Guest Column | August 1, 2019

What The ISV Connect Summit Taught Me

By Jeff Woodward, Actsoft Inc.

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Let me start with this: I believe every success story has a rough beginning. You had to start at the bottom to work your way up, right? Here at Actsoft we did just that!

To be honest we are proud of our reseller program and how it led us to where we are today. We may not be the number one reseller in the world — or heck, even a number one reseller in our type of industry — but what we are number one at is taking our mistakes, mishaps, and overall failures and learning from them.

“So, what does that have to do with this article?” you may ask. It’s all about learning and taking what others can teach you and running with it.

For example: the ISV Connect Summit in Cincinnati in July. This was our first summit with BlueStar, as well as our first as a reseller with our new, upgraded platform. We walked in not knowing what to expect and, to be honest, if we were even going to get anything out of it.

I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending now: We benefitted greatly from attending the Summit and have done much with what we learned to better our reseller program and our company. After an amazing day of panels, meeting other resellers, and having side conversations with companies (some further along in the channel, other just starting out), we learned we need to keep on adjusting, learning, and growing or this program will fall apart. So, take this note mid-way though: Don’t stop growing, learning, and pushing yourself to the point of being uncomfortable as this will only help expand your knowledge.

“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone.” — Seth Godin

While we tried a reseller program in the past, we saw how difficult it was to onboard, track, and make any type of sales happen. Now, the old program lasted a few years before it went by the wayside and was rarely talked about again.

Fast forward to early 2019 when we started to go at it again with a fresh perspective and many ideas. We got the team together, and by “team” I mean marketing, sales, executive leadership, customer service, and product level members within Actsoft. For a month or so we worked hard to develop what we thought would be the perfect reseller platform. Perfect pricing, perfect support, perfect marketing, great return for our resellers, and we truly believed we were going to fix the kinks from the last time. Five months later we have seven top resellers though the U.S. signed up and we have over two dozen in process, learning more about us and even reviewing our contract.

One of my biggest takeaways was our company needs to talk more with our resellers about what’s working, what’s not, what wins business, and what can we adjust or fix what’s broken and take steps forward. A tenured reseller at the conference and I were talking for about 20 minutes about all the baby steps you have to take to get a successful reseller program working. What was surprising was the reseller said it took the company over 12 months to get it going. After looking back he said, “At times it felt like we were not progressing, but when I look back now I see all those little steps as one giant leap to where we are now.”

So what are some of the action items or ideas we took away you might ask? We learned two impactful things.

  • Let’s start with our reseller agreement. Ours is LONG, and by long I am saying well over 20 pages — let’s just say it’s comprehensive. There is a lot of amazing information in it but not all goes along with the actual agreement itself. We are working with our CFO and EVP to reduce and restructure it into a smaller version, just as many other company’s recommended.
  • Next would be how we view the partners that want to work with us. Each potential partner in the beginning is going to either work out or not. It’s part of the game and we have to be able to cut ties if both sides are not seeing a solid ROI. After hearing that what we are currently seeing has happened and will continue to happen in this type of channel among all companies was music to our ears. You may bring partners on and they do nothing for you, or you truly do nothing for them. Find out why and maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t a good fit. That’s ok, but back to the start of this message: Learn from it and grow.

Now I could go on and on about what we learned and what we continue to learn but the most important information is learn, grow, and push forward. Nothing is nor should be set in stone, especially in this environment.

Learn new ways, new ideas, and run with them. Don’t be afraid to grow as a company and as an individual and, most importantly, push forward. Push yourself, push your team, push your partners, and push the channel to success.

Others have been where you are and have seen success. You can too!

About The Author

Jeff Woodward is Indirect & Reseller Manager at Actsoft Inc. He started with mobility & solution selling in 2009 with RadioShack as a Manager then was promoted to Director of Sales before going to AT&T Wireless as a Sales Representative, Assistant Store Manager, Store Manager, B2B representative, and Director in Training. After AT&T, Jeff was recruited to Actsoft as a Territory Manger for the Great Lakes Region, a position he held for more than two years before becoming the first Indirect & Reseller Manager in 2018. Since then launched multiple partnerships and built a strong foundation for future success within the channels.