Finding the key to unlocking sustainable channel growth

A padlock on a motherboard surrounded by keys

In an uncertain economy, where every business faces increased pressure to perform, it’s time to seize the opportunity inside your channel and make sure you’re maximising results. Every organisation wants a channel that’s capable, continually improving and focused on the future. In our work, however, with organisations of every shape and size, we see a significant problem time and time again. A lack of clarity in channel position and performance leads to paralysis, and you find yourself unable to plan for tomorrow if you don’t know where you are today.

It's a complex issue, and tricky to identify where to start. When you’re planning for long-term growth, it’s important to have an in-depth understanding of the current state of your channel and how you measure up against your competitors. For that, you need the visibility, insight and experience to strip your channel strategy back to its individual components to develop a clear roadmap for the future; not an easy task for overloaded Channel leaders.

It’s important to have a format to help represent a straightforward way to rate your channel maturity, allowing you to understand your current position and make more informed decisions on how to invest time, money and resources to deliver sustainable growth.

Revealing the value from your Channel

Across your channel operations, growth can be both a blessing and a curse. More partners mean more potential touchpoints with customers, increased activity to drive sales of your products and, ultimately, stronger performance. Sounds great right? But a growing channel is exponentially harder to monitor, manage and optimise. Leaders can struggle to understand their channel strengths and weaknesses, where the quick wins lie and what longer-term activities will deliver the most value.

As a result, we frequently see vendors with channels stuck in the middle stages of maturity. You don’t have to get caught in the quicksand of transformation stasis, however. Some quick and easy benchmarking tools, such as a channel assessment framework, can help you find out how to overcome that hump and continue your transformation.

Take note of today help transform tomorrow

Visibility is vital when it comes to continued transformation, which we’ve seen when working with one of our clients. Increasingly, strong channel operations are at the heart of the most competitive, high-performing organisations. This is because many businesses are coming to realise that a well-developed, expertly managed channel can be a remarkable tool to deliver huge returns.

It’s one thing, however, to say you’ll develop and grow your channel and another to actually do it. Without an informed strategy, it’s hard to know whether you’re truly maximising your resources. You must understand your channel activity across a number of distinct areas including revenue per partner, partner satisfaction, vertical specialisations and creation of marketplaces in order to see the investment that you’re making, where it’s targeted, and what it really delivers.

Achieving buy-in for your transformation

We know that internal visibility across channel operations needs to improve. We know that stronger intelligence can allow you to achieve more with the same or similar resources. But achieving buy-in from across your organisation is a challenge all of its own.

Getting financial and cultural investment for change means presenting a significant, pressing problem and finding an effective way to resolve it. Senior leaders, however, tell us they find it hard to clearly identify and highlight specific weaknesses in their channel strategy. It’s the old adage in full force: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Quite frankly, though, this is like burying your head in the sand. An industry-wide model for channel transformation will make it easier to show stakeholders what’s broken, and what the answer might look like.

Tom Perry is CEO of Sherpa