Channel Call

The ABCs of a Productive Channel

This isn't rocket science. Lay out a plan by week, by month, by quarter and by year for all of your communications and then execute that plan.

Last month we discussed the basic things that must be addressed with a channel. Recently, we completed a really fantastic project with the Cloud Champions group within the Microsoft U.S. subsidiary. The purpose of this project was to help partners accelerate into (and through) the cloud by focusing on sales, marketing and operational tactics. Like this project, companies should really get back to the basics with their sales, marketing and operations.

The reason is this: Perfect execution of the basics will create highly productive organizations.

Sales Basics
If you really want your sales revenue to soar, you'll need your salespeople to be firing on all cylinders. In order for this behavior to be occurring, make sure your compensation plans are robust and that you're rewarding the correct behaviors.

Next, take a detailed approach to your sales processes and make sure these processes map to reality. For instance, in moving to the cloud, the reality was that up to a certain seat level, Microsoft partners needed to quickly qualify and then submit a proposal, as customers at that particular threshold acted quicker than those at a slightly higher seat-count level. This was the reality of the sales process and partners need to map into the reality.

Let's assume you've given your sales folks great compensation plans and that you've aligned your sales processes. The next basic thing you need to do is align your personnel to their strengths. If a salesperson is better at complex sales, make sure she's involved with products and services that are more complex. Conversely, if a salesperson has a propensity for subscription-oriented opportunities, make sure that person represents products and services to match.

Marketing Basics
Good marketing drives sales. I would add one more word to that statement and that's "consistent": Good and consistent marketing drives sales. In order for marketing to really work, it must be consistent and must create cadence week over week and month over month. This isn't rocket science. Lay out a plan by week, by month, by quarter and by year for all of your communications and then execute that plan. Regarding that cloud project I've mentioned, resellers who had a marketing plan laid out as described here were producing more leads than resellers who didn't.

Today's business climate requires resellers to think outside the box with their marketing. With this said, those resellers who have started implementing campaigns around thought leadership are doing exactly that. Creating a natural "gravity" of customers to the reseller requires the market to view the reseller as an expert in something. The key here is that this is a campaign, not a one-time event or single e-mail.

In order to be truly effective with all your marketing, you must make sure you plan it out. You should include everything from weekly e-mails and promotions to your more-involved and multipronged thought leadership campaigns. Recently, we surveyed several resellers and we were quite surprised by the number of them who didn't thoroughly plan their marketing over the next month, quarter and year. Master this basic task and you'll be ahead of the curve.

Operational Basics
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Ever hear that phrase? If not, then commit it to memory because it holds a lot of truth! When referencing the work in the cloud area, it became utterly apparent to us that resellers needed to put in place the necessary mechanisms to analyze their effectiveness in selling and marketing, because the cloud paradigm necessitated this. List all the important sales and marketing indicators for your business and then start tracking them. It's that simple. •

About the Author

Keith Lubner is managing partner of Channel Consulting Corp., a N.J.-based global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies.