How do you make the most of the first partnership conversation with a corporate partner? We encourage partnership managers to uncover as much about their prospective partner as possible. Targeted questions are really important. But you also need to inspire and excite your corporate about the possibilities of a partnership with you. So how do you achieve the right balance?
My actor friend George was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace a few years ago. The Queen was hosting afternoon tea for artists and theatre people and he was ready in his best suit and tie. But what do you say to the Queen? How do you make a good impression in a short space of time? As Her Majesty and the entourage glided regally down the receiving line, George blurted out the first thing that popped into his head; “nice corgis!”. He said the icy Windsor stare was the worst review he’d ever had.
The first partnership conversation with a corporate prospect shouldn’t be an inquisition or a one-sided lecture about your crusade. You have the chance to excite them about your cause and tell them something they didn’t know. We call this ‘polishing your gems’. Your gems are the precious snippets of information that will pique their interest, demonstrate your expertise or get them inspired. You feed them into the partnership conversation at relevant points to create connection, bring some emotion and get them excited.
Here are some examples to get you started.
Nuggets of expertise
These are little pieces of information relevant to your corporate prospect, that you know but they don’t. For example, did you know how many workplace hours are lost to mental health each year? Do you know the biggest killer of children under five? These nuggets are an opportunity for you to insert your particular expertise without trying to convert them to your crusade.
It’s easier to tell a single story rather than describe the whole landscape. Tell the story of Maria, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and struggled to know what to tell her three children. How she needed practical support, not just clinical care. How your services changed her life. Relatable, human stories create emotional connection and can be a better showcase for your cause than a glossy brochure.
Case study examples
Examples of how you’ve worked with other corporates partners are very useful. They add to your credibility and can inspire a corporate to think differently about a partnership. You just need to share a highlight, not a four-page study. “It sounds like you’re focused on driving more staff engagement. In our partnership with Coles we provided digital content and volunteering opportunities that increased their staff engagement score by 10 points.”
It can be snippets of your own or latest industry research. For example, “1 in 3 Australians are experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of COVID-19”. Research demonstrates your depth of knowledge in your cause and how you’re a leader in your field.
Can you relate it to something that you’ve experienced personally? Human stories are really powerful if told by someone that a corporate partner can meet in person. Bernadette Black can talk about her personal experience as a teenage mum and why the Brave Foundation supports expecting and parenting teens to access education. You might be able to talk about a friend experiencing cancer or your passion for wildlife rescue. Bringing a personal experience invites your corporate prospect to open up about their own experiences and interests- which opens up more avenues for the partnership.
These should be used sparingly but can be a great visual to stimulate your corporate partner’s thinking. A friend who worked in homelessness used to bring a copy of The Age newspaper and invite the corporate prospect to imagine what it would be like to sleep on the street with only newspaper for a blanket.
The point of polishing your gems is to bring to life the partnership conversation with your corporate prospect, but not dominate it. The first partnership conversation is really all about them- their needs, priorities and pain points. If you’ve got your treasure trove of gems prepared, then you can insert them at the right points to advance the conversation, tell them something they didn’t know and get them inspired about a potential partnership.
Preparation is key. Make sure you’ve polished your gems before the meeting. Don’t be like George, struggling for a point of connection. Fortunately, he got to meet the Queen a year later, when she came backstage to meet the cast of his show. This time he was much better prepared- and the corgis didn’t get a mention.
If you need help polishing your gems or getting started with corporate partnerships, here are three ways we can help:
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- Register for our next group training program Partnership Acceleration System to build your system for successful partnerships.
- Book a free 45 min consultation about your partnership needs: email@example.com