Having spent a lot of my career doing a lot more than just SEO, I’ve had to wear many different hats. One of my favorite hats to wear is actually the Business Development one. I’m total people person and I love the sales process. The feeling of closing a deal to me is almost as good as sex. (Sorry, I had to set the bar high).
So, rather than actually sitting here and writing another useless “SEO Tips” type post, I wanted to give to put together something a little more business focused, so I came up with the idea that I would write about how I find and close biz dev opportunities.
The first thing that you need to do with any sales, marketing, and partnership funnel is analysis. Start looking at the competition and look at other products or services in your vertical that offer complimentary services.
Some good competitive questions to ask: Who are your competitors and whom are they partnering ? Are they guest blogging? Are they swapping links? Do they have an open source platform, affiliate program, or API that you could build and offer to their partners?
Then, think through all the sites that offer complimentary services. If you are in the personal finance space, it might be smart to partner with sites that offer coupons or discounts to shoppers. You could then partner with each on exchanging widgets, guest blogging, or other product and services offerings.
At the end of the day, I look for sites and opportunities with larger audiences or more traffic, and try to find a mutually beneficial partnership.
Now that you know who the companies are, it’s time to find out who you need to talk to at those companies. Find your connection and or “in” at the company. Who do you know there? Who do you know that knows someone? etc.
It’s important to note that a lot of the time, this is the hardest part of the entire process. A lot of times you will run into situations where you think you are talking to the right person and it’s literally a dead end.
I’m a huge fan of checking out LinkedIn right away when I am looking for connections, because you can trim through a lot of fat, so-to-speak. Starting looking through your Social Graph to find people as well, or, just do some searches in Google to find people. It’s pretty likely within the technology and internet marketing world that somehow, someway, you are only 1 or 2 degrees of separation away from that person.
Planning, Position, and Conversation:
At this point, you should have an idea of the company and the players involved. Now it’s time to start thinking of what the partnership would look like in the perfect world for you. That doesn’t mean that you are going to reach out to someone and flat out propose something right away. But, rather, you want to figure out what it is that you want to gain, what your value proposition is and be ready to present that at a moment’s notice.
Start by having a conversation with someone and get to know their goals. Ask them what their biggest pain points are? What they are trying to achieve? Are they partnering with others? Take notes, mental or physical, but remember what it is they are driving for.
At this point, let’s be honest, this is going to be straight up salesmanship on your part. You need to positioning yourself and how you deliver value to their organization, if at all. If you don’t, you better be a killer salesman who gets what you want. Inspire the person you are talking to by making them believe the value you deliver is imperative to their business
I use to have a boss that would always tell me this quote about sales, closing deals, and finding a pain point:
“Sales is all about finding the pain of a customer or partner. Prostitutes have really figured it out, they know the male pain point — getting laid — so you need to dig deep and find theirs.”
At Twistup 7, I was able to witness Dave McClure give his Startup Metrics for Pirates presentation. During the session Dave had one side of the crowd screaming “FUCK” and the other side “KILL”. The point was to get everyone to realize that it’s all about those two senses that drive our nature — the need to kill for sustenance and the sexual nature of human being, for procreation or not.
As marketers, when marketing products, services, etc., it’s important to remember to tap into that in order to get people to convert. But, as a salesman, remember that people have a needs that must be fulfilled. Finding that pain point early during your analysis or planning will set you up for success as you try to close the deal.
Find out what that pain point is and exploit it with further analysis and conversations. Show them competitive concerns, product and/or content issues, etc. Comfort them with validation points of current/former clients, partnerships, and/or re-affirm the value addition.
Keep conversations going:
There are obviously going to be issues that come up that will either kill or delay deals. During delays, just be patient, many Fortune 500 companies have vendor and partner processes that are required. But, remember to continue to push the envelope and conversations moving forward. Having an open communication channel and forum for discussion will make sure not to kill the deal, but rather, to possibly come to a mutually beneficial agreement that works.