Sometimes when I read my forum comments and blogs I hear an underlying negative tone.  I can’t help but wonder – am I really a half-empty negative kinda guy?

    Taking my introspective adventure deeper into the times that I feel frustrated I discover that it only occurs when I’m trying to be helpful – when I’m doing all I can to turn an unsuccessful reseller program around and overcome artificial obstacleseasily dismantled obstacles built on reseller motivational misunderstandings.  It’s easier to remove them than constantly work around them.

    Then it hits me, I have to be the contrarian, the concerned counterpoint.  What good purpose is served reinforcing the bad habits and misconceptions held by the leaders of failing Channel efforts.  I’m also reminded that in the first couple of months in a Channel development or turn-around effort that teaching the Vendor new behaviors and overcoming bad habits rooted in their beliefs can be more difficult than on-boarding a new partner.

    Since Channel partners behave in many ways like children, Channel mangers already know this, another aspect of the experienced Channel Manger’s job is to teach the Channel hopeful vendor good parenting skills along with establishing reasonable partner development expectations.

    This is where I could take the usual path and list the Top 10 of this or 5 most important of that; but in reality if the most common mistakes continue to be made on top of all the right things – the turnaround can not occur. 2 steps forward – 3 steps back…cha-cha-cha.

    So, let’s take a look at some of the most common and costly mistakes made by vendors with struggling Channels; and, if your reseller program is not being all that it can be perhaps you’ll recognize something here that your organization can sweep up and and dispose of.

    Top 5 Don’ts

    1. Don’t assume that your product(s) are Channel viable.  Not every product or service is suitable for partner sales, regardless of how hard you try.  If you haven’t made the commitment yet, take our Channels Readiness Quiz located in The VAR-City Downloads Locker – it’s self evaluating and full of useful information.
    2. Fail to Prepare – Before making your first prospecting call be sure to have all of your partner resources in place and ready to deliver – delays will kill you as the new partner’s enthusiasm wanes and the momentum slips away.  Absolute minimum requirements are sales and technical training (Certification process), partner sales and marketing kit to jump start their efforts, program tiering/segmentation and partner contracts.
    3. Fail to Commit – Expect a minimum of 6 months (that’s optimistic) before you begin seeing a positive trend.  Channels are not a short term fix to your revenue goals.  Set your goals on # of partners certified within 2 weeks of contract signing – if it’s a new Channel compensate your Channel Manager on achieving that goal (MBO).
    4. Underestimate your Partners – They probably know your industry and competitors (good chance they sell them) better than you do.  Can the smugness and listen…they’re close to your target user base and can help you.  Take the time to learn and understand the differences between customers and resellers – it’s big, and in many ways counter intuitive!
    5. Don’t Poach – Direct Channel Conflict was a serious problem for years but fortunately that trend has lessened in recent years.  Deal or Opportunity Registration has become a good way to reduce the problem.  It can still be an unintended consequence of web based sales and you’ll want to consider how your corporate initiatives will impact your resellers.
    If you’re doing any of these things, follow the excellent advice of Bob Newhart,and Stop It!

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