Leaders in general are tasked with providing clarity to their teams so everyone knows exactly what they will or won’t do.  What better way to provide clarity than to lay out a crystal clear strategy.  Given that channel sales is an arms length, opt-in relationship, the strategy should be focused on reducing friction and increasing partner mind share.  Here’s a framework for coming up with a first draft strategy that involves defining your organization as the exact opposite of the worst channel organization in your industry.

 

Best and worst channel strategy

 

1. Assess the worst channel organization and spell out, in categories, exactly why they are so bad

 

2. Review and honestly ask yourself in what areas do you emulate these practices

 

3. Score these areas for how important they are to your channel partners (You will need to survey your partners here)

 

4. Define your strategy as being the absolute best in the top 5 areas that your partners value

 

5. Build your performance tracking around these top 5 areas and regulary share the results with the entire organization

 

As you seek to define the categories in step 1, consider a blog post by Patrick Schutte entitled Top 10 Channel Program Lies.  I especially enjoy his #9 below:

 

We will work with you and not sell direct into your accounts really means:

  • if you to spend an hour a day registering all your accounts with us
  • unless the customer wants a bigger discount (and its EOQ)
  • don’t ask us to compensate our direct guys on your sales (you want us to double pay?)

 

That is a good example of poor execution in the area of segmentation.  Does that hit to close home?  Do you know of a competitor that operates this way?  If your channel partners share countless examples of being subjected to these tactics, this is a clear area of distinction you can own.  Patrick’s article relates to channel programs but you can come up with your own list for staffing, sales enablement content, back office processes, etc..

 

Let the worst channel sales strategy guide your own strategy towards distinction and achievement of your ultimate goal (Revenue).  If your competitors were to go through this exercise, would you end up on their list?

 

In a future post, I will dive deeper into channel strategy and share some alternative approaches for its design.