”

Rob Malkin, Senior Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand at Bentley Systems

Rob Malkin, Senior Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand at Bentley Systems

“Engaging potential partners is a nuanced art. You should start the process by crystallising your objectives – for instance, do you want to establish industry thought leadership or tap into specific customer segments? Your objectives will narrow down the type of partnership that is needed. As a subject matter expert, aligning with a reputable brand can elevate your market standing, so choose wisely. Conduct thorough research into industry trends, competitor analysis, and financial health, then complement that background by exploring their online presence, customer feedback, and legal considerations.

“When approaching potential partners, you should not just consider your gains, but you should also intimately understand your partner’s needs. Forge connections that extend beyond the transactional, laying the foundation for a lasting and mutually beneficial collaboration. These connections will demonstrate your commitment to their success.

“Furthermore, successful partnerships hinge on more than just shared financial objectives – they demand alignment with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies. Crafting your approach with a clear understanding of these shared principles will ensure that your collaboration not only drives business results, but also contributes meaningfully to social progress. Choose partners that resonate with your values and enrich your capabilities to set the stage for an impactful partnership journey.”

Lama Tayeh, Founder & CEO at LULUMPR®

Lama Tayeh, Founder & CEO at LULUMPR®

“Collaboration is at the heart of how we do business at LULUMPR, and we know too well that nothing beats mutual success.

“Forming B2B alliances and strategic partnerships takes time and effort to create and foster, but there are great benefits for everyone involved when identifying potential partners is done right from the outset.

“When it comes to collaboration, choosing the right partner is key. That’s why our approach to potential partners for collaboration is centred around the following “3 C’s”: Clarity, Capability, and Communication.

Clarity– Be clear on the goals and purpose for the collaboration. Look for partners whose values, vision, and mission align with yours. This will ensure a strong foundation for your partnership.

Capability– Determine each partner’s capabilities and how they can complement yours or otherwise, to provide the best possible value and output. Have an invitation mindset to pave the way for greater understanding and partnership.

Communication– Open communication is crucial for partnership success. Regular communication to maintain and assess, ensures everyone is on the same page and helps avoid misunderstandings, delays, missed opportunities, and even conflict.

“Remember, collaborating with like-minded partners offers a ton of advantages, and success is always best shared!”

Helena Barroso Zarco, Director of Customer Success and Sales, ANZ at impact.com

Helena Barroso Zarco, Director of Customer Success and Sales, ANZ at impact.com

“Collaborating with partners is a great way for brands to reach new audiences and expand into new geographies in order to grow revenue and efficiently scale.

“Determining the best type of partners for your brand depends on your business vertical, your product or service offering and your marketing goals. However, typically you will be looking for partners (whether this be other brands, influencers, content creators, mobile partners, charities, traditional affiliates) that have an intersection with your desired audience and shared values.

“Identifying these types of partners at scale can be a time consuming process so partnership management platforms like impact.com have been a real game changer for many businesses, both large and small.

“Partnership management platforms help brands automate the discovery, management, contracting, payment and reporting of partnership programs. This allows businesses to generate significant incremental revenue from partners without needing large teams to manage the process.

“For example, we work with Australian luggage brand July. When they launched into the US market in 2021 they did so with a partnership first strategy using our platform at a time when the entire company only had 15 employees.”

Walter Scremin, CEO at Ontime Delivery Solutions

Walter Scremin, CEO at Ontime Delivery Solutions

“Collaboration is often critical for companies which rely on delivering goods.

“It’s important to identify partners who you can trust. How do you know when to trust someone? Take your time to get to know them and ask the right questions to understand what they want from the partnership. See if you can establish their track record and speak with other people who have worked with this potential partner.

“Sometimes starting slow is the best approach to see how you work together.

“For collaboration to deliver the efficiency improvements you are looking for, you want to see a high level of professionalism. Try to agree on some parameters for success before you get into business together, so both parties know what success looks like.

“Importantly, the best collaboration partners care about you and your business too – they are looking for a ‘win-win’ scenario where all parties benefit.”

Alerah Turner, Chief Operating Officer at World Travel Protection

Alerah Turner, Chief Operating Officer at World Travel Protection

“World Travel Protection provides comprehensive travel risk management and assistance spanning security, medical, and travel services. When our customers need assistance during travel, we provide them with the assistance they need through our carefully vetted and curated Global Care Network, composed of 85,000 medical service providers.

“We analyse our customer travel patterns to understand destinations and their risk profile, enabling us to verify the healthcare landscape and determine the level of care available and when it may be more appropriate to transfer a customer to a different facility with a higher level of care based on their presenting symptoms. When choosing the right partners, we consider reach, demand, capability, connectivity, licensing, insurance, financial stability, and adherence to quality standards. Other considerations include how accessible their services are to our customers and their ability to scale operations and provide on-the-ground support during a crisis event.

“We have digitalised our assessment tool for provider due diligence, optimising our onboarding, validation, and approval processes. Similarly, when it comes to our technology partners, our process involves evaluating the effectiveness and adoption of technology; data protection policies and privacy practices; as well as user experience.”

George Petropoulos, Sales Manager at Telstra Technology Business Centre

George Petropoulos, Sales Manager at Telstra Technology Business Centre

“Before I even start thinking about approaching a potential partner I draw up a wish list and rank everything on it from must-haves to nice-to-haves. I’ll ask questions like what technical capabilities must this partner have to bring value to the solution I’m building for my customer. What do they have that we don’t and how can this help my customer? Then I’ll think about what I know about this organisation – what are they like to deal with, are they reputable, has anyone in my peer group worked with them before? And finally, I consider what’s in it for them? How can I set up my proposal to make this mutually beneficial. How much am I willing to sacrifice in this partnership to make it work for the other player? Once I’ve done that thinking, I’ll reach out and set up a meeting. If it seems like something worth pursuing, before going further I will have a candid conversation about conflict resolution and how they’ve handled things that have gone wrong. The most important question for both parties to ask before diving in, is how they’ll get out.”

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