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
Something is amiss
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
You spend buckets of money to be a customer-centric company and you are not getting results. If you’re like most senior executives we’ve worked with, you’re swimming in customer data and spending more each year to try to better understand your customers.
The process is broken.
Why? Our experience tells us that because companies don’t have a budget line for customer insight, there are no controls and methods, guiding principles or accountability, and more importantly, insights are not gathered holistically from the customer’s point of view.
Silos emerge. The impetus for research is either urgency or business-case building and not a commitment to integrating customers into the how the business thinks. Since the research isn’t aligned with or visible to the decision makers or to the front-line or customer-impacting employees, it’s not actionable. The implications—not only do you lack the data necessary to make proactive, fact-based decisions, the view your company has of your customers is cobbled together varied points of views and perspectives. As a result, your business lacks the system and ability to truly affect change based on what your customers need.
I’ll be writing more in the coming weeks ahead. But, we believe that the one fundamental dial that can change all of this is to retool the manner in which your company invests in listening and action on what customers say. The first place to start is to make your Voice of Client a corporate driven mandate versus departmentally driven. To be successful, companies must give Voice of Client a formal line item in the budget, with Executive Sponsorship and a master game plan put behind it.
David Ambler, Vice President of Client Services David.Ambler@phelongroup.com
Advice from John Chambers: Leverage technology to get closer to customers and grow wallet share
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
It’s incredible how when you say John Chambers’ name in the valley and in the business community, everyone knows him and most perceive him as an on-the-mark visionary. Chambers transformed Cisco; he made the company a household brand and has created a customer-centricity that few companies can muster and harness.
What brings this up is a great Q&A with John Chambers in yesterday’s USA Today: What I liked most were the two hidden references to “using technology to get closer to customers” and “leveraging technology to driver greater share of customer wallet.”
Those comments, although buried low in the piece, are indicative of what’s going on. As we continue to see the signs of what several economists are calling the “leading indicators” of an economic downturn—consolidation, revised earnings and slower buying—then understanding, keeping and growing your customers becomes increasingly important. How much is your company spending for technology to structure, monitor and relay customer conversations and insight? Where is the budget and ownership of such activities?
This isn’t just food for thought. It’s food for survival.
Advice from the Top: Cisco CEO says top leaders will know technology
Read article >
A few interesting quotes from Chambers…
“[CEOs]…understand the power of getting closer to customers, keeping their fingers on the pulse of their culture, looking at new market opportunities, getting quick feedback to know what is working and being able to adjust when it's not. When I talk to (JPMorgan Chase CEO) Jamie Dimon or (Wal-Mart CEO) Lee Scott, they are astute where it comes to getting closer to customers, driving productivity, gaining a competitive advantage.”
“The two hottest areas right now in technology are getting closer to your customer and getting a larger share of their wallet.”
Promise Phelon, CEO Founder Promise.Phelon@phelongroup.com