When you’re running a business in the channel, you’re working hard every single day to build strong partnerships with vendors and valuable relationships with clients. Undoubtedly, you want to grow your business. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day that you don’t have a moment to pause, take a breath, and think about your strategy and direction.
BCM One’s Andy Steinke has spent the last decade building out the company’s channel partner program, overseeing onboarding and enablement, strategic product development, client engagement, and overall management of the channel partner team. From this unique vantage point—not to mention his own experience running a business—Andy has seen what it takes to build and sustain a successful business in the channel. While there are always incremental adjustments you can make to improve operationally as you’re running a million miles an hour, sometimes you need to stop and make sure that the direction you’re running in is the right one. Andy has five tips to ensure that you’re doing just that, and that you’re creating real, lasting value for your business.
Tip #1: Seek out—and listen to—outside voices.
You know your own business better than anyone, but you’re not objective about it. And there are plenty of people who are experts about the telecommunications and technology industry, the market in which you operate, and the competitive landscape, and they have valuable insights you can learn from. Consider investing in a consulting company to help you see past your own natural biases. And then be prepared to listen to what they have to say. You may have to face some hard facts about your business, and you’ll likely have to make some tough decisions. But if you step outside your comfort zone and make some key changes, you can create significant opportunity for advancement in a competitive marketplace.
Tip #2: Conduct market research and competitive analysis.
You’re not operating in a vacuum. What’s happening around you in the market and among the competition has a big impact on your business, and you ignore it at your peril. Taking the time to conduct market research and competitive analysis is critical. And you need to be brutally honest about your own strengths and weaknesses within that context. Only then can you build on your advantages and create a plan to address the areas where you lag.
Tip #3: Analyze your financials.
The numbers don’t lie. You probably have a gut feel for what sells, but in our rapidly evolving industry that can change quickly. Even if you’re not a “numbers person,” take the time to analyze your financials carefully. Stack up all the solutions you sell by the actual sales figures and—most importantly—by net profit. Look at what your top-selling products are now, but also what that trend has been over a multi-year timeframe. The numbers could surprise you.
Tip #4: Ask your clients and partners.
You may already be conducting post-support and NPS client surveys (if you’re not, you should start now). But overall, do you really know what clients and partners think of your company? Are you sure you’re in their consideration for solutions across your entire portfolio? Take the time to conduct partner and client interviews. Not only will you gain valuable insight, the effort can serve to strengthen those relationships.
Tip #5: Take everything you learned through the first four tips, and then focus.
You can’t be all things to all people. If you’ve put even just one of the previous four tips into action, then you’ve likely learned some valuable things about your business, your strategy, and your operations. Take those learnings and create a plan for realistic growth by focusing on true opportunities—they could be key verticals, or solution sets, or something else. And then execute on that plan with laser focus. Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t fall back into old ways. Trust in your investment in change and focus on creating value going forward. Realizing, of course, that this is not a one-and-done exercise. Plan to build these stock-taking activities into your business on an ongoing basis.
Connect With Us at Channel Partners Conference & Expo
Planning to be at Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Vegas in March? Be sure to stop by our Technology Lounge (located in Titian 2203) to enjoy a drink and appetizers, discover why agents and VARS are loyal to BCM One, and to chat about creating value for your channel business. Contact us if you’d like to schedule a meeting.