3 tips for landing a lucrative partner
When I was trying to get noticed after I launched NuKitchen, the online diet service, I tried just about everything to generate sales. One sure technique that I ‘discovered’- which kept a pipeline of new customers coming in the door- was a partnership with a more established business. For us, one of our first partners was Related, a large real estate holding company that owned a string of high rise apartment buildings in New York and the Equinox Fitness chain. Their clients were exactly the same type of customers we were targeting. Establishing a partnership with these folks was one of the best ways for us to get noticed, maintain a continuous flow of potential clients, and ultimately drive sales.
Finding established, recognized names of businesses who are also targeting your customer base, is one surest ways to drive your startup sales. Like Related was for me, these businesses already have a customer base that you can tap into. As a startup, however it can be tricky getting them to notice you, let alone partner with you, so I’ve identified 3 tips for landing a lucrative partner:
Identify partners that can drive value for you: Once you’ve identified your target customer, think about established brands in your community who are also targeting your ‘customer’. You’ll want to identify partners in complementary businesses, not necessarily businesses competing directly in your area. Be on the lookout for those potential partners with great reputations. Who would be your ideal partner? Write down the top 5 who you think could most strongly deliver your ideal customers. If you know somebody senior at the business, reach out to that contact but if not, find out who the Director of Business Development is .
Create value for your partner: In order to the partner to listen to you know, you’ll need to have a product or service in market (or at least a working prototype). Most businesses won’t risk their reputation if you’ve simply got an ‘idea’. This was actually that case with me when I initially approached Equinox with the NuKitchen concept. I hadn’t yet launched it so they said come back later once you’re in the market. This is exactly what I did- returned a year later as I launched NuKitchen and created a compelling offer for their gym clients. We would provide ‘free’ food tastings at each gym and provide members with a complimentary day of NuKitchen service in exchange for being able to promote our company. They were happy because their members got a valuable benefit. For your own business, what special value add or discount will you offer to your target partner? Whatever you offer, make sure that you can deliver. Remember, it’s not just your reputation but that of your established partner as well.
- Make implementation ‘easy’: Finally, coming up with a compelling offering is great and both parties may get excited. However, the real work is in the execution. Chances are that your Business Development contact is going to be super busy carrying out his or her daily duties. Make it easy on them and do as much of the legwork as possible. Draft an implementation schedule with proposed dates. This may require a little bit of guesswork on your part since you may not have intimate knowledge of their inner workings. My biggest piece of advice is to be flexible since things can take longer than expected or take different twists or turns.