This talk was given by Kevin McKeand, VP Partnership Management of BigCommerce at SaaS Connect 2018 in San Francisco, May 1-2, 2018.

If you want to approach a large company to partner with, you can’t proceed as you would a small company.

Kevin McKeand, President and CEO of Optelos as of June 2019, was the VP of Partnership Management at BigCommerce when he addressed the audience at SaaS Connect 2018. This made him the perfect person to discuss partnering with large companies.

Here are some of the tips he gave to businesses looking to partner with companies like BigCommerce.

How do you drive value with new partnerships?

If you’re looking to partner with larger companies, you need to understand what you’re going to be doing with that partnership. From there, you can ask the following two questions:

  1. How do I partner with other SaaS companies to grow my business?
  2. How do I establish a partnership with a large company like BigCommerce?

This will be the first step in creating a strategic partnership plan.

Why create new partnerships?

There are plenty of good reasons to partner with large companies. You can create a market leading product, for example, or achieve shared revenue and customer growth.

Know what your reason is for pursuing these partnerships, and keep that reason top-of-mind when reaching out. This will help you get the most out of the partnership, and will help your partners manage their expectations from the beginning.

How do you partner with large companies?

This can be very intimidating, especially if yours is a smaller company. What you’re expecting might also not be particularly realistic. Keep these five points in mind:

  • Communicate the value of the partnership to them.
  • Focus on the revenue and/or customer growth that will be available to both companies.
  • Don’t expect the partner will spend a lot of money just because the company is worth billions.
  • The partner will demand performance over specific periods of time.
  • Most importantly, be patient.

Once you set your expectations accordingly, the process of creating a partnership will run a lot more smoothly.

How do I partner with companies like BigCommerce?

A partnership with large companies works similarly to any other partnership, but these are some nuances worth remembering:

  • Develop a relationship. This includes a relationship with customers, but also other partners.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of their business. Show that you know and care about them.
  • Know where you fit into their objectives. This will help you to have realistic expectations for your partnership.
  • Be able to contribute to their revenue and customer growth. This relationship should be mutually beneficial.
  • Don’t make it hard. The more complicated it is to partner with you, the less likely big companies will be to partner with you.
  • Understand where they are. Know what stage of business the potential partner companies is in and how you can contribute to it.

What do companies like BigCommerce look for in partners?

If you know what they’re looking for, you can emphasize or cultivate the following traits in your business:

  • Transparency. Share appropriate information to develop a path to success.
  • Humility. Focus on the goals of the partnership, not yourself or your company.
  • Honesty. Tell them if you want something different or more.
  • Communication. This includes regular one-on-ones and executive alignment.
  • Integrity. Trust will be critical in times of stress.
  • Commitment. The partner will need time to make the partnership a success.