How to Find the Best B2B Collaborators

NIM fractional CMO how to find the best B2B collaborators

Tips for Working With Partners Who Won’t Drive You Crazy!

As the African proverb tells us, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you apply this thinking as a business professional to potential partnerships and client/supplier relationships with other professionals, the opportunity for more deals, projects, and clients is unlimited. You’re going to need to learn how to find the best B2B collaborators. Call them partners, subcontractors, clients or team members, everyone is a collaborator these days. This is a skill you’re going to want to, and need to hone.

But how do you start? How do you find these excellent partners?

Since 2009 when I started working on my own, it was obvious to me I’d have to have some working relationships with others in the marketing world as there was no way I, as one person, could deliver all client work on my own. Despite all the listings you see for marketing positions asking for the candidate to be able to do it all, it’s just not a tall order, it’s wishful thinking. You need an expert team in this industry.

Calling B2B Collaborators

As things stand now with New Initiatives Marketing Inc., (NIM) I am the only official employee. We only work with other expert professionals who have their own company. We were set up to be a virtual company years prior to the pandemic, which raised some eyebrows, thankfully it’s not an issue any longer. These professionals on our team include marketing strategists, fractional CMOs, marketing managers, technical experts, researchers, graphic designers, web developers, writers, analytics managers, content creators, project managers, executive assistants, bookkeepers, finance professionals, photographers, trade show managers and others.

My choice to build the organization this way is because I want to put the best professionals I can find on your project, not just the best available locally. I’m impressed with the self-motivation and hunger that other professionals have. Whether they are working for themselves (as many of our professional strategists and writers do) or are part of a small dedicated company ( as many of our graphic designers are) which we hire for our client work. They all come with a drive I’m impressed by and it feels great to be working with a team who wants to go for it.

As a side note, I’m not saying outsourced/virtual is the best way to go. I’m not saying it is better than having full-time, in-office employees. It is a different approach. Both work well in different situations. With my other company, Inner Armour Sports Nutrition, all our 21 (and counting) employees are full-time, in-house, at the office in Kelowna. That approach works well for the way we have that organization set up.

The type of professional that works best in our organization has the drive to improve their skills with each project, has an interest in improving their craft, keeps up with the technological changes in their area, understands how their expertise works with other parts of marketing and is aware of the importance of delivering on time for the client.

Because I’m on notice too…it’s not all one way here…these professionals have other clients and other opportunities. NIM has to compete for their time and attention and their choice to come back to work with us. I try my best to make it appealing by paying on time, respecting work boundaries, offering steady and stable work, and working to offer interesting projects that will help them with their own skill development, portfolio development and expand their exposure to other industries needing their professional skills. I want each professional to feel like they gain new skills and good experiences with every new opportunity NIM has for them. They get better when they work with NIM – that’s my goal.

It hasn’t been all roses, I’ve had professionals vaporize on me (is that the term where they don’t deliver the work and you never hear from them again and can’t find them despite trying??) I’ve had professionals say the work here at NIM is a bit too much, too hard, too confusing and they don’t want to work with us anymore.

Despite this, it’s been worth finding and collaborating with great professionals who are a match to what you’re doing and where you’re going. When things click, there is nothing else like it.

B2B Collaborators: Worth a Try

If you see more pros than cons in this opportunity, which there are, it’s worth it. The thing is, you need to find potential partners and then establish trust and a working relationship before you go in on the deal of the century together.

Here are a few tips that worked for me when getting to know and successfully working with other professionals no matter if they are subcontracting to you, you to them, they are hiring your firm onto their team or you’re the leader assembling a group to help you get a project you’re leading to the finish line.

Once you find your ideal partner or collaborator, do us both a favour and follow these steps. It may take longer, but it will be worth it.

Test! Test! Test!

Once you get to a point where it seems like a good match to hire another company as a supplier or partner with them on a project or accept their offer to become a vendor, I’d recommend doing an inaugural fast, real, small and paid project as your own “trial” project. The purpose of this is that:

a.    You’ll quickly see if you like working with this person/team/company. I would recommend the project not go longer than 30 days.

b.    The pressure is on as this is a real project, so you’ll get to see how both of your companies work together professionally.

c.     Keep the project small in scope with well-defined deliverables as both companies will be coming up the learning curve.

d.    Ensure the project is paid, this keeps it as a priority for both the one paying and the one getting paid.

This concept of “test-first” is used by many companies and was discussed in Dan Martell’s latest book Buy Back Your Time as a method to contribute to the growth of your company.

Your B2B Collaborator Test Project Results

If the trial project was successful, this is great news as you both can discuss ongoing opportunities and start to work together on larger initiatives. Hopefully, this will give you both the needed boost to branch out and find others to work with now that you have this success under your belt.

If the trial project was not successful, this is good news too. You both just saved yourselves a huge headache down the road. Part ways as professionally as possible and if it is possible to debrief together, do so.

If not, debrief within your company and look at why the project didn’t go as well as expected. The clarity found during this step will help you structure your other deals and trial projects differently based on this experience. Don’t let this experience stop you from working with other professionals in the future.

By understanding, communicating, defining, respecting, aligning, adapting, and cultivating, You can make the most of the opportunity to work with others to drive your businesses to new heights. The key is to approach every potential collaboration with an open mind and a focus on mutual growth and success. Remember, the goal is to create a relationship and deal that benefits both parties.

About the Author: Jen Kelly leads New Initiatives Marketing, Inc., a Fractional CMO & Expert B2B Marketing Team company. For more than 14 years, our team of senior marketing leaders and expert marketing specialists has been helping B2B CEOs with the strategic leadership and real-world marketing execution needed for practical, long-term results.  Contact us to see if our model is a good fit for your B2B company today.

Next Steps: The CEO’s Ultimate Guide to Building a B2B Marketing Team in Today’s Complex Marketing World 

To help you make important decisions around your B2B marketing investment, we’ve created a comprehensive 33-page eBook: The CEO’s Ultimate Guide to Building a B2B Marketing Team in Today’s Complex Marketing World

In this eBook, we walk you through the six most important questions B2B CEOs need to answer in order to build their first marketing team and choose the right B2B marketing model for their stage of business:

  1. How Do You Know It’s Time to Invest in Marketing? 
  2. What are B2B Marketing Best Practices?
  3. How Has B2B Marketing Become More Complex?
  4. What Are the Top Challenges in Getting Started in Marketing?
  5. What Does a B2B Marketing Team Look Like?
  6. Should You Hire In-House or Outsource?

You can download the eBook RIGHT HERE

If you have any questions about this blog post or the eBook or would like to schedule a consultation with Jen Kelly, NIM’s Founder and one of the Fractional CMOs to get more guidance around your next steps in marketing, you can send her an email RIGHT HERE or book a consultation time RIGHT HERE.

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