Expanding your partner program internationally is a powerful way to broaden your reach and engage a new market. This exciting step is significant but doesn’t need to be overwhelming. With the right team and technology resources in place, you can confidently take your partner program worldwide.
Determine Your Goals & Build a Plan
You can’t service the entire world overnight. So to scale internationally successfully, start by establishing your priorities to determine where you’ll focus your efforts. Before you begin hiring international resources or reaching out to prospective partners, start by figuring out why your organization is considering a global expansion.
- Are you hoping to reach a new market?
- Have you received inbound requests from potential partners in other countries?
- Do you get a lot of international traffic?
With your goals in mind, begin building a business case for your potential expansion, including forecasted demand, anticipated competition, applicable legal factors, and existing resources. This will be critical for gaining executive buy-in, establishing a budget, and recruiting new resources.
Channel partners will want to market their brand alongside your own.
Chances are, partners will present your products in conjunction with theirs, emphasizing integration capabilities and how the two complement one another.
Channel partners’ target audiences will somewhat differ from those pursued by Direct Sales.
If you tactically mapped out your partner ecosystem strategy, there ideally would be limited overlap between Direct and Channel sales. Therefore, you would need materials that target the specific pain points and preferences of partners’ audiences.
Establish Your Team
Executive buy-in is vital for a successful international expansion. With support from the leadership team, you’ll be able to hire new resources and effectively problem-solve.
In the early stages of international expansion, one dedicated international partnerships resource that leans on partners to flourish in foreign countries is plenty. They’ll work with your existing partner team to build a go-to-market strategy, then will be the boots on the ground to help execute the plan. This team member is important because they’ll have the best understanding of local culture, language, and any regulations.
As your international partner program grows and you can justify the budget, you can expand your team to include one full-time partnership person per country or region. Since meeting partners in person is important for forging strong long-term relationships, it’s valuable to have a dedicated region resource who can meet with these partners and attend events in the area.
As you onboard more and more partners, you may need additional resources to manage your international channel. In addition, with growth, it can be beneficial to hire specialists for specific regions. For example, you may find a dedicated partner marketer beneficial for the area. By already having a channel representative in the target region, it will be easier to grow your team with partner specialists.
Prepare Your Tech Stack
Selecting different resources to support your partner teams across various regions may be tempting. However, building disparate systems will quickly create problems, including duplication risks, reduced efficiency, and a lack of visibility.
Instead, you should leverage a single partner relationship management platform (PRM) to manage your channel worldwide. There are a few key features you should look for in a platform.
Your PRM of choice should simplify contact management, allowing you to track all interactions, no matter which country a team member is in. This is especially valuable when working with partners who are active in multiple regions.
Currency & Language Customization
Additionally, your PRM should make it easy for you to customize different elements based on where a partner is located. For example, deals and market development funds (MDF) should be in your partner’s local currency. Similarly, it should be possible to update the language based on your partner’s location.
However, remember to leverage local translators for converting assets into the right language. Unfortunately, translating software is not 100% accurate, therefore specific terminology is often incorrectly translated and can cause confusion. So it’s best to use a real person to do a final review before uploading the translated version to your PRM.
While you should be able to use one platform to service all of your partners, their needs will still vary. As such, your PRM should enable you to segment your channel based on various attributes, including their location. This segmentation should allow you to display different content based on where a partner is located.
Discover How to Optimally Segment Partners.
Onboarding & Enablement
As you scale your partner program internationally, tools like onboarding, training, and enablement through your PRM will allow you to grow your reach without necessitating additional resources. Online assets eliminate any potential language barriers between the Channel Account Managers (CAM) and the partner.
Explore Why it’s Crucial to Get Your Onboarding Process Right.
Finally, your PRM should provide analytics reporting, making it easy to delve into the results of your channel program from an in-the-weeds or a high-level perspective. This will allow your team to see what is and isn’t working where, as well as identify opportunities for improvement.
Since you’ve segmented your partners, you can dig into the reports for each group. This will allow you to understand what’s working well for referral partners in France compared to resellers in Germany.
Best Practices for Working with Partners Who Speak a Different Language
A team member based in the region of choice will help bridge a language gap. However, if you’re planning to expand into a region like Europe, where multiple languages are spoken, it may not be possible to onboard a team member for each country.
Understand Regional Differences
There are some different considerations to think through, language being the first one. Some countries do predominantly use English as the first language, but, you know, being mindful and respectful, there are some countries where English isn’t the first language. The next to consider is when you look at things like the economic situation — some countries are suffering inflation more than others. When we first landed a few customers in Turkey with a key partner there, inflation was a real challenge for them, and we had to really be mindful and flexible to work with them to be successful.
Starburst (Allbound International Channel of the Year) on the Partner Channel Podcast
When working with partners worldwide, you’ll need to consider the primary language spoken, any cultural differences, and relevant economic factors. Having a dedicated resource in the target country makes this easier, but if you aren’t there yet, you have other options. Instead, you can leverage a cultural liaison to assist in conversations and consult on strategy. Additionally, if you already have a partner with a presence in your target region, you can leverage their international expertise for support.
Leverage Your PRM
Your PRM can help bridge the gap between languages by providing onboarding, training, and marketing resources in your partner’s native language. Additionally, when meeting with partners who speak different languages, a consultant can help ease communications.
Prepare for International Channel Expansion
Growing your partner program into global markets is an enormous opportunity, and also a significant undertaking. By focusing on your goals to start, you can ensure all of your efforts align for long-term success. Keeping regional differences in mind and leveraging the right technology will prepare your organization for effectively expanding internationally.
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