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Channel Matters Blog > October 2013 > The Importance of Channel Alignment

The Importance of Channel Alignment

by Rich Blakeman
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Early in my career I was a systems engineer at IBM. I covered a territory that spanned western Minnesota and across North Dakota. I don’t know how many of you have driven across North Dakota, but there are a lot of really straight roads between places like Fargo and Dickinson—and not much else back in those days. I did my fair share of driving.

One of the things I'd do to amuse myself on these long trips was to test the alignment on my rental car. On some stretches of I94, when I took my hands off the wheel, my car could stay on the highway for at least a mile at a time before drifting toward the edge.

As I was reminiscing about the good old days with a colleague, it occurred to me how much partner channels are like rental cars.When your partner channel is properly aligned to your business strategy, even minor bumps in the road don’t cause much of a problem. However, when your channel is out of alignment, it can be exhausting. You need to keep a firm grip on your partners or your entire business can go flying off the edge of the road.

Just like the mechanic, channel leaders need the right tools to maintain alignment. One of these tools is the Market Map.

The Market Map takes into account market opportunity (e.g., market potential, market maturity, competitive landscape) along with business strategy (e.g., ideal channel type, product maturity, target markets) to determine the best coverage model. This tool can keep you from making common mistakes, like signing too many partners in a region or authorizing the wrong type of partner.

But even the best channel leader makes a mistake every now and then. At other times, changes are necessary as your business strategy evolves. Partners aren’t always so enamored with even their favorite vendors. Having a market map to guide you can keep these minor mistakes and necessary corrections from forcing you and your partner channel over the edge.

How is your map looking these days?

Channel Enablers has a number of resources for channel leaders looking to build an effective channel strategy. You can find more about our ChannelPRO™ methodology and Market Mapping by visiting our website or download additional channel success resources from the Partner Management Resource Center.

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