Why a Channel Care Officer? Well, the short answer is in the post title, but it has a quite long history. Bare me, If you can.
In my 35 years of professional work, I’ve spent 10 years developing software, 10 years with CxO roles in different companies (some hired me, some I built on my own) and 15 building successful Sales Channels.
As Danish physicist and Nobel prize winner Niels Bohr said:
“An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.”
So, if the number of mistakes is not just a necessary but also a sufficient condition, I can rightfully claim to be a channel expert 🙂 .
One thing I’ve found out, while building my expertise, is that being the one with the best product is not enough to get the most effective channel.
When I left Cisco in 2001, Cisco’s channel was a war-machine. Highly effective channel populated by thousands of skilled partners. Four years later, Cisco called me back to run the Commercial Division. The channel had disappeared. Funny enough, most of the Companies that were listed as partners in 2001, were still there, in the partner’s list, but with a little but noticeable difference. With the exception of 80 key partners, Cisco had moved all of them from the status of “managed partner” to the status of “un-managed partner”. Un-managed was basically meaning “we can not assign to you a channel manager, please manage your business relationship with one of our Distributors”.
Just imagine saying to the owner of a Partner company: “Yes, of course you are a Cisco partner, an un-managed Cisco partner”. What is she/he going to think? Simple, “Cisco does not care about me”.
On a different angle, Distributors, with few remarkable exceptions, do not care if a reseller orders a Cisco switch or an Hp switch or a Huawei switch. As long as they rotate their stock they are happy.
But “taking care” apparently is more expensive than “un-manage”. Some corporate genius in Cisco, from 2001 to 2005, had decided to focus all the channel organization resources only on the so called “top partners”. Nobody thought about stretching the concept of care. Finding a way to care that was less expensive than not caring. Honestly I have difficulties in finding a way of caring that can cause more financial damages than any form of not-caring.
With the great team I had the honor to lead, put back on track the SMB business of Cisco was as simple as showing that Cisco was really taking care of channel Partners. Getting them back on the “managed partners list” was not enough. We had to show them that Cisco would have been the company able to lead them on their own way to success. And if this would have required understanding that to first survive and then grow they had to “temporarily” embrace also competitive products, we were able to cope with this. Only when Partners can trust that you will truly lead them to success (their success), they will embrace the fundamental concept of loyalty that sets an highly effective channel Partner apart from an “un-managed” Partner.
This is why, at dev61, Care is our mantra, why we created a Turnaround Workshop. Companies with “under-performing” channels can sponsor the workshop to show to their Partners that they truly care for them, that Partners success is indeed part of the Company vision.
A first step to show our channel Partners we want them to succeed could be to create the role of Channel Care Officer: the title should talk for the intent.