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Channel Management & Sustainable Business Growth

How important is channel management in today’s business? I had a rare opportunity of discussing channel management and its importance with some young, vibrant, high performing Nigerians recently. It was a two day program themed ‘Business Enhancement Program for Channel Managers’. 

We had great fun honing our skills, discussing issues and learning new strategies.

As you would have noticed, we believe in running programs as against courses. Programs enable us understand and thrash identified challenges with a function or field of study and come up with simple and workable solutions.

Some of the topics deliberated on include;

  • Value creation leadership mind-set, Managing the channels for value,
  • Channel management performance models
  • Go-to-market strategies
  • Making the best of out the relationship with channels
  • Personal Effectiveness

It was important that we started the program with a session on value creation leadership mind-set. This is because it speaks to the very essence of doing business. Value creation is the primary aim of any business entity. For value to be created in a manner that is sustainable, the business must have clear and tangible motivations for being in business. According to Ken Favaro “If you put value creation first in the right way, your business will know where and how to grow; It will deploy capital more efficiently; and it will develop more talent than competition”. We agreed that value creation mindset will give any business an enormous advantage in building a company’s ability to achieve profitable and long-lasting growth.

Beyond creating value is the need for effective management of the business that supports you, the channel partners. A number of channel partners are not adequately equipped to run their businesses. The Channel Management function must be able to give the required support and back up to ensure these channels run as profitable concerns. Channel Effectiveness means your value proposition is brought to life at every touchpoint – in a way that maximizes opportunity. Channel management has grown over the years from a lot of manual tracking and ad hoc systems and databases to specific, stand-alone solutions – data management, revenue management, sales management and relationship management and now to ‘Enterprise Grade’ where all the phases of channel management are integrated into one holistic system.

As expected, we spent some time looking at channel performance management. The aim was to motivate participants towards sales excellence by improving their effectiveness, their interactions with channel partners while driving for efficiency in all channels and the associated back office and sales operations. I must say that we did justice to it, understanding how important it is – the process of researching and reviewing the performance of a channel program, or group of partners, to help one get greater insight into what is happening in the trade. We concluded the session with a charge to avoid the common mistakes made with channel performance evaluation I.e. don’t be internally focused on business silos, rather be focused on customer experience. For example, organisations may measure how long it takes to process a request through a department, but may not necessarily measure the time from when the customer actually lodged the request (which may have been a week ago but it was held up in another department). Similarly, organisations may measure so many metrics (that are important to different people within the management team, for whatever reason) that the volume of data becomes overwhelming and ceases to be relevant to customer experience.

The role of channel relationship management cannot be over emphasized. The big question we had to crack was – who is the channel partner to the organisation? A partner, a pest, a disturbance, just a part of the value chain? Or a partner and stakeholder? We agreed that channel partners play a role that can make or mar a brand. They represent the organisation and help to break the bulk which in turn enables the organisation have cash flow to run the business. They are an essential, vital part of the value chain, hence the need to manage the relationship such that they are win-win.

Finally, we discussed the need to be personally effective so we can create and deliver value consistently. Personal effectiveness means making use of all the personal resources at your disposal – talents, skills, energy and time to enable you to achieve both work and life goals. How you manage yourself impacts directly on your personal effectiveness. Personal effectiveness in the workplace augers well for great organizational and personal/career performance.

The program ended with a frank discussion on ‘how best in class organisations manage their channel partners’. They manage channel partners through building strong relationships, constant affirmative and supportive engagement with the aim of achieving joint objectives through the partner planning process. They understand the business model and investment criteria of channel partners, and are able to have business conversations about investment initiatives. They can articulate the key issues and business priorities that affect partners’ stakeholders, and have the influencing skills to manage partners to change and invest as required. They execute a channel partner lifecycle management strategy to identify profile, recruit, enable, manage and position them properly in the territories they cover. They lead and manage partners to identify and resolve their own barriers to success, and enable them to generate higher sales revenue. Overall, they help them become more efficient, effective and deliver value consistently.

Here is some feedback from participants at the end of this program; This program is a must for all channel partner’s (account manager) – Gomenti Friday. This training is recommended for my colleagues because it will hasten them to acquire insights on channel member management – Chinyere Ikechi.

This program was designed and facilitated by Customer Passion Point Limited, a firm of value creation consultants and we do business marketing consulting and training. Are you a channel manager or do you want to understand, develop and or organise / manage your channel partner relationships better? We can work with you. For more enquiries visit www.cppl.com.ng or speak with Chinwe on 0803 201 2458. You can also send us a mail at info@cppl.com.ng.

Customer Passion Point Limited (CPPL) is a firm of value creation consultants registered and operating in Nigeria and Tanzania.

We create value through business marketing consulting and training and our team consist of hands-on professionals with well over 30 years (combined) experience across business functions, industries and culture. We are committed to working with our clients / customers accelerate their businesses and grow stakeholder value.

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