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When meeting with companies and corporations, your ability to know them greater than they know themselves is key to having a successful conversation which can lead to meaningful support for your university’s research. Companies need to know quickly how your research will help effect their bottom line, and by coming into the discussion with solid information and understanding of their wants and needs, you’ll know how your team’s research will help keep them in the black.
A few points to prepare successfully:
Take a look at their website– This one may seem simple, but ignoring a company’s most forward-facing marketing tool does happen, and to the detriment of all involved. All the most basic information on the company’s values and goals can be found on their website, and a well-informed team will be able to get into specific details on content found online that may be directly relevant to your team’s research.
Search for recent news articles– Stay up to date! A company’s news section is typically found on their website but a quick search on Google or any other platform will help to ensure that you know the goings on of a company as most up to date as possible. You’ll also be able to get an understanding on other relevant stories happening in the company’s industry. Nothing derails a conversation faster than a mention of negative news or obsolete information.
Find comparable products to your research– It doesn’t matter if a company is B2C (business to consumer) or B2B (business to business), you should always understand what they are selling. Getting an understanding of their product portfolio will allow you to form real world comparables between your research and how it can quickly and effectively be incorporated into their business.
Understand the roles of everyone who will be on the call, including on your own team– Taking the time to look up all attendees on LinkedIn is a fast and easy way to get a snapshot into their responsibilities at the company before the conversation even begins. Knowing a team member’s role will allow you to quickly assess where seniority resides, and also who the decision maker will be. At the same time, before the conversation begins, make sure you know who will be leading the conversation from your end as well. Speaking over one another leads to confusion, lost time, and at worst, bruised egos.
Prepare for the little things to cause big trouble– Small holes sink big ships, and if you don’t prepare for all contingencies, you may find yourself in a tough spot. For example, if you’re doing a Zoom call, be prepared with another teleconferencing service in reserve, or a phone line that all team members can dial into if the internet goes down. If you’re meeting in person, create a schedule the night before to plan for any issues that may come up and slow you down in making it to the discussion.
Successfully prepared teams are better able to overcome objections that can end relationships promptly. For some companies, success comes moment to moment, and being prepared to be a part of that success will make ensure you make your moment count.