By now the holidays are becoming a distant memory and it is either the beginning of a new financial year for some, or the run to the finish for others. Welcome to 2009, a year that will undoubtedly have its share of ups and downs – hopefully more ups if some structured channel planning is put in place now.
Part of the holiday tradition is of course New Years’ resolutions. The problem is that these resolutions get made in conjunction with plenty of holiday “spirit” and any real commitment can be fuzzy.
But regardless of the success of your personal resolutions, now is the ideal time to be making “channel resolutions”. With people fresh after a holiday break, what about applying some new thinking to your plans, and tackling the potential uncertainty of 2009 head-on?
For those going into the second half of a financial year, have you developed a contingency strategy in the event things don’t end up matching the plans you made well before the economic meltdown materialised? Have you set yourself up for failure because you made a commitment some time last year that now can’t be delivered on? The reasons why you don’t deliver are generally long forgotten, regardless of whether you are a vendor, distributor or reseller, but not the fact that a commitment was broken.
Especially in times of uncertainty, everybody in the channel is looking for direction and/or leadership. This can relate to a business case or a sustainable engagement model, and proof that this direction can be consistently delivered on. Let your partners know where you are focusing and why, and then ensure you can execute to achieve this vision.
This also entails identifying what needs to improve, as well as working through a number of “what ifs” to ensure plans are realistic and achievable. 2009 may not turn out be all doom and gloom, it’s what you make it. Here are a couple of channel planning ideas to consider.
For vendors and distributors, review your reseller portfolio and rank by both product type and revenue. Then check to see if the resources you are allocating are in proportion to both the returns and your 2009 goals. Are your resources skewed to the “usual suspects” and is there enough allocated to encourage the next tier of resellers to engage with you?
For resellers, vendors want to leverage your customer base, but rarely do they receive a simple sales and marketing plan they feel comfortable funding. The first step is to sit down with your vendor rep and understand their (revised) 2009 goals. Secondly, your plan should be in writing. Include who you are targeting, how you will achieve this, how much it will cost or what resources you require, and what is the return to the vendor, i.e. new customers, dollars in new revenue and when you plan on delivering.
Why not get 2009 off to a successful start with a resolution you can keep and work on your channel plans, rather than just doing more of the same.