Our November Tradewinds Council © https://www.jimthomasintl.com/the-tradewinds-councilcopy.html meeting discussion centered on best practices of Channel Partner programs. It was interesting that two of our members, iconic 100 year old Minnesota companies, cited updated major Channel Partner programs in the past few years. The changes were centered on achieving higher revenues and an improved customer experience.
Most channel changes made are reactive and are in response to underperformance. Successful channel transitions are usually the result of a proactive channel strategy that has been effectively communicated and implemented. Most manufacturers find out that having fewer, but more devoted distributors is most effective. Mindshare and time share are the critical elements for partner success. https://www.jimthomasintl.com/blog/the-key-attribute-for-distributor-recruitment.
Fear of the unknown usually prevents a principal from making a change in channel partners. Therefore, a change management plan must be executed to avoid potential disruption to the customer base. The risks may also include:
Channel transitions take time and careful planning to minimize disruption. Objective measurements, clear communications and shared execution can minimize disruption to affected parties. It is also important to remember to address the fallout to other affected parties e.g. other channel partners as distributors tend to share principals.
There are three critical parts to the transition plan that must be developed:
These are tough conversations to have with partners so keep them professional, not personal. It is best for your local reps to have those conversations as they are principal internal driver and have the most to gain from the changes. My most contentious and challenging channel transitions have occurred in Latin America.
At a minimum, as part of your due diligence you’ll want to:
There are many other nits to work out, e.g. web site contact data, blanket PO’s, but these can be part of your overall change management process.
Do you want to have a free fifteen-minute call on improving channel partner programs? We have built checklist and contingency plans from prior dealings so you don’t have to build one from a standpoint of inexperience. Sign up on my web site or contact me directly by phone.