Archives for October 2013

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

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.

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Channel Conduit of the Week: Member “Initiation” events … they build immediate Loyalty.

 Just about every channel leader I talk to these days has partner recruitment as a top priority. But how do you initiate these partners once you have effectively recruited them?  Most companies have developed their own “onboarding” processes for new partners. More often than not, I’ve found that these processes are checklists and not really timelines that have checkpoints mapped out over, say, a 24-month period.  In a later blog, I will cover how to develop a partner “onboarding” timeline; but for now, I want to share with you an idea that has proven to be a great way to create immediate partner loyalty. This is the idea of an initiation.

Since the beginning of time, initiations have been an effective way to welcome new members into the fold while building immediate solidarity. Perhaps you’ve been a part of one over the years, whether it was being “welcomed” to a high school sports team by the team’s seniority, or a new sorority or fraternity, or a community or social club, etc. Chances are you still remember those initiations vividly, right? No matter how long ago or how removed you are from those organizations, don’t you still feel a sense of inclusion and loyalty to the group?
So, maybe that means something. Maybe there are ways to make sure your new channel partners understand that they are not just participating in an exciting new business, but more importantly that they are about to be welcomed into an exclusive, “members-only” club. You want your partners to feel like everyone wants to be in this club, but only a lucky few get invited. And instead of rituals or juvenile hazing, maybe you offer them a membership card that has their log-in information to their partner portal and rewards program; or a communication that welcomes them into the program and shows their projected path to Platinum Status. Finally, another terrific opportunity to initiate new partners can be had at your partner conference. At some point you could introduce all of the new partners publicly on stage and brag about your high expectations for this new brand of partner. Among other benefits, this has the potential to light a spark for your more mature partners!

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Move the Channel 1.0—Marketing Guide & RIMES Chart is becoming the gold standard for channel marketing tips and insight.

Move the Channel CoverI have some great news to share with the Move the Channel community. Our Channel Marketing Guide & Rimes Chart has greatly surpassed our initial expectations in terms of total number of downloads. Nearly 600 of you have now downloaded 1.0, and that number continues to rise steadily. That’s more than 20% of the entire community! But what might be even more impressive than the quantity of downloads is the quality of who’s downloading it:

  • 244 Program Managers
  • 75 Directors
  • 39 Executives

All across the channel industry leaders are talking about Move the Channel’s Marketing Guide & RIMES Chart. Are you listening?

Check out this exclusive Move the Channel video for more information.

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