For many years (ever since I saw the film E.T.) I have believed that distance makes people more aware of what is going on back “home”.
As a Reseller (some say Partner), when you are exposed to the daily difficulties and dangers of life in the “Field”, trying to sell the right solution to your customer, you quickly become painfully aware of what your favorite Vendors should be doing to make you want to sell more of their products.
The frustrating part is that although you have often spent time and energy explaining these simple things to the Vendor’s Channel management team, you are either faced with empathy (and therefore frustration because your contacts cannot help you due to the bureaucratic nature of today’s global channel programmes) or a clear lack of understanding of what seems so simple to you.
As Channel Consultants, we then get hired to tell our Clients what they have already been told by their Partners:
- Channel Partners don’t all want Leads if they’re not qualified – but some do
- They don’t all want rebates (as opposed to upfront discount) but some do
- They don’t all want the Vendor to get involved with their customers – but some do
- They don’t all want to be able to service the Vendor’s products – but some do
- They don’t all want online sales training that takes their sales people off the road for 15 hours per month – but some do
Do you get the picture? Abraham Maslow, a famous motivational theorist once commented: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail.” We’ve all heard that one before…
So where did I get this E.T. thing from? Very simple: Vendor’s “Partners” often feel like E.T.: they feel they have been abandoned out in the field, they have been trying to phone home but just can’t get through to someone who will hear them out.
These days, any FMCG Marketing company is capable of sending a personalized direct mail piece to each one of 25,000 households in a database but our Channel Marketing organizations still seem to be trying to cram square channel pegs into round channel program holes, relentlessly applying Henry Ford’s famous “…you can have the Ford T in any color as long as its black…”
Instead of using the phenomenal power and flexibility provided by the hardware and software designed by our own industry, we are regressing, taking people out of the field to reduce costs, thus eliminating the only flexible stage of our relationship with our Channel Partners.
So is everybody doing it wrong? Thankfully not, but when you start probing your partners about who does it right, the same names always come up. And what they are doing is pretty basic: the empower the people who listen to what the Channel wants and they design sufficiently flexible programs and processes to delight more Channel Partners who can pick and choose what they like.