So far, in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we’ve identified our organizational needs, assessed our assets, created our organizational overview deck and identified and researched potential partner organizations. Now it’s time to set the meeting, consider the partner’s goals, think in terms of reciprocal, bottom-line benefits and customize the deck (just a bit) for the meeting.
But, first and foremost, it’s time to grab our listening ears. One of the key mistakes we see organizations make is spending too much time talking about themselves and presenting information that is, frankly, full of assumptions. This approach can hurt your goals. Instead, at this stage, the number one thing to do is listen, or as I often say: seek to understand. You don’t know what you don’t know yet, so it’s not advisable to create a deck that assumes you’ve uncovered the magic bullet for the partnership. At For Momentum, we like to begin discussions with a statement that goes something like this:
We see today’s discussion as a starting point. Although we will outline a few initial ideas for where we see potential, we are here today to listen and learn. From today’s discussion, we hope to come back to you with refined thoughts on how our individual objectives and assets can work together to create mutual benefit.
Customizing the Deck:
For the first meeting, your goal is to pique their interests enough to secure another meeting: therefore, keep the presentation short (Short is subjective, but generally speaking, design the presentation to take up no more than half the time of the meeting. Less is better.)
With this frame of mind, prepare to customize your overall deck by going back to the research you conducted to identify this partner organization as a target. Review this information and select three or so initial areas where you see the potential for synergy – think goals, audience(s), and programs. Keep it high-level; do not include too many specifics at this stage.
A Few Presentation Suggestions:
Use a Venn Diagram (yes, so simple) to show how your two missions and/or objectives meet in the middle and complement both businesses.
- Create a chart that shows their potential objectives/opportunities on the left, yours are on the far right, and in the middle indicate the commonalities.
- If you have a short video, and have the time, I often recommend starting with something like this to set a tone for the meeting – upbeat, emotional, etc.
- Last, highlight outcomes or case studies, especially if you’re a nonprofit, to show your results
Also put time into considering who should be at the meeting. You want to have the right position-level match and the right number of people, so find out in advance who and how many will be in attendance from their team. If you’re a nonprofit organization, consider bringing a board member to the meeting.
During the Meeting:
Once you’ve completed the presentation phase, it’s time to open things up for conversation. In fact, if a presentation is longer than 15 minutes, I prefer to allow people to ask questions along the way to keep the meeting dynamic and collaborative. At For Momentum, we prepare a number of conversation starter questions, as well as specific questions that give us insight into the organization’s goals and interests. Below are some sample questions to consider.
- Always start with: Do you have any questions? If none have been asked already
- Tell us about your short-and long-term goals.
- Are you launching any new products or services in the near future?
- What are you current marketing goals?
- What are your marketplace challenges?
- To a corporation: Have you conducted any research into what cause issues might be motivational to your target audience?
- To a nonprofit: What do you know regarding your target audience’s purchase behaviors, psychographics or demographics?
- What is upper management looking to accomplish through its cause/outreach efforts?
- If they have participated in a cause alliance before, ask what they’ve found to be successful and what didn’t go as well.
Never leave without agreeing to next steps and a point of contact for more information (on both sides, i.e. which team members will be the leads at this stage).