Riding the elephant – using the power of relationships

Leverage, Marketing, Partners, Symbiotic relationship

I have always had the belief that when you are a small company, in the tech services market space, you don’t have the wherewithal to define the market, or challenge the incumbent with revolutionary new technology, then you need to use guerrilla tactics to get in front of the customers and get business.

When your company is small most big companies don’t want to deal with you, not because they have anything against you, but they just want to work with guys who are bigger and more stable. Big companies also have more inertia and no one wants to spend time trying to evaluate small companies.

One practice which I used very successfully over the years was to align with huge global behemoths in some specific niche product offering which they were either launching or were bringing new into the country. All these product companies have huge marketing budgets so they know how to get in front of the customer. That is your weakness. You are a small services company who can’t get in front of enough people.

So as an analogy, if you want to travel through the jungle on foot, you won’t last very long alive. But if you are sitting on an elephant, then where ever in the jungle the elephant goes, you can travel safely and enjoy the view. You however need to build a good relationship with the elephant to be able to ride on its back. in nature they call these as symbiotic relationships.

As I mentioned these global product companies have huge inertia, systems etc. which are a weakness for the sales person and marketing person at the local level to move the global organisation.

These are places where you can leverage on your being small. being a small company you can take decisions quickly, you can turn around solutions fast.

So you can offer these local sales people support interns of feet on the ground for technical support or do PoCs for them etc. There will be some people who you may find are selfish and take you for a ride. But in most cases the law of reciprocity – from Robert Cialdini’s Influence – comes in. Those sales people whom you help in winning the sale help take you in front of more customers. Obviously there are general ethics that you have to follow because partnerships take a long time to build.

Since these are global companies, you can also get references of other sales people and create your own network which can help you grow further. If the global company is growing with the product then you will have a long runway for your own growth using this methodology.

There is a downside to this method though. If the company decides to exit that line of business, then all the investments that you have made in terms of your technical manpower etc. go waste. So you need to find a way to utilise those assets while you are looking for then next global elephant on whose back you can ride into the next market.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

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