Author: Nahla Davies
Scaling your business internationally is no easy feat. It requires a dedicated team that is in sync with each other and your customers. Your colleagues, employees and partners must share a sense of urgency to gain market share.
There are few industries as fast-paced and competitive as the software industry. Tech companies must constantly innovate and keep up with new trends in order to stay relevant. In fact, some software companies like to stay ahead of their competition and prevent issues by proactively creating and solving problems, known as chaos engineering.
This is why studying what successful B2B software companies do can help other B2B businesses who are looking to scale quickly and dramatically.
In this article, we’ll talk about how B2B companies can leverage channel partners to expand their business at home and abroad, and how to overcome some of the challenges and drawbacks associated with this. We’ll also discuss how you can build the perfect B2B channel partners network on an international level.
Channel partners: a win-win
Choosing a channel partner that can help you boost sales in a target market should be a win-win situation for both parties. An outside partner can assist you in closing sales while also staying true to your business vision, creating a solid business relationship that builds on each other. Far from merely transactional, a relationship between your company and your channel partners should focus on long term results, not quick gains.
Social media marketing is an effective way to break into a new target market because it’s easy to scale. Reportedly, 96% of B2B companies maintain an active Facebook presence, but local field work is vital, too. In order to truly optimize your relationship with your chosen channel partner, you must make a commitment to connect in ways outside of virtual meetings or crunching numbers.
The channel partner you choose to help boost your sales should have access to your target demographic on a local level. It is equally important for you to work on building a strong business relationship with your channel partner. The better you understand each other, the more success both parties will receive.
An ideal channel partner should mesh well with your own work culture, sharing similar ideas and approaches to your industry. Speaking with the C-suite team within a potential channel partner’s organization can be a great way of gauging whether your business goals align with theirs.
Similarity is key. If your company wants to grow quickly, your channel partner should also share that same thirst for expansion. In order to create a solid business relationship, you both need to have a laser focus on tracking sales and micro-conversions and creating a sales strategy that will address your long-term goals.
B2B success relies heavily on building and nourishing long-term relationships with your vendors, partners and customers. This is even more true when it comes to the relationship between your company and your channel partner, especially if the goal is to scale internationally. Honesty, transparency and trust is key in creating a mutually beneficial partnership.
Potential challenges with working with a channel partner
Nothing worth having is easy, and the same goes for working with a channel partner. It will inevitably take time, and lots of conversations, before you and your partner are truly on the same page.
In this stage, common mistakes that are made include not fully understanding your B2B business model and vision, thus making it hard to explain to a channel partner. Before taking the steps to grow your business and expand geographical presence, you must have a very clear idea of what makes your business successful, how your product or service compares to the competition, and what your business vision is for the future.
One solution to overcome this challenge is to make use of a financial reporting service that can visualize your company’s financial standing, with features such as a color coded breakdown of your company’s spending, general ledgers, chart of accounts, payments collected reports, and profit-and-loss statements. This tool should also have the ability to export and submit your reports directly to your channel partners so they can see how your business is performing.
There is also a tendency for clients and channel partners to get entangled in complex contracts to mitigate any potential financial losses. It’s generally recommended that these be avoided in favor of a relationship based in trust and transparency, and which focuses on lucrative long-term goals rather than small short-term achievements.
Clients can also fall into the trap of hiring a channel partner too quickly instead of taking time to find the right match for them. While the need to scale quickly is understandable, the amount of time and money you will lose by choosing the right partner makes it worthwhile to do your research before committing to anyone.
Last of all, it’s important that both parties avoid changing the rules in the middle of the game. There is a certain amount of give-and-take involved in working with a channel partner, and trying to change guidelines as soon as they aren’t entirely in your favor isn’t going to help you build that trusting, transparent relationship that will propel your company’s success.
How to build a strong business relationship with your chosen channel partner
When it comes to achieving the goals laid out for you and your channel partner, field work is vital to get an understanding of how the business operates. Building and coaching a sales team that can work in conjunction with your channel partner is a great first start.
Ideally, your channel partner should learn about your business by observing how you operate, while you learn more about their approach and strategy for your business. Although field sales work is important, it goes without saying that a focus on digital marketing is an important aspect as well.
There are few tools as easily scalable and able to achieve a wider audience than online advertising. A sales and marketing team that works well together is a gold mine for any business.
Even seemingly outdated marketing techniques like email marketing can reach out to people on a massive scale and, when coupled with strong copywriting, convert more sales. According to London-based software developer and online marketing expert Alexander Williams of Hosting Data, even email marketing remains highly effective because “There are minimal start-up costs. It’s increasing in usage. And you have direct contact with your customers, with lots of flexibility in how you craft your message.”
As the old saying goes, if isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Make a point to share your sales success stories with your existing customer demographic with your channel partners so they can integrate these strategies in their approach as well.
It’s not easy to build a successful business, let alone scale it internationally. By taking a look at how fast-paced industries scale their businesses, we can take key aspects of their success and apply it to our own businesses. One such proven successful strategy is choosing a channel partner that aligns with your goals and the vision you have for your company.
About the Author: Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony. You can find her on LinkedIn.