Recruiting new channel partners can be an overwhelming process. There is so much advice, so many priorities and so many checklists to be thought through.
Yet few executive teams take this opportunity to ensure that any new channel reseller that they do eventually hire will fit into the company’s overall long-term business strategy. What niche will they dominate at that point? Which competitors will they have acquired and what strategic alliances will they have formalised? Most importantly, what are the strategic gaps that they need to work on right now to ensure they will have achieved that winning position in five or ten years time?
As we know, much can happen in a five-year period. The days of purely deliberate strategic planning are gone. Best practice now suggests a combination of planned and emergent strategies (Henry Mintzberg can explain more on this!). But executive teams do need to use a formal framework and strategy tools in order to help them plan for their assured long-term global domination!
A comprehensive review of all of the tools is beyond the scope of this article, so instead I will focus on three that we find most useful in helping vendors ensure that their channel reseller recruitment strategy is aligned with the over-arching business strategy:
This is an excellent tool for analysing the macro external environment in a structured way. The acronym represents the six elements to be considered:
- Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental
Depending on your industry and focus, some companies also include “G” for Governmental. It is important to highlight that “Social” is not just social media. It is the entire range of influences from wider society.
The way to use P.E.S.T.L.E is to consider both the importance and trajectory of factors within each element. For example, in the U.S. there will soon be a newly elected Republican President and a Republican-controlled Senate. How do you expect that “Political” factor to impact on government spending over the next four years? Could that affect your business in a strategically important way? Does it present an opportunity or a threat? Or perhaps it is not a particularly important factor for your company at all.
P.E.S.T.L.E is useful in helping you paint a picture of how the world might look for your company in five years time, and help identify any waves that you might ride to accelerate your growth. It can also help identify threats and obstacles and give you breathing space to decide how you will deal with them in a planned way.
Most people will have at least heard of S.W.O.T analysis and many will have come across it through their IT channel management training. I find it to be a very useful way to link the analysis of the external environment (as we did with P.E.S.T.L.E) and the internal environment within the company. S and W stand for Strengths and Weaknesses and represent the internal aspect of the company while O and T are the external factors representing Opportunities and Threats facing the company.
3. GE Matrix
Once the company’s strengths and weaknesses have been mapped out against the external opportunities and threats we can start to look at how the company might “play to win” in the future. The General Electric Matrix is a wonderful tool to bring all of this together and help the executive team to decide which market segments they want to dominate in five years’ time, what strengths they will use to get there, and most importantly, what strengths they need to build in the meantime if they are to get there.
The GE matrix uses two axes. The vertical displays how attractive a market segment is to the company, while the horizontal shows the company’s current strength in that segment. The matrix is simply a tool, so you can use it for a single product, a business unit, or your company as a whole.
The GE Matrix is helpful in identifying “Strategic Fit” (matching your current strengths to specific market segments) and more importantly, “Strategic Gap”. The Gap helps the executive team to identify a market segment that is highly valuable to them, but where they have more work to do in order to be able to win there potentially using a channel reseller. It helps identify additional investment and resources that will need to be put in place over the intervening years in order for the company to be able to dominate that particular segment.
So once you get into planning mode, don’t just stop at the next five years. Recruit a channel reseller that will support your overall business strategy for the long-term.
About the Channel Institute
The Channel Institute is the only training body in the world that provides business training and certification specifically for the channel profession through a syllabus validated by a vendor-independent Industry Advisory Council. The Institute currently offers three certificate courses supporting channel managers, channel marketers and channel resellers:
- The Certificate in Channel Management
- The Certificate in Channel Sales
- The Certificate in Channel Marketing
- The Certificate in Digital Co-Marketing
The Channel Institute also licenses its course content to universities and vendor training academies to bolster their channel training libraries.
More information: https://www.channelinstitute.com/