Author: João Esteves, Founder & CEO of United Channels Consulting
There is no better reward than knowing that it was thanks to our know-how, experience, advisory (and hard work!) that a particular tech vendor was able to:
Streamline and adapt their message to the market.
Recruit the needed channels to support their internationalisation.
Expand to a new geographical location.
Get to their ‘ideal’ target clients.
And ultimately achieve their strategic and financial business goals.
However, before we think about the achievement of corporate goals, we need to start at the beginning and be ready to walk the walk - hard work, dedication and a profound synchronisation with the vendor we are representing, is the only path for success.
The walk is by no means easy, but it’s usually exciting and very often attractive. And whilst the formula changes according to the vendor and their needs, below we are going to cover the 7 steps you need to take for a successful business expansion.
1. Product deep dive
The first step is a complete deep dive on the product you want to internationalise. As soon as we sign with a new vendor, the priority is to learn about their solution, asking questions, actively listening and studying their product.
Once we start to understand the basics, we look at the target market and evaluate the solution, making suggestions and adapting what needs to be adapted.
We dream and project, starting to visualise where do we want to get to and what we want to achieve.
2. Plan, plan & plan
We always start with a plan, defining the scope of the project, what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it.
Afterwards, we need to measure, act on in, insist and persist until we reach the goals we set for ourselves.
3. Preparation & validation
Before we start approaching channel partners and clients, it’s important to review the marketing and communications’ materials to ensure that the messaging used at home resonates in the target market. If needed, we work with the vendor to streamline and adapt it accordingly, in particular if the materials need translation.
It’s also crucial to review communication scripts, clarify the unique points of sale of the solution, structure calls and demos, as well as set clear criteria for the service level agreement (SFA), proofs of concept (POC’s), and future roadmap.
Once all of this has been reviewed, we test and validate the first reactions to the messaging, internally with our local team and externally with trusting partners and close connections. According to the feedback we get, we adapt and fine tune the content so it's relevant to the local audience.
4. Identifying & approaching the right channel partners
The next step is to draft a channel management strategy, either from scratch or working from the plan vendors use at home.
There are several types of partners to consider and you may not need them all – Resellers, Systems Integrators, Value-added Reseller (VAR), Distributors, among others. With the vendor in mind and the type of solution we want to internationalise, we go through each and every one of them, considering the advantages and disadvantages whilst drafting our channel strategy.
Once the ideal set of partners have been identified and profiled, it’s time to start prospecting and recruiting them. Afterwards, we train them on the solution and enable them to be able to reach out to clients on our behalf - engaging regularly with partners to ensure an ongoing commitment, helping drive the sales activity, sharing updates and overcoming challenges.
5. Identifying & approaching the end clients
Now that we have our channel up and running, it’s time to introduce the solution to the end client and for that, we prepare a list of target clients we want to approach. Sometimes, this requires old school tactics, including cold calls and emails, but we usually make use of our healthy list of connections, reaching out to our network and leveraging the contacts of our channel partners.
With the client target list at the ready, all we have left to do is execute – booking numerous calls and presentations, preparing and delivering our pitch and steadily developing the vendor’s trust and reputation in the new market.
From here, we continue to engage with our partners and follow up with potential clients, building our pipeline and working to progress the sales process – with training sessions and POC’s before we’re able to complete the sale.
7. The close
Closing a deal is the ultimate objective of all sales people and tech vendors, and of course, one of the main KPI’s used to measure success. But closing a deal is also the result of a well-designed and well-executed plan. Moreover, it represents a new beginning, a new sales cycles that initiates - ensuring the client receives great customer support and continues to be satisfied with their purchase.
The formula we’ve detailed above is not new but has been working for us for the past 20 years, helping us develop crucial connections internationally and helping small to medium tech vendors grow their business in other markets.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you and your business expand to other markets, book here a 30-min free consultation.
About the author
João Beato Esteves is the CEO of United Channels Consulting. He founded the company in 2017 after 20+ years of working in the IT and cybersecurity industries developing channels for prominent companies such as Symantec and disruptive start-ups like Watchful Software.