Most companies consider Channel programs to reach new accounts, geographies or vertical markets and start their planning based on potential Channel Sales volume. Planning and execution then quickly progresses to recruiting, enablement and sales activities. More often than not, one or two years into the program Channel revenue is below expectations and management is looking for a fix.
Part of the answer usually lies in the work that wasn’t done when the company decided to incorporate Channels into their Go to Market strategy. They didn’t understand that any misalignment between your existing GTM strategy and your Channel strategy almost always results in lower than expected revenue and profit. The easy way is to assume there is enough alignment to succeed. The right way is to take a close look at your Product Strategy, Marketing Strategy and Sales Model and determine what fits the Channel and what doesn’t.
1. Product Strategy Alignment
Does your product have the functionality, completeness and ease of use required by the markets and customers you’re asking your Channel Partners to address? For example, smaller companies may require less functionality and have higher ease of use requirements than your traditional markets. Understanding the differences early on in the process may lead to short term packaging adjustments or creating new service offerings for the Channel.
2. Marketing Strategy Alignment
How does Marketing position, price and promote your product? For example, if you’ve typically marketed to the F2000 but are expecting your Channel Partner’s to sell to medium sized businesses there will be a significant gap across all aspects of your marketing mix that need to be addressed.
3. Sales Model Alignment
The most basic question is whether or not you have a repeatable sales model. If not, then enabling your Channel Partner’s to sell your solution will take extra time and support. If you do, make sure it applies to whatever set of markets and customers your Partners will be selling.
Companies don’t need complete alignment between their existing Go to Market Strategy and their Channel program to get off to a good start. But being aligned in the most important areas for their business and their partners will increase the likelihood of hitting your revenue targets.