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Channel Matters Blog > July 2011 > Channel Priorities for the Next 60 Days

Channel Priorities for the Next 60 Days

by Greg Nutter
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As most channel professionals know, successful channel management activities follow an annual cycle: there’s a time to recruit, a time to launch and train, and a time to focus primarily on closing deals. For vendors located in the northern hemisphere, July and August are less than ideal to do many of these things, however there are important activities you must do if you want to make your year-end numbers.

A Time for Analysis

Summer is the hardest time to get sales rep or customer attention so it’s typically not the best time to launch new products or run marketing events. However, it’s the perfect time to analyze the past six months to understand what elements of your channel program have been working and which require change. If you set goals at the beginning of the year, in terms of the number of new resellers you were looking to sign or the amount of revenue per reseller you were hoping to achieve, now’s the time to compare actuals versus goals to see if you’re on track. Other great metrics to analyze include participation (are all resellers selling equally or are some doing much better than others), success with new products, or acceptance of new marketing programs or tools. Once you have some numbers you will want to schedule and conduct mid-year reviews with each of your key channel partners to share your analysis and gather their perspectives.

 

A Time for Planning

Another activity that is critical at mid-year is to update your joint partner plans to drive your balance of year business. Use your mid-year performance analysis along with input from your partners to refine, refocus, or change course on joint plans developed earlier in the year. Most technology companies recognize as much as half or more of their full year’s revenues in the last quarter of the year which means you want to make sure everything is firing on all cylinders come September.

Depending on the length of your sales cycle or other priorities there are three key things you can plan for:

  • First, if you have less than a 4 month sales cycle there’s still time to add new prospects to the funnel in time for a December close. So come September, you want to be ready with marketing events, customer engagement programs, and sales tools to help your partners quickly find and get in front of prospective customers.
  •  If your sales cycles are typically longer than 4 months, September is too late to start adding new prospects. Instead of prospecting, the partner programs you want to have ready are ones that help partners advance deals. Executive engagement, solution validation, and customer incentive programs are ideal ways to engage customer resources towards advancing the sale.
  • Finally, for companies looking to launch a major new product or marketing initiative in 2012, now is the time to begin planning and building the framework. Do you have the right partners, enablement processes, partner programs, and field management skills and processes to ensure these initiatives get off to a fast start? Successful launches take time so, at minimum, it’s best to plan in Q3 and build in Q4 if you want a successful start to the year.

The late John Preston from Boston College once said "The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, and is not preceded by a period of worry and depression". While this approach is certainly a common one, we recommend mid-year analysis and planning as a sure way to reduce your worry and depression come December.

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