Rethinking your short-term vs. long-term agenda (or, if you don’t think short-term, you won’t be around to think long-term)Friday, February 20th, 2009
I have always been one to declare (loudly) that the best way to thrive in the high-tech channel is by setting your sights on the long-term agenda, and handling short-term hiccups through that lens but standing firm where you can see as far as the horizon, not just what’s in your face.
I have scoffed at companies that let their actions be ruled by their quarterly earnings reports.
I have been notably in the laissez-faire school about the topic of letting MY strategy be shaped by someone else’s strategy.
I have even advocated AGAINST letting yourself get distracted by what your competitors are doing. Why should you let them shape what you do? If you pay too much attention to them, are you paying enough attention to yourself?
The current market environment is challenging these convictions.
I had a very interesting debate about this a few days ago with Julie Parrish, vice president of worldwide channel sales at Network Appliance. Like every other high-tech channel sales executive, Parrish is hunting for ways to help her business partners negotiate the landmines of this economic climate deal-by-deal and play-by-play. Her team is paying the most attention to very specific things it can do tactically NOW to bring opportunities to closure. Sure, they’re planning out more than one quarter, but they are really focused on field execution. NOW.
“What is it going to take to help them cross the finish line first instead of second?” she says.
Did I mention that this is happening NOW?
So, here’s my obnoxious challenge to you for a Friday afternoon: How closely are you tracking the specific prospects your channel partners are working? RIGHT NOW. Are you doing everything in your power NOW to help them close business and, in turn, help you close business. Are you making it worth their while NOW to reach a percentage of their quarterly goals? After all, you’ve probably adjust the bonus and commission plans for your internal sales team to give them SOME chance at meeting at least some of their goals. Have you done the same for your channel partners or will you require them to reach 100 percent of their commitment before they earn their rebate?
This might be the most important question: Are you giving your partners the same competitive visibility that you’re giving your own sales team? Or are you holding back? If it’s the latter, you can bet your partners will also hold back on giving you the attention in the field that you both desperately need RIGHT NOW.
Yes, having a long-term strategy is necessary, but now more than ever it’s important to think of it in phased steps that you have some hope of achieving. Otherwise there’s very little reason to be motivated about what’s going on. What you do over the next three to six months will ensure that you and your partners are around to see the long term.
Did I mention that you should start thinking about this NOW?
If you want to engage one-on-on about this, e-mail me. I would love to hear what innovative things high-tech companies are doing to motivate activity.