Like any growing company, we’re eager to expand globally with the right set of partners, but finding these partners and qualifying them can be easy, or a challenge, depending on the circumstances. This is not a problem unique to our specific piece of the technology industry. We play in a high end software space for high performance systems, but every sector of the technology industry needs to exercise care when signing new partners.
Maxava operates in a niche environment – we develop and implement high availability and disaster recovery software for real-time data replication on the IBM i platform. This makes targeting prospective resellers reasonably easy in that they also operate in our niche and first and foremost should be IBM Business Partners who sell, implement and support customers on the IBM i base.
The perfect reseller is someone who understands your products and how your products differentiate you from the competition, and who truly understands how these products solve complex technology problems faced by your customers. They are professional, courteous to your customers, and know when to call on you for help before a simple problem turns into a disaster.
No two reseller partners are alike.
Many times, we meet new partners through our customers and prospects. There’s a common engagement with a customer that naturally leads to working together to make sure the customer’s system is fully functioning and our software is integrating well with our partner’s hardware or software solutions. In working together to solve common customer problems, we often add a new partner and we share new business leads under the notion that "together, we offer the customer a stronger solution.”
We enter into partner agreements under our own branded program or under the partner’s reseller/integrator program. We have successfully added partners throughout the Asia Pac Rim region, EMEA and North and South America in this fashion.
We also get new partner leads from the many tradeshows and industry conferences we attend. It’s important, while watching the budget, to invest wisely in these kinds of opportunities. We believe in networking at these events so we’re not shy about getting the most out of them – reaching out to prospects about who we are, what we do and proactively finding out how we can work together.
Our organisation has three basic types of partners we like to work with and we do our best to qualify interested parties to see where they best fit with us.
- Sales focused companies – those who work to deliver prospects for new sales.
- Sales and implementation partners – those who can actually help implement our solutions into a system where a hardware decision has been made and the customer is interested in a recommendation.
- Sales and full technical partners – an organisation with employees who have been trained and qualified to sell, install and service our complete line of products.
Each partner requires considerable investment in time and training for us, so we’re picky about the partners we choose to work with. Once onboard as a partner, we work to train them and do everything we can to help them close business. We communicate regularly with our partners on all levels and track their progress. If they aren’t as successful as we’d like them to be, we try to find out why and help them improve. This translates to time and money, but we feel it’s time and money well spent when the end result is a potential sale.
We try to avoid "channel conflict” by asking our partners to register their sales leads with us – online at our website – and we protect these leads for our partners for six months. This gives them time to close the opportunities without worrying about other resellers swooping in to close their deals.
We follow the business practices of our resellers. We note what works and see if the same approach also works with other resellers. By tracking these traits, we can train other partners to follow a certain course of action in other parts of the world and incorporate this into our best practices for channel partners.
Sometimes, if the shoe is on the other foot, we track things our reseller partners do that aren’t working and see if this is a common experience. If it is, we can eliminate it, refine it, or change it to something that will work, once we’ve talked with our partners about what they think.
For mutual success in reseller marketing, there has to be two-way communication and two-way respect between the technology provider and the reseller.