50 Shades Of Selling Indirect Versus “Marketplaces”

I’ve found that the word “marketplace” can instill both excitement and confusion. It’s related to the idea of “indirect sales” — which is a topic covered here as embodied by 4 categories:

  1. Affiliates: A company that sells your products/services in exchange for a commission. This is what commonly occurs online when a blog has a banner that when clicked, results in a prospect visiting a website with intent to purchase.
  2. Resellers: Similar to affiliates but is about a face-to-face or online channel that takes a margin or profit percentage per sale that gets made.
  3. Independent Sales Reps: Outsourcing your sales activities to a trainable group of sales agents that will work on your behalf in return for a commission on new business or renewals.
  4. System Integrator: Solution-selling to customers via expert consultants and integrators that solve a company’s problem with a set of individual or related solutions that are installed and “integrated” for the customer’s needs.

There aren’t really 50 shades of selling indirect, but I’ve found there are nuances when you say the magic word “marketplace.” And this disambiguation may help you:

  • Indirect Variant A: Someone sells for you. This fits any of 1 thru 4 above.
  • Indirect Variant B: Sell through a marketplace that is operated by a Reseller.
  • Indirect Variant C: Host a marketplace yourself and become a Reseller.
  • Indirect Variant D: Be the unnamed (or named) ingredient in someone else’s product/service — which would happen with a System Integrator.

Variants B and C involve “marketplace”-talk. Variant A could involve a marketplace but not necessarily. Variant D does not.