“I am dumbfounded! It’s the last two weeks of our quarter and the email I just sent to the partner sales rep running the largest deal of the quarter generated an out-of-office response saying she’s on holiday for the next 10 days! How can she think it’s OK to take holiday at the end of the quarter!”
While there are several situations where vendors and partners can get out of sync, the most painful for the vendor is often performance and operating cycles. While many partner organizations operate on a calendar fiscal cycle (usually because it’s easier in terms of both corporate and personal tax reporting), many vendors operate on a non-calendar fiscal cycle. This inherently creates a disconnect in terms of performance urgency and operational planning/review relevancy.
When we are pushing the partner sales team to “get deals in” so we can make our quarterly revenue target, the partner is wondering where our urgency was the previous month when he/she was trying to “get deals in” for their quarter end targets. When we want to conduct annual partnership planning at the beginning of our fiscal year, the partner is wondering why we’ve never asked about the details of the fiscal plan they are already 5 months into executing for their business. These are classic examples of vendors using the word “partnership” but utterly failing to exhibit partnership in their actions.
The best Channel Managers proactively engage partners in conversations about mis-matched performance and operating cycles. They collaborate with partners to define a Mutual Operating Period (MOP) for the partnership that accommodates the fiscal urgency of both organizations. In some cases that might mean creating two MOPs within a single fiscal year to accommodate both organizations’ fiscal planning cycles; or creating an MOP that creates a new quarter-end that best accommodates both organizations’ fiscal quarters; or it might even be agreeing to an MOP that maps directly to one organization’s fiscal cycle, but both parties have openly agreed it’s the best answer.
The end solution for each partnership isn’t really what matters. What matters is the conversations and collaboration that takes place leading up to the solution. Partnership is about mutual benefit, and when mutual benefit isn’t possible, mutual understanding and respect. When both parties feel like the other understands their unique challenges and is willing to accommodate those challenges when possible, the partnership flourishes. When partners acknowledge and agree on “workable” solutions, they are much more likely to “go to bat” for each other.
Channel Managers can’t force their partners to care about the vendor’s quarter-end urgency. They can however, ensure there is mutual understanding of both parties fiscal and planning cycles, explore operating rhythms that accommodate any discrepancies, and mutually agree on a “best” alternative. Not surprisingly, when Channel Managers approach their partners with a collaborative mindset, partners are much more willing to participate in the vendor’s quarter-end urgency.
What steps are your Channel Managers taking to increase their partner’s end-of-quarter urgency?