Close Partners develops a new European sales channel for Softship

Softship, one of the worlds leading suppliers of software solutions for the shipping industry needed to recruit strategic sales and implementation partners, they turned to Close Partners to help them to execute their partner recruitment. This was the first stage in their expansion program after the company's IPO in June 2001.

The first phase for Softship's international expansion strategy was led by the development of an indirect channel. Softship needed to quickly identify and recruit strategic sales and implementation partners who already had experience, in order to ramp up European sales.

Softship chose to outsource this work to Close Partners. Softship's decision to outsource the program was in order to achieve their shareholder objectives faster and with less risk. Close Partners were responsible for the design and implementation of a strategic partner channel; this was seen as preferable to the 'do-it-yourself' approach. The result is that Softship have successfully achieved their first phase objective of expansion into Europe by recruiting strategic sales and implementation partners who already had the experience, services and existing customers in this market. Close Partners was given the objective to recruit six carefully selected partners, one in each of six European countries over a period of nine months. They were selected, recruited and managed by Close Partners until they became active in the market on Softship's behalf.

George Dziedzic, a Founding Partner from Close Partners said, "selecting the right partners first time can be extremely difficult for such a vendor to identify without the help of a company like Close Partners. Each recruited partner fits into a very specific profile, jointly developed by Close Partners and Softship specifically for this market. These partners represent both a sustainable route to market and source of revenue on which Softship can build its international business presence".

Softship's other main reason for choosing a company like Close Partners was because they have the right experience to deliver the results Softship needed, a combination of consulting and implementation skills and experiences gained in building more than a dozen partner channels within the last years, and the focus is on generating concrete business and sustainable revenue streams for their clients.

Outsourcing the development of a software company's strategic partner channel, although not yet widely adopted, has delivered results exceeding Softship's expectations. Using Close Partners as the outsourced business development team, Softship now has not only a revenue generating partner channel, but also a complete network of influencers and referral partners, all within 9 months.

Being successful in this very specialized shipping solutions niche market reinforces the requirement of a carefully managed and structured approach to designing, building and managing strategic partner channels. It demanded specialist knowledge of today's complex channel eco-systems and an understanding of how to build an effective "new world" partner program, where building compelling business opportunities, presenting them to the partner top management and getting it right first time is absolutely critical.

The result for Softship was that a partner channel was designed and built in a short period of time. Today, designing and building a strategic partner channel is a job for highly skilled specialists only. Instead of doing it themselves, Softship avoided expensive mistakes and got it right first time. Outsourcing to specialists in this area clearly has a significant and measurable return on investment.

About Softship:
Softship was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Germany. They are a market leader in software solutions for business transactions between container Shipping Lines and Agents with over 100 installations worldwide. Customers include Mitsui OSK, Grimaldi, Rickmers Line and K-Line. The principal solution, LINE, automates and allows smooth and fast handling of the day-to-day business of the liner shipping trade. Softship also supply solutions for Container and Equipment Control, Integrated Disbursement Accounts, Claims Handling as well as an e-Business solution between Agencies and Principals and vice versa. The SoftShip suite of products is one of the most comprehensive in the market offering great value to customers. More information about SoftShip and their range of solutions can be found at

About Close Partners:
Founded in 2002 as a result of a management buyout, Close Partners Design, Build, Drive and Manage High Performance, pan-European Routes-to-Market for enterprise-class Software Vendors. Their objective is to create stable, predictable and effective long-term routes to market and market access. Close Partners helps to generate new business opportunities for a client's products even before formally signing the partnership, resulting in highly motivated partners. Fast results and ROI on projects is normally well within 12 months.

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