I had the pleasure of attending Google Next in San Francisco recently. Being there as a partner participant was great to see how far Google has come in terms of how they work with partners and enterprise customers in general (a far cry to being sequestered in the Marina District). Here are some of my impressions.
There appears to be a national debate about “executive time” (see this article on Business Insider if you need to catch up). Like all debates, there will be many differing opinions. But I find this topic in line with some observations and thoughts I have been having about time management and executive effectiveness in general.
Quick question: Which would you expect to be better at managing their partnership portfolios? Professionally managed, metrics-focused software vendors (ISVs) who run their businesses like finely tuned machines? Or their channel partners - those scrappy, opportunistic SIs, MSPs and VARs?
I often work with clients to help them improve the performance of their channel programs. When speaking to channel managers and their partners about their experiences and preferences, it often surprises me how much of a gap there can be between perception and reality or even adherence to best practices.
One surprising area of difference between ISVs and their channel partners is how they manage their portfolios of partners.
By now your Finance team should be tallying up the orders, and the Sales teams have taken a well-deserved (but short) rest after a final push at the end of Q1. Now the reconciling takes place. Who made their quarterly number, and who didn’t? It’s easy to measure the performance of your inside or field sales team against goals. But are you doing the same thing when it comes to your channel?
Some people are quick to write off the Managed Service Provider (MSP) channel as dead. However, I don’t think anyone serious about selling to the SMB market should ignore this vibrant and evolving segment of the IT reseller channel.
The earliest that you should consider recruiting and working with channel partners is when you understand how to market, sell and service your solution. Okay, so you are ready to take your product to market through the channel for all the right reasons. But how do you recruit and sell through the channel?
Let’s assume that you have decided to take your solution to market through channel partners. Because early-stage companies are constrained for resources, we are rewarded for assigning resources to the right tactics, at the right time. When you engage with the channel is just as important as if you should sell through resellers.
Successful channel partnerships are hard work. Startup teams can be overwhelmed by inbound partnership requests, and either ignore them, or (perhaps worse) sign up everyone as partners without proper consideration. But the good news is that channel partners can efficiently accelerate your revenues with the right experience and strategies in place. Let’s first take a look at why startups should engage with channel partners.
We love applying sports analogies to business (“That was a home run…”). Everyone knows that startups are hard, and the comparison is made that “startups are like marathons, not sprints.” While I agree that startups are long distance events that demand skill and endurance, that’s where the comparison ends for me. Marathons are solitary events requiring runners to block out pain and overcome significant hurdles in order to achieve their goals. Startups, on the other hand, are naturally team events where everyone has to come together to achieve goals (or “milestones”). In my opinion rowing is a better metaphor for startups. Here’s why.
Ever notice how startups almost never have sales people on their founding teams? It is never too early to start thinking about a revenue model at your startup. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Without one, you won’t be able to execute on your vision.
It’s that time of year again, where people try to make New Year’s resolutions. Why do people go through the effort of making resolutions now? Perhaps its because they are taking the time with family and friends to reflect on the past year and what they want to achieve in the upcoming year. Or, they simply feel peer pressure to answer the question at midnight on New Years Eve. And why don't more businesses have a set of New Year's Resolutions?