The Channel—not just another Marketing program
Friday, March 30, 2007
I was having dinner with a colleague, CEO of a Silicon Valley firm, who expressed dissatisfaction with his channel partners not meeting revenue expectations. In the same week, a friend of mine who is a reseller for an online marketing firm expressed frustration with the organization for which she re-sells. This is not new. In fact, it is the same complaint from both sides that I have heard as long as I have been in the industry, over 15 years. Neither party felt they were getting what they signed up for.
Getting the most out of your channel partner comes from having a well-oiled partner relationship but that will only happen if both organizations’ management teams truly view each other like an asset or strategic customer.
The basics of any channel partner program encompass:
- Defining your market and product space to gain channel commitment
- Channel selection and optimization for maximum coverage
- Establishing business alignment to achieve your channel objectives
- Managing channel conflict
- Understanding why partners sell certain vendor's products
- Key elements of influencing a partner to sell your product
- What channel programs work and why
- Successful tools to measure performance
- Markets, products and channel drivers
- Channel and territory analysis
- Understanding how to select the right partners
- Evaluate impact of vendor programs on reseller viability
- Creating a strong reseller value proposition
- Measuring and aligning partner performance
This is typically the responsibility of the Marketing organization. The effort and money expended to identify, define, launch and manage a channel partner program is tremendous. However in the end, it is about the revenue or strategic value that partnership brings to both organizations.
So how does one ensure that the relationship is maximized for revenue and strategic value? - By treating your channel partner like your best and most valuable customer and not like another marketing program. Understand at each stage of your partner’s lifecycle, how you are doing. Understand at each touch point whether or not each party is fulfilling its obligation, satisfying the need, removing the bottleneck, providing the needed information, articulating the value of the partnership (the “what’s in it for me”).
To do that you should make sure you find ways to extend beyond the normal channel program management and reach into the execution level of the channel. By execution I mean at the field organization and customer level of your channel partner. Incorporate an outside-in/inside-out 360° view of your partner and their customers. Understand their challenges and gain insight from every key audience: customers, prospects, influencers, channel partner field organization and stakeholders; and pinpoint the specific areas you can adjust or fix.
Debra Colombana, Vice President of Client and Market Development Debra.Colombana@phelongroup.com