Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Channel Strategy: Facing The Facts

As I watched the election results last night, three things stood out. First, despite thousands of polls, neither side really knew how it would turn out. Second, once it was clear how it would turn out last night, the Kerry camp was unwilling to face reality of over 130,000 votes in Ohio. Finally, today they spin about what happened with little connection to the facts.

I see a similarity in channels. Many companies are blind when it comes to the actual performance of their channels. Worse, when faced with negative news, they first ignore it and then try to explain why it wasn't their fault. Novell's redefinition of the server market in the 90's was a great example of this "head in the sand" approach. Obviously, this approach has no positive impact on a company's channel sales.

The only way to build long-term successful channels is to increase accountability for channel performance. When confronted with negative news (or sales), proactively change your program and interaction with the channel. This usually requires an objective, outside assessment of the situation. Internal staff usually are too close to the past programs and strategies to accept the dramatic changes required to adapt to new market conditions.

Our prescription for companies faced with bad election-night news is to make an objective assessment of the situation, conduct new research on channel requirements, make strategic changes to their programs and change the approach in the field to drive the change into action. Fortunately, unlike an election, decisive action in the channel can turn an underperforming channel around in 3 to 6 months instead of 4 years.

The Channel Pro

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