A Shinier Bucket Doesn't Hold Any More Water

Startup : I have a new shiny bucket for you to give your customers AND it’s cheaper!

Reseller: But my customers are able to already move water from A to B….

Startup: Yes, but my bucket is shinier and cheaper and it makes the liquid lighter so your customers don’t have to work as hard to carry the water!

Reseller: Okay, so their life “may” be better but by making their life better I have to lose money and put more time into telling them about your new bucket? Why would I do that? Plus, I know and trust the guy my customers get the buckets from already.

Startup: If you help your customers life be better they will be grateful and give you more business!

Reseller: You can’t guarantee that and I have a quota to make and bills to pay and a reputation to maintain...

Startup: FINE! if you don’t want to tell your customers about my new bucket I will find someone else that will!!

Resellers are an amazing way to expand your reach and grow your company.  If you can align with resellers it can be a fast-moving train in accelerating your business.  The biggest mistake companies make when trying to engage resellers is believing they will be as excited about your technology as you are.

Before you showed up, the reseller most likely had a successful business, good relationships with their customers and with other vendors.  You may get lucky and find a visionary reseller that wants to be the first to present their customers new technologies, and see the long-term benefit. However, the bottom line is always what matters most.  Many resellers will choose to wait until the new technology gets closer to mainstream before presenting it to their customers, as this means lower risk to them and less disruption of current business. Ask them what their appetite is for new technology.

Respect the path they are on.  Instead of asking them to take you to customers that are already buying buckets from them, ask them to introduce you to customers that are buying shovels and picks from them, but buckets from someone else.  See if they can get you the bucket business.  This wedge strategy is a true win-win.  You are taking advantage of the reseller’s existing relationship, the reseller gets the opportunity to make more money, and together you are building trust. 

The other path is to give the reseller initial business. “ Hey Mr/Ms Reseller, I have this customer who wants to buy my buckets and instead of me selling it to him directly, I would like you to sell it to him.”  Believe me, I can already hear the groans from salespeople regarding this approach.  Why should I do this?  What have they done for me?  I am going to make less on the deal than if I take it direct!  Of course, there is no guarantee that this will result in the reseller bringing you in on other deals, but you have to start somewhere.  At this stage, you need them more than they need you.

Resellers can be an amazing partner in your growth strategy.  Make it a win-win for your resellers, understand their priorities, be a good vendor and the train will start rolling!


Alison Arnoff
Unfair Advantage Consulting

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