For small companies looking to compete with large and established IT vendors, the channel can be a leveller of the playing field and a provider of knowledge and expertise.
Our business has focused on business service management software when that technology was in its early stages, when education of and access to potential customers can be most critical to making or breaking a new product category.
We created a channel strategy because we realised our American-style direct sales approach would not work. A localised approach became the only way to ensure success in priority sales markets.
Culturally-aligned selling works in Europe, with its varied and complex market environments. Sales tactics across the EMEA region vary considerably and using local channel sales people with strong local knowledge is vital to opening doors and securing business.
For example, sales in southern Europe are based more on personal relationships than in the north and a reputable local sales partner is a necessity.
Local resellers should have established relationships based on trust, shortening the sales cycle. Who could argue with a quicker path to a signed contract?
Also, capital expenditure can be slashed by using a channel model: with resellers in place need for heavy investment in local offices and staff is minimised.
This is particularly important when establishing oneself in a region.
Also, a country-by-country approach helps ensure there is little or no overlap with a company’s direct sales force.
For a new category of product to succeed, it is essential to build an understanding of the product’s proposition, what it solves, how it scales and what level of integration is involved.
If you are asking a company to rethink its entire approach to IT, you need to be coming from a position of authority. A partner with existing brand equity is able to facilitate this. To make it work long term, partners must be treated almost like one of your family – in a business sense at least.
Our philosophy is to treat reseller partners exactly as we treat an internal sales representative – with plenty of human attention supporting collateral, training and special advice fora.
Having depth in one’s partner lineup lets companies introduce new ideas and offerings to the market more easily. Strong reseller relationships provide agility – promoting rapid understanding of the local context for new solutions.
For us, channel represents over a third of regional revenues and is set to grow as we invest further in partner training and education.
The channel represents a lifeline for our company; it enables us to maximise opportunities in new markets and learn about new cultures as we grow to adapt to them.
My recommendation to any mid-market business aiming to achieve rapid growth – or competing with much larger competitors – is to do likewise. Reseller access can be the difference between success or failure across the diverse continent of Europe.
John Zimmer is European alliance manager at Managed Objects
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners