Securing partnerships with big companies: a quick guide

Attracting the attention of large corporations is one of the main goals of most small company CEOs, not just because they help provide a stamp of approval which will in turn help to attract other large customers, but because they give SMEs the potential to massively scale their business by gaining access to the large company’s customer base.

In short; the right kind of relationship with a large corporate can be transformational for a SME, providing the rocket fuel for growth of which any founder can only hope to dream of achieving.

It’s little wonder then that many CEOs of SMEs spend numerous hours thinking about suitable large partners.

A partner or a customer: knowing the difference

Selling product to a large blue-chip customer is usually fairly straightforward provided that you can demonstrate value and have a solution that will fix their problem. However, opportunities to partner are usually much more difficult to find and even more difficult to make successful given the significant differences which usually exist between large and small businesses.

When you sell a product into a large corporate you will usually be dealing with a small team of people who are trying to solve a specific pain point for the business.

Partnerships and licensing deals, on the other hand, tend to feed down from strategic decisions made at board level. They involve far more people and are considered to be a lot more risky if they go wrong. As with most big deals; the level of risk increases almost proportionately to the level of opportunity.

Finding the perfect partner

When considering a large corporate partner, SMEs need to ensure that there’s both a cultural fit as well as a commercial one. While your business might share the same goals and provide a perfect fit for the other party, if your team clashes or you fail to get the right kind of “buy-in”, then the potential benefits will be lost and the relationship doomed to failure.

Knowing how your own service fits within the strategic plans of the target organisation is essential. To illustrate this point, I know that large data owners have a problem selling into smaller businesses as it is not cost effective. Examples of partnership businesses

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