Recruiting new ISV partners to your OEM program is a highly valuable endeavor.  Not only is OEM driving revenue at record rates, it is becoming one of the fastest growing business drivers out there. 

However, OEM usually does not come with a short sales cycle.  Unless you are talking about simple APIs, an embedded integration process can even take upwards of 18 months in some cases.  It can be a huge investment for both the OEM program holder and the ISV.  Recruiting net new ISV partners, therefore, needs to be an ongoing affair, one that is capable of creating and sustaining a viable pipeline of opportunities over time.  

Generating qualified ISV leads takes careful planning and effort.  Building a database of prospects starts with understanding your buyer personas inside and out.  Many companies think of OEM as a kind of “side business” and therefore don’t put enough effort into enabling their teams to be successful.  So what are some ways to optimize your ISV lead generation efforts?   

Here are some strategies to increase visibility for your OEM program, generate leads, and improve your ISV partner recruitment: 


Assess Your Content 

Most companies realize that quality content is a critical component of sales and marketing.  However, how well is your content ranking for your top keywords?  Are you attracting inbound ISV leads with your content, and if so, which content is performing the best?  Is your gated content attracting the right prospects?  How can you make your content even more attractive for ISVs so that they choose you over your competitors? 

Conducting a thorough content audit and evaluating your content through the lens of your ISV buyer persona (instead of an end-user one), should show you the gaps you currently have that you can work on.  It is important to have a variety of content types, from video and audio files to eBooks, whitepapers, success stories, and case studies.  Have a look at the content distribution channels that are working, and seek out others that are similar.  This will help you expand the reach of your content so you can get it in front of your ISV targets where they are. 

We have found that the most valuable piece of content you can have are success stories with notable partners.  Leveraging the story about the benefits your solution was able to provide an ISV can become the basis for creating several different assets including: online webinars, in-person events, podcast episodes, videos, and blog articles.   


Always-On Programs Rock 

An always-on program is one that never stops.  It’s constantly working in the background as a lead generation machine.  Instead of taking a siloed approach to running marketing campaigns (that usually stop at the end of a quarter), always-on means continually engaging prospects so as to educate and nurture them over time.  Always-on requires agility and adjusting as you go in order to adapt as needed, instead of plowing through regardless of whether or not the strategy deployed is reaping benefits.  It is really a beneficial process because it takes into account all of the various stages of the buyer journey and has a long-lasting effect on your sales conversion rates. 


Omni-Channel is Key 

Everyone will tell you that being where your buyer personas are is the key to reaching them.  But the funny thing about omni-channel is that so often people equate it to online presence and they forget all about traditional methods offline that also work.  Cold calling ISV prospects is often overlooked because it is thought of as “bothersome.”  But when it’s done right, nothing could be further from the truth.  Limiting the channels you use to outreach to people is like running a race with only one shoe on.  It’s not effective.  As I discuss in my book, Tune In & Dial Out: How to Win at B2B Cold Calling, it’s important to have as many touch points as possible to cut through the noise so that your message is heard.  Leaving voicemail messages, following up by email, using social selling techniques on LinkedIn combined with cold calling is the way to get it done.   


Get a Dedicated LinkedIn Showcase Page 

Most businesses have a company page on LinkedIn, and some go as far as having product pages.  However, few have a dedicated Showcase Page for OEM that specifically targets ISVs.  In order to grow a following on social media, the content you use needs to speak to your target audience; promoting end-user content is not going to work to attract new ISV partners.  ISVs need to understand the business benefits of partnering with you, so having a dedicated page where you can address exactly that will help you hone in your messaging and increase the number of valuable followers you have.  You can even use a Showcase page as a platform to communicate important partner events, publicize new assets, and celebrate your wins.  All in all, it’s a great way to get social media marketing to work for you in an ISV-OEM context. 


Make Sure Your Reps REALLY Understand OEM 

It may sound crazy, but many junior BDRs and inside sales reps have a hard time wrapping their heads around OEM.  I have seen it on more occasions than I can count that sales reps find OEM elusive and get easily overwhelmed by what they deem as “too many technical details.”  Let’s get something straight. An initial discussion about OEM does not have to be technical.  Far from it.  It’s a business discussion.  It’s about understanding a business context, need, or pain point that will push an ISV to explore an OEM opportunity.  It becomes a technical conversation once a sales cycle is already well underway.     

Because of this, it’s important to point out a false belief that many people have about OEM marketing; they think that they could never outsource OEM because an agency could never understand all the ins and outs of such a partnership.  It’s simply not true.  However, sales enablement is a critical part of any OEM outreach initiative, whether that be with your internal sales team or with an outsourcer.  Taking the time needed to properly train those responsible for engagement in the essentials of lead generation for ISV-OEM is paramount to the success of your program.  Don’t forget to provide refresher sessions functionally, especially as your product evolves and new features are released. 



Seeing the bigger picture when it comes to ISV partner recruitment means taking a birds eye view of all the various parts and how they work together.  Oiling your engine will help you make the adjustments you need to have a better performing machine, generating leads on a continued basis over time.   

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