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Channel Matters Blog > January 2015 > Is your channel thinking internal or external?

Is your channel thinking internal or external?

by Rich Blakeman
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Channel Thinking

Partner conference planning, territory mapping, target setting...this is the time of year when sales leaders get stuck in meeting after meeting. Think about all of the meetings you've attended just in January. What percent of the time were you focused on partners vs. internal business? I'd estimate that most businesses spend 80 percent or more of their time focused on themselves this month.

Right now, some of you are probably patting yourself on the back, thinking that you're obviously doing better than many of your peers. But are you really?


To illustrate what I mean, let's take a look at a typical partner conference planning meeting. First, the team runs through the new products the company plans to roll out in the coming year and slots sessions to educate the partners and get them excited about the new opportunities. Then they create a list of all the products that they think the partners need more training on and add them to the conference agenda. They might also work with marketing to create a slew of promotions that will encourage the partners to focus on the products that could use a boost. Once they fill the product sessions, they start reaching out to executive management to fill the keynote slots. They're careful not to miss anyone, so no egos get damaged. Finally, they come up with a list of headline speakers that they think will inspire the partners and assign someone to do the research to see if the organization can afford their fees.


Sure, in all that planning, there's plenty of time spent talking about partners, but did the team ever reach out to the partners to see what they wanted to get out of the next conference? At best, they probably glanced back at last year's evaluations to see what ideas the partners managed to scribble in as they were hurrying to catch their flight.


Did your partners meet their objectives?

Let's take a look at another example of internal thinking. This time of year, I like to ask business leaders if the partners met their objectives last year. I usually get answers that range from "We missed our quotas by a mile!" to "We really blew the numbers out of the water." Unfortunately, those responses don't answer the question I asked. I wanted to know if the partners met their objectives, not whether they met the vendor's objectives.


While it's important to focus on your revenue numbers, it's not a good indicator of channel health. You can have tremendous year-over-year growth, but if your partners aren't meeting their own objectives, you're going to have a channel that's constantly on the verge of a mutiny.


We've talked about planning with partners a lot this year so I won't go into detail here. Let me just say that you need to know what your partner's objectives are to know whether or not they've met them. The bottom line is that when we talk about

partners, we often delude ourselves into thinking that we're focusing on our partners needs when, most of the time, we're just focusing on our own.

Last modified on 1/26/2015 11:16:39 AM
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