“I can’t believe it! I just got an out-of-office reply from the partner sales rep running the largest deal of the quarter! How can she think it’s OK to take holiday the last two weeks of our quarter!”

Intellectually we know that partners don’t always run their business on the same fiscal cycle as their vendors. But emotionally, especially when under the pressures of a quarter end, we can’t understand why those same partners don’t emulate our fiscal anxiety! Don’t they understand how important this is? It’s a classic disconnect, and it rubs both ways.

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!

We can’t force partners to care about our fiscal cycle unless we care about theirs.

The best Partner or Channel Managers proactively engage partners in conversations about mismatched performance and operating cycles. They collaborate with partners to define a Mutual Operating Period (MOP) for the partnership that accommodates, or at least acknowledges, the fiscal urgency of both organizations. That might mean creating two sequential but shorter MOPs 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 just be agreeing to an MOP that maps directly to one organization’s fiscal cycle.

What matters most is the conversation and collaboration around this issue. Partnership is about mutual benefit; and when mutual benefit isn’t possible, it’s about 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.

Partner or Channel Managers need to ensure mutual understanding of both parties’ fiscal and planning cycles, explore operating rhythms that accommodate any discrepancies, and mutually agree on a “best” alternative. When they do, partners are much more willing to emulate the vendor’s fiscal anxiety.

What steps are your Partner or Channel Managers taking to increase their partner’s end-of-quarter urgency?