We are often asked which steps we are taking when engaging with a new vendor. How do we verify if a specific solution or technology is a good fit for the markets where we are active? Which information is required to create a meaningful joint business plan? How do we onboard our staff? And how can we optimize the initial lead generation and prospect penetration activities with / for our partner vendors?
6 steps from initial selection to actual sales activities
This blog post describes the steps we take when we get in contact with a new technology vendor. From the initial selection and company &technology verification to the preparation & onboarding process and the actual business development & sales activities.
Step 1: Initial verification
Our core business is to assist software and technology vendors in entering specific new markets or segments in Northwestern-Europe. That does not mean we will be able to help all companies that approach us. Before we engage with a new partner, we carry out a quick scan in order to verify both the market readiness and vendor readiness.
Vendor qualification check
First of all, we perform a vendor qualification check. We determine if the technology that is marketed by the software or tech company fits in our portfolio. We asses if we have a proper understanding of both the technology and the markets which are being targeted. Also, we determine if we have direct access to the relevant target segments and accounts. We run a check on the vendor itself as well. It is important for us to understand if the technology and solutions have already been implemented in other areas and accounts and what has been achieved here.
We want to understand the USP’s (or rather UBP’s) and – most importantly - business benefits and we will ask for information on typical use cases, referenceable key accounts and customer testimonials. This will allow us to see if there is a fit and if we are the right organization to assist the specific vendor with its new business development and sales activities in a new uncharted territory.
Understanding of the market potential
Besides this vendor readiness assessment , we verify the market readiness by conducting a survey amongst potential clients, partners and – especially - our friendly contacts that are active in the relevant segments. This provides us with a preliminary understanding of the market potential. We want the vendors to spend their money wisely. Also, from our side, we strive to only work with software companies and technology manufacturers that have developed solutions for which we see a very clear potential.
Investigate relevant market segments
In some cases, we feel the need to investigate things in more detail (even after having done the initial quick scan). We then carry out a more detailed, quantitative survey, so we can better judge which market segments and accounts seem most relevant and where the technology (as provided by the vendor in question) resonates best. It is important to note that the costs, the time and resources we spend on this, are entirely on us. If the outcome of the vendor and market readiness is positive, we will provide a plan for a possible collaboration.
Related FAQ: What are the costs for outsourcing technical sales?
Step 2: Plan
Based on the findings of the verification phase, we put a plan together in which we describe our background, experience, approach, target accounts and objectives for the first 12 months. We will specify the specific experience we have with other vendors in the relevant domains and which accounts we have direct access to. We provide an overview of our working method and approach and we will specify the targets which we deem reasonable for the initial 12 months. Also, we will propose a commercial model.
Step 3: Kick-off session
If we reach agreement on the scope and commercials of a collaboration, a kick-off session is organized. Through the years, We have put together an agenda that covers all relevant topics for such a knowledge transfer and business planning session. For optimal onboarding and rapid information transfer within the our organization, we also developed software tooling consisting of several questionnaires to support this.
Step 4: Start of the collaboration
Based on the information that was shared during the kick-off session, Aexus will finalize the lists of target accounts and send these to the vendor for approval. We will also put together the pitches focused around the business benefits for the various target segments. And then we are ready to get going! We will start reaching out to prospect customers or – in case this is part of the market development efforts as well – potential channel partners. In the first stage, we will reach out to friendly contacts. This will help us to further “sharpen” our story and to learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions. After that we will – in a programmatic manner – reach out to the relevant persons in the various target accounts.
Step 5: First round of meetings (“roadshow”)
The initial aim will be to work towards meetings with several prospects in a few consecutive days. In most cases, we ask the vendor to participate in such a roadshow. This will be another opportunity to learn more about the (technicalities of the) products and solutions. For the vendor it will be a great way to obtain direct market feedback and gain insights in the market specifics.
Final step: Continuous sales & business development
Mostly, Aexus is fully equipped and capable to work autonomously of the vendor after the first 4-6 joint meetings. Now, we are effectively an extension to your sales force. Your direct sales team in new, uncharted territory or new segments. Usually, we report directly into the Sales Director or VP Sales. We take part in meetings with the sales team and report as you would expect from a sales person that is on your pay roll. We often have direct access to the CRM system, making sure you are continuously aware of our activities and the statuses of all accounts we have been in contact with.
We operate totally transparent and are fully aware that all customer information should be available to and accessible by you at any time. If over time, we see the need to adjust our activities or scale up or down, we can easily do so. Naturally, we provide you with strategic advice and information on new market developments, possible opportunities and threats along the way.
In the end, we have the same objective, which is: to build a sustainable business with you in Northwestern-Europe, aiming to generate revenues with the sales of your offering, not only in the months to come but for a long period of time. Ready to get started? Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We're happy to help you.