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Partnerships makes the world go ’round, and our channel is not immune to that.
But for some companies, finding and securing partnerships necessary for growth is far more crucial than for others. Many software companies with great ideas and innovative product design never make it off the ground as a result of either a lack of support, or a lack of consistent opportunities. Even if you have a great suite of products created, you can find yourself in need of more support or endorsement. But there are a few key things you can do to ensure you’ll be able to obtain the connections necessary to keep your company thriving and growing.
Be Generous With Your Demo License
The most important piece of advice to keep in mind, however, is to ensure you have a working demo license that you can send to manufacturers. If you don’t have one, create one immediately, and if you’re being exclusive with yours, toss that idea out the window. End users ask manufacturers for certified software references all the time, so hardware vendors need to know your software is solid – they’re staking their own reputation on it. If a manufacturer sends out their touch screen hardware with your demo on it, and it doesn’t work or is substandard, it will reflect poorly on the manufacturer and you can bet they’ll never recommend your software again. It’s worth it to spend the time, money, and effort into developing a top notch, bug free, compatible demo.
Be On the Lookout for ISV Programs
The second bit of advice we have is to inquire around and determine which manufacturers have an ISV program. Your current partners may have one, or you may want to get involved with a new hardware vendor who does. As we mentioned earlier, end users look to manufacturers for software references, and advice about which softwares run best on which hardware platforms.
As a result of this, manufacturers have begun to hire ISV managers whose sole job is to find and recruit promising ISVs, and getting them certified on the hardware. There has also been a strong influx of new ISV programs begun by manufacturers, or sponsored by them. Manufacturers value this connection, and the ability to recruit ISV partners who can become certified. This kind of partnership usually comes with perks for the software vendors – sometimes in the form of free or discounted hardware for you to test and certify your product on. Being a partner in an ISV program will also likely involve your branding and company information being listed on the manufacturer’s website, and at trade shows to increase visibility, and this kind of exposure simply can’t be beat.
Get Out, Rub Elbows, Score Social Capital
When you’re on the lookout for actual capital, the best way to get closer to securing that is by working on gaining some social capital. Go to trade shows. See people, and be seen. Go to dinner with potential partners, rub elbows with resellers, and chat with every manufacturer who walks into your line of sight.
If you’re brand new to the channel, ask your current customers and partners what shows they go to, and start with that. Sometimes, those ISV partner programs we already discussed can provide you with marketing funds (MDF) that you can receive to cut the costs of going to a show. Even if no money is available from your manufacturing partners, however, you need to find a way to get out there. Consider trade shows in your company’s budget early on in your process, and plan to spend some money to make more money. If it costs you $1,000 for travel and an exhibitor’s pass to present your software in front of hundreds of manufacturers (who may have ISV programs and MDF you can acquire) and VARs, the cost could well outweigh the benefits of these connections. The opportunities you have at multi-day trade shows, from the expo time, to panel discussions, and nighttime networking events give you the chance to earn that money back many times over.
There are obviously additional opportunities for meeting valuable partners, such as working with distributors, but these three channel-centric methods can be simple and attainable partnership methods available to every software vendor, regardless of vertical or specialization.