New in town? Welcome to your new role in channels.
No doubt you want to make a great first impression. But what if we told you there were steps you can take to achieve more? Better still, what if we said you can begin taking these steps today? You can with this three-step primer.
Follow the steps below and you will absolutely win your first 30 days on the job.
Before you begin, keep in mind that everything that follows is designed to help you and your organization develop something called a Vision, Strategy and Execution (VSE) framework for channels.
If you’re not familiar, a VSE is essentially a plan for helping professionals like you identify where you want to go, how you can get there, and what specific steps you can take along the way.
If you were planning a vacation, you might think of your Vision as your destination, your Strategy as your budget and travel plans, and your Execution steps as your dates of travel, transportation details and daily agenda.
Your vacation VSE, in other words, could be the following:
Before jetting off to Rome or anywhere else, let’s get you started on your new channels job. (For a complete roadmap, don’t miss our “Definitive Guide for New Channel Chiefs.” It’s designed to help you define a VSE for understanding, planning, and executing steps that will increase your probability of achieving success in your first 180 days.)
To help you defy expectations in your first 30, we recommend the following:
Step One: Familiarize yourself with the surroundings
While the preceding might sound obvious, you’d be surprised how many executives fail to prioritize this important step. Eager to get started quickly, headstrong leaders do not take the time to thoroughly understand their company’s products or services, it’s go-to-market strategies and competitive challenges. A good place for you to start is with your own executive management team. Get on the calendar of your leaders quickly. This includes everyone who has influence if not responsibility over sales, finances, product delivery, marketing and customer service. In between meetings with your organization’s leaders, pore over your company’s website. Study your company’s language and learn its taxonomy. Also take note of how often it communicates with the outside world and how.
If you don’t take these steps within your first two weeks, you could have trouble later getting buy-in for any programmatic changes that may be required. What is more, taking the time to familiarize yourself with your company’s history, deliverables and culture will go a long way to helping you understand the types of partners it engages, the programs it offers and the receptivity they enjoy in the market.
Bonus tip: Take note of little things. Do employees lock their doors or office desks? If so, that could be a sign that your company has trust issues. Do people leave food containers in conference rooms? That could be a sign of arrogance. Even little things convey insights. Monitors with Post-it Notes filled with passwords can indicate a lackadaisical attitude about security. Unused videoconferencing equipment collecting dust in a corner could suggest a lack of follow-though on initiatives.
Step Two: Gauge the strength of your team and its expectations
After you fill out HR forms and introduce yourself to your new team, you’re going to want to get a sense of its strengths and weaknesses. A review of past performance appraisals will offer some insights, but you’re likely to get a better understanding of team member capabilities by reviewing their recent performance. Find out what their individual goals are, and how they are compensated.
Also, ask them about their levels of satisfaction, stress and motivation. Make sure to ask if any team member applied for your job and whether any team member is currently looking for another position elsewhere. If you get the sense that there is widespread job dissatisfaction among your new team, recognize that team members may not see you as an agent of change but a supporter of the status quo, instead. In such cases, it’s best to set realistic expectations and not over-promise.
Another management must: determine the level of truthfulness and candor of your team. From the start, you’re going to want to know what’s working and what isn’t. If your team has been conditioned by punishment to avoid the truth, then overcoming your challenges will be doubly difficult. You must foster a safe environment where the good, the bad and ugly are treated with equal respect.
Bonus tip: With Covid-related lockdowns coming to an end, workplace norms are once again likely to change. Set workplace guidelines quickly but take into account that some personnel disruptions are likely to outlive the pandemic by quite some time.
Step Three: Learn the tools you have and what your industry’s best relies on
If you believe that this three-step plan is another take on people, process and technology assessment, then congratulations; it is — albeit localized to channels and channels management. So let’s turn to technology and automation used to help manage, enable and reward partners.
Not long ago, partner management was more art than science. But those days are gone, say leading market experts including Jay McBain, a technology industry analyst who studies channels at Forrester Research. Among other things, McBain tracks investments world-class organizations make in partner automation platforms. His assessment: “Ecosystems don’t run on spreadsheets.”
Instead, they run on world-class partner platforms that automate everything from onboarding to training and certification to through channel marketing. More than three-quarters of those who have invested in world-class partner automation platforms say their organizations enjoy a competitive advantage as a result. And nearly a third say that have enjoyed revenue growth since adopting a partner relationship management (PRM) platform.
Which brings us to your company: In your first 30 days, immerse yourself into the tools your team uses. This includes the portal your company expects partners to use. Take a tour for yourself and pay close attention to the signup, onboarding, accreditation and marketing experience. Nothing you do to familiarize yourself with your organization will help you understand your partners’ journeys better than using the very tools you provide to them.
Bonus tip: In a lobby display case or executive suite somewhere is a piece of crystal glass or wood plaque that your company gave to its “Partner of the Year.” Make an appointment with that company and ask its top executive if you are their best partner. If not, ask why. Pay particular attention to what they say about automation and ease of doing business.
Follow these three steps and we believe you will be closer to developing your channels VSE. When you’re done, don’t forget to check out our complete 180-day guide.
We don’t promise that this three-step plan will lead to a suite at the Hotel Hassler Rome. But if it does, we promise to send you a bottle of bubbly on us.
In the meantime, good luck in your first 30 days. Be sure to check out the free insights and thought leadership on channels and automation that Impartner provides. You’ll be glad you did.
T.C. Doyle is the Channel Growth Evangelist at Impartner, the leader in channel management and Partner Relationship Management (PRM) technology. A journalist, book author and analyst, Doyle has worked in media for three decades. As channel evangelist, Doyle produces podcasts, case studies, e-books and more for Impartner. Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.