ISV – OEM marketing is a beast. One of the things that most people don’t realize about OEM sales to ISVs is how critical timing is, which means it is super important to have a giant sales funnel. OEM sales cycles are usually long—in some cases taking upwards of 18 months to complete from start to finish. And of course, in the end, not everyone is going to opt for your offer, which means the more ISV leads you have, the better.
What’s funny is that many OEM program holders don’t see it that way. They think that it’s sustainable to rely only on inbound inquiries, and they don’t dedicate much (if any) time to outbound lead generation. Since OEM is often considered a kind of side business, the importance of nurturing is often neglected. The problem with this is that ISV–OEM marketing is largely about education, and converting leads into sales doesn’t happen overnight. So, what happens when those inbound leads stop coming in? Then what?
An inherent part of targeting ISVs with an embedded offer all comes down to engaging Product Managers in one fundamental debate: whether to buy the features your solution provides or to assess whether they can build them internally.
Of course, as with any debate, there are pros and cons to both choices. Buying means making a monetary investment upfront and paying a licensing kickback that continues over time. Building means having the internal resources available with the right skill set, and a longer time-to-market. It can mean a higher TCO, and unless the features are in line with your core competence, it may mean that what you develop is far from industry best practices. What’s important to note, however, is that this debate can lean in one direction and then change depending on a number of factors that may occur over time. Mergers and acquisitions can modify a company’s OEM policy, as can employee turnover. ISVs are changing all the time which means that a NO today may turn into a YES tomorrow.
All this to say, there are so many misconceptions about ISV – OEM marketing and sales, it really can be hard to separate facts from opinions. As a starting point, it’s important to address those common concerns so we can peel back the layers and find ways to move forward. Here are some other misconceptions about ISV-OEM marketing and sales and what you can do about them…
Misconception #1 – It’s impossible to outsource ISV – OEM lead generation
This is simply not true. It is true that most agencies can’t get their heads around ISV–OEM and have a hard time understanding how to go about it. However, it is not true that outsourcing ISV – OEM marketing is impossible. It absolutely is! In fact, at MediaDev, it’s our specialty. We generate thousands of ISV – OEM leads every year through our holistic omnichannel outreach strategies. In fact, it’s our passion. While end-user marketing is focused on a “one and you’re done,” OEM sales is just the beginning. It is possible to have multiple leads within the same account (when they have different products, business units, subsidiary companies, etc). In fact, that’s the goal! Moreover, outsourcing ISV – OEM lead generation helps your sales teams focus on what’s most important to them—closing deals. Their time is better spent moving prospects down the sales funnel rather than doing all the leg work involved in getting those top-of-the-funnel prospects to the table in the first place. Researching companies and finding the right decision-makers to engage, experimenting with different pitches, educating and nurturing prospects by leveraging content, etc all takes time. Outsourcing this part of the process enables your sales teams to focus on the value they add instead of spreading themselves thin.
Misconception #2 – It’s impossible to find reliable ISV data
This actually is true. If you are looking to purchase a database of ISV accounts, you can be sure that the majority will be total crap. Most data brokers are not able to accurately segment their data between pure ISV players (who own the intellectual property of the solution they sell to end-user customers), and all the VARs, SIs, MSP, or bespoke application developers that are all lumped together under the generic term “software vendor.” Because of this, you cannot be sure that the data you’ve purchased is relevant or not until it’s too late. Our recommendation is not to waste your money purchasing a database from a third-party vendor. Not only is it shady in terms of GDPR compliance, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the ROI you are looking for. Instead, running a data build campaign based on the exact criteria you desire is the way to go. This is a great way to find the buyer personas that are relevant to your offer and generate opted-in contacts that can be used for future email marketing campaigns.
Misconception #3 – We can’t handle tons of ISV leads so the inbound ones we have are enough
The fact that you get inbound leads is amazing. However, inbound leads are unpredictable. One month you may get several, and then the next, you could get none. Beyond that, not initiating an outbound lead generation strategy because you are afraid of having too many leads is pretty insane. That’s kind of like saying, “I don’t want to earn too much money because I wouldn’t know how to spend it” (said no one ever!) Plus, it is a false belief to think that when you initiate an outbound strategy you will suddenly have thousands of ISV leads to deal with. As amazing as that would be, it simply does not happen. Creating visibility for your offer across channels takes time. It means creating content that resonates with your ISV audience; it means creating email cadences, and social messaging. It means engaging with prospects both on and offline. It means accompanying your buyer personas as they journey down the funnel, and as I said at the start of this article, that level of education and nurturing is a process that can be long when it comes it ISV – OEM. Having an outbound strategy that complements your inbound one ensures that all of your bases are covered so that you are in the driver’s seat instead of a passenger in your own car.
ISV – OEM marketing and sales is a highly strategic source of growth for your company. It takes a well-thought-out plan to generate quality leads in sufficient quantity. Having an omni-channel and holistic plan to educate and nurture prospects over time will ensure that your sales team has enough to chew, and doesn’t go hungry at the end of the day.