Anand Choudha, MD, Spectrami, discusses what is involved to implement and build an effective channel strategy.
It is a well-known fact that building an effective channel strategy in today’s world is critical to the success of a product in the market, however we see that many people go about it in the wrong way. So what does it take to create, build, operate and run a successful strategy? Is it about people or process and technology? Or is it about all of them or is it just sheer luck?
The answer lies in 3 Es – envision, execute and evolve. These three key aspects can make or break a channel strategy. As Benjamin Franklin once said, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. This is especially true forbuilding the strategy.
The critical component of a successful channel policy is to be able to ‘envision’. This includes a number of things from defining and identifying the right partners, engaging with them to create a business plan, investment of resources, GTM strategy, defining KPI parameters, arming with marketing dollars, direct and indirect promotions and every conceivable effective lead generation activity that can increase footfall for your product and increase channel confidence. Also what is important to include in the plan is a defined training and incentive plan for the partners. Hang the incentive high enough to make the partner jump to new levels and deliver for you. The key to planning is data, lots and lots of data which needs to be worked on jointly with the partner. Large amounts of data enable you to make a better informed decision around execution.
The second aspect, ‘execution’ is critical to every business environment. Ask any successful person and he will tell you that right planning has to be followed up by precise and smart execution. A successful channel strategy requires impeccable execution of the plan.
Once parameters are defined, go in the field, sit with the channel and create an elite force of sales, marketing and technical team who will take the product to the market. Provide support by accompanying them for the first few meetings to show how it is done, and more importantly show them the money. Use the KPI dashboards to measure performance, carry out brand awareness exercises such as workshops to educate customer on products, create an incentive plan for the channel and award them to drive higher motivation.
The final aspect to an effective market strategy is to ‘evolve’. What we execute, we must evolve. That is the key to bringing it closer to perfection. Some of the best channel strategies adopted by organisations are also the ones which improvise with time. Evolution will include redefining the right partners and bringing new ones on board, discontinuing the non-performers, and relooking at the investment that needs to be made to take the product to the next level. The focus should be to create and recreate competencies, understand people requirement, create certifications, incentives and rebates. Keep an eye into statistical data and make changes to plan and execution as and when required. This is a cycle which needs to be done on a regular basis and is a work in progress.
It is important to remember that one might not get the right channel strategy best defined the first time, however with the right envisioning, execution and evolution process, it is only a matter of time before it does.