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Go West – Expanding Your European Channel

Taking your product to America offers a huge opportunity; it is the ultimate prize for many vendors. The US market appears like a shimmering and tantalising way to scale in one huge leap. But the challenges to land successfully in the US can drain resources and take an inordinate amount of time. So, think carefully and plan your offensive to ensure this is the best use of time and resources. As they say, measure repeatedly and cut once – make sure you have a plan.

    The Plan

    Growing your channel into new markets brings unique challenges by region, from time zones for support, to understanding the sheer physical size of the continent of the Americas. Your operational practices will need to be underpinned by automation and technology so that your people resources are well-spent on expanding the relationships needed for a global channel.

    Are Your Tools and Proccesses Up to the Job?

    Do you have the infrastructure to handle new partners across the globe? A partner relationship management (PRM) system will provide the first point of contact for your partners, so the partner experience needs to be outstanding and most important, easy to use. That may sound obvious, but there are so many home-grown systems out there that partners are expected to navigate and “Ease of doing business” is the first and foremost driver towards a successful partnership. Especially at a distance, as the portal and PRM provide that communication link and self-serve access to tools and resources.

    A good PRM will also provide guided onboarding and sales scenarios that partners can use with confidence through the sales cycle. It may be harder to shadow or co-sell with your partners in different geographies, so you are going to be more reliant on the automation of learning journeys and sales playbooks. So, they better be good!

    Bridge the Gap

    An ideal way to penetrate a new market is through distribution and despite some industry pundits suggesting that distribution no longer plays such a central role (with the growth of digital downloads and marketplaces), however they still play a vital role in the channel.

    Distribution can be the bridge to numerous potential resellers and partners; facilitating slick logistics and adding value to your solution by the ancillary services they provide.

    Some research on Google and LinkedIn and asking colleagues should give you a long list of who to contact. Or see which distributors your competition sells through and then select a few smaller, niche distributors in your sector who may be more open to embracing your solution.

    Or find an independent channel consultant who can steer you and introduce you to a few relevant distributors and partners. This can help you establish a toehold.

    Now Track, Monitor and Adapt

    Once you have established a beachhead with a few partners, it is essential you track engagement and react accordingly. You need to know which partners are engaging with what content and are there trends by partner type and region? Your PRM should provide you with the detailed and granular information you need to measure the success of your efforts in different regions, segmented by location, so you can see how different resources and content performs in different regions.

    The Relationship

    Nothing replaces the need for the personal touch and the 1:1 interactions and relationships with your partners. Although we are all used to a virtual world since Covid, if you can meet face-to-face there is nothing like it.

    Taking the time to understand your partners’ business and their challenges will go a long way to establishing a proper partnership, rather than just asking for pipeline and numbers. It will also help you provision and provide your partners with the best support and resources to do better together.

    The business planning phase is an ideal opportunity to explore how to articulate and present a joint value proposition to prospects but to do that you need joint understanding.

    When to Hire Local

    The sooner you can commercially do this the better, but the sheer size of the US doesn’t mean that one person can necessarily cover the whole territory. This can quickly become expensive. Leaning on a local consultant company or your distributor can be a good interim phase.

    Funded heads within distribution are a proven and tested way to gain traction and provide local cover. They are also a thermometer of the way relationships are working in the local distributor and partners. They are a vital liaison into prospects and the local market. And if you can’t afford a whole funded head, you can often work with your distributor to have a half a head. This may sound bizarre, but it can be an economical way to build local presence.

    Local Resources

    Attending conferences and expos can be valuable networking exercises and where you might meet your next employee. Although many are virtual, some are beginning to open up to being live once more. If you really want to crack the US market, it is probably time to  get on an aeroplane.

    Meanwhile – these are  some useful organisations  you might consider joining;

    North America

    CXO Summit
    Ascent Annual
    Partnership Leaders
    Cloud Software Association

    Latin America Division

    Pavilion – Brazil
    SaaStock LatAm

    Strategic Tips

    As you plan to expand your channel and Go West to the US of A, make sure your infrastructure is as good as it can be, and you have the time and resources to see this through.

    Your product or solution may be outstanding, but prepare the strategy and here are a few tips:

    • Apply an American spell-checker to your brochures and collaterals. And if in doubt sprinkle a few “Z’s” about.
    • Phraseology really does matter and using colloquialisms will be lost on an American audience. It is worth having someone local check your content. I remember an embarrassing use of the word “Rubber” when meaning “Eraser”.
    • Ask a friend. An email introduction can mean the difference between success and failure as we are all inundated with sales approaches which go un-noticed. You will know someone who knows someone in the US so just ask for an introduction.
    • Time zones. LinkedIn is vital here as it shows the location of the individual, so you can know in advance where they are based and in what time zone – so book an appropriate meeting time without having to ask. It is a little thing, but it matters.

    Want to learn more about the Allbound EMEA infrastructure? Check out this page to see our team, resources, and how to contact us. If you manage a channel and want to scale your channel or expand into new demographics; request a demo to see how Allbound can help.

    Contact: [email protected]