Are you Igniting your Channel Partners?
Recently the Channel Maven team attended a leadership workshop by Sal Silvester based on his book Ignite! The 4 Essential Rules for Emerging Leaders. The book is a leadership allegory of two emerging leaders learning to develop a successful leadership strategy. Ignite and Sal’s leadership workshop focused on 4 elements of leadership: Lead by Example, Align your Team, Build Cohesion, and Engage and Cultivate. Being a channel-oriented organization, we could not help but think of a few lessons the channel could take away from these elements.
Lead by Example. Are you modeling the right behaviors for your channel partners? In Ignite the question is posed, “Would you work for you?” Both with your direct employees and with your channel partners, how can you personally step-up your ability to cultivate trust and credibility? Both personally and as an organization, are you committed to your guiding principles? (Do you even know what they are?) A few years back, we wrote a blog with the question for vendors, as you ask for more are you giving more? As you step up your partner specialization requirements and other partner challenges, are you giving more to your partners? Effective leaders (in or out of the channel) do not ask for things they would not do themselves. So get clear on your values and take inventory of your current partner relationships. Where can you show your partners that you walk your talk?
Align your Team. Your channel partners are a valuable part of your sales team, so make sure you are treating them as such. Whether discussing partner tiers, company values, or even a product or service, be sure that your communication with your partners is clear and two-way. Be sure that your partners can reach you by traditional means (phone, email) and more importantly train them to use social media as a means of two-way communication about your goals (and your partners’ goals). When outlining partner tier requirements and other partner goals, be sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable Actionable, Realistic, and Time-oriented). Create and communicate your business vision to help align your channel partners with your goals.
Build Cohesion. How clear is your message? Have you created a climate of open communication, trust and respect? If your channel partners want to reach you, is it easy? Train your channel partners to learn about your products/services through new media such as social media, webinars, video trainings and online events. Channel Maven provides a series of complementary webinars to help you train your partners to spread a cohesive message. Continually solicit feedback from your channel partners to build a two-way dialogue and help you to refine your message and build a cohesive channel sales team. Make it easy for your partners to engage in a Successful Channel Program.
Engage and Cultivate. What incentives are in place to reward and recognize your partners? While financial bonuses are nice, people like recognition (this goes for your partners too). What small ways of recognizing and motivating your partners can you provide? Consider congratulating partners when they move up a tier or earn a specialization on your social media. Furthermore, how are you encouraging learning and development? Start by reviewing our free eBook Are Your Solution Provider Engaging on steps about how to better engage your solution providers and help them to become the sales and marketing engine you want them to be. Are you offering your partners the resources for them to become better marketers?