The Detroit Pistons Launch “Partner Connect” B2B Networking Program for Sponsors


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The Detroit Pistons have launched the Partner Connect business-to-business networking program.

Image courtesy of the Detroit Pistons

In a bid to add value to its corporate partners, the Detroit Pistons have launched the “Partner Connect” business-to-business networking program. The first meeting was Tuesday morning at The Foundation Hotel in downtown Detroit.

Procurement and sales executives from Flagstar Bank, Henry Ford Health System, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Rocket Fiber, Modernistic, Resolute, Morse Moving, and others convened for over an hour of networking, connecting, and discovering areas of possible collaboration for future business.

The event is one of four planned by the Detroit Pistons corporate partnership team in the coming months. The program is designed to help the team’s corporate partners strategically grow their business and brands. Future events will include the opportunity to participate in tours of the organization’s new practice facility and team headquarters now under construction at Second Avenue and Amsterdam Street in Midtown, and hear from the team’s basketball operations personnel.

“The introduction of our ‘Partner Connect’ program demonstrates our commitment to our partners to not only amplify their brand and solve their business needs, but also grow their network and relationships,” says Charlie Metzger, executive vice president and chief revenue and marketing officer for the Detroit Pistons.  “This platform is designed for key decision makers to meet, work together, and ultimately drive additional business and value.”

Partner companies are matched prior to the event according to categories and the opportunity for cross-business synergies. Representatives for each partner are linked together in 15-minute sessions for introductions, exploration, and linking of services. 

At the end of each session and at the conclusion of the event, participants have the opportunity to continue the conversation on their own and set next steps for any follow-ups between the partner companies, or the Detroit Pistons can deploy their engagement managers as a way to provide follow-ups and keep the connections going.

Ted Van Zelst, the team’s senior vice president of corporate partnerships, localized the program based on a similar execution that was successful during his time with NASCAR. 

“During my time at NASCAR we created a B2B council, and the purpose of that was to create meaningful, direct face-to-face meetings for our league partners,” he says. “(By) bringing this type of program to the local/regional level, we wanted to do the same thing. The key is to create a structure and foundation that enables our partners to share their corporate practices, desires, and objectives with other companies in a way that can drive possible future business between the two. We’ve heard time and time again that our partners wanted something like this, so we built this platform not just to check a box, but to create something that is valuable and results in actionable next steps.”

In addition to meetings, each Pistons partner will receive exclusive access and login information to a portal that will house detailed information on companies participating in the program, partner matching, brand opportunities, and other engagement information.

For corporate partners, the program creates a setting that is more conducive for business than entertaining at a game or attending a cocktail hour.

“This was a great opportunity for us to have a more intimate conversation with some of the Pistons partners, and also meet some others we already have in house as well,” says Valencia Stoudamire, director of strategic sourcing for Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. 

“I really appreciated the chance to sit down and talk more in depth about the scope of services they are providing, (and) who they are providing those services for within the health care sector and elsewhere. I really feel like it gave us a chance to have that conversation, to go into more detail about what they are doing, and give us an opportunity of thinking about how we can maximize and leverage that within our own institution.”

As the program grows, the Pistons will continue to implement their partnership strategy and help deliver results by utilizing the organization’s exclusive assets in a way that benefits partner businesses and grows their companies through activation and innovative B2B products.

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