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How to Partner with Industry Organisations

Take Me To Your Leader - getting into markets - who leads the way?

Over the past few weeks four CEOs outlined how their business partnering with the industry organisations was going to represent their sales channel into the marketplace.

The simple idea about developing a sales channel is partnering with organisations that have relationships with our target customer base. When a great number of our target customers are members of an Industry Organisation, then doesn’t this make them an ideal partner?

Industry Organisations vary in their operation. They represent their membership or their industry in making the industry better. They may hold information and networking events. They may also provide or facilitate training to their members. They communicate regularly to their industry on news and events of interest. Their commercial relationship with their members is minimal. It is more like an internal sale or purchase in a large organisation that a full commercial relationship. They typically sell annual subscriptions, attendance at events and sponsorship packages.
So, if you sell a software solution, don’t expect an Industry Organisation to sell it for you. It’s not a product they can add to their portfolio, it doesn’t fit within their strategy and they don’t even advise in your area of expertise. They can’t even be regarded as a referral partner but are closer to being an affiliate or marketing partner. They may pass on leads but will they be quality leads?

What they do well, is communicate with the industry and hold events. You need to decide if they do this well or not. You need to decide whether they capture the leaders in your target customer base.

To get the best from an Industry Organisation partnership, some points:

1. Events, Competitions and Sponsorships
Give them something they are familiar with. How you can package an event, a competition or a sponsorship that is of interest to the industry and can be driven by the organisation. Of course this campaign needs to get access to your target decision makers in your target customer base. It will be up to your company to make it happen, not the Industry Organisation.

2. You drive it, they facilitate it
YOU need to drive the detail and work with them to facilitate it.

3. Discount Affiliate Programmes
Rather than discounting to members, provide prizes or other incentives that drive the awareness, trial usage and purchase decisions

4. Find an Industry Champion
Identify an industry person member of the organisation executive committee that will guide you and possibly host your launch event or what you deem suitable.

5. Once is not enough
Seek to become part of the community and not just a big launch event. Plan for longer term.

Final note, Industry Organisation Partners are not reseller partners, they will mere allow to get talking to the industry. This does not represent a channel strategy only a marketing strategy. In any partnership, you must understand the capabilities off the partner.

(from my experience with internationalising software companies and as committee member with it@Cork and Irish Software Association)

Donagh formed Tenego Partnering on May 2nd 2003 to focus on driving sales growth within technology companies. This focus draws on Donagh's expertise in defining, selling and delivering technology solutions, and builds on over 22 years of technology development, sales and business ownership, investment and management. Starting as a software technology professional, over the last 22 years Donagh has developed, sold and delivered high-calibre software solutions to many well-known national and international organisations in various industry sectors and international markets. In Donagh's early career he worked with PS Squared and CompuSense developing Engineering and Desktop Publishing products and working with customers worldwide.

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  • Hi Donagh, great post. This is all too often a misunderstood route to the customer.”You drive it, they facilitate it” a key point!! It’s the job of Industry Organisations to overestimate the influence they have over their members. This is a big danger if negotiating revenue splits. My advice is to tie any compensation into deliverables. You continue to drive, but you want them to be invested in the process rather than just lending a name. I have seen this type of partnership fail more times than succeed. Cheers, Niall

  • Another wise post from you Donagh – thanks. Nothing to add except to say it’s all been taken on board!

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