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Half a decade ago, I was happy to work on a project that seemed like it had potential: We were targeting big global corporations with a highly specialized piece of software. Approaching big global corporations is slow and costly, so the idea was to approach IT consultants who already work with them, and offer them a finder’s fee bounty for every license they sell.

 We were ready for any technical questions, and the business case for the corporations was solid.

After 6 months of trying, the results were clear: there were almost no takers. The product was great and the bounty price was fine but the go-to-market idea was obviously a flop.

After analyzing what happened, we came to the conclusion that what these consultants wanted to sell to big clients are hours, and are therefore happy to promote software that needs tune-ups and tweaks, but not a fire-and-forget excellent piece of software that gets set up once and then works in the background, never needing anybody’s attention.**

By not taking the time to understand the main incentives of the middleman group, we essentially threw away any chances of our campaign ending well.**

Sales partnerships are a challenging business, and it’s imperative to take time and fully understand the other party’s business model, particularly their prominent incentives and risks, in order not to end up like a cautionary tale. True story.

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