Archives for August 2014

First Fight with your Channel Partner? Now you’re getting somewhere!

arm wrestWho doesn’t love those first idyllic months of a new relationship? You’re enamored, giddy and can do no wrong in one another’s eyes. But then whammo! One not-so-fine day the bubble bursts. He forgets a major commitment or she shows up an hour late for the third time and suddenly, instead of kissing, you’re sparring. Hello, reality.

If the above sounds like it might be the start of a blog from or some other dating advice site, it’s because it is.

Just like in personal relationships, channel partner relationships tend to go through stages of development that, although not without their challenges, can ultimately lead to healthy and mutually rewarding partnerships.

In my opinion, here is a rough outline of the 5 stages that any healthy relationship will go through:

  1. The Romance Stage
  2. The Power Struggle Stage
  3. The Stability Stage
  4. The Commitment Stage
  5. The Co-Creation or Bliss Stage

The Romance Stage is easy. If you have recently entered into an agreement with your partner, chances are to this point there has been lots of courting and a focus on all of the positives that the partnership can bring. At this stage both parties are probably excited, and may even possess some unrealistic expectations about the potential of the relationship.

Without a doubt, you should enjoy and make the most of this Romance Stage—but be careful not to stay in it for too long. The fact is that if you remain in this stage, it could mean not much actual business is getting done. If there is no friction, there is a good chance a big deal hasn’t forced you into the weeds of the partnership.  And therefore the partnership has never truly been tested.

I know this is going to sound crazy (and maybe even a bit strange), but your first “fight” with your channel partner could be the best thing to ever happen to the relationship. A fight might be a disagreement over the margin of a deal or who should “own” the end-customer relationship, etc.   Things might get a bit rocky for a time, and some partnerships might not even survive the first fight.  But you can work through it, you will have the foundation needed to build towards the highly lucrative and mutually beneficial partnership.   It isn’t until the partnership had been tested or until each party’s colors have been exposed they the relationship will enter into the Co-Creation or Bliss Stage. But remember: patience here is critical. While this final stage probably won’t be reached right after the first “fight,” it almost certainly wouldn’t happen without it.  sb10062994aa-003

The first “fight” is probably the best and most honest learning opportunity you will have with your partner. From this opportunity comes understanding, from understanding comes acceptance, and with acceptance comes a much easier path not just to longevity, but growth and success.


Are some of your best partnerships the ones that you have had a “fight’?

I wouldn’t ever go looking for a “fight”, but I might start questioning the partnerships that haven’t led to some kind of disparity or scuffle.
As always, please reach out with questions of comment!
Move the Channel,


“Best” Lists Don’t Always Line Up With Group Channel Partner Incentive Travel


One of my favorite things to do is travel. I try not to make it a goal, but a way of life. Maybe that’s why I cherry-picked the performance incentive field for my career. When crafting performance incentive solution many of the programs I design are group trips to exotic destinations. And yes, I do usually try to join my client on the trip—one of the best perks to the business. J

As part of my job I subscribe to numerous travel magazines, and I love reading about destinations that I haven’t visited yet. This past week, Travel + Leisure Magazine published their annual “World’s Best Awards for 2014.” Looking at these lists of top hotels, cities, islands, and cruise lines, I realized that there is actually a huge contrast between what is considered “tops” for individual (vacation) travel as opposed to a larger group of high-performing sales reps or channel partners.

With individual travel, it seems that people are looking for the best beaches or sunsets when they choose their destination. The natural geography and beauty alone is often more than enough for the individual traveler. However, when it comes to selecting for larger groups there are much different metrics that should be considered before you crown a destination “best.” I call these metrics the “3 A’s,” as in:

  1. Accessibility — Is there a relatively large airport nearby? Or would you need to take a less convenient mode of transport (e.g. prop plane, sail boat, etc.) in order to reach the destination? Also, how far is the destination from your departure country? For example, Bali is a wonderful location for a group trip, except that it typically takes close to 24 hours by plane just to get there from the US east coast.
  2. Activities — If it’s only you or your family on a trip, choosing activities is a relatively easy task (although some families might disagree!). But for large groups, you may be asked to accommodate hundreds of different personalities and interests all in one location. Obviously, this can be a bit of a challenge. For example, Virgin Gouda is a wonderful destination—if everyone in your group wants to experience the laid back life of a boater. Often times, there just aren’t enough activities available in a single spot to entertain a large group for more than a couple of days.
  3. Accommodations — Does the destination have a property that can comfortably handle a large number of guests who may want to be grouped relatively close to each other? For example, Exumas, Bahamas only has one resort that can accommodate a large group, so you better reserve well in advance!


The following is Travel & Leisure’s list of the Top 10 Island Destinations.   I’ve added some additional commentary on whether these places could also function as successful group travel destinations:

images1.)                  Santorini, Greece – We agree this is a premier vacation destination in the world, but it’s not necessarily one that’s appropriate for a large group (100+). However, we’ve organized many Mediterranean Cruise Channel Programs “stop” on the island for wonderful events, but you probably wouldn’t want your large group staying there for more than 24 hours. So although it is a main attraction for a group travel incentive program, it usually isn’t the main destination.

2.)                  Maui, HI – Excellent group incentive trip island. However, it requires a higher incentive budget, and requires a longer flying time from the Eastern U.S.

3.)                  Kauai,HI – Excellent group incentive trip island. However, it requires a higher incentive budget, and requires a longer flying time from the Eastern U.S.

4.)                  Hawaii, the Big Island – Excellent group incentive trip island. However, it requires a higher incentive budget, and requires a longer flying time from the Eastern U.S.

5.)                  Bali, Indonesia – Excellent group travel destination. However, it requires a long flight and only offers one or two locations for suitable group accommodations.

6.)                  Oahu, HI – Excellent group incentive trip island. However, it requires a higher incentive budget, and requires a longer flying time from the Eastern U.S.

7.)                  Galapagos, Ecuador – Very difficult to access. The Galapagos would essentially be impossible for a large group, but they could serve as a great “Executive Retreat.”

8.)                  Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands – Only accessible by boat or prop plane. Virgin Gorda would be an excellent destination “stop” on a cruise but would not be ideal as a main destination for a large group.

9.)                  Vancouver Island, Canada – Weather is a concern.

10.)               San Juan Islands, WA – Weather is a concern.


If you’re looking for the perfect destination to send your high-achieving sales reps or channel partners to, it’s important to remember that what works for one person might not work for many. surfThis may seem like simple logic, but you’d be surprised by how many people tend to overlook these logistical details. Which is just one of the many reasons why employing a third party performance improvement company to manage your channel sales incentive program—and the group trip that is often the major reward—can prove to be extremely valuable in the long run.


Move the Channel,


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