Landing a partnership with a Fortune 100 company could be the deal that puts your startup on the map. It could be the difference between linear and exponential growth; landing a big round of funding or plugging away as a bootstrapped company. It could mean a 10X or 3X revenue multiple or whether your kids attend private or public school.
In 2013, Mhelpdesk landed two partnerships with Fortune 100 companies and one partnership each with a Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 company. While there’s no magic formula to sealing the deal with top-tier organizations, there are a number of tactics you can implement to increase your chances of developing a long-lasting relationship.
Assuming your product is marketable and has paying customers, here are six things that you can do to help you land that big partnership you’ve been longing for:
Find an Internal Champion
Before you begin any partnership discussions, find someone who works within the target company who might also work on the primary decision maker’s team. This person is usually a product specialist, business development manager, or something similar. He or she reports to the decision maker to whom you ultimately want to pitch the partnership idea. Developing a relationship with this lower-level employee gives you a voice within the company. This is your internal champion. They are going to push for your solution and for the relationship to progress. He or she is critical to landing the deal and will cheer you on every step of the way.
Get a Warm Intro From the Decision-Maker’s Boss
Kudos for determining the exact person you need to connect with in order to land your next partnership — perhaps the director of business development or VP of strategy. However, you can take this one step further and target their boss or even their boss’ boss to ensure a warm introduction. By doing this, yes, you are going over the decision maker’s head. But if you’re good at crafting cold emails, you should be able to initiate a dialogue that puts you on the radar of the people who matter. This could do wonders for accelerating the urgency of your proposition.
Here’s why it matters:
- The director of business development will already know that your proposition is within the scope of the company’s objectives, since his boss made the intro.
- The director of business development will want to follow through with the intro and show progress on the deal to impress his boss.
- The deal will naturally take higher priority coming in as a warm introduction rather than if you were to reach out cold.
Follow Up Relentlessly
We closed a partnership with a Fortune 1000 company a few weeks ago. The deal made sense in terms of product and customer acquisition, so we went forward with it. The employee running the deal was an absolute rock star. He did three things that made the entire deal run incredibly smoothly:
- Included all parties in all emails: Every email — including technical ones between our CTO and their integration team — had everyone copied on it. So, we all knew what was going on at all times.
- Ended every call with a next step: After every call there were clearly defined next steps and a follow-up meeting was scheduled immediately. Everyone knew their deliverables and was expected to bring them to the follow-up call.
- Kept the workload/benefits mutual: Most of our deliverables would trigger something of value for our side. For example, once we onboarded 10 beta customers, the partnering company sent us $5,000 to offset our cost of development. Or, after the technical integration was complete, we were sent over 6,000 leads for our sales team. Relentless follow up, assigning an owner to every part of the deal, and having next steps outlined is something that can make a deal run smoothly and help get you across the finish line.