Software Executive Magazine

February/March 2018

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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exhibit at trade shows/events where they are already participating, joint white papers that get sent to their (larger) customer base, and joint webinars that they can drive attendance to from their channels. Recommend- ed actions to fast-scale marketing are: 1. Get your team together and ask, "Who wins if we win?" 2. Identify a short list of companies in each ecosys- tem sub-category from that list. 3. Develop a clear partner value proposition for each one ( just as you would a customer value proposi- tion) and share it with the business development or product marketing lead at those companies. SALES & SUPPORT PARTNERSHIPS Now that you've tapped into outside leverage to scale both development and marketing, focus that same thought process on selling and supporting it. This is the final important step, as it's getting harder and harder to stay ahead of the competition simply by cold calling and door knocking. When you're young it's better to have someone else make those calls, and it's even better when they make those calls to customers that are already buying from them. To do that, pick key cities and geographies and find out what VARs and in- tegrators are significant in that area. The best way to check is to survey real customers. Offer a $5 Amazon or Starbucks gift card to simply respond to a survey or email inquiry — it could be the best $500 of market intelligence you can get. Once you know the key play- ers, investigate their current offerings and craft a val- ue proposition as to why they need yours. Remember, this is not an end-user value proposition; it's a partner value proposition, and they're totally different. This one focuses on faster sales cycles, higher margins, and greater services contribution. Target partners who can keep your support costs low. Ensure that they have a defined practice in your area that would indicate solid preinstallation assessment and a willingness to be trained to take the first call on your solution if their customers have issues. Tips for fast-scaling sales and support are: 1. Target key geographies and find the best inte- grators and VARs in your domain in these areas simply by asking target customers who they work with. 2. Look for synergy with the technology partners in- volved in development and marketing. 3. Build a partner-specific value proposition and approach these players with it. S ogy plug-ins to find where you can have "good enough" non-core technology to allow you to con- centrate on the really important stuff. MARKETING PARTNERSHIPS Once you have the product in hand, you then need to market it. Far too many young companies shortchange themselves by not tapping into the partner marketing ecosystem. And it's a shame — the graveyard of tech- nolog y is littered with amazing creations that didn't see enough light of day to be profitable, while just over the hill are a number of "good enough" offerings that did a far better job of getting in front of customers. Two common reasons for this lack of exposure are lack of marketing funds and pride of authorship. Find a way around both or stay small. Think about it — do you real- ly want to foot the cost to staff trade shows across the globe in order to get in front of enough potential buy- ers? Or, if you want to do a webinar/seminar, do you really think you have enough contacts and credibility (as a small company) to get the required attendance to make a difference? Done right, a tremendous amount of this kind of heavy lifting can be done by other players around you, and often they'll be glad to do it. The key is to ask this one simple question, "If we win, who else wins?" In the world of IT, there's always an an- swer to that if you look hard enough to find it — and it's golden. The other winners may include a complemen- tary technology company that could expand their de- ployments faster for their customers if your technology were there to amplify the value proposition. Or maybe it's an infrastructure giant, like Microsoft or Amazon, in a race to find every possible value accelerator for their cloud offerings. Regardless, if you ask yourself that key question, you'll find an answer. Case in point, Talon Storage produces software-de- fined storage technology that allows companies to con- solidate dozens of globally scattered file servers into a single, centralized storage footprint, which slashes the cost and risk of managing data while cranking up glob- al collaboration capability. Through the "who wins if we win?" line of questioning, Talon identified groups of established companies that could benefit from joint de- ployments. These included cloud players such as AWS and Azure, software-defined storage companies such as SoftNAS and Scality, and enterprise storage giants like NetApp. In each case, the existence of the Talon solution in an enterprise account visibly magnified the value of the target's solution. So, Talon approached key players in each area (cloud, SDS, storage) with a prop- osition: Let us join your marketing efforts, and we'll drive a larger average deployment for you. The result is far more marketing and visibility than normally avail- able with a finite budget. Ideas of leverage are to jointly 31 SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018

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