"Green M&M's" is a well-known buzzword in the music industry and it refers to contract riders, or little "extras" that musicians hide in a contract, hoping no one notices. The story behind the Green M & Ms goes back to 1982 when Van Halen supposedly asked for a bowl of M & Ms with all the brown ones removed. How did the story morph into Green M&Ms? Well, that part is a mystery.
What we do know is that Van Halen asked for the customized M&M's as an indicator. Basically, if the band showed up at the venue and there are no Green M&Ms in the dressing room (or, I guess, if there were brown ones) then they knew the venue didn't actually READ the contract...which means that the real conditions they actually need fulfilled to perform might be missing. In other words, their absence means that the venue failed to do their homework.
What does any of this have to do with interviewing? The moral of the story is simple: Do your homework. Do your homework on the interviewing company so that you can speak intelligently in your cover letter, tailor your resume, and even throw in a couple of extra bells and whistles.
Reading through the company's recent press and looking at their website is still a sound strategy but one that the rest of the applicant pool has already adopted. How will you best them? By doing the things they either haven't thought of or aren't willing to do.
First, follow the company on Twitter or another social media platform. Although B2B companies may be less social media oriented than others, the company should still have some level of presence. Re-tweet the best / most exciting updates. Or, better yet, @mention the company in your own tweet. With any luck, the company will re-tweet it or like it. And just like that <snap> you already have a foot in the door.
Follow the company's other social media, especially a blog (if they have one). Quality blogs contain rich content that helps educate customers and will give you a window into the problems the company is solving. Ask questions in the comments section. The aforementioned social media person should answer you. If you can't think of any questions to ask, compliment the article. Like a re-tweet, it's a micro-conversation and a micro-victory.
If you're in the go-big-or-go-home cohort, visit the company at a employer event or a conference where they are a presenter. This is the ultimate "homework" assignment as it can require time, money, and a little bit of crowd control. You'll learn a lot, get to have face-to-face conversations with company reps, and come away with a grip of content for your above-and-beyond, fully fortified application.
Once you feel you've gained insight into the company which you can articulate, draft a compelling cover letter and tailored resume. Personalized cover letters and resumes stick out like a cherry on an ice cream sundae. Hiring managers see hundreds, if not 1000s, of resumes a day. Make sure yours convinces a reader that you actually want to work for the company (and position) you are applying to and not the millions of others on the planet.
Just be sure to dig into articles, social media, and anything else you can! Find that company's "Green M&Ms" and make sure they make an appearance in your resume, cover letter, and the interview room!