Yuri Glikin: “Deal-Making is a People's Endeavor.”
Yuri Glikin has this incredibly desirable and unique set of skills to create long-lasting and meaningful strategic partnerships. With over two decades of experience working with different brands in travel and media, all around the world, Yuri has done a myriad of strategic business deals with various big players like Booking.com, Ryanair, Bing, etc.
Being an expert in fields like affiliate marketing, business development, strategic partnerships, and content licensing or third party content acquisition, Yuri has gained the power to invent tools to build valuable partnerships and discern the right business deal that generates revenue in the corporate environment.
Currently, as the strategic partnerships and affiliate manager at Fiverr—the global leader in freelance marketplaces — Yuri manages the company’s strategic business and partnerships across the Oceania region.
When it comes to knowledge sharing on the key aspects of the commercial partnership creation process, there is none other than Yuri, who through experiential learning, brings to the table practical deal-making lessons, lifecycle of partnerships, and negotiating techniques for you.
Here is Yuri sharing his experience and expertise on business partnerships and the details of the course.
Most would think deal-making is more of a gift rather than an acquired skill. What do you think?
We have all seen people who can walk into a room, shake hands, and close deals in minutes. However, I believe it is a skill that can be honed and learned and perfected as you go through various experiences of creating partnerships and alliances in different cultures, people, and countries; in the process, you pick things up, develop tips and tricks, and gain knowledge.
You cannot teach someone how to be fun, gregarious, or excitable, but you can teach them techniques on how to connect with people, as ultimately — deal-making is a people endeavor. In fact, it is one of the objectives of the course.
From your experience, can you give examples of businesses where strategic partnerships have contributed the bigger part of revenue generation?
In my experience, having worked in two travel startups, I’ve seen the companies becoming into larger enterprises and subsequently being sold to big companies in very large deals.
How? Firstly, the majority of their revenue was derived through partnerships.
Initially, there was no brand or big direct channel representing these companies, so most of the revenue came in through partnerships. Subsequently, bringing together all the small, medium, and large deals, a big chunk of revenue was generated. This, in fact, is the case for many companies today.
IN MANY CASES, YOU MIGHT BE USING A BRAND, WEBSITE, OR SERVICE WITHOUT REALIZING IT IS A PLATFORM PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Traditionally, which are the industries where a bigger part of the businesses come from partnerships?
Fintech has been making use of commercial partnerships to meet strategic objectives and sustain their competitive advantage since the beginning. Apart from it, businesses in SAS and technology also make use of partnerships to a great extent.
In many cases, you might be using a brand, website, or service without realizing it is a platform provided by a third party. In fact, you may not even know the name of the third party. These companies even provide a huge proportion of the business across the entire ecosystem.
For instance, Akamai is a content delivery platform that helps you watch videos. A few years ago, 25-26 percent of all videos that were streaming globally were powered by Akamai. But people only know YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu; they are unaware of the third party CDN provider, and yet they are gigantic businesses worth billions of dollars.
When it comes to startups, do you think the ability to create key partnerships is the key to survival?
Mostly, yes, unless startups have an amazing experience where they suddenly obtain a “viral hit” that booms their popularity, which is very rare.
In the current world, when there are so many startups competing for your share of wallet, partnership is absolutely vital. Not to mention, it is the key for startups as they create revenue streams and credibility, especially when you enter the new market and nobody knows who you are and you have a great product. In fact, the best way to achieve that scale is to partner with well-known local brands that have people’s trust.
Everything that I’ve seen over the last 20 + years simply reaffirms that when new startups kick in to gear up, whether in fintech, payments or IT, the first thing that you hear about is them creating alliances and partnerships with other brands, mostly, for mutual benefit of both. Moreover, it helps the upstart to do what it wants to do.
SALES IS TYPICALLY A SINGLE TRANSACTION, AN ITEMIZED VERSION OF CONDUCTING THE BUSINESS, WHILE A PARTNERSHIP, EVEN IF IT IS A SINGLE ONE, LEADS TO MANY REPEATING SALES.
How would you draw the line between sales, business developments, and partnerships?
Though there is an element that is the same in all the three, sales probably doesn’t do justice to true business development and strategic partnership creation.
Sales can be applied across the board. We are all selling something. For instance, you could be selling figurines at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower to tourists; you could be selling insurance or second hand cars; there are enterprise and top level sales as well. Though it is the word that permeates the entire industry, I’ve always believed that proper business development and strategic partnerships are long lasting. And this is exactly what we’re hoping to cover in this course.
Let’s look at this objectively. Instead of selling a product to you directly, we can create a meaningful and lasting alliance — a partnership — through which we both derive value.
Over the years, a lot of deals I have done were not transactional deals, but they were deals that were in place for years. In fact, many of them are still in place though I left the company years ago. In short, sales is typically a single transaction, an itemized version of conducting the business while a partnership, even if it is a single one, leads to many repeating sales.
Can someone who is not naturally sociable, likable, or funny do a good job in building business-related personal connections?
Absolutely! You can have all the frivolity, fun, and gregariousness in the world and people may not connect to that.
It also varies across cultures. Somebody who is larger than life and funny in Europe can crack a deal easily but he may not be able to do it in Asia. So, it is absolutely possible to learn the skill of deal-making by people who are not necessarily of that personality.
On the other hand, generally people who are likable, easy-to-engage and connect with can make a good first impression. And if you don’t make good connection or the impression does not kick off straight away, it makes it much harder. That being said, if you’re blind faced and delivering everything in a monotone, you may struggle as well.
EVEN THOUGH YOU COULD NOT MAKE THE BEST FIRST IMPRESSION, YOU WILL HAVE PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES TO REDEEM YOURSELF AND PEOPLE OFTEN GIVE YOU ANOTHER CHANCE — UNLESS YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING TERRIBLE.
What if someone has a bad day or they didn’t think they were talking to the right person. Is it possible to recover and still have a successful deal after making a bad first impression?
If this was for a sale, you would probably be in trouble because that was your one opportunity to make the connection and blowing it will not leave you much to work on.
However, in strategic partnerships, there are multiple points of contacts, discussions, and engagements that occasionally may last months or even years. Even though you could not make the best first impression, you will have plenty of opportunities to redeem yourself and people often give you another chance unless you have done something terrible.
Does the ability to adapt and improvise more important than a good preparation to make a deal?
I am a firm believer of preparation before you go in for the discussion. You need to know who you are talking to and his background, about the business, the history, and its future growth development—all those elements are important for the first connection.
Lest the person on the other side may assume you have not made the rudimentary effort to research about the person or the business. But it also helps to be flexible and not to assume anything.
Generally, you do not have to make any decision on the spot the first time, but you need to pivot and adapt away from your preconceived notion of what this deal may look like to something else.
YOU ALWAYS NEED TO HAVE A POINT OF REFERENCE, SO THAT YOU CAN JUST REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE SITUATION — BECAUSE WE ARE PEOPLE DEALING WITH PEOPLE AND EMOTIONS CAN OFTEN GET THE BETTER OF US.
In your experience, how to keep a cool head and a rational mind, and constantly analyze the deal as it happens, so we will not sign something we are not supposed to?
My approach is always to ensure that every deal is the right deal. Very rarely, I would have walked away from something before it was signed unless the commercial terms simply did not stack up. Oftentimes, even if it looked like it is going to be hard work and challenging, I would normally persevere knowing that there are ways to make it work.
Whether the deal was signed, launched, and progressively developed and grew, or not grew, it becomes apt and clear that it is a wrong deal; you’re then faced with a choice—do you walk away or persevere? Occasionally, your judgment can get clouded and you can emotionally get caught up in needing to deliver the deal or keep it.
I have combated this by having someone else there with me—a colleague or superior—to have a fresh perspective. Also, it helps to have a framework, a point of reference, and a ROI metric as numbers usually do not lie. You always need to have a point of reference so that you can just remove yourself from the situation because we are people dealing with people and emotions can often get the better of us.
But if we have the tools to overcome this, there is nothing like it. In this course, we’re hoping to cover these tools that will help you to determine where you are at, is this deal going well? And if not, what to do about it?
When you are in a position to get more and still keep a nominal win-win situation on the table, do you normally go for it and squeeze it or keep some money on the table to either show a good will?
I strongly think that you shouldn’t leave money on the table. We are all commercial people. If you leave money on the table, someone else will come to the table and take it after you are gone.
The fact of the matter is that once the deal is done, you need to have both the parties relatively satisfied. However, it is not always going to be equitable if you’re a young startup or if you’re partied with less power but you need this deal because it will give you the next boost into the market. In such a case, you will take a hit and walk away from the table potentially not happy about it but happy about the fact that this is a deal that will launch you into the stratosphere.
The key is to make sure everyone leaves, may not be happy, but at least content. Because if one party is leaving genuinely aggrieved, or you’ve used your power or knowledge or market condition or stature in order to squeeze it to the point where it hurts, the deal probably will not last or it will be difficult for everybody.
So take what is there and if you can take more, definitely take it, but respect the other party because you might have won today but you would have to sacrifice something much more meaningful further down the road.
Be as sympathetic as possible but ultimately get what you can and do it in the right way.
PEOPLE HAVE ASCRIBED MORE VALUE TO THE EXISTING PARTNERSHIPS AND INVESTED HEAVILY INTO MAKING THOSE DEALS AS MEANINGFUL AS POSSIBLE, FROM BOTH SIDES.
How did the outbreak of COVID-19 affect the process, dynamics, and the timelines of deal making?
The pandemic has changed the industry indelibly, may be not forever, but for a very long time. It is a fact that partnerships and deals have suffered greatly during this time.
However, I feel two things have happened in the process:
- People have ascribed more value to the existing partnerships and invested heavily into making those deals as meaningful as possible, from both sides.
- It has also changed the future of partnerships in a way that people will treat them with greater respect and enter any deal with positive intent to make a deal work for both parties.
Do you think our inability to personally meet in today’s circumstances is slowing the deal-making process?
Though I agree to it, life must go on and the positive thing about it is that people have adapted to the new world with the changes quickly. If you think about it, deals that have potentially drawn out for over months or years and lots of meaningless and pointless trip-overs for meetings that go nowhere are now gone.
So, people are now resolving things and generating business quicker, though it is definitely challenging in both cultural and professional sense.
SOMETIMES GOING INTO A NEW MARKET AND BRINGING THE KNOWLEDGE INTO A MARKET THAT IS PERHAPS LESS DEVELOPED OR DOES DEALS IN A DIFFERENT WAY MAY WORK FOR YOUR ADVANTAGE.
What about cultural differences in terms of deal making will you be covering in the ELVTR course?
Cultural difference is a very important aspect of deal making, especially negotiating, outreach, and how you connect with people at the beginning of a deal.
We will have this element in the course on how to do that across the different countries and how to feed those into negotiating skills and having the right discussion to help the deals materialize and move forward.
It is an important aspect to consider when you’re in a country like Australia, U.S., UK. Of course, it is fairly similar in many ways of how deals are done and businesses are conducted, but it is very much different when you try to do that in Dubai, Amsterdam, Singapore, etc.
Are you more comfortable to make deals in a familiar environment or a totally new market?
Sometimes going into a new market and bringing the knowledge into a market that is perhaps less developed or does deals in a different way may work for your advantage. This is because the business counterparts that you talk to — may be more open to things that you bring in from a more mature market.
For instance, having done a great deal of business development and partnerships in India, I found that their market is very unique and challenging in many ways. Though they have a particular way of expressing themselves, they are incredibly respectful and differential to business deals that we bring from markets like Europe, Australia, and the U.S.
On the whole, the experience has been challenging and fun. I’d definitely love to explore more into new markets to understand how they do business and hopefully bring some business in the door.
Could you share the key points of the course on strategic business partnerships for ELVTR?
Most importantly, the course is designed to provide you with an understanding of the types, nature, and business cycle of creating successful, meaningful, and long lasting partnerships in the corporate world.
The course will also present concepts, frameworks, and case studies to help you really hone your knowledge and skills in the various stages of how a partnership works (the lifecycle). This includes things like sourcing leads and prospects, how to communicate, how to negotiate, how to launch a partnership, and primarily, how to grow a partnership.
Key takeaways from this course:
- Understanding the various stages of the business strategic partnership creation process;
- Have awareness of different approaches and closing strategies to creating effective partnerships;
- Finding the best way to start and develop a commercial discussion all the way through, from the very beginning to the end;
- Acquire basic practical knowledge in the key facets of the commercial partnership creation process — negotiating techniques, things to look out for in analytics, and how to review a partnership whether it is successful or not.