Back to (the Old) School


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As the summer holiday season (in the northern hemisphere, at least) draws to close and businesses start to refocus on closing out a traditionally slow quarter while looking forward to the all-important fourth quarter, attention often falls on channel reorganization. I recently spent time with the VP of North American Channels for a large software company. The conversation centered on their perceived need to cull non-performing channel partners and recruit new “better” ones. I have become quite familiar with US hi-tech channels and know that, after years of consolidation, there really are very few “bad” channels left. Rather, there are lots of poorly leveraged ones.

So I drew an analogy. If you had a consistently poorly performing sales person would you fire them and replace them? “Yes!” she said. Would you exit-interview them first? “Yes of course.” And if you found that the salesperson was not being paid, had never been put through an induction, had never been trained, had no incentives (financial or otherwise), received so sales, marketing or other support from your company…? What if you opened their briefcase and found no product information, pricing, collateral, sales tools and realized that you had failed to provide any? What if you had never actually communicated with the salesperson directly or managed their performance to give them a fighting chance of success? What then?

My point was and is that over the coming months, many vendors will be looking to implement channel renewal initiatives because when growth slows or stagnation sets in, it seems like an obvious solution. But it is one that rarely if ever pays dividends in my experience. “Firing” poorly performing partners (like poorly performing employees) should only be done as a last resort when you have genuinely taken every possible to help them to succeed. Recruitment is always costly, and should only be undertaken when you have a fully operational Partner Relationship Management strategy to automate and optimize the partner lifecycle.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.


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