Archives for February 2014

Channel Conduit: Culture eats strategy for Breakfast

Culture BreakfastOver the last couple of weeks we have spent time discussing and debating the importance of developing a strategy and sharing the playbook with your channel partners. In this same vein, it’s also imperative for your organization to focus its sights internally in order to evaluate the special dynamics of its culture. Is your company culture a differentiator for you in the market? If so, it could be one of your biggest assets when it comes to creating a loyal partner network and Champions of your brand.

Just as many companies fail to include their partners in their channel strategies, so do they also neglect to share their organization’s principles & values with their channel.   Invite your channel partners’ executive management to a usually internal team building event or a remote brainstorming sessions.  Make sure to spend time not just on X’s & O’s but philosophy and various viewpoints.  ROE (Return on Experience) is often achieved when you host your top performing channel partners to a group incentive trip to a desirable destination.

While your competition can adjust their strategy, pricing, and partner programs to look like yours, what they cannot so easily emulate is the unique culture of your organization. If your company has a winning culture, it is critical for you promote it, export it, and include your channel partners in the process. All else being equal, the right company culture can often make the difference between a reseller of product and a true champion of your brand.  

Please shoot me a note with ideas and questions.  I always enjoy the channel community’s feedback and thoughts!

Move the Channel,

When it comes Channel Incentive Programs, Global “Capabilities” are not enough

A young man jumping high at Lake Tahoe resortI love the Olympics!  Especially when the host City is a place that I have never personally experienced.   Although the World in many respects is getting smaller, when we see how distant and how foreign cultures can be we are reminded that Earth is wonderfully gigantic.

Most channel performance vendors these days say they have “Global Capabilities & Resources”.  But be careful, when it comes to delivering an Engagement program globally, capabilities and resources are not enough.

When the agency I work for first started delivering channel incentive programs worldwide almost 10 years ago, we thought we knew everything there was to know about the global arena. But admittedly, even when we felt like we had all of our global resources and “capabilities” soundly in place, it wasn’t until we actually started executing these rewards programs that we were informed by the experience necessary to deliver world-class solutions. For example, translations can be tricky when expanding your program into foreign regions. This seems like a no-brainer. But also not to be overlooked is the challenge of providing awards that are culturally appropriate and/or appealing. If you don’t realize that cricket in India is actually a more engaging sport than soccer, or that some cultures prefer to emphasize team components over individual ones, you might be missing out on the complete potential of your program. Whether it’s the culturally appropriate award or the custom report for a region’s unique sales structure, often times these are the nuances that only experience can teach us.

Despite the inevitable wounds born from these types of challenging experiences, what I’ve found ultimately develops is a sort of thick scar tissue that makes our global business smarter and stronger. Instead of having to deal with the subtleties of such complex solutions on the fly, now we are better able to anticipate and manage them before they arise.

So guess what…the landscape, the technology, the laws, the strategies and KPIs, all of it will continue to change and evolve, often unpredictably. And while none of us have the answers for what’s to come in 2014, I have to say previous experience sure comes in handy.

Make sure your vendor partners have more than just Global Capabilities, but true international program experience.   It’s the difference between a failed initiative and a Gold Medal Award-winning program.

As always, shoot me an email to let me know your global engagement program challenges or ideas.

Move the Channel,

Super Bowl Edition: Share your playbook with your channel

superbowl-trophy-hed-2013I started my Super 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,


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