How to Expand Your Business with Your Large Prime Partner

Teaming up with large companies on contracting opportunities is an effective way to grow your small business. If you’re interested in doing so, keep reading. Below, we’ll dive deeper into what large primes are looking for from small business partners and how you can tailor your messaging to meet your needs.

Share What Sets You Apart

When you target large primes to discuss a potential partnership, be clear on what sets you apart. It’s your job to convey your value. Narrow your offerings to catch the attention of your targeted teaming partner. If you simply state you’re experienced in IT, you’re not offering any valuable information or demonstrating your unique strengths. On the other hand, if you explain your niche capabilities, specific to the opportunity you want to team with the large company on, you’re far more likely to catch their attention.

Attend Small Business Outreach Events

There are plenty of organizations that host small business outreach events. Federal Agencies, Prime Contractors, industry trade organizations, industry partners and consultants, and others can allow you to get in front of the key business individuals. The larger events are usually filled with at least a dozen or so agency and prime representatives. Even if you only speak to them for 5 or 10 minutes, you’ll get a chance to exchange business cards and make a positive first impression.

Attending these Small Business Outreach Events is the first step to introducing your companies – but then follow through and be consistent. Repetition is the best recipe to build a professional relationship.

Understand What Primes Look For

It’s important to put yourself in a large Prime Contractor’s shoes and understand exactly what they would look for. Since they are business people rather than missionaries, large primes are opportunity-driven. Think about what particular opportunities are available at the agency and whether the prime is pursuing them. Come prepared with detailed background on the opportunity(ies), where your strengths are, and why you think the Prime on your team will make for a winning solution. Large businesses are bombarded with requests to team with them – if you are not specific and you don’t even understand what they can and cannot contribute, you will waste your time (and lose face and credibility).

Know What to Avoid

First and foremost, do not start your introduction with your socioeconomic status. Rarely is your socio-economic status a game-changer when making teaming decisions. Instead, focus on your capabilities and what you bring to the table as key contributors. Also, do not position your small business as a “jack of all trades.” A prime wants to know that you have a special niche as you can’t possibly be good at everything. Lastly, don’t ask the prime what they can do for you. Keep in mind that the partnership value must be mutual.

Be Patient but be Persistent

Like anything in business – partnerships stem from relationships. You have to start somewhere and landing a meaningful partnership with a large company will not happen overnight. If you receive a “no,” do not take it personally. It may take 20 or so “nos” to get a yes. Instead of feeling down every time you face rejection, realize that you are one step closer to a “yes.” Do your research, follow up, and most importantly, remember, there is a person – just like you, doing their job on the other side – their business card might seem a bit heavier. Approach your relationship from a professional and genuine place.