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ISV Builds Channel To Tap International Markets

Whether due to monetary and language barriers or the cost of travel for service support, U.S.-based ISVs have been hesitant to expand into international markets.

In an app-based world where remote support has become the norm instead of the exception, this may be a good time for ISVs to think beyond borders.

Leveraging the Channel
Rochester, Minn.-based Metafile has 25 years of experience as an ISV providing scanning, optical character recognition (OCR), document management and workflow for financial automation solutions. MetaViewer, the company's flagship document management solution, is integrated with all four of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP products.

Transitioning from a direct to channel sales model several years ago, Metafile depends on its 57 partners to represent MetaViewer for document management to both existing and new Dynamics ERP customers. Based on its experience with the Dynamics channel in the United States, Metafile is expanding into international markets.

"Since we have been successful in the U.S. with the distribution channel, we believe that reproducing the model internationally will help our success in new markets versus having to create a sales organization in each one of the countries," said Steve Gregory, Metafile's partner channel manager.

Connecting to New Markets
To build a U.K. Dynamics partner channel, Metafile has enlisted the help of Cognitive Channels, a channel development firm based in South Oxfordshire, U.K., to help with recruitment and channel management.  

"It's easier to have local people help us. They already have connections into the Dynamics channel," Gregory noted. "Cognitive Channels is creating the relationship, and they will continue to manage the relationship."

In Australia, Metafile worked with a country firm to help with recruitment but managed the partner relationship itself. After facing some challenges with partner engagement due to time zone differences and long-distance relationships, Gregory chose to get local assistance for his company's U.K. market expansion.

According to Jacqui Sasserath, director and co-owner of Cognitive Channels, working with an in-country channel management firm to help with foreign country expansion can reduce risk. "The initial ISV business driver will be scale," Sasserath said. "The reason they seek a 'consultant' is for local expertise and because it is more cost-effective to test a market opportunity than hire someone."

Continuous Relationship Building
Based on Metafile's experience, Gregory advises ISVs to focus on channel management, not just recruitment in new markets. "If you do outsource, it doesn't mean you don't have to manage it. Once a partner is recruited you still need to know that the right steps in channel management are being accomplished," he said. "Make sure the people who are recommending your solution to the customer are fully educated so they position you correctly." 

As the barriers to doing business across the globe come down, ISVs should be thinking about how to build their distribution networks. In future blog posts, we'll look at how other ISVs are extending their reach across borders.

How are you building presence in new markets? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on April 18, 2013 at 11:58 AM


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