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Channel Matters Blog > July 2014 > Friend or Foe?

Friend or Foe?

by Jan de Leon
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I’ve only been at Channel Enablers a few short months, but I’ve already met dozens of our customers from all over the world: Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North and South America. If a channel organisation were to start on the continent of Antarctica, we’d probably have customers there, too. I’m looking forward to meeting many more of you – although if you decide to open an office near the South Pole perhaps we can hold our discussion here in Singapore.
 
For my first post, I thought I’d give my thoughts on a topic that is almost universal—conflict between channels.
 
In addition to putting in long days of strategizing and training, customer engagements offer us plenty of opportunities to unwind and get to know the organisations we work with on a more personal level. Regardless of what management told us ahead of time, this is when we get to see what really ails an organisation.
 
One of the biggest challenges I see is the animosity that exists between channel managers and territory managers. Even when dual credit is given for sales made through the channel, neither seems to want to have anything to do with the other. Sit down for a libation or two with either one of these two roles, and you’ll get an earful of adjectives like arrogant, uncooperative, and stubborn — with a colorful modifier or two added for emphasis.
 
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. — Nelson Mandela
 
All of us at Channel Enablers have been in their shoes, so believe me when I say, “we get it.” But as we look at the situation from the outside in, this has to be one of the most self-defeating attitudes found in any sales culture. Even if each of these professionals could reach success on their own, collaboration can multiply their efforts many times over.
 
There are lots of ways to address this issue. Our programs often bring both sides together and foster greater understanding. Management can put together policies and attempt to reward the right behaviors. Ultimately, however, these initiatives won’t change the attitudes and behaviors of individuals who see their counterpart as the enemy.
 
If you’re on either side of this losing battle, let me tell you the same thing I tell the channel manager or territory manager sitting across the cocktail table from me. The first move is yours.
 
 
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