How to know what a partner wants.
When you're first starting out in partnerships, it can be really overwhelming to understand what a partner could possibly want from your organisation. We try and figure out 'genius' plans or exciting events or brand-new concepts to excite the potential partner into investing with us. Very often this time is wasted, and I'd love to explain to you why.
If you have just launched your partnership program or you are trying to and you're having trouble understanding what a partner could want from a partnership with you, here a couple of ideas to keep in mind that will help you navigate this initially confusing and sometimes overwhelming part of a business.
- One of the best ways to figure out what is the value to a partner is to ask. But don't forget to listen to the response. We can't possibly know why a partner is having a conversation with us unless we take the time to ask them and listen to the answer. Another mistake that I have seen is that we hear their initial response and assume we know the rest. Assumptions are, actually I'm sure I don't need to explain further, but I've seen it happen time and again that miscommunication occurs when we don't ensure we've heard the response. So listening to a partner is crucial, writing down their response is imperative and asking questions is critical. If you can't think of any questions then a really great place to start is to repeat back what they said to you - word for word. Then they will usually start talking again and fill in the gaps for you. If you're feeling concerned that this means they think that you don't have anything to offer them because all you did was listen to them, rest assured. It is common psychological advice that when we simply ask questions of another person they walk away from that interaction thinking "wow what a great conversationalist that other person was". So be confident that when you're asking questions you're actually doing your job.
- Think about how you can solve their problem. One of the greatest ways that I have found to work with a partner is to ensure I understand what the problem is. They are coming to you with a problem to solve. It might not always be obvious and it definitely isn't always a negative problem. But if you think in terms of how can I make this person's job and life easier, then the solutions tend to fall into place quickly. Ask yourself "What solution do I have to the problem or issue or conundrum they are facing" and then you are going to create a proposal that is exciting and interesting to them. It's also an excellent way to ensure when you do go back with a proposal if you first state the problem that you've heard them tell you they're going to be more confident that you've understood what this partnership is going to achieve.
So next time you feel compelled to get all the bells and whistles out and get creative and come up with the next big idea I implore you to stop. Does your partner really need the next big idea. I doubt it anyone in business n knows that it's next to impossible to come up with the next big idea simply for the sake of it. Working out the problem providing solutions that service and value to your partner and your community create thoughtful and engaging programs for all. Take it back to basics make sure you understand all of the elements and then ask yourself how do you solve that problem.
I'd love to know what problems you have solved for your partners. Let me know of a campaign or program you have run that you were really proud of the outcome.