New Year, New Job? Guide for New Channel Chiefs

If 2021 started off for you with a new role in the channel and have officially taken on your first gig as a channel chief, this quick guide will help you make a significant contribution to your channel goals, objectives and performance – and defy expectations in the first 180 days. Whether you have been hired on to build, rebuild or accelerate your new channel program, at the end of the day, your objective is to generate revenue, contribute to your channel program and create an amazing partner experience within your channel ecosystem. Take time to understand channel-culture, use your resources and stay focused on your goals in your new role as channel chief. You got this!

Approaching the Start Line

Just like any new role you find yourself in, define the start line, figure out where you are on the channel journey and think about your initial road map. To start off:

  • Do some research to learn more about your company, how the company is viewed from the outside, the relevance of its products in the marketplace and its place in the competitive landscape. Blogs, podcasts, press releases and case studies on your company’s website will be full of valuable information and will provide a greater understanding of the company’s vision and mission.
  • Once you feel you’ve understood the company’s goals and channel culture, establish a list of executives to work with to build alliances, connect and to better understand the company’s customs. Have an informal meeting with the other channel chiefs, they might become a valuable ally in your new role and it’s a great way to build credibility with your new peers.
  • When you feel comfortable at your company, reach out to others outside of your organization. Engaging with external contacts, whether that’s partners, executives or operational roles, allows you to gain a fuller understanding of the organization you’re joining and is helpful during this discovery process.

Observe and Learn

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the channel or a channel veteran, the onboarding process can be challenging for everyone, whether it is navigating through processes, IT systems setup or training. Don’t rush, try to understand everything before moving on and identify any major challenges that surface. To make the most out of your new role:

  • Set expectations with your new boss and make sure to mutually define success in your role, embrace corporate priorities with your peers, socialize and establish your personal perspectives.
  • Examine the product portfolio with product managers to better understand solution positioning and value proposition, as it is crucial to identifying channel performance gaps.
  • Build strong relationships with the product team to help ensure the channel-friendliness of future product releases. Spend time with support teams to gain a clear grasp of solutions implementation and support, and to gather data on partner interactions.
  • Gain perspective from key partners to add important data to your planning process, document the state of the channel with data from internal and external sources, create a preliminary action plan to show how you’re leading your channel organization and last but not least, schedule formal 30- and 60-day check-ins with your boss, that way you can solicit feedback and share findings or make edits to your plans.

Review, Plan and Socialize

Once you’ve gathered data, communicated with many members in your channel program and have a better understanding of your new role and responsibilities as channel chief, you are ready to focus on setting organizational direction, refining your goals and developing a plan. Start by:

  • Reviewing your vision and mission, it is a great opportunity to see your organizational strengths and potential areas for improvement.
  • Developing an 18-month plan to include new remedial and incremental strategies, the strategies detailed in this plan should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. This plan should include quick wins that prioritize several short-term opportunities that tie directly to the 18-month plan.
  • Review the partner relationship management solutions you might be using and make sure partners are having a positive partner experience.
  • Review your channel organizational structure, do your best to optimize your channel and/or consolidate your channel program.
  • Gain a better understanding of the partner journey, review a partner’s journey from start to finish to understand the entire process.
  • Develop positive relationships with key stakeholders in your channel ecosystem to help with channel strategy and the direction for your channel. Just as a reminder to make this a priority, schedule a formal 90- and 120-day check-ins with your boss to ensure you’re meeting expectations.

Plan and Execute

Once you’ve done your research, socialized, reviewed and you have a set game plan for your channel program, it is time to shift your focus on tactical execution. Remember to be flexible, make adjustments if you need to and don’t forget the strategy when it’s go-time. Start the execution process by:

  • Setting a milestone framework that consists of three related tasks: establishing a timeline and highlight quick wins to foster momentum, cement key performance indicators and success factors for measuring impact, and identify, track and document project milestones.
  • Collaborate and communicate with the marketing team, they are integral players in the channel, and it is critical for you to align with the marketing and communications team.
  • With the help of the marketing team, create a timeline for communicating changes to your channel and let partners know about any changes to create a positive experience.
  • Focus on the positive impact of any changes you make and how it benefits your partners.
  • Once you start the communication process, train any internal teams and your partners on your program and operational changes. Establish a phased cadence of training, with topics focused on process, program changes, timeline, benefits, requirements and any new product training. To go along with the training, developing and sharing any updated deliverables, visuals or FAQs will help bolster acceptance of new changes to the channel.
  • Once all activities surrounding enablement and promotion of the new program and vision are completed, launch the program and don’t forget to schedule a 120- and 150-day review with your boss to maintain a regular communications cadence.

Change can always bring a lot of uncertainty, remember to always listen, communicate and plan ahead to make this easier for yourself and for everyone that is part of your channel program. Your partners want consistency, transparency and want clear communication, make sure to become an effective channel-steward for your channel program and adopt all the new changes that create a meaningful contribution to your channel. This is a great starting point for your channel journey, and we hope this guide helps you make a lasting impact for your program.

This blog is a summary of the eBook, The definitive Guide for New Channel Chiefs, How to Defy Expectations in the First 180 Days by Channelnomics (formerly the 2112 Group).  To read the full eBook, click here:

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