How to screen & select the right partner to support your go-to-market strategy

Author: Thomas Schroyen

In one of our previous articles, ‘Where to play and how to win’, we highlighted that one of the crucial steps to support your go-to-market strategy could be to identify potential local partners or acquisition targets. Venturing into new markets with the help of a (local) partner who has specific characteristics, such as a commercial team or an established distribution network, will enable you to accelerate your market penetration. This makes sense, right? So now let’s investigate how you can find the perfect partner to accompany you into new markets!

Selecting the right partner is easier said than done and requires a clearly defined first part of the go-to-market strategy. It is key to know WHAT you want to do to penetrate the market. This could include, amongst others, which client segments you want to reach, and via which channels you will approach them. Selecting the right partner will then enable you to solve HOW you can achieve that. For example, when you want to reach clients online in a new market, you might only need to partner with a local online provider. However, when you want to reach clients via specialized independent stores, you might need to partner with both a logistics provider and a commercial service provider (or a distributor offering the two services) to enable the desired penetration of the market. Having a clear view on WHAT you desire to achieve will enable you to determine specific screening criteria for potential partners. Screening criteria will depend on what type of partner you are looking for, but could include, amongst others, size (revenue, number of employees), geographical reach, service/product portfolio, operational structure, etc.

Okay, now that you have defined the screening criteria, you can actually start looking for the perfect partners. To conduct your search as efficiently as possible, you should split it up in different stages to evolve form a long list of companies to a target list of potential partners or acquisition targets. There are four stages that should be taken into account: