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How to structure your Channel team geographically?

5 min read By November 7, 2022 December 16th, 2022 No Comments

You’re at the head of a global business? Or thinking about expanding internationally? Then you need to think about how to structure your channel team geographically. Setting up shop into new territories comes with hundreds of challenges. Challenges you’ll be glad to face with the help of your partners. They are your most valuable asset when moving abroad. 

You’ll need trusted partners in your focus regions to integrate your software, assist after sales, and give you precious feedback on those new end-users. Besides simply distributing your product, partners bring value. They’re your local point of contact. 

Territories to scale

Our world is finite. And so are the markets. Once you’ve taken over a territory and you start to stagnate, it’s time to take your business elsewhere. Many SaaS vendors had a brilliant tailwind because of COVID… But walls are not expandable, and to continue to grow, they need to conquer new markets : EMEA, APAC, LATAM.

Those territories are crucial to continue to scale. But they come with challenges. Tax systems, legal language, introductions. You might need to hire many people if you want to do it fully internally. Or you could delegate the responsibility down to the channel. It’s up to you! In both cases, here are the questions you want to ask yourself while scaling a new territory: how to guarantee contact points? and how to guarantee continuous flow of information reciprocity? All in all, you’ll need to strike the balance between delegation and responsibility. (And the businesses that do that very well are very clear in terms of their recruitment strategy internally to help support the channel.)

Can you win with one guy?

The temptation to solely focus on the United Kingdom is great. You just need to hire a guy in London and lay back. It’s familiar. No translation needed for campaigns and the training material is ready to send. But that’s only the first step. Let’s see a bit longer term here. Beyond the UK, there are enormous markets in Europe : France, Germany, Benelux, the Nordics, and so on… You know the saying. Never put all of your eggs in one basket.

Soon enough, you’ll have to rethink your sales strategy and make sure content is available in multiple languages. It is critical to ensure an enjoyable journey to all of your partners – no matter where they’re operating from – for a successful channel expansion. 

Which territories should you focus on first?

Easy. You have to start with the customers you want to work with. By customers, we actually mean end-users. Define your ideal customer profile and investigate.  Where are they based? There are many tech companies in Benelexus for instance. That might be a logical place to settle in. Anyway – remember, focus on end-users! That’s critical to scaling effectively and allocate resources in the areas where you can hit the ground fastest. Channel and partnerships can be really useful for sustainable long term growth, but it’s a long run to get there. Early wins are paramount to generate success in the short term and be able to continue expanding globally. Focusing on your ideal customer profile at the end-user level is exactly how you’ll know where to get those early wins. 

Start small: It’s a marathon, not a sprint

More partners does not always equal more revenue. Building a channel is not a sprint. But rather a marathon. You shouldn’t take it too fast, especially when expanding into a new territory or market. Scaling something that isn’t working yet can actually be counterproductive. How about instead, you start with five partners, make them super successful and then – and only then – you start thinking about scaling. Upgrading your channel is about consistent progress, small wins every day. 

Why your first geographical hire win help you win/los

Your first hire is key to unlock success in fresh horizons. Expanding into new territories can be challenging. Hence the importance of having the right people around you. You want to pick the right collaborator. The most connected one. The one that will launch the snowball effect you need to invade this unknown space. And the one that is aware of cultural specificities from the territory you’re looking to settle in. Managing in France couldn’t be more different than in Germany, or Sweden. And so recruiting the right people in each territory to run that landing strategy is critical because they will tell you how things work there. 

Once you’ve found those precious local channel managers, the job is only half done. You’ll need to have a serious conversation about how they are going to implement your blueprint in their territories. To be able to make it culturally relevant and target effectively your local partners and end-users, some tweaks will be necessary. Let your collaborators Frenchify or Germanify your strategy. That’s the only way you’ll truly manage to penetrate this new market. See how crucial your first hire is now? Invest time to find the right person. You won’t regret it. 

To sum up, the route to success is in new territories.  How do you successfully expand? Establish your ideal customer profile, define where you’ll find them, hire a channel manager that knows the territory, adapt your blueprint – translate all of your content and make your strategy culturally relevant – close a few key partnerships, scale and repeat elsewhere.

Liked this article about how to structure your channel team geographically? Be sure to check out Partnerships Unraveled episode 5. Listen below or head to Partnerships Unraveled for links to your favorite streaming service.

Audrey Senecal

Audrey Senecal

Audrey is a Content Writer at Channext. She started out as Customer Success Manager before switching to content. Channel intelligence, partner engagement and marketing are her favorite topics. Ideas about what you want to read next? Connect on LinkedIn.

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