So you have an idea and want to approach an alliance partner?

You have pondered on your ideas and made the essential initial steps towards an alliance. You have been thinking about the strategic rationale and the value proposition and doing the partner selection. Now the moment has come to approach the partner. There are several ways to do that, you can use your network to identify the right person at the partner, check LinkedIn, ask for an introduction, or simply call up the company and ask for a meeting with the person you have in mind.

What’s in it for me?
When the initial conversation is scheduled how will you approach it? Again it may be good to do some homework. What would you like to hear yourself when someone approaches you with a proposal to partner? Obvious you are interested in the value proposition, but more important than anything else in this moment of the partnership development is the answer to the simple question “What’s in it for me?”. Everybody who is entering an alliance wants to know what is in it for his own company.

Contributions and needs.
To be clear about that it will be good to come prepared to the meeting and sketch a clear picture of your perception what could be in there for your new to be partner. But I would take it one level further and not only show the partner what is in there for him, but also what is in there for you, what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. An overview that can be captured in a simple 2 by 3 matrix. You can download a template for the contributions matrix as part of this 3 tools download.

A basic matrix as helper.
A basic matrix like this one will be an excellent guide for your initial conversation, highlighting what is in there for each of the parties involved. Of course you also need to sketch your grand vision for the alliance, but this will be the agenda for the majority of the conversation.

Your challenge:
Next time you approach a partner or are being proposed by one try to be as clear as possible on these elements and see how it benefits the conversation. You will notice that the sooner these elements are clear the sooner you can decide to stop the discussion or take the next step.

Share your experiences in the comments below, I look forward to the conversation.