AchieveUnite’s Channel Strategy in a Challenger Company Series is a three-part series aiming to help you overcome the challenge and step into transformation. 

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” – Oprah Winfrey

Before we dive into how to implement channel strategy in a ‘challenger company,’ it would probably be helpful to review if your company falls into the ‘challenger’ category. Let’s start with the 5 statements below:

  • Your company is not the giant industry leader or #2 player
  • Your company, division or team does not have the recognized brand name externally or internally
  • Your company, division or team has to build from a small, medium or nonexistent channel partner base
  • Your division or team is anywhere from medium with some structure to nonexistent and team and structure must be created.
  • You have been given responsibility to build/expand the cloud initiative or division within the company

If you are nodding your head ‘yes’ while reading the above statements, then you know you’re in the right blog post. In a series of 3 posts we are going to focus on how to implement a channel strategy in a challenger organization by reviewing 1. The challenge, 2. The plan, and 3. The result.

How do you overcome the initial challenge of this implementation? Luckily, we have outlined some channel chief lessons learned to help you learn from those previously in your exact shoes, well perhaps not exactly your shoes- but you get the point.

  • Lesson 1: Cross-functional buy-in and alignment is critical. Work with all of the functions of your organization to ensure they understand the reasons and benefits of your channel strategy.
  • Lesson 2: Capitalize on market, industry and company opportunities for wedges. As a challenger organization, it’s important to find those niche areas where your strategy will be the shiny, new penny in the bunch.
  • Lesson 3: Leadership by influence is transparency/ trust. Gain trust across your organization by being proactive and transparent with your strategy.
  • Lesson 4: Senior-level sponsorship early and top down. Work with your fellow leaders, higher management, board members and executives to embrace the necessary implementation.
  • Lesson 5: Create a partnering-centric culture. Especially if a channel strategy is a new focus for your company, you will need to alter the culture to match.
  • Lesson 6: Persistence: repetition, recognition, celebration and partner speak. Keep your eye on the ball- the channel strategy ball, of course. Speak your goals internally often so the organization continues to get on board and get excited about the future of your channel plans.

Just as we have learned from those Channel Chief lessons, we have also learned – through our experiences at AchieveUnite and former organizations and through our clients – the key elements of partnering success.  When doing a transformation, these elements will allow a challenger organization to baseline where you are and prioritize these elements into a phased plan.

  • Partner program framework elements
  • A partner centric organization (DNA)
  • Success drives opportunity & investment
  • Documented channel strategy & objectives
  • Partner value proposition & profit model

Finally, when you are able to implement the phased plan- based on the above elements- you can now gauge where you are on your pillars of growth.

  • Pillar 1: Focus on growing your top line revenues. Implement your channel plan and recruit key partners
  • Pillar 2: Engage and empower your partners. Develop regional model and/or a global-hybrid model, form alliances, score the partner performance and continue tracking.
  • Pillar 3: Mature the ecosystems- remember this is the age-old topic of quality versus quantity. Be sure to segment and align partners. Improve the feedback loop of measurement to your partners
  • Pillar 4: Maximize the ROI. Smarter channel management is now possible- analyze partner profitability, track ROI versus targets and optimize what you can, assess and optimize the channel spend and cost-to-serve models. This is the pillar where you learn through data developed in the first 3 pillars.

As we have now determined and began to overcome the challenge, in our next series’ post we can determine how to implement the plan. Stay tuned for part 2, which will review partner types- routes to market, strategy overview and the path to success.

Ready to take the next steps to transform your channel strategy? Reach out to us today. We can help!