Channel Management

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I moved into channel management based on my experiences as a product line manager for HP-UX. The indirect channel was a largely underserved area for the enterprise products group. My goal was to elevate the indirect channel to a more prominent position within the enterprise products management team. Below is a list of the projects I managed during my tenure with the world-wide indirect channel organization.

IT Consolidation / BladeFrame Program Most large corporations are like "battleships"- they take time to turn toward a new target and they take time to "spin-up" to full speed. As "blades servers" started to matures a market opportunity open to replace the "big boxes" with flexible, scaleable lower cost blade servers. Having recognized the opportunity HP needed an organization that could execute a "go to market plan" plan quickly. I got a call from a constituent in one of the product management groups that he need help with the provisioning part. The indirect channel offered the "speed of execution" and the ability to work directly with Direct Sales to sell, configure and provision deals. 

The IT Consolidation / BladeFrame Program was the manifestation of that need. I spec'd out a program that included: a single solution and approached NA channel management and a NA distributor to work with that had the capabilities to support the program and  enough reach in terms of resellers to meet the sales goals of the program. The details of the program were hammered out with the distributor over 3 weeks via indirect meetings, eMail storms and lots of documentation. Here is the project presentation detailing the program.
Program Overview

Once the program was piloted it was transitioned to NA Channel organization for execution and on going management. I then started look at potential use for the program in the other regions.
Strategic Enterprise Programs Most large corporations are "Direct Sales Centric" and usually have several strategic programs that they push. These programs often require large investments and specialist knowledge, but offer major leverage to the corporation if they are successful. To increase the reach of this type of program I was asked to evaluate and as necessary assist "channelizing" several major enterprise programs. I designed an evaluation program and used it to help the enterprise product managers evaluate and improve their programs for channel deployment. Many programs were reject as unsuitable for channel deployment. Here is a list of some of the program I evaluated-

Adaptive Enterprise - Overal Program - AE Program for Channels
Adaptive Enterprise - Business continuity and availability
Adaptive Enterprise - ILM
Adaptive Enterprise -  IT Consolidation. See above
Adaptive Enterprise -  Virtual Desktop

Adaptive Enterprise -  Evangelized to channel partners
Briefing for Channel Partner
     VP level Presentation to Channel Partners

Sun Attack - Low-end
Sun Attack - High-end
SAP R3 End of Life
IBM Main Frame Attack
EMC Attack
AS400 Attack

Of the programs that managed to pass my evaluation of suitability, I then presented to the various regional channel management teams for adoption or rejection. The definition included geographic match, opportunity definition, reseller profile, target resellers, playbooks, success stories, tools, reseller training, reseller pre-sales support, engagement model, lead generation and expense relief for the more well funded programs. 

Many programs where rejected because they did not meet a particular region's sales plan or for resource constraints within the regions.

Evangelization of  Channel Most product managers have more things coming at them than they can cope with. The channel only became important when "it was problem" or the "direct channel wasn't working". HP mostly reorganized it's enterprise sale force out of the company.  I'd already been working to highlight the channel to product managers, I discover had there attention.

I had dozens and dozen of meetings, presentation and working session to try and help folks understand what the indirect channel is and how it worked. Here are two of the presentation I developed ands used:

Introduction to Channels     Building Channel Centric Programs

The corporation adopted sanitized version of these presentations for inclusion in the "standard training" for all product managers.

Surveys and Questionnaires Most of the time if you ask people what they need to be successful they will tell you. Of course to have to listen very carefully and how you asked the question, as it is as important or even more important that the answer itself.
Survey Questionnaire

I commissioned a telephone surveyed of principal at our top channel partners worldwide, I also assimilated the results of another questionnaire that was done by a different group that supported my finding. The result were tabulated along with the comments. I interpretated the result and made recommendations to the management team based on what I'd learned. The results and recommendation were somewhat controversial because most of the world wide channel management team where mostly formers enterprise sales people and used to competing with channel partners. 

That said, it did allow us to see some "comprehensive real data" and make so useful discoveries for use later.

Channel Staff and Resource Evaluation As part of the strategic realignment that caused the "the enterprise sale force to be mostly reorganized out of existence" it was decide that "the channel" if resource correctly, could likely pick up the sales quota for of direct sale force.

My role in conjunction with external consulting company and an army of marketing VPs was to take the existing resource data for the sale force and after careful analysis build recommendations and a resource model that could be applied to the indirect channel on a world wide basis. to do this I worked with complete list of all channel partners, their skill competencies, location, sale achievement etc

Complete list of WW Channel Partners

The recommendations include: quota levels, # channel partners, # channel managers, # technical staff etc.  Here is the project presentation detailing the results of the survey and overall program. 

Copyright Mike Wardley, 2011