Super Bowl Edition: Share your playbook with your channel

superbowl-trophy-hed-2013I started my  Sunday evening the same way I start every Sunday evening.   I read my good friend Anthony Iannarino’s weekly Newsletter.  Beyond being a good friend, Anthony is an author, professional speaker/trainer, and writes daily at The Sales Blog.   If you want your sales organization to have an edge and become a “Level 4 Value Creator”, you need make Anthony apart of your Sunday too.

Anthony starts today’s newsletter reminding us when a team acquires a new player, that player is given a playbook. Inside that playbook is every play the team runs and the player is expected to memorize the book and its plays, cover-to-cover. He or she is expected to know how to execute his/her role so that the play—and team—succeeds.

A good playbook integrates all of their product knowledge, their sales process, their buyer’s roles, the necessary sales dialogues, and competitive information in some format the salesperson can actually use. Anthony goes on to point out the challenges facing sales organization who do not have a playbook or are not fully utilizing their current playbook.  He presses further on the importance of the playbook issue by sharing ideas for developing a playbook.

But WE go-to-market through a Channel.  Our channel partners are the ones that execute the plays in the field.   This is where most channel organizations fall short.  If you don’t share your playbook with your channel partners you will not make it to, let alone win the Super Bowl.  Share with them the playbook that got you to be a leader in the industry.  In a meeting, share the goals for the entire channel ecosystem, and why their role is so critical to the channel’s overall success. The companies that are able to do this well tend to have the best and most loyal channels.playbook-ipad-chalkboard

A great way to share the playbook with the channel through a Channel Incentive Program that rewards for Steps-to-the-Sale behavior.  Reward for knowing the playbook and executing plays that win new business.

Similar to a new NFL player and coach, do you share your playbook when you acquire a new partner?

Let’s make it a great week moving the channel!

Move the Channel,

Travis

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Get in Shape for the New Year:   Give your Channel a Metabolism Tune-Up

header-photo1The term metabolism simply means change or transformation. It relates to various processes within the body that convert food and other substances into energy and other metabolic byproducts used by the body. It is a necessary function that enables our body to maintain its working parts, repair damage, rid itself of toxins, and much more.

Just like our body our Channel needs to maintain its working parts, repair damage, rid itself of toxins, and much more.   Although we can’t control everything in the channel, here are 5 things that we can do to help us hone your channel’s “metabolism”

 

Improve “Cardiovascular Fitness”

What does a cardio workout look like in the channel? For starters, it’s all about consistency, and there’s no better way to improve consistency than by communicating frequently throughout your distribution channel and setting up regular channel rep meetings and joint customer calls.   These activities are the equivalent of  your weekly dose of your personal fitness cardio workouts.  Keep in mind: Consistency doesn’t mean you just go through the motions with minimal effort. Sure, a short walk every day is good for your health, but it won’t really do much for your overall fitness. To generate the kind of results you’re looking for, you need to work up a sweat. Your “workouts” should feel like you’re training for a marathon. So, go hard and make sure you’re getting the most out of your communications. Set concrete goals for your meetings and monitor the progress you make with your partners.

 

Build Lean “Muscle”

If you want to build lean, toned muscles, you have to hit the weights. Don’t worry, most of us don’t work out hard or intensely enough to get bulky.   While cardio workouts can be good for your heart, it’s the heavy lifting that builds muscle. More muscle in the channel means more impact and engagement from you partners.   Heavy lifting sounds hard…  But don’t worry. You can build muscle without making drastic changes to your everyday business routines. Here are some Heavy ideas that don’t require constant attention and with the right vendor can be planned, marketed, and executed without adding resources:

Eat Smaller and Frequently 

The feast of a big deal is cause for celebration, but you should also be rewarding your channel for smaller, bite-sized accomplishments. This is why your channel incentive program should include Steps-To-The-Sale (STTS) incentives for each successful deal registration, product training, account introduction, etc.

Drink 10-16 glasses of water daily

Just as our body needs to be replenished with water every day, so our competitive edge requires fresh ideas and perspectives to keep its engine running. There are tons of great resources out there that can help you build your knowledge of channel developments and best practices. Try reading and some of these resources like Move the Channel and Channel Maven. Join communities and discussion groups in LinkedIn and make sure your strategies are keeping pace with the changing demands of the channel. FB_FitnessGroup

Get seven hours of sleep

Pounding the pavement and working hard in the field is how you often find success in the channel, but make sure you and your team take time to recharge your batteries.  Do this by attending channel conferences and other industry-related events can be a great way to absorb new ideas and become a thought leader in the field. I know these conferences can be tiresome and action packed, so make sure b/t the important meetings and networking to get some sleep and enjoy an amenity or two.

It’s the New Year.  Let’s make 2015 the best year yet!

Move the Channel,

Travis

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A Christmas Lesson for Channel Marketers

hapI loved  this story.   Take a look at this must-watch holiday video about gift-giving that Westjet put together.  They absolutely earn loyal customers for life.

When Santa asked people what they wanted for Christmas, what did they say? Big-screen TVs, cameras, toys, underwear!

Why didn’t they say cash?  Because when Santa asks, it’s magic, and if there is magic involved, why not ask for something you normally couldn’t afford or wouldn’t splurge on? You’re not spending your own family’s money—apparently this is goodwill currency & equity you’ve built up all year from being “good”. You and your family have earned it. Live it up!

Gift Giving

Can you imagine Santa giving out cash? Where is the joy, the fun in that? What type of experience would the receiver of the cash have had while everyone else was opening their gifts?

The other element of this successful incentive promotion is the gift were unexpected. Many channel incentive program become entitlement programs.  How can you keep the element of surprise to maximize appreciation?

When rewarding your channel partners for being “good” all year, make sure you don’t flop by giving them cash. Give them something that builds loyalty and goodwill toward your brand.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Channel-Movers!

Move the Channel,

Travis

PS Thanks for sharing this video with me Anthony

4 things your distribution channel partners will expect in 2015

Goldfish Jump Out Of Bowl 2 - expectationsAs you can tell from my last few posts, it is a busy time for 2015 channel strategy and planning.   My clients often ask me, “what do our distribution partners expect from us in 2015?”.

Let’s talk about what your Channel will expect from you in 2015.

1.)    Simplicity — Your Channel Partners don’t want a partner program that needs a map & key to navigate.   They want a program that clearly states what is expected from them and what resources will be available to help them deliver solutions to the market.  Design an engagement and reward portal that tracks their goals and gives them easy access to the handful of the most important components and tools available.

Here is great guide to make sure you aren’t over complicating things:

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2.)    Clear Expectations — Yes, Channel Partners need to know your expectations so they can build those expectations into their company goals for 2015. By integrating benefits like soft benefits into your channel incentive program you can deliver a personal touch that leads to deeper, stronger relationships with your partners.

3.)    More Efficient Communication — Notice I did not say “MORE” communication. This year you should try to be more deliberate and concise with your message and how you deliver it. The channel has more “noise” than ever before, and how you communicate with your partners will help determine your success this year.  This goes for both your communication to your channel partner and your marketing THROUGH the channel to the End Buyer.

4.)    Be A Part Of Something Great — Your channel partners don’t want to be chess piece in your overall company strategy—they want to feel as important as the first chair in a world-class symphony. Share with them in a meeting what the goals will be for the entire channel ecosystem, and why their role is so critical to the channel’s overall success. There is a reason why Martin Luther King said “I have a Dream”, and not “I have a Plan”.   This is where most organizations tend to fall short. The companies that are able to do this well tend to have the best and most loyal channels.600-029042

As always, send me an email or give me a ring with some of your ideas and questions. I couldn’t be more excited about moving the channel in 2015!

Move the Channel,
Travis

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Channel Marketing: Planning for 2015? Here’s your Channel Marketing Checklist

Business strategy organizational charts and graphs

Autumn: by far my favorite time of year! The leaves are changing daily to some of the most brilliant colors in nature. The weather is crisp but not too cold. Football is in the air, and two of my favorite holidays (Halloween & Thanksgiving) are right around the corner.

It also happens to be a wonderful time of year for the channel marketing industry. Like the leaves on a tree, the ever changing channel landscape impacts our positioning, our solutions, and how we move business through the channelAnd through change comes a wonderful opportunity to grow our channel business with the proper strategy and execution.

The months of October and November are also a great time to start planning for 2015. At this point you probably have a pretty good idea of what went well this past year, and what needs improvement. Well now is the time when you should start to develop your plan for next year and start trying to secure and allocate marketing dollars to initiatives that are likely to Move the Channel.

Move the Channel’s Marketing Guide and RIMES Chart can help you organize your strategy during this planning process. As a broad-stroke checklist for all of your channel requirements and future goals, this guide can only offer a general blueprint for channel success; it is incumbent upon you to decide which programs, resources, and benefits are appropriate for your 2015 approach, and which are not.

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As 2014 draws to a close, I challenge you to be as bold as the many colors of the trees you see on your lunch break today. Take a look back at the MTC Marketing Guide and try to figure out what is missing from your channel strategy. Are there certain components—even small ones—that your channel partners are currently lacking? Remember, being bold doesn’t always mean taking a big gamble. Sometimes it just means avoiding the same old status quo, creating that little extra separation between you and your competitors.new-england-fall-colors-photo-by-chrisbastian44

Are you aggressively guiding your channel partners? Do they have all of the resources they need? Are you communicating, enabling, and training them to be more self-sufficient? Have you properly allocated or invested in a Channel Incentive Program that influences and incentivized your partners’ salespeople and technical sales folks?

As always, shoot me an email with your ideas and any questions.

Move the Channel,
Travis

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Move the Channel Marketing Guide & 1.0 & RIMES Chart – Origin Story

RIMES PicSince the release of Move The Channel’s Channel Marketing & Sales Guide 1.0, I’ve been inundated with emails and phone calls asking me, “Travis, what is the Move The Channel Marketing & Sales Guide, what is RIMES, and how did you come up with them?”

So here’s the brief origin story: In collaboration with the Move The Channel Community (LinkedIn Group and www.movethechannel.com), we began brainstorming what the most important components of a successful channel marketing campaign might be. To initiate this discussion, we first enlisted the thousands of MTC members to offer up their opinions and ideas regarding marketing strategies, sales techniques, technological advancements, and other channel solutions. The best part of this process was that all of the data, concepts, and suggestions we received were based on the extensive personal experience of real channel professionals.

As we began organizing literally thousands of ideas and best practices from our numerous group members, we started to see different categories coming into focus, and we determined that the most effective way to present this information would be as a five-pronged holistic methodology, which we’ve referred to as “RIMES.” We deemed these to be the 5 major “pillars” of any successful channel marketing program, and our goal was to highlight each as it relates to the greater whole. For those who don’t yet know, RIMES stands for:

  •  Relationships
  •  Information Technology (As in the channel professionals have access to and can use IT to better support their goals)
  •  Marketing & Communications (although sometimes we also refer to this pillar as “Management” — as in Channel Management)
  •  Enablement and Education
  •  Selling — pushing products/solutions THROUGH the channel

In addition to RIMES serving as the pillars of a successful channel marketing program, it is also the foundation of our exclusive eBook, which we have called the Channel Marketing & Sales Guide 1.0. It has been designed and structured from an outside-in perspective, so that in future versions we can start to drill down and explore all of the various sub-categories. In this way, each pillar is a potential gold mine of information and insight regarding channel best practices, and it will be our job at Move The Channel to harvest these nuggets, one step at a time. So in this way, you might even think of 1.0 as the origins of a future Channel Wiki…

Please send me your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions on where to go during the next stage of Move the Channel’s Marketing Guide.

Move the Channel,

Travis

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Why Channel Marketing Is NOT A Field of Dreams

Kevin_Costner_Field_of_DreamsKevin Costner has headlined some of my favorite sports movies of all time, including Tin Cup and Bull Durham. But perhaps his most loved and best-known sports film is “Field of Dreams,” famous for the line, “If you build it, he will come.” The story involves a down-on-his-luck farmer in the Midwest who suddenly hears a mysterious voice encouraging him to build a baseball diamond where his cornfield currently stands. Taking a leap of faith, the farmer decides to build the diamond, and the move eventually pays off as 1000s of visitors eventually line up to come see the “Field of Dreams.”

I’m someone who loves to see people make bold moves and follow their heart, but in Channel Marketing you can’t just “build it” and leave it up to fate.  Many companies with the best intentions go and build “Fields of Dreams” in the form of partner portals, marketing resources, learning management systems, partner relationship management solutions. They “build it” with the assumption that their channel partners will magically “come” and use these valuable resources, resulting in more sales and a stronger, more committed channel. An even bigger myth is that these “Fields of Dreams” will attract a new crop of partner prospects. However, unless your channel is exclusive to your products, the results and returns on these dreams always disappoint. field-of-dreams-movie-clip-screenshot-people-will-come_large

All too often I see companies building channel marketing plans, investing time and money into various systems without a clear path for achieving returns. They simply feel that if they “build it,” the partner “will come” and engage by embracing their new systems. But the good news is your investment in these valuable channel resources and tools don’t need to be like taking a leap of faith. A well-designed channel incentive program that shines a light on, rewards for, and recognizes key selling behaviors (including frequenting the systems “built,” such as your partner portals, marketing solutions, learning systems, etc.) can help build a strong channel partnership, one that offers a clear path to profitability. By highlighting these behaviors and introducing compelling rewards, you can help your partners understand WIIFM while laying out a blueprint for successfully selling your products. Ultimately, this will make for an easier, more clear-cut choice when they are deciding whether to do business with you or your competitors.

So remember: When it comes to Channel Marketing Programs, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.

How do you design the right channel incentive program?

What is the right reward and reward investment for your partner demographic?

 

As always please reach out with questions or comments!

Move the Channel,
Travis

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Lady Gaga, Channel Marketing, and the Importance of Analytics

ladygaga_halloweenRecently, I was reading the blog of one of my favorite influencers, Bernard Marr. In his post, “What Lady Gaga Can Teach You About Analytics,” I learned some really interesting—and surprising—things about Lady Gaga and how she leverages analytics to benefit her brand.

For years Lady Gaga has been a leader and trendsetter in the social media arena. Back in 2008, she was one of the first entertainers to take advantage of the vast potential of platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Today, she has an astounding 42 million followers on Twitter and over 66 million “Likes” on Facebook; however, along the way Gaga has realized that despite her incredible following, she doesn’t own these databases and can’t fully leverage their power in the distinctively creative ways that she is famous for.

So what did she do? She decided to simply point direct her followers to her own personal website, LittleMonsters.com. This is where the real magic of analytics is manifested. On this site that she controls, she’s able to capture her fans’ information and use the resulting data in innovative ways, such as tailoring her concert set lists to the preferences of fans in particular regions. She also has boosted her merchandise sales by 30% by using fan artwork that’s been uploaded to her site on t-shirts and other clothing. Once again, Gaga is leading the way in harnessing the impressive power of analytics, big data, and social media.

“But it’s not just the music industry that can use big data to its advantage,” says Marr. “Any company—or indeed anyone—can, and should use data to make better decisions. And companies who don’t do that will be left behind.”

Mr. Marr, I couldn’t agree more!

 So, what can the channel marketing community learn from Lady Gaga?

1.) Social Media is NOT the source of knowing your Channel Partners and Market Ambassadors. It’s simply a way to build awareness of and drive traffic to your own space/website.

2.) What’s the BEST way to create your OWN website and space that will engage and appeal to your channel partner’s and partner’s sales people? Without question a channel incentive program packs the biggest draw of this audience.

3.) Capturing Partner and Partner Sales People Insight: Once you have designed a convincing Channel Rewards Program, your channel will start to surrender more information than you could hope for. This is more than just finding out who is selling your products—it’s who they are selling to, what complimenting vendors are part of their solution, what % of their sales are yours, what incentives motivate them, and what kind of dream awards are on their “wish list.”

4.) With this new channel insight, the opportunities to improve partner communication, marketing, training—and, well, “partnering”—are endless. In fact, this information may open up a whole new world that you never even knew existed.

Most of us are aware that well designed Channel Incentive Programs can always yield terrific gains when it comes to grabbing channel mind and market share. These results speak for themselves. But it’s also true that the #1 reason that leading companies implement and invest in channel incentive programs is for partner, partner sales people, and end-user information and insight. Why?  Because when you know your partners and partners’ sales people, you know how to talk with them, how to sell with them.  

So far, we have only scratched the surface regarding the powerful potential of data collection during the early parts of channel incentive programs. But think about the sales and training data that can be tracked and harnessed after years 1,2,3, and beyond! What will that data yield as far as insight into how to improve your business and your channel? How valuable will that information be as you make key decisions about the direction of your company? At HMI-MMI, we’ve developed R-Cube, a software-as-a-system (SaaS) that is a lethal combination of technology, process, and research expertise. In a way, companies that invest in this level of data management can become just a bit like Lady Gaga: always on the cutting edge of channel analytics.

Are you using Channel Incentive Programs to capture elusive data?  Are you analyzing that data to make better decisions going forward…. to Move the Channel?

As always, please reach out with questions or comment!

Move the Channel,
Travis

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Global Channel Incentive Programs: Plan Global, Execute Local.

 

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There are a handful of channel incentive companies that think they have the resources in place to run a global incentive program, but only a few who have actually executed these types of programs successfully. The reality is global incentive programs are hard.  God knows I have a ton of scar tissue from years of trying to iron out the many wrinkles that my programs have had to adjust to.

This past week I was in meetings with some of the brightest, most experienced and accomplished global channel incentive thought leaders in the country. These people are the brains behind 4 of the 6 leading global incentive programs in operation today. While I definitely learned a lot from these meetings, there was one concept in particular that stood out: “Plan global, execute local.” I love this motto. Not many years ago, the main factors for global programs—as opposed to regional independent programs—were that manufacturers wanted “the 3 C’s”: consistency in quality, controls (single pane of glass reports & audits), and continuity in best practices. So, back then we would roll out a centralized program that scaled across the globe with local delivery and customer service. This was a success!

soccer ball

In the short term, we achieved the 3 C’s. However, over time we realized that our solution was not flawless. For example, the various regions and countries didn’t want to be told how to engage and motivate their local partners. “The Americans don’t know my partners,” they would say—and they were right. We don’t always know what participants in one country want versus another. So how do we still share the technology investment and best practices without force-feeding a one-size-fits-all strategy into APAC solutions? One thing you can do provide them with local program management resources that can allow them to design and communicate their own programs that are unique to their regions, their partners, and their business objectives.  HMI-MMI is built for this type of support and program management.

True, this model comes with an increased cost; but the incremental mindshare and market share gains make this “plan global, execute local” strategy a no-brainer!

Is your global channel incentive program giving localized flexibility to multinational sales teams? Are you considering extending your program across the globe?

As always, reach out to me with idea, questions, and comments.

Move the Channel,

Travis

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Your Channel Marketing Program: If you can’t explain it simply,….

albert-einstein-if-you-cant-explain-it-simply-you-dont-understand-it-well-enough

…you don’t understand it well enough. And your channel partners understand your programs even less than you. I have seen Channel Program Brochures that are 10 pages long, and presentation Channel Program overviews that are more than 40 slides.

We often get so involved in delivering MORE resources and MORE benefits, that we get trapped into thinking MORE is always better. It can be—to a point. Usually more resources and more benefits are a positive, but if your program needs a map and compass just to navigate through it, chances are you’ve overdone it.

Move the Channel has developed a Channel Marketing Guide & R.I.M.E.S chart. Don’t be trapped into thinking that you need to employ every one of the bullet points in your channel marketing program. Rather, consider the few that would be most impactful for your business and the relationship you have with your channel partners.

Download your MTC Channel Marketing Guide and RIMES Chart here:

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Move the Channel,

Travis

10 Channel Marketing Program lessons from Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir AlexToday I bring to you a story from a different hemisphere.  A story about arguably one the most impactful figures in all of sport.  You have heard me speak with passion about American Football, Baseball, Basketball, and the people in those sports that have changed the game.  Today I share Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson’s secrets of persuasion and turn them into Channel Marketing lessons.

I found the story at one of my favorite blogs spots http://influence-people-brian.blogspot.com/ .  Brian Ahearn is a friend and master of persuasion and one of only 20 Cialdini Method Certified Trainers® (CMCT®) in the world.   He recently shared a post from Sean Patrick a fellow Cialdini Method Certified Trainer.

Each number (1-10) references and matches a passage from the story below.   Here are the lessons I took away from this wonderful piece on SAF:

  1. Move the Channel:  Do your channel partners put themselves before winning titles?  Culture. 
  2. Move the Channel:  To find the best partners, we need grassroots “talent scouts” too.  Recruiting.
  3. Move the Channel:  Have you developed an academy and channel training strategy the produces the most successful teams?  Training.
  4. Move the Channel:  Does your organization have you finger on the pulse of every area of the Channel Ecosystem?  Pulse.
  5. Move the Channel:  Are you holding your channel partner accountable and “coaching them up”?  Goals and QBR Process.
  6. Move the Channel:  Have you fired a channel partner recently and focused on ones showing great potential?  Should you?
  7. Move the Channel:  Do you demonstrate respect, fairness, and empathy toward you partners?
  8. Move the Channel:  Do you invest to retain and coach your partners that have potential to be great?   Coaching. 
  9. Move the Channel:  Do your channel partners feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves?  Inspired.
  10. Move the Channel:  Do you have a channel rewards and incentive program that helps your channel partners hear “well-done”.  Channel Incentive Programs.

 

Here’s the story from Sean Patrick, Sales Coach:

In May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson or SAF as he’s otherwise known as, stepped down as manager of Manchester United.  He had just won his 13th Premiership title, the most successful and highly decorated manager in English football.  This ended his 26th season in charge of one of the biggest sporting franchises in the world.

During his time at Old Trafford he won 38 titles including two UEFA champions league trophies. 1.) Ferguson took control of the club at a time when player status was more important than winning titles, over the course of four seasons and under severe pressure to deliver, he transformed the club from the inside out.  2.) He employed countless talent scouts to find the best youth players at grassroots level and 3.) developed an academy that produced one of the most successful teams in English football history.  4.) Every season a major development was installed inside the club that cemented United’s ability to find and retain the best playing staff.  Ferguson was well known for having his finger on the pulse in every area of the club.  Only Matt Busby, a legendary former United manager had any such influence across the entire club.

So how did he do it?  Ferguson was well known for his ability to psychologically influence the players around him and rival managers.  Ferguson believed that the key to success was to make sure that every player put in 100% during training.  He never allowed a bad training session as this proved a player would find mediocrity acceptable, he knew bad habits form quickly.  5.) He ensured that every player who under-performed at half time became aware of their poor performances thus the legendary motivational skills reared itself in the dressing room.

Former rival manager Jose Mourinho claimed Ferguson was the master of the ‘second game’, sing the media to motivate his team and to begin, as he put it, ‘to play the next game before it starts’.

The club and everyone around him knew he was the authority figure.  If a player tried to take over the dressing room or put in a poor performance he was either swiftly removed from the club or was given a severe face-to-face screaming which had become known as the hairdryer treatment.  His authority was without question embedded into the organization. 6.) Over the course of his 26 season reign he made difficult choices and this came in the form of releasing established world class players such as Roy Keane, Jaap Stam and David Beckham to make room for untested younger players such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo who became medal winners at United.

There was another side to 7.) Ferguson, he was liked and respected.  He was treated respectfully by senior management and back-room support staff and reciprocated respect by demonstrating fairness and his ability to empathize.  These skills were tested during the season of 1995-96 when maverick player Eric Cantona attacked an opposition supporter Kung-Fu style and consequently given a heavy suspension lasting several months.  8.) Over the course of this period, Ferguson mentally coached Cantona, firstly to retain his services and secondly to mentally motivate and prepare the player for his return.  Subsequently, Cantona blossomed to become a model player and became club captain helping United secure more silverware.

This method of psychologically preparing and motivating players culminated in United’s first UEFA Champions league title in 1999.  They faced a tough fixture against Germany’s Bayern Munich.  At half-time United were trailing, he reminded his players that if they lost the match they would not as much be allowed to touch the trophy, just amble past at a safe distance wearing their losers medal.  9.)  One of the players later recalled that Ferguson’s inspirational speech turned fearful men into world-beaters.  During that same season, United became the first side from a major league to win the treble of Champions league, English Premier league and League cup in a single season.

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Ferguson understood the importance being consistent. One of his key skills in improving the preparedness of his players was his use of storytelling and being to talk to each player individually.  He liked to change the themes of his team talks with regularity.  “I once heard a coach start with ‘this must be the 1000th team talk I’ve had with you’ and saw a player quickly respond with ‘and I’ve slept through half of them!’  If a player was to sit out a game, he gave a personal and very frank conversation that conveyed empathy and instilled confidence in the player.

10.) Ferguson emphasized on the use of instilling confidence on the training pitch.  “There is no room for criticism on the training field’.  ‘There is nothing better than hearing ‘well-done.”

What is a Channel Engagement Portal?

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What is a Channel Engagement Portal? Before I explain what it is, maybe first I should start by telling you what it is NOT.

  • It’s NOT a robust LMS, or a heavy training, certification, and accreditation solution.
  • It’s NOT a robust marketing center where partners can co-brand and customize messaging and campaigns on demand.
  • It’s NOT a rebate or co-op management and distribution solution.
  • It’s NOT a robust CRM system, nor a social networking site.
  • It is NOT a Channel Rewards or cash spiff program.

 

E Portal Log In

Now, with that being said, here’s what an engagement portal IS:

 

  • It IS the perfect platform for new products readiness & competitive positioning readiness trainingAnd it can totally integrate with those necessary LMS systems to track and reward important accomplishments.
  • It IS ideal for serving up the latest and most relevant content to help your partners sell and stay informed.
  • It IS an effective tool for creating awareness and excitement for the principal, while also serving up their % to goals and partner level tiers.
  • It IS a great way to reward and motivate the partner’s salespeople for KPIs that are being tracked and measured in your CRM.
  • It IS a platform that can be used to incentivize social behavior related to a partner’s business.
  • It IS an essential part of rewarding your channel stakeholders. It’s what ties all of their good selling behaviors together. While you reward for training, sales, KPIs, social sharing, etc., they can redeem for merchandise, travel, event tickets, or anything else that engages people.

If you can only see Engagement Portals for what they can’t do, then you’re probably ignoring the inherent value that they can bring to any partner program. Maybe it IS time you kicked that glass-half-empty vision and started taking advantage of these platforms’ full potential.

If you want to hear or see more about the power of Engagement Portals shoot me a note here:  Contact Us

Move the Channel,
Travis

Channel Marketing: In With The Old, and The New (Part 1)

old-vs-new-21313880The old model of channel marketing features three main components: partner benefits, sales resources and training, and quarterly goal setting.

On the other hand, the new model of channel marketing focuses on channel community/collaboration, educating (not just product training), and motivating the POI (Point of Influence).

Well guess what? The old model is still the foundation for a successful channel.  The new way simply AMPLIFIES the old way.

As much as the channel has evolved in recent years, there are still many aspects of it that remain the same. For instance, you still need benefits that offer profitability to the partner at the firm-level. You still need serious ease of selling resources to move the partner’s sales and sales management. You still need clear goals to make sure everyone’s objectives are aligned.

Although these continue to be pillars of a channel partner program, we now find ourselves strengthening and enhancing these areas in new ways.

Program benefits now includes being part of a channel community where ideas are shared, experiences become best practices, and solutions to the end-user are delivered collaboratively.

Time-honored sales resources and training now also tend to include industry knowledge-sharing and value-creation training that is elastic and able to be delivered in timely, relevant “lessons.”  The process of “Educating” is developed by the training department but in conjunction with the channel marketing and sales teams that are in the field selling.

Finally, the Partner Firm-level is still typically the target of many incentives and communications; but now we have also extended our engagement and messaging to target the POI (Point of Influence), which is mainly the partner’s sales or sales engineers that interface directly with the end-user customer.   Before, it used to be the touch to the POI was with Cash Spiffs.  Today, a true engagement and incentive program enables you to reward the partner’s sales people for behaviors that lead to sales or Steps-to-the-Sale (STTS)!

Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. Are you embracing the New, or is your channel program just getting Old? Maybe it should be a bit of both. . .

 

Move the Channel,

Travis

Channel Partner Programs don’t matter unless you target your Partner’s Sales People

POI Book CoverI know many of us in the Move the Channel community tend to focus on Channel Partner Programs that deal in Partner-level or firm-level benefits. Now don’t get me wrong, these can certainly act as critical foundations for the formal partnership between you and your supply chain partners. BUT these types of programs don’t always differentiate you from your competitors, and they often don’t move the channel or grow market share as well as you might like. The exception here would be if your Channel Partners are made up of small companies, where the principal also happens to be the salesperson. You see this with many companies that sell through small contractors, dealers, or consultants. In these cases, the firm-level benefits are actually targeting the firm’s salesperson, which, I will argue, is really where you can strike with your program.

What are these important but industry standard firm-level benefits?

  • Quarterly & Annual Rebates
  • Manufacture Development Programs
  • Pricing Discounts Schedules
  • Registration & Demo Programs
  • Training Minimums and Requirements

I know these kinds of benefits are not easy things to design, and they can certainly be a lot of work to manage and articulate. But at the end of the day,

Miguel Carerea POI

Miguel Cabrera POI

90% of your Partner/Firm-Level Programs are actually made of the same components. Sure your discount might be more exciting or your MDF program might be appreciated, but even if your program is superior to your competitor’s, it’s probably only a month or so away from being matched by the competition.

So where do we see real impact?  How do we actually MOVE THE CHANNEL? The biggest impact and most measurable movement can be realized when you effectively target, engage, and incentivize performance at the Point of Impact (POI). Also known as the Point of Influence, the POI is the person in the channel that can best influence the sale—to YOUR END USER. Believe it or not, the POI is almost always your channel partner’s salesperson or sales engineer. It is the individual who interfaces with your end customers, the person with influence who can take advangtage of THEIR relationship with YOUR end customer. Each Industry and every company has its own vernacular for this person, but we at Move the Channel have coined this strategic player the POI.

Behaviors you may want to impact at the POI

  • Increased Deal Registration
  • Training Completions
  • Individual Sales and Goals
  • Target Prospect Engagements
  • Customer Introductions
  • POC or Evaluation Placements

When you design a program and performance incentive strategy around the POI, you are engaging at the most valuable touch point in the channel—the Point of Influence. Programs that can engage and motivate at this level are much more difficult to duplicate, and thus they have a more profound impact on the sale and overall market share.

Make sure your Partner/Firm-Level benefits are top-notch, but also quickly turn your marketing genius and resource to the people in the channel that have the real influence you are looking for . . . the POI.

Move the Channel,

Travis

Your Channel Partners need more Coaches, Not Discounts

This was a terrific sports weekend for the Smith house. March Madness is always a favorite time of year, but this week was especially fun. First, my wife’s alma mater, the University of Dayton, beat my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round of the big dance. Then they went on to upset the mighty Orangemen of Syracuse to move on to the Sweet 16 for the first time in almost 30 years. To top that off, our local high school made an amazing run in the State basketball tournament to earn Division I State Champion Runner-Up. But by far, the highlight of the weekend was witnessing my old high school basketball coach finally win a Division II State Championship.Coach Gray cutting the net

Of all the big sports news from the weekend, why was this so important to me? Even though it has been 20 years since I graduated from high school, I still feel a great deal of loyalty, appreciation, and pride for Coach Gray. Many of the lessons he imparted to us as juniors and seniors have stayed with me to this day, and it seems a bit strange now to think that in the course of my life, one of the most important and inspiring teachers I ever had was a coach. Somehow, through his leadership, he was always able to get the most out of us, his players.

Leadership is a skill that is required in business as much as it is in sports. Take channel marketing and sales leaders, for example. Much of your efforts are spent designing, implementing, and marketing the perfect partner program. Discounts structures, rebate tiers, MDFs, CO-OPs, partner benefits, etc., are all foundations for any Channel Partner Program. In fact, Move the Channel has published its own Channel Marketing Guide and RIMES Chart to serve as a sort of “playbook” for all of these critical features.

But even if you have the best playbook in the business, it’s difficult to get the best results without an effective “coach” to implement the plays and motivate the “players.” These coaches are the people in your channel organization who interface directly and consistently with your channel partners. They are the people selling in the field whose compensation is linked to the partners they support. In many organizations, their main role is to “manage” their accounts; but if they’ve never managed (or coached) before, they might have a hard time doing this efficiently, with deals only getting done when they are heavily involved.

The people that interface with your channel partner need to have a coach’s mentality. All too often in business we have a first practice, hand out the playbook, and check back in the next quarter to review how many rebounds, assists, and points the partner and partner’s salespeople scored for our team. These partner “coaches” need to recognize the partner’s strengths and weaknesses in order to identify how that partner might best contribute to the “team.”  This takes time, energy, organization, and leadership—basically a coach’s approach. In the short term, this can lead to increased mind share, market share, and sales. In the long-term, you will have a partner who is loyal and appreciative, and who takes pride in working with your championship-caliber organization. Just don’t expect them to call you “coach.”

Enjoy the rest of March Madness and make it a great week!

Move the Channel,
Travis

Channel R.I.M.E.S: Relationships, IT Integration, Management, Enablement & Education, Selling

 

Move the Channel Cover

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What makes Move the Channel’s Marketing Guide 1.0 the first of its kind?  Well as most of you know, this project started over a year ago as simple discussion in our LinkedIn Group.  It grew from there to an all-out pouring of ideas from across the Move the Channel community.

The next thing that is unique about this eBook, is how it’s organized.  While organizing all the ideas and best practices different categories became clear.  These categories are what we call RIMES –and are the pillars of any successful channel marketing program.

  • Relationships
  • Information Technology (As in the technology they have access to and use to better support them)
  • Management – as in Channel Management
  • Enablement and Education
  • Selling

So anyway it’s here.  You can download it right here at move the channel.com

The first 45 KPIs or indicators of a good Channel Partner according to… YOU.

Last week I asked you to list your Top 3 Channel KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) “here”.  I asked this question throughout the various LinkedIn groups and our very own Move the Channel Community.   And YOU delivered, with countless KPIs ideas.  Here are the first 45.

These are only first 45.  It’s interesting to pick out the unique KPIs like “employee turnover”.  And to point out the most popular KPI, “training/enablement investment”.  Training and Enablement is the clear winner with 17% of the first 45 KPIs mentioned.

I will be providing commentary and analysis on these submissions, but wanted to provide the initial feedback ASAP.

Click here to participate in the discussion.    HERE

Enjoy!

Move the Channel,
Travis

Here are the first 45 in YOUR own words.

  1. Money they spent (out of their own pocket) in promoting my portfolio to their customers
  2. Deal registrations and corresponding conversion rate
  3. Enablement investments (time, money) for their sales and sales engineering teams.
  4. Pipeline growth and velocity
  5. Strategic opportunities. For instance, I may have a partner with a small volume of opportunities, yet they are all sourced from a key vertical or market segment we are trying to penetrate.
  6. Unique IP jointly developed by our respective organizations
  7. Certifications in product or technical support
  8. Customer complaints or redos (how often do they get it right the first time)
  9. Employee turnover
  10. Share of wallet
  11. Certification investment
  12. Portfolio breadth
  13. Tenure
  14. Transaction frequency
  15. Sales skills,
  16. Market knowledge,
  17. Loyalty
  18. Number of dedicated Head counts.
  19. A clear business plan
  20. Integration with its other line of business
  21. Marketing Know-how – simple branding, or social media or in-person events.
  22. Take interest in talking 1X p/month about the business, their needs and future direction
  23. Proactively prepare for all discussions and include the right members of their team
  24. Solicit vendor input on their business ideas, offerings and go to market strategies
  25. Accept constructive feedback and feel empowered to deliver it
  26. Utilize the training, marketing and sales tools we’re providing
  27. Number of specialists / engineers that have been “trained”
  28. QoQ or YoY pipeline growth from those people
  29. Number of new sales appointments set (IMPORTANT)
  30. Learning investment with our products / solutions.
  31. Exclusivity (Are we their sole product for the application?)
  32. Partners who willingly participate in quarterly business planning sessions with the Vendor and jointly establish measurable goals and activities to achieve same
  33. Partners that are committed to real growth as opposed to just maintaining their current profit levels, pre-retirement
  34. Partners that view hardware and technology as enablement platforms for longer-term, solutions-based selling, rather than a sales goal in and of itself
  35. Have the ability to market/attract new customers
  36. Have knowledge of your product and where it’s a fit
  37. Have knowledge of the industry
  38. The reps get “enough” (simpler than alternatives, more margin, etc.) benefit from selling your product
  39. Present our products FIRST on their line card
  40. Engage us in training, strategy and ramping to market
  41. Stay engaged in active prospecting and business planning.
  42. Which partners are actively executing programs?
  43. What topics are driving customer interest?
  44. Which partners are leading customer engagement?
  45. Which media channels are delivering results?
  46. competitive affinity (how closely is the partner aligned to my competitors)
  47. social/external behavior in response to a specific program
  48. Quarterly Growth (People/Revenue) of the partner

 

 

4 things your distribution channel partners will expect in 2014

2014 Channel ExpectationsI am fresh back from a terrific family vacation in Southern California. I have a huge wonderful family in Pasadena and many friends from our years living in Dana Point. In addition to my many client visits throughout the year, I try to bring the family once a year to hang with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and the many cousins. This trip was filled with non-stop activities like the Rose Bowl, the Rose Parade, Disneyland, LEGOLAND, the BCS National Championship Game, and even surf lessons for my 6-year-old.  Oh my! It’s definitely been a blast, but let’s just say I’m ready to get back to my “normal” schedule again. Now, down to business!

Let’s talk about what your Channel will expect from you in 2014.

1.)    Simplicity — Your Channel Partners don’t want a partner program that looks like a Smith or Griswold family vacation (reference above or National Lampoon’s Vacation). They want a program that clearly states what is expected from them and what resources will be available to help them deliver solution to the market.  Design an engagement and reward portal that gives them easy access to the handful of the most important components and tools available.

Here is great guide to make sure you aren’t over complicating things:

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

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2.)    Clear Expectations — Yes, they Channel Partners need to know what your expectations are so they can build those expectations into their company goals for 2014. By integrating benefits like soft benefits into your channel incentive program you can deliver a personal touch that leads to deeper, stronger relationships with your partners.

3.)    More Efficient Communication — Notice I did not say “MORE” communication. This year you should try to be more deliberate and concise with your message and how you deliver it. The channel has more “noise” than ever before, and how you communicate with your partners will help determine your success this year.

4.)    Be A Part Of Something Great — Your channel partners don’t want to be chess piece in your overall company strategy—they want to feel as important as the first chair in a world-class symphony. Share with them in a meeting what the goals will be for the entire channel ecosystem, and why their role is so critical to the channel’s overall success. There is a reason why Martin Luther King said “I have a Dream”, and not “I have a Plan”.   This is where most organizations tend to fall short. The companies that are able to do this well tend to have the best and most loyal channels.
It sure is great to be back. As always, send me an email or give me a ring with some of your ideas and questions. I couldn’t be more excited about moving the channel in 2014!

Hope you are enjoying Martin Luther King Day!

Move the Channel,
Travis

Channel Conduit of the Week – Partner Recruitment

Partner RecruitimentDo you have a few channel partners, but still aren’t sure whether to commit to a distribution channel Go-To-Market Strategy? When I talk to executives whose companies are at this point I often hear things like, “We know it’s time to commit to a channel strategy, but how do we recruit enough of the right partner?”

This is an excellent question, and the key words here are “enough” and “right.”

Here is a high level Channel Partner Recruiting Strategy for early channel adopters.

The Right Partners:

A.)     Profiling the perfect partner (2-3 different profiles):

  1. Of your current partners, which ones do you consider best? Chances are you have a few partners who might justify acquiring more.

i.      What core or supplementary products do they sell?  It is likely that those other products already go through a more mature channel.  If you have success stories with one or more of those partners, probabilities are the rest of the channel would be willing to listen.

ii.      Do these partners specialize in a certain industry?

iii.      How big of an organization are they? How many sales reps and technical people do they employ? You might be tempted to chase bigger, sexier partners, but it’s usually a good idea to stick with what you know, and more importantly what you can support.

2.  Talk to some of your happy end-user customers. Of all the products that bump up against yours, which ones do they consider world-class products, and what do they think of the organizations that stand behind them?  (This is also a nice introduction from a fortune 500 client which always gets resellers’ attention)

Closing Enough Partners:

B.)    Developing A Partner Recruitment Strategy

  1. Target your perfect partner. Accumulate a list of potentials that fit this profile, and start to pursue them. (If you can’t build a list from your perfect profile, you might need want to reconsider your standards)

i.      Target the other core or supplementary product’s channel partners discussed above  (Chances are their reseller network is published and easy to obtain)

ii.      Most industries have an organization in which channel partners are/can be members. This could be a good tool to use for when you compile your list. You should think about joining the organization if you haven’t already. NEAD is an example in the electrical space.

C.)    Executing a Partner Recruitment Strategy

  1. Closing the deal with new partners

i.      Web Conference Pitch — Get as many to attend as possible and make sure your pitch is a good one. Why would they invest their time and money, and allocate their resources to your company? Give them a reason they can’t ignore.

ii.      Sponsor and Participate at other core or supplementing product company conferences.  — In the tech space this might be EMC World or IBM PartherWorld or Oracle Open World.  This is a great chance to meet face-to-face with many target partners.

iii.      Good Ole Fashion Selling — Train your sales team & future channel managers to identify potential partners, pitch your channel marketing program and its benefits, and talk about the success stories of other similar companies.

Certainly this post just scratches the surface of what it takes to achieve.  To dive deeper please download the Move the Channel Marketing Guide and RIMES Chart or shoot me an email to discuss how I might help.

Download the Guide and Chart Here:

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

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Move the Channel,
Travis

The New Channel Chief: An increasing Responsibility

As the economy starts to slowly pick itself up, most industries and companies, in terms of investment, are leaning on the channel for their go-to-market strategy. Organizations are making the decision to grow their business through their channel because they know that the best way to deliver their solutions is through loyal, vested, and well-trained business partners who are local (or specialized) in relation to the end-user. With all of the advancements now in social media, LMS (Learning Management Systems), PRM technology (Partner Relationship Management), and motivating Channel Incentive Programs, companies can penetrate and impact the channel more economically than ever. 

With this channel momentum, comes great responsibility to our Channel Chiefs. Gone are the days of the channel serving simply as a distribution arm for products. Today, more and more companies are beginning to see it as something more and the channel is considered part of the entire organization. As these companies continue to transform their approach to the Channel, all departments, whether it be product development, marketing, sales, etc., now must have the channel in mind.

As a result of this burgeoning commitment, the role of today’s Channel Chief has expanded.

Channel Chief Image

Internal Focus:

Sales & Marketing Harmony: Now more than ever it is crucial to align your sales and marketing teams.  We all know this is easier said than done. Dissonance between these two major branches of your organization is to be expected. That’s because the sales team is tasked with closing the business right in front of their noses, and the marketing team is challenged with casting a vision that creates future opportunities down the road. Spending time in both departments, I have been on both sides of this dissonance, and what it really is at work here are long-term goals and planning versus short-term action. Both approaches ultimately work toward the same goal end game—driving business growth—but they each go about it in very different ways. Now, organizations are rolling both departments up to one executive, our Channel Chief.  This help with cross department goals and teamwork.  For proven solutions that can close this loop between your sales and marketing teams, click here http://movethechannel.com/?p=254

External Focus:

End-User & Partner Harmony: Channel Chiefs are now more sensitive—and they should be—to the ways in which they can more effectively sell to the end-user, not just through the channel partner, but with them as well. This involves excelling at both building relationships with your partners and managing the best interests of the company.

Building Relationships:  Many Channel Chiefs are effectively using Channel Incentive or Reward Programs as just one of the tools to create loyalty and motivate channel sales and technical people to invest their time in both training and recommending the right solutions to the end-user.

Closing Business:   Many channel marketing professionals fall on the right side of the graph above. It is important to remember that all of our efforts boil down to one goal: Selling more while continuing to create happy customers—a challenge that is once again tasked to today’s Channel Chief.

Download the Guide and Chart Here:

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Name: Email:

Move the Channel,
Travis

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