• Raman Devaprasad

Covering the last mile - What was true for Pre-COVID-19 holds more true Post Covid


Companies often bring out great products that have excellent value potential. Organizations commit themselves to customer-centric value propositions. It looks great on paper and PPTs and marketing collateral but the need to run the last mile with their ecosystem partners or Channel Partners almost always dilutes the customer value and defeats the efforts in the delivery of great customer experience.

As for most of us, a home appliance is hardly an impulsive purchase. With online resources available, we do enough research to narrow our choices down to a couple. In most cases, customers prefer to experience the touch and feel before the actual purchase despite them opting for purchase online or off-line. However, I can’t personally recall one instance where the Channel Partner has not offered me a ‘better’ alternative. This holds true for most of us and our buying decisions many a time are influenced and changed at the ‘buying zone’ or point of purchase.

Is your Channel Partner doing this for you? What motivates the Channel Partner, or the Channel Partner salesman to make a stronger pitch for a brand? Answers to these questions can make a huge difference to your success or the lack of it as a Channel Sales Manager.

Are you geared up for the new normal?

Customer’s value expectations will be better served by leveraging the value-add potential of the Channel Partner in addition to the intrinsic value in the product or solution offered by the manufacturer.

What are the channel partners’ key motivation to do business with you and your brand? Are you in a position to leverage these needs for a true and successful partnership? Are his goals in sync with yours?

How can you enable the required transformation in your channel partner’s business to address the challenges of the NEW NORMAL?

WHATEVER WAS TRUE PRE-COVID BECOMES EVEN MORE RELEVANT POST-COVID 19….

The fundamental building blocks of a symbiotic and successful relationship not only remains the same but will need further reinforcement.

With the obsession on maximizing revenue and profitability, Channel Partner managers often make the mistake of using Channel Partner partners as a convenient source of buffering with respect to business targets and objectives Is this the best option?

The key elements in optimizing Channel Partner building and optimizing Channel Partner partner capabilities

The 10 elements of a successful partnership:

1. Establishing TRUST: Most Channel Partner managers fall into the trap of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in managing Channel Partner partners. While the goals and objectives may appear different, a deeper analysis reveals that they are convergent. The understanding of this convergence can transform your Channel Partner relationships and consequently business outcomes. Once the common goals are established and recognized, this forms the basis of the mutual trust between you and the Channel partner.

2. Empathize: A clear understanding of challenges faced by your Channel Partner in the marketplace and recognition of the same is an absolute must. This will be the first step in addressing the challenge, that is common to both the Channel Partner and principal.

3. Re-affirm Joint commitment to customer value: Commitment to customer value pays off in terms of business success, be it in the short term or long term. 80% of the customer journey is in the Channel Partner domain and hence it is important that your Channel Partners are true partners in the commitment to deliver customer value.

4. Enable the channel partner’s business: Maximize channel partner potential by enabling access to training and access to Subject Matter Experts.

· Enable digitalization - Processes, sales monitoring and tracking, customer engagement, Micro market development, lead generation and aftermarket revenue opportunities.

· Jointly review & monitor sales, pipelines, value delivered, customer satisfaction Indices.

· Engage with Channel Partner staff – Formulate and implement, strong onboarding and early engagement.

· Motivate with Rewards & recognition.

5. Empower stakeholders: Empower you Channel partners and their team with clarity on goals, clear guidelines on dealing with customer expectations. Be consistent enough for them to get a good understanding and feel of the Go – No go criteria. Get their buy-in on the logic and rationale of your business decisions. Encourage them to be innovative while keeping the deliverables in perspective.

6. Co-Own: Ensure that the relationship is not transactional based on discounts or margins only. Focus on the Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) for the Channel Partner as well. Co-own their business for the optimal ROCE.

7. Be Consistent: Once you have formulated your to-market strategy for the territory jointly own it with your partner. You may not always get it right, but the partner should have the assurance that you will be with them, rain or shine. This brings out the best in them.

8. Address conflicts proactively: These may be channel conflicts, conflicts in customer expectations vs delivery, performance expectations vs market conditions. Do not undermine Channel Partner credibility, be it with the market or with your own organization.

9. Be responsive: Be it a business decision that must be made on the run, or a service issue that needs to be resolved urgently, don’t leave your partners to fend for themselves. These are opportunities to reinforce the strength of your brand and the benefits of being associated with you as a partner.

10. Get your feet dirty: Don’t be a backseat driver. Partners should realize and recognize that you understand their pains and celebrate their gains.

Adopting the 10 element Partnership Model has compelling Payoffs you cannot ignore….

While more than 60% of companies acknowledge that channel partners are the biggest contributors to their revenue, less than half of them have effective enablement strategies for the channel partners in terms of coaching, training and development. This results in suboptimal outcomes in terms of revenue, tapping of potential from sales opportunities, customer satisfaction and market share.

A well planned & implemented partner engagement strategy can lead to:

· High channel performance

· Increase in NPS for your brand

· Better customer value delivery

· Better business planning for you and your channel partner

· Better profitability for you and your channel partner

And last but not least, a good channel partner can be a key source of competitive advantage.

Companies often bring out great products that have excellent value potential. Organizations commit themselves to customer-centric value propositions. It looks great on paper and PPTs and marketing collateral but the need to run the last mile with their ecosystem partners or Channel Partners almost always dilutes the customer value and defeats the efforts in the delivery of great customer experience.

As for most of us, a home appliance is hardly an impulsive purchase. With online resources available, we do enough research to narrow our choices down to a couple. In most cases, customers prefer to experience the touch and feel before the actual purchase despite them opting for purchase online or off-line. However, I can’t personally recall one instance where the Channel Partner has not offered me a ‘better’ alternative. This holds true for most of us and our buying decisions many a time are influenced and changed at the ‘buying zone’ or point of purchase.

Is your Channel Partner doing this for you? What motivates the Channel Partner, or the Channel Partner salesman to make a stronger pitch for a brand? Answers to these questions can make a huge difference to your success or the lack of it as a Channel Sales Manager.

Are you geared up for the new normal?

Customer’s value expectations will be better served by leveraging the value-add potential of the Channel Partner in addition to the intrinsic value in the product or solution offered by the manufacturer.

What are the channel partners’ key motivation to do business with you and your brand? Are you in a position to leverage these needs for a true and successful partnership? Are his goals in sync with yours?

How can you enable the required transformation in your channel partner’s business to address the challenges of the NEW NORMAL?

WHATEVER WAS TRUE PRE-COVID BECOMES EVEN MORE RELEVANT POST-COVID 19….

The fundamental building blocks of a symbiotic and successful relationship not only remains the same but will need further reinforcement.

With the obsession on maximizing revenue and profitability, Channel Partner managers often make the mistake of using Channel Partner partners as a convenient source of buffering with respect to business targets and objectives Is this the best option?

The key elements in optimizing Channel Partner building and optimizing Channel Partner partner capabilities

The 10 elements of a successful partnership:

1. Establishing TRUST: Most Channel Partner managers fall into the trap of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in managing Channel Partner partners. While the goals and objectives may appear different, a deeper analysis reveals that they are convergent. The understanding of this convergence can transform your Channel Partner relationships and consequently business outcomes. Once the common goals are established and recognized, this forms the basis of the mutual trust between you and the Channel partner.

2. Empathize: A clear understanding of challenges faced by your Channel Partner in the marketplace and recognition of the same is an absolute must. This will be the first step in addressing the challenge, that is common to both the Channel Partner and principal.

3. Re-affirm Joint commitment to customer value: Commitment to customer value pays off in terms of business success, be it in the short term or long term. 80% of the customer journey is in the Channel Partner domain and hence it is important that your Channel Partners are true partners in the commitment to deliver customer value.

4. Enable the channel partner’s business: Maximize channel partner potential by enabling access to training and access to Subject Matter Experts.

· Enable digitalization - Processes, sales monitoring and tracking, customer engagement, Micro market development, lead generation and aftermarket revenue opportunities.

· Jointly review & monitor sales, pipelines, value delivered, customer satisfaction Indices.

· Engage with Channel Partner staff – Formulate and implement, strong onboarding and early engagement.

· Motivate with Rewards & recognition.

5. Empower stakeholders: Empower you Channel partners and their team with clarity on goals, clear guidelines on dealing with customer expectations. Be consistent enough for them to get a good understanding and feel of the Go – No go criteria. Get their buy-in on the logic and rationale of your business decisions. Encourage them to be innovative while keeping the deliverables in perspective.

6. Co-Own: Ensure that the relationship is not transactional based on discounts or margins only. Focus on the Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) for the Channel Partner as well. Co-own their business for the optimal ROCE.

7. Be Consistent: Once you have formulated your to-market strategy for the territory jointly own it with your partner. You may not always get it right, but the partner should have the assurance that you will be with them, rain or shine. This brings out the best in them.

8. Address conflicts proactively: These may be channel conflicts, conflicts in customer expectations vs delivery, performance expectations vs market conditions. Do not undermine Channel Partner credibility, be it with the market or with your own organization.

9. Be responsive: Be it a business decision that must be made on the run, or a service issue that needs to be resolved urgently, don’t leave your partners to fend for themselves. These are opportunities to reinforce the strength of your brand and the benefits of being associated with you as a partner.

10. Get your feet dirty: Don’t be a backseat driver. Partners should realize and recognize that you understand their pains and celebrate their gains.

Adopting the 10 element Partnership Model has compelling Payoffs you cannot ignore….

While more than 60% of companies acknowledge that channel partners are the biggest contributors to their revenue, less than half of them have effective enablement strategies for the channel partners in terms of coaching, training and development. This results in suboptimal outcomes in terms of revenue, tapping of potential from sales opportunities, customer satisfaction and market share.

A well planned & implemented partner engagement strategy can lead to:

· High channel performance

· Increase in NPS for your brand

· Better customer value delivery

· Better business planning for you and your channel partner

· Better profitability for you and your channel partner

And last but not least, a good channel partner can be a key source of competitive advantage.


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