6 Alarm signals from the channel ...

30 May 2022
6 Alarm signals from the channel ...

... make the boards nervous!

A quintessence from more than 20 years of work in many channel organisations.

Guest article by Michael Nowarra, ChannelXperts Ambassador

Even in times of change and great uncertainty, every software manufacturer can build a truly strategic, high-performance channel. But it can just as easily squander this opportunity.

If you as a CEO, COO or CSO hear the following statements from your channel team, it is time to get nervous. Because then you most likely have a problem. But the solution - as you're about to read - is surprisingly simple and quick to implement. There are only 3 small steps, but they have a big effect.

Patient Channel - 6 alarms:

The requirements for a "strategic" channel can be specified very precisely, are universal and always apply. However, the rules of the game according to which such a channel functions, is built up and managed have changed substantially in recent years. With disruptive potential!

If you hear the following from the channel team, it is reasonable to suspect that your channel organisation may not be quite "up to speed", not quite playing by the prevailing rules:

  1. It's because of our solution (competitive products, function & features and the like).
  2. It's all down to marketing (campaigns, collaterals, events, lead generation and the like).
  3. We need more staff and they are hard to come by.
  4. It's because of the margins and WKZs we offer.
  5. The partners are to blame (disinterest, little commitment, no investment, they don't understand, and the like.
  6. That's just the way it is (market, competition, 80/20 rule, plannability, change, uncertainty and the like).

The consequences can sometimes be quite dramatic. Here are just the most important ones:

  • The company does not act creatively in the market, but only swims along,
  • Sales, customers, partners, projects, access to customer segments and markets: all behind the possibilities and all too often dependent on luck or chance,
  • Waste of resources (staff, money, time) on a grand scale,
  • increasing vulnerability to ever stronger competition, which can lead to the "silent" but de facto death of a partnership. 


Thank God homemade

What seems annoying at first glance is good news at second glance: most difficulties are home-made!

The main causes are:

  • The channel is one "big family": almost all manufacturers operate their channel almost identically, and have done so for many years. With a few exceptions (the emergence of the SaaS business model!), hardly any conceptual development, hardly any adaptation, hardly any differentiation.
  • Most channel staff have grown up and socialised in this family. The main career changes are occasional moves to other manufacturers.
  • The channel managers I have met in the last 20 years have worked their way up from partner account manager positions to management positions thanks to good performance. Here, too, there is little prospect of new blood!
  • The education and training programmes of the manufacturers reinforce this phenomenon.

And yet there is reason for hope: if problems are home-made, you can solve them yourself!

Just not within the family! To quote Einstein again:

"You can never solve problems with the same mindset
that created them."

CEOs, COOs and CSOs set the tone 

The key lies in the "from outside" and "from above".

"from above":

The initiative for targeted impulses and concepts appropriate to the time lies with the CEO, CSO or COO. They are responsible for strategies, turnover, markets, budgets/costs, the external image of the company or cooperation between the individual divisions. But also because in times of change and increasing uncertainty, customers, partners, investors and employees expect "conceptual leadership"!

"from the outside":

When times and thus the rules of the game change, new perspectives, views, insights, ideas, impulses and recipes are necessary. Since these rarely (can) come from within, they have to be brought into the company from outside.

We recommend that CEOs, COOs and CSOs take three simple steps: quickly and condensed

  1. acquire up-to-date and relevant knowledge about the channel business (channel know-how for board members),
  2. to get an overview of the concrete situation of the own channel (partner and team) within the framework of a quick assessment, and then
  3. to have a master plan for concrete measures developed by external experts.

For a free Quick Assessment offer from Michael Nowarra in partnership with ChannelXperts you can here register.

About the author

Michael Nowarra has been working as a consultant for CEOs, COOs and CSOs of a large number of very different software manufacturers for over 20 years. He develops channel concepts for recruitment and management for them and also implements them hands-on. In his work, he is always driven by three questions: What has changed? What works best? How can I make my findings useful for each of my clients? His motto: The view from the outside, but always right in the middle!


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