The importance of sales partnerships for exporting SMEs
Sales partnerships play a key role in tapping into new markets. Due to limited resources, SMEs often do not set up their own branches abroad. Instead, they rely on local sales partners so they can gain a foothold in foreign markets without incurring excessive financial risks. However, developing and managing these partnerships presents SMEs with major challenges.
The Innosuisse project “Managing International Partnerships digitally’
“Managing International Partnerships digitally” investigated what makes international sales partnerships successful. Based on its findings, the project developed a model for managing such partnerships, which can be put into practice by SMEs and underpinned by the use of digital technologies.
The MIPd model consists of four phases: selection, qualification, motivation and evaluation. It describes how manufacturing companies find sales partners in foreign markets, how these partners are trained and motivated to commit to the manufacturer’s products and how collaboration within the sales partnership is evaluated.
The model is based on four principles: partnership, prioritization, systematization and digitalization. A sales partnership can only be successful if there is a trusting cooperation between manufacturers and distributors. Management should focus on the most promising partnerships in order to achieve a high level of effectiveness. Efficiency is generated when management processes are systematized and automated by digital technologies.
The MIPd model is presented in the study below. Links to IT applications, best practices and tools that can assist with putting the management processes into practice are included in the relevant descriptions in Chapter 3. Distribution managers at manufacturing companies with international sales partnerships are the target group of this study.
“Managing International Partnerships digitally” participants
The Innosuisse project involved the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland Global Enterprise and five internationally active Swiss companies.