During the most recent lockdown, I was playing a version of pin the tail on the donkey. This was ‘stick the horn on the unicorn’ – so your aim is to get your horn sticker as close to where it should actually go on the poster of a unicorn.
You wear a blindfold, get given the horn sticker, spin around 3 times and then you walk forward and hope your sticker is in the right place. We had 10 stickers to ‘pin’ each. Mine were all over the place – thankfully one horn didn’t take paint off the wall when I removed it. My daughter’s stickers were all suspiciously accurate. Hmmm…
She said, “Mumma it’s a lot easier to win if you look under the blindfold”.
Geez, I love her honesty. As well as thinking she’ll grow up to be a motivational speaker (or an arch criminal😬), it got me thinking about partnership meetings. How often do we go into meetings with a metaphorical blindfold on? We’re all guilty of it. If you want your meetings to really count here’s best practise in corporate partnerships:
Do your research
If you don’t have time to do research before you meet with a prospect, or one of your top partners, then you don’t have time to meet them. Cancel it. Claw back that hour to get yourself on top of things. If you don’t have time to read their annual review, check their socials and see if there are any new media releases, how are you going to ask relevant discovery questions? Or test your hypothesis about why they might be a great partnership fit? It ends up being a beige generic meeting. Or even worse, you just end up talking about yourself and your charity for the whole meeting. Just watch their eyes glaze over as they stifle a yawn. Make the meeting count by asking questions relevant to them. The information you gather is what will lead you to a partnership.
Do you know the strengths, priorities and needs of your organisation? Do you know why they’re important and what benefit a partner might derive from them? If you don’t know and clearly understand these foundation pieces, then how can you present yourself as a solution to a business’ problems? It’s not a total disaster in a meeting. You’ll end up saying yes to things that your partner/ prospect wants and then trying to make it happen. That’s when the total disaster occurs. Your organisation goes completely off track, or off strategy and starts creating new programs or initiatives to suit the corporate. It will leave you scratching your head about how you ended up with a portfolio of partners that aren’t aligned to your mission. Doing the work to get your organisation ready for corporate partnerships will slow you down at the start. It will also dramatically increase your speed to success and your ability to sustain it.
Having a meeting plan
I’m a reformed winger who often suffers relapses. You know a winger- just turn up to a meeting and see where the conversation goes. Only problem with this is you often get stumped in a meeting and miss opportunities. You don’t have the answers to some of the corporate’s questions. You fumble about amounts. An objection becomes a full-on block. Would it better to plan for these things? Think about your partnership hypothesis, brainstorm the objections you might get and what key information you want by the end of the meeting. And, most importantly, plan what you want to happen next. Then you’ll remember to ask for it.
Corporate partnerships can sometimes seem to be a mythical unicorn. If you get really good at meetings, you’ll be able to capture a lot more unicorns- and you won’t have to do it blindfolded.