by Jennifer Solomon
Looking to expand internationally in 2013? Channel partners can be a great sales vehicle when expanding into new markets, since they are more knowledgeable about their territory. When looking for international channel partners there are several considerations. First of all, is your company prepared to support these partners with knowledgeable internal personnel and thorough material? Does your company offer a localized product for the region? Is there a strong pipeline in the target region? Are their native competitors? Once you have established that the region has potential for your product and that you have the means to support a channel partner you can focus on specifics.
I have found from past experience that smaller companies (with 5-20 employees) who represent a small product suite tend to be better channel partners. It is important the potential partner has experience selling a similar product and, better yet, knowledge of your products. You will want to understand the potential channel partner’s client base and reputation in the region. It is okay to ask for client references. It will give you some insight as to what it is like to work with this partner. Ask about their industry focus and the geographical regions they cover. What other services do they offer? As with domestic partners, you want to ensure they have a sales person dedicated to selling your product. If you are also looking for the partner to provide local technical support then you will need to ensure they have the proper staffing to do this as well. Training and consulting are other activities to consider. Lastly, ensure their main contacts speak good English unless you plan on hiring a dedicated channel manager that speaks their native language which I would not advise.
When entering into unfamiliar territories or if on-boarding international partners is not something you have experience with, there are resources to help. The United States government Commercial Services Department provides United States based companies a service called the “Gold Key Service”. It is actually quite reasonable. [http://www.trade.gov/cs/] The US Government has experienced personnel worldwide that can help with the recruitment process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Solomon has close to ten years experience in the software industry with companies such as Intel, Oracle, HumanConcepts (now SABA), and Bentley Systems, which includes over six years of channel management experience. Jennifer brings with her several years of international experience including working for Oracle’s EMEA Division in De Meern, The Netherlands and Browning-Ferris Industries Europe. She speaks fluent Spanish, Dutch, and basic German.