International channel success is all about velocity. Let me explain what it means. If you want to enter a new markets with your solution and you do not have presence in the new market, you have to pay attention to things that you might not think about.
Let’s assume that you want to enter US markets as an European or Asian software organization. Let’s also assume that you do not have your legal entity in the US. What are your options to be successful? You have many ways to enter new markets and during the past 20 years I have seen some good and some not so good attempts by software organizations.
The top questions I get from prospective channel partners when trying to get them to become a channel partner for an ISV are as follows:
- How many customers do you already have in the US?
- How many have you sold yourself?
- How are you going to support me (channel partner) and my customers?
- Do you provide me leads that I can go after?
- Do you have your own sales force that becomes my competition?
- How do you manage channel conflicts?
Unfortunately, you will face the same thing with end user organizations. They will have a list of questions that you need to be able to respond to.
- Can you provide me an example/reference from the same industry in the US. I want to talk to them.
- Can you explain your delivery process and how does your support structure look like?
- How quickly can I get help when something goes wrong with the solution?
- Can I work with my local partner as they are they one that I trust the most?
- What is the financial situation of your organization?
- Can you provide me with analyst reports of your organization.
I named this blog post as “US market entry and channel success is all about velocity”. Let me explain why. Every single customers that I have worked with and sold to, will test you out how quickly you react to things whether it is sales or support related things. The velocity in the US is different when it comes to getting a response and how people are accessible at different times of the year. Yesterday I had a call with a well-known software brand and the person concluded that the typical US vacation is 10 days in a summer and that includes two weekends and a working week. What it means in reality is that US does not stop doing business during the summer and this is sometimes a big struggle especially for European software companies wanting to do business in the US.
Success in the US markets is all about velocity and having an understanding what end user organizations and channel partners expect from you. If you get it right, the US market is the largest and most homogeneous market that you can attack with your solution. In fact, US is so big that you really need to do your segmentation exercise as part of your Business Model and Value Proposition Canvas exercise.
I am honored to be speaking about this topic in the upcoming Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando July 12-16th, 2015. If you have an interest in the US channels, I think it is worthwhile joining our session to hear what are the do’s and don’ts in respect to channels and enterprise sales in the US.