How to approach software resellers with a new product?
December 22, 2017 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had any experience trying to place a new software product with consulting firm resellers who then sell directly to corporations? More questions within...

I'm working on creating a new hiring assessment tool with a business partner who is a subject matter expert in the field and am wondering who we should be asking to speak with at the consulting firms who would serve for us as product resellers to corporations. I have a list of about 30 different consulting firms who offer hiring assessment tests in their catalog, but I have no contacts within those firms.

Ideally, I would like to start building relationships with decision makers in those firms and even perhaps get some collaborative feedback on how our assessment tool could be improved.

So how can I get started? I'd like to avoid burning any bridges with any of the consulting firms by looking foolish or possibly making a bad first impression somehow in the initial conversations.

posted by Gosha_Dog to Work & Money (3 answers total)
This is probably going to be a bit of an uphill battle. Consulting firms are generally very busy with billable work and aren't going to have a lot of bandwidth to help you sell your product, which is basically what you're asking. The way to make this work is to offer something in exchange: bring the consulting firms new leads, or add some immediate value that won't create additional work on their end. There are a couple of ways to do this:

1. Come up with some pre-built technical integrations between your software and the software that the consulting companies use or build. If you can do the front-end technical work to create the integration, that can sometimes be compelling enough to convince the consulting organizations to partner with you.

2. Even better is if you can build up a list of your own customers who may also need consulting services, and then send the consulting firms these leads. If you can create a pipeline of your own customers buying consulting services from your intended partners, they will pay attention to you.

3. You might look into government resellers, too. They are sometimes more interested in adding new products to their portfolio "on spec", and they can help you figure out things like getting on the GSA schedule, making introductions to potential government customers, etc, in exchange for a cut of the sales. But in my experience, you can spend a lot of time working working on these deals with little to show for it--government moves slowly.

Good luck!
posted by tybstar at 6:05 AM on December 22, 2017

I've worked in software consulting most of my life. Most firms should have somebody in charge of partner relations. That is the first person you want to target. Part of their job is to be on the lookout for innovative new solutions they can sell to their clients. You'll probably be able to book some meetings and demos. The hard part will be turning those demos into action, as even if your product is great and they really are interested in partnering with you, as tybstar said above, they are focused on billable work and will fall back into the routine very quickly of selling what they know.

Another route would be to target the end clients, and if you have somebody interested then go back to the consulting firms for integration help. You bringing them some revenue will put you top of mind in a hurry.
posted by COD at 6:56 AM on December 22, 2017

Your chances are probably going to improve if you can clearly show how your product fills a notable gap in the functionality of widely-implemented related products offered by other vendors.

In that case, you'll be looking for consulting firms who implement those other vendors' products for customers for whom that gap is critical to their process. If it's easier / quicker / more profitable / more added-value for the consultancy to re-sell your product to fill the gap on that implementation - rather than fill it themselves with some custom feature - then you maybe have an opportunity.

If your business partner is an expert in the field - then you'll be hoping that they have some direct knowledge of how such a gap is usually filled, and why your approach adds value. Then take that knowledge (ideally) to the partner relations person at your target consultancies, or (as a fallback) to the bid management people who are putting together the scope of work for projects that cover this area. If you can get to know which potential customers are issuing relevant RFPs, and who's responding to them, you have a huge headstart. Personal contacts would be ideal, but LinkedIn would be another way of getting those introductions.
posted by rd45 at 7:21 AM on December 22, 2017

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