Serendipity – 2

Partners, Serendipity

A few months back towards end of January I had written a post on serendipity. Serendipity is defined as events which happen by chance in a happy or beneficial way , where you had not sought for or expected anything even remotely similar to what has happened.

I tend to think of serendipity also in parallel to chance and luck though they are technically different as per the literal meanings.

However I tend to believe that a lot of serendipity, chance or luck happens because you are “doing” things to get some result and then something totally unrelated happens and takes you in totally different direction which is even more beneficial. Most people – especially the “filmy” kind use this term with respect to romance. But I tend to see it happen so often in business that it ends up creating a completely new and beneficial set of opportunities.

I keep talking about seeking partnerships to help you build your go to market strategy in a low cost and high speed way. Last year we had done an event with a industry body in India. This event was targeted at the members of the industry body where we were seeking partnerships to go into that industry. We happened to put out the video we had created onto YouTube after the event.

Now see the sequence of serendipitous events which took place over the next 8-10 months.

One sales person of an OEM happened to see that video and connected to me via Linkedin and then contacted me. This conversation led us to build an application on top of the OEMs platform , which they were so amazed that they started giving us support to work further. Now this sales person also connected us to one of his other colleagues who asked us a question regarding the capabilities we had on another product of this OEM. At that point in time we had only a sketchy knowledge but because this sales person and the earlier one had suggested we invested in this new product and built a prototype from scratch.

Suddenly when we showed this prototype, all of a sudden there was “domino effect” or a “tipping point” such that not only was this OEM’s team taking us to prospective customers, but other partners in other geographies were also asking us on our capabilities in this area. To think about it, 3 months back we had no knowledge about this tool, and today we are talking to so many possible prospects.

All because one sales person happened to see our video on YouTube and decided to connect with me. I had no plans whatsoever of connecting with this OEM, even in my wildest dreams, but today we have so many proposals happening because of them.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Challenges in choosing B2B partners for your market

B2B, ideal customer, Marketing, Partners, route to market, single target market

While I have always maintained doing partnerships is the key to entering a market faster, I have observed some real challenges with respect to handling expectations. It will be wise to keep this in mind if you have the responsibility to create a partner ecosystem on the selling side.

To handle the expectations mismatch, the first thing to be sure is that the partner you are targeting is actually doing business with the customers (your Ideal Customer profile) you want to target. A lot of issues arise because with the secondary research that your team does, the partners seem to be in the same market that you want to target, but after you start engaging with them, there is a disconnect. So you need to be clear before you sign up a partner, that they actually have customers in your target market.

The other issue is with respect to the sales bandwidth – if your agenda for partnering is to get access to a large market, then you need to have enough bandwidth allocated to your product/service, by the partner. Most of the times the partners over commit in terms of what they will be able to do. This happens because either

  1. They have fewer sales people than they told you.
  2. The sales people already have too many products/services to sell so your product/service is an overload on them
  3. Your product/service is technically more complex and the sales people don’t have the ability to take this to the market

One other item which I encounter often is the expectation mismatch on both sides. In my opinion this happens because from your side, the channel’s person is in a hurry to show partner acquisition without clearly understanding the partner’s strengths and weaknesses. This happens all the time because all of us have to meet our monthly/quarterly numbers.

On the other side, the partner thinks that since they are partnering with your company, you will help them sell. While to a certain extent, you will enable the partner to sell and you will have marketing programs to help the partners, at the end of the day, the partner has to sell. If you have to sell for the partner, then why do you need a partner.

I have noticed these as the key challenges. If you ensure that communication are clear, the qualification criteria for a partner that you want and the type of people that they employ is clear then a lot of heartburn and wasted time can be avoided.

As we progress I will share other challenges that you should be aware off.

Inspite of that, I would still think that the partner route is the fastest way to get into a new market.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

What do you want to achieve – from the partnership

B2B, ideal customer, Marketing, Marketing Stamina, Partners, single target market, Symbiotic relationship

I wrote 3 posts on riding the elephant – and how the relationship with an elephant can help you get through any forest (market).

What was not clear from those 3 posts was one fact – which elephant should you choose…..this is as critical as identifying the single target market that I keep talking about.

The elephant that you choose to partner with, should be focussed on the market in which you want to operate. If the elephant has a different area of interest compared to you then taking this elephant is going to take you into the wrong forest.

To be able to choose the right elephant therefore you need to ask the fundamental question – what is it that we want to achieve with this partnership. Once this question is clearly answered then it become easier to identify you partners that you want to work with.

This question gets answered even better when you have identified the single target market that you want to address, because then you will know if the partners that you are looking for has product or services for those customers that you want to work with.

If you want to target B2B customers in the enterprise space as an example then your partner needs to be someone who already has customers in the enterprise space, and who does not have a product or service which directly competes with yours. If the partner already has something that is similar to yours then they will never move your product.

Keeping the above example in mind, you then need to figure out how you will work with the various sales people of your partner and why should they take you to the customer.

While partnering is a very valid concept, there are a lot of human issues which need to be addressed. The bigger the target partner you are trying to work with , the more sales, pre-sales and marketing people involved, the larger is the challenge of engaging them and larger is the stamina you should have to wait for success.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Making it worthwhile for your partner to partner with you

B2B, Marketing, Marketing Ecosystem, Partners

I have been speaking about using partners to help you break into the B@B ecosystem of the customer, faster.

But why should the partner want to do business with you. What’s in it for her? for any partnership that’s a key question that you need to be aware of and have a worthwhile answer.

When the partner is willing to take you into their customer base, they have a risk that if you mess up, then they will end up losing the customer forever. Another fear is that you may end up taking over their customer and pushing you out of that account.

Since most companies have fewer customers than they can handle they are always scared of losing a customer. Even if someone did have enough customers, they wouldn’t want to lose any.

So its imperative that you need to assuage all these fears that the customer may have by first “giving” from your side. It could be in terms of either getting customers or getting leads to give to the partner. That will help build trust. Once the trust comes then things become easier.

So while I do mention that entering an ecosystem is always better when you have a partner, building trust with the partner also takes time. If the partner is a large MNC company then the layers of people you have to manage is immense. The inertia of dealing with MNCs can leave you frustrated.

While you identify who else already sells to your customer, avoid very large companies for that role.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!