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Top 10 Rules for Channel Playbook”¦Continued”¦6 Through 10


April 12, 2010 9:49 am





In my last post, I gave my self assessment on the first 5 of the 10 rules that Scott Campbell of Channel Web believes are important for a successful channel playbook.  In this post, I continue with my assessment on rules six through ten.  By way of quick review, Scott’s Top 10 Rules are summarized below:

Rule 1: Support from the CEO

Rule 2: Field Sales Buy In

Rule 3: Solution-Savvy Sales Forces

Rule 4: Cut the Conflict

Rule 5: Fix Channel Compensation

Rule 6: The Right Deal Registration

Rule 7: Communicate, Communicate

Rule 8: Effective Lead Generation

Rule 9: Avoid Training Overload

Rule 10: Listen to VAR’s Feedback


Rule 6:  The Right Deal Registration

Deal registration has become a necessary complexity in the market as a means for preserving margin opportunity for partners that drive business.  From the partner’s point of view, there are a lot of deal registration systems to understand and it costs money to have someone entering deals and updating deal information.  From a vendor perspective, deal registration can be a powerful incentive or a source of partner frustration.  At Novell, we continue to refine and expand our deal registration program to address different partner business models, reduce conflict and be simple and rewarding enough to be appealing to partners.  Our trends suggest we’ve been getting most of this right.  We now see nearly half of our new business coming from registered deals and have a majority of our eligible partners taking advantage of the program.  I believe we have the economics right but have work to do in making our deal registration easy to use – hence my tougher grade.

Novell Grade: B

Rule 7:   Communicate, Communicate

Building the best training, tools, content, products or strategy matters little if it isn’t known and understood.  Partner communications require accurate contact information, multiple communication channels that reinforce each other and a willingness to provide the information that partners need.  It also requires patience and persistence.  At Novell, we leverage all the traditional means of partner communications and we’re especially excited about the  real-time, more interactive possibilities of social media.   We’ve been an early user and advocate of social media in our overall marketing and communications and have had an active partner community for many years.   As we look to the future we are intrigued by how new tools can breathe new life into the conversations we can have with our partners.

Novell Grade: B+

Rule 8: Effective Lead Generation

The pipeline is the lifeline.  Or so the saying goes.  Like compensation, it appears one can never generate too many leads.  I like the way the rule is written though as “effective” lead generation.  Over the last six years at Novell, we’ve made tremendous progress in our ability to generate qualified opportunity.   We have a world class CRM system that allows us to track prospects, leads and opportunities through their lifecycle.  While I’m very happy with the quantity and quality of our lead generation activities, getting these leads assigned to the right partner – “the last mile of lead management”  – has been a challenge.  This challenge is not unique to Novell but it’s one we are laser focused on solving.  It starts with knowing what type of partner should receive what type of lead and then having the automated system and process in place to support.  So while our demand generation engine is running well, until we solve the last mile, I’m not going to be satisfied.

Novell Grade:  C+

Rule 9: Avoid Training Overload

When you understand how partners operate their business, what makes them profitable and how they build their reputation in the market, you recognize the delicate balance between using them as a powerful force for bringing change to the market and the cost of change on the efficiency of their business.  Partner readiness and relevance are important.  There are many ways to deliver the information that partners need and it is important to use the right tool for the task at hand.  For some learners, the best tool may well be a written sales guide, not an hour long recorded presentation.  At the other end of the scale, training by recorded slide show on something that can only effectively be done in the classroom may look like cost savings but instead be a waste of money and time.  We’ve focused on offering a reasonable range of learning options.  Having partners regularly engage in a series of training that builds additional capability has proven extremely valuable to Novell and our partners and we are not shy about offering enough training to deliver those results.  On the other hand we do not make large changes to certification training and testing lightly as we know this puts a burden on partners to re-certify. We have found we are most successful when we show the relationship between training and results.

Novell Grade: A-

Rule 10: Listen to VAR’s Feedback

Novell has several approaches to listening to partners.  Our partner advisory boards are responsible and diverse advocates on behalf of partners and partnering.  We love to know how we can be easier to do business with and more valuable to our partners.  We also need to understand what partners who have not chosen Novell value so being active in social media, industry events and through Novell and 3rd party research efforts are also important.  The conversations we have with partners are immensely valuable in and of themselves.  They are also a learning ground that leads to action.  In the case of partner advisory boards, for example, this is a specific, mutually agreed to set of priorities that we address together in each cycle of the process.  We pick a limited number of important items so that we can impact meaningful change in less than three to six months and we evaluate mutual success on these items ion cadence calls and in advisory board meetings.  This process has effected everything from our field compensation to product road maps to partner program architecture and processes.   In fact it’s fair to say listening to our partners has impacted all 10 of the rules we just covered and has directly lead to the innovation and change that makes Novell easier and more valuable to partner with.

Novell Grade: A-

So that’s my view – subjective yes but I believe an accurate representation of the progress we’ve made and the work we have left to do.


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