Most (technology) companies’ channel programs are underperforming, causing management to wonder what went wrong or even divert resources. In most market segments, the channel is essential for reaching target customers. In the US alone, according to some estimates as much as 60% of IT is purchased through (or influenced by) the channel. Smart companies know that most channel programs fail for a few well known reasons.
You can keep your channel program on track if you avoid these simple mistakes that most IT vendors make when launching and managing their channel programs.
The first mistake that companies make is trying to launch their solutions into the channel TOO EARLY. If prospective partners haven’t heard about your solution (or company), then there is very little likelihood that they will want to sell your solutions. While some solution providers will investigate new technologies, they won’t invest resources behind a new product or solution until market pull exists.
While the channel provides tremendous access to buyers, they are not in the business of creating DEMAND for your solutions. As a vendor, it is your responsibility to create market demand, and balance those end-user demand creation activities with programs that initiate interest from the channel.Do this too early, and the channel will dismiss your solution as only being for niche, early-adopters. Do it too late and the window will have closed.
You can have the best solution on the market, and incredible customer demand. But if you don’t have visibility in the channel itself, your program will fail.
You can’t just hang out a sign to say that you are “open for business” as a channel play. To avoid the second common mistake – remaining invisible to the channel – you have to start marketing to the channel as though it is a separate customer target market. Understand what motivates channel partners that might carry your solution. Build and communicate clear value propositions, and find early adopters willing to take on your product. Then turn them into champions who will influence peers.But that’s not enough. Too often companies treat their channels as discrete organizations, and they fail to get close to their partners. While you can “see and touch” your direct sales team, you need to do the same with your top partners to get the right level of engagement from them. Be open and transparent about how you communicate with partners. And then measure and segment your channel, so that you can appropriately assign resources.
The last common mistake is that you are (or you are perceived to be) not channel friendly. Too often channels are put in place without proper thought to how partners will interact with direct sales teams. Remember the saying: “All politics are local.” While some conflict is a good thing (it shows healthy end-user demand), you want to think through the scenarios where your partners and direct sales teams might clash.The good news is that open communications and a healthy dose of double compensation will overcome almost any channel conflict. Your goal is to create an environment of mutual respect, where partners and direct sales understand how each other operate and can help them close business.
So there you have it. You can increase the chance of your channel program succeeding if you only recognize and avoid these simple mistakes. Don’t try to take your solutions through the channel too early; make sure you are communicating to the channel that you have a solution that their customers’ are asking for, and avoid channel conflict.With so many I.T. buyers purchasing from third parties, you can’t help but try to sell through the channel. Chances are you may already have a channel in place. But if you don’t recognize the common mistakes that channel programs suffer from, you’ll be left wondering why things aren’t going better.
Why Channel Programs Fail
Your Channel Program is a Train Wreck (waiting to happen)<br />Daniel Stevenson http://www.linkedin.com/in/danielstevenson<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />
Unless you avoid these common mistakes<br />(don’t worry – everyone makes them)<br />Nestor_romero1@hotmail.com<br />
Mistake #1: Your Solution is Too Early. <br />The channel won’t create PULL<br />You need RAVING fans first!<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />
A Good Channel Program Demands<br />Timing and Balance<br />No PULL = No Channel!<br />Too early and there is no end-user demand; <br />Too late and vendor preference has occurred<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />
Mistake#2: The Channel Can’t See You (and you can’t see them) Market Demand ≠ Channel Demand<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />
Communicate That You Are “Channel-Centric”<br />Treat the channel like any target market <br />Segment. Communicate value. Find early adopters. <br />Turn them into fans. Repeat.<br />And then create visibility into your channel <br />You can see and touch your direct sales team. <br />Get equally engaged with your channel. Communicate and measure.<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />
Mistake #3: You Aren’t Channel-Friendly<br />Don’t let your direct sales team get the last bite in<br />Instead, create an environment of teamwork, <br />mutual respect and accountability<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />
Pull Together and Everyone Wins<br />Avoid these mistakes and integrate the channel into your everyday business to create win-win situations<br />Daniel Stevenson <br />email@example.com<br />http://www.linkedin.com/in/danielstevenson<br />http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/<br />