Archives For Channel Management

In yesterday’s post I wrote about list building, as my children diligently work to increase their marketing reach – but how exactly do you grab the attention of new people?

The best way to make an immediate connection is to have something of value to offer.  In the case of my children, they are offering a way to avoid having to think too hard about what to do for the holidays (in this case, what to give a loved one for Valentine’s Day).  Having a handy picture of the treats they sell makes this possible.  Originally my daughter wanted to just list the items, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and the emotional impact of seeing delicious chocolate does wonders for the person considering a purchase.  They must to be able to picture what they are paying for – in fact you want them to be able to picture the experience of handing this gift to their loved one, and receiving praise for having done something really special.

Connecting with a businessperson is no different.  Everyone is looking to succeed in what they are already doing; they are not thinking about helping you make your number.  Do you see the difference?  I think more sales people are out there expecting people to drop what they are doing in order to take a look at some new products or services.  This isn’t the way busy people operate.  They all have jobs; busy jobs; demanding jobs.  No one has time to stop and take a look, and no one really cares about helping you make your number, at least at this point in the relationship.  So what do you have that helps them?  Find out what they are doing and then join them in helping achieve it.

I was talking with a client the other day about partnering with a certain manufacturer.  We were discussing the value of some of these relationships, and comparing them to the lack of value in other reseller relationships.  I mentioned another client of mine who has no full time sales people.  “How do they do it?”, he asked.  They are getting leads from their primary vendor partner.  “How?” he pressed.  “They have become the go-to provider in this city,” I answered.  We then went on to talk through some of his partners.  His technical group has made most of the decisions, purely on features, as to what they sell, but this is not the only qualification.  Vendor partners need to be just that, partners.  In order for that to happen, you must find out what they are doing and join them.  Find out what their numbers are, where they are making their money, and where they are missing.  Then help them figure out how to solve this problem.  Join them by putting together a joint plan to fill in the missing piece.  An immediate connection is made when this happens.

Do the same with businesses that you aim to call on.

If you work on the vendor side (for instance, as a channel manager), the same would be true in recruiting strong partners.  Find out what they working to build, and if you can somehow get involved to help them build their vision, you just might become the product they lead with.  Connecting with people is a simple process of finding out what they are doing, and joining them to help them achieve their goals.  When it fits within your vision, it works, when it doesn’t, the partnership or relationship just doesn’t make sense.

© 2012, David Stelzl


If you sell, you should be reading Wall Street…that is, if you want to call on decision makers.  This morning’s article on Cisco is important information if you resell Cisco, especially when your clients start asking, “Should we stay with Cisco?”  Statements like:

  • …shares languishing at 1998 levels
  • …the company’s problems run much deeper than a few disappointing quarters
  • …a byzantine management structure
  • Mr. Chambers…seems to be repeating mistakes.

These are tough accusations.  In Rolfe Winkler’s article he notes that most of Cisco’s revenue comes from core networking, and Juniper is taking market share.  Is the product bad?  I don’t think so – core networking is a commodity business and Cisco has been the long standing champion and has delivered strong networking technology – still does.  I can’t comment on the reasons why market share is slipping – perhaps Wall Street has a good handle on this.  However, my video recorded just about one hear ago – The History of the Channel stands out in all of this.  The reseller must have a value proposition that does more than point to a vendor’s product.  Recent Cisco acquisitions and their move away from security over the past decade (which I see is starting to rekindle) have put resellers in competition with their other vendors (like HP), but have not given them discontinuous innovation to take to market (such as Unified Communications eleven years ago).  This has placed the Cisco resellers in the middle of Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Life-Cycle, where margins are at their nadir, and competition – it’s zenith.  What is the solution?

Your value proposition must proceed the product sale.  Helping clients solve business problems is a business level sale.  Technology is used to help solve the problem, but only after the theory has been sold.  None of this depends on a vendor brand…their brand “stamps” stability on the solution once that phase of the project comes into play.  So what should resellers be selling?  Risk mitigation, ROI, Efficiency, competitive advantage…the same 4 things I’ve been writing about for years.  It’s your brand that matters at the start of the sale, and your position as an adviser will largely determine which product gets the budget.

I’d love to hear your comments on this article!

© 2011, David Stelzl

Pizza in Cancun

Here in Cancun, or just south of the Cancun area.  And of course my trip would not be complete without trying the Mexican pizza!  Here is it to the left, served with hot sauce, ketchup,…but not grated cheese.  How does it rank?  Better than the Singapore pizza for sure, not like New York, but par with the India pizza which I had at least 5 times while in Bangalore late last year.  Overall it was a good experience for a quick lunch.

What has made this partner conference special?  Here are few highlights:

1.  First, Eugene Kaspersky running out on stage in his Ferrari Formula 1 racing outfit (of which he is a sponsor).  The question was raised, “How many resellers have dined with, or sat by the pool with the CEO of their strategic manufacturing partners?  It’s a great question – these partners are doing just that this week.  This guy is a real person!

Eugene Kaspersky Live

2.  Concrete information on how to grow your business.  I have had the pleasure of speaking with many partners and channel managers today – this is the recurring theme – the information is relevant.

3. Not too big, not too small.  This event is invitation only, so we have about 250 partners attending this week.  Getting around and meeting people is easy with this kind of crowd, making it easier to network, exchange ideas, and get to know people who are solving similar types of problems throughout the Americas.

4. Grand Velas – what a great destination!  It’s a bit hot, but given the weather in the states this week, who cares.  The meeting rooms are great, services is excellent, and the facilities are five star.  Very nice…(plus the pizza was pretty good).

5. Key take away – this company is committed to driving business through the channel without over distributing.   I’ve met some outstanding people on the Kaspersky side – all of them excited to be a part of this team and working hard to build the business.

Tomorrow I will be speaking first thing in the morning on how to leverage the discovery and assessment process to grow the business.  As with all security technology products, no one wants to spend money on insurance, but when a real need can be shown, sales cycles are quickly shortened.  Look for a recap on YouTube…which I’ll post tomorrow.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Preparing for this week’s upcoming Teleseminar on Successful Sales Management, a few random comments from things I see almost every day… (sign up at

1. Good sales people are entrepreneurs.  They can’t be managed like a team of factory workers.  Keep in mind – high risk, high reward.  Let let the compensation plan do most of the managing.

2. Building on No. 1 – high reward means you are willing to pay them when exceedingly great things happen, so don’t manipulate the pay plan, claiming they are making too much.  High risk (required to receive the reward part) means, when things don’t go well, they don’t make money.  It’s not your problem.

3. Complex compensation plans drive sales person into hours of meaningless research and number crunching.  They lock up the entire selling process.  Keep it simple.

4. Smart sales people are going to sell things that pay well.  Stop telling people what to sell – instead, design your compensation to drive the behavior you need.  This requires focus and a clear understanding of what needs to be sold.

5. Quota is not a tool for controlling how much people make.  It’s a gauge, letting you know if people are hitting the number required to stay.  Compute quota based on necessary performance, then design compensation to pay big on the things that are worth paying for.  E.g. Accelerators are great – but set them above quota if that’s where they need to be.  Don’t raise the quota just to make this year harder than last, instead raise the accelerator.  If people don’t make quota – send them on their way.

6. Don’t create two goals for any one person.  Selling is hard and requires focused effort.  Give a person one thing to aim at that will then drag many things.  That one thing becomes the strategic objective around which the compensation plan hinges.  This leads to successful selling.

7. Most meetings are a waste of the sales person’s time.  On the other hand, you need to know exactly where the sales are, the timing, the numbers, etc.  Let your CRM tool manage this and require your sales people to keep it up to date.  This is one area where micro management and penalties may apply.

8. Sales people are consummate negotiators.  Stability is required to create a strong sales team.  Set your “well thought out” plans in place, have a great, well constructed compensation plan, and hire people a great character.  Set things in motion and stick to them.  If a sale person isn’t making enough money, advise them to sell more or move on.  (This assumes that you really do have a well thought out plan).  Change leads to more thrashing.

9. Don’t accept a personal plan that compensates you more for selling then managing.  This leads to failure as a sales manager and is destined to lead to your own termination.  Negotiate your plan up front to focus on multiplying the sales of your team by working alongside them and relieving them of any and all distractions from selling.  Most sales people spend a solid 90 minutes a day selling.  Imagine if you could help them double this!

10. When new hires come on, ride with them, mentor them, and make sure they really know how to get started. Most won’t, but a little direction will go a long way.  If you’re too busy for this, it’s the wrong time to be hiring.

© David Stelzl, 2010


Just returning from my Dallas event with Ingram Micro…what a great trip and event!  Ingram Micro always does a great job hosting these types of programs for it’s reseller community…a few follow-up notes on my talk for those who attended and even those who did not…

There is a time to charge for assessments!

1. When the fee is commensurate with the sales effort

2. When the scope includes stake-holder level people who can see it through to remediation

3. When an assessment is required by law or internal policy

There is also a time to give it away…While some people hesitate to provide anything complementary, this may be short sighted…

1. Demonstrated by three assessments I was personally involved in, I showed one that sold for $125K – no remediation work followed, however the GP was extremely high given the efficiency of the deliverable.  In sample 2, I sold the deal for $36,000 – however, given my inexperience at the time (this was over 15 years ago), we disengaged from the buyer and produced a report that did not meet his expectations.  They never paid, and we took a loss.  In the third sample, the assessment was done for free, however it landed $32,000 in remediation and $7000/month in recurring managed services work with a three year contract.  Which would you choose?

2. For smaller assessment opportunities – SMB level business, it often makes sense to perform the assessment at no fee.  If your opportunity will sell for $2500 or $3500, an experience had by more than half of my audience, I showed that the amount of GP in the deal is not worth the trade off in control of the process.  While I do make somewhere in the range of $1500 to $2000 in GP (if I really know what I’m doing), the client controls the process simply because they’ve paid for it.  If I do it for free, I can demand time with any asset owner in the organization, both as part of the discovery as well as in the delivery, where I sell the remediation and managed services.  At any point, if management disengages, I can stop the process.  It’s free, so it’s my call.  In this case, the profit does not justify the sales time unless follow-up work is sold.

3. Finally, never give the assessment away – it’s not really free.  Not to contradict point 2, but to require a trade of services.  In the case of an event, executive attendance justifies a complementary assessment.  There may be other situations that do the same.  But don’t devalue your service by advertising free assessments.  Put a price tag on it and perform it as a gift for those willing to invest the time and energy at the right level.  Discernment is required – but in the end, you’ll create the justification needed.

4. Finally, the deliverable must sell the next step.  This is never a technical paper.  Data supports the case, however the measurement of risk must be delivered in a compelling business case document.  It’s like going for angel investor money.  You’ll need the support of economic buyers to move forward, so treat this as a marketing process and remember, it is your job to convince management if there’s a serious risk at hand, not IT’s.

I hate resumes

July 10, 2010 — 2 Comments

I think Wall Street’s headlines put an end to the recession a year or so ago – I guess they missed it.  In any case, there are lots of people on the street and resumes flying about wherever I look.  Most of them poorly written boiler plate text that won’t land a position with anyone worth working for.  I found this great (in my opinion) article through one of my colleagues…it’s worth a read if you are updating your resume.  I prefer to answer no, when someone says, “Do you have a resume.”


Social Networking

June 24, 2010 — Leave a comment

Some key points from today’s training on Social Media Marketing with and Business Service Management Sales Training with BMC Partners;

  • Sales and marketing must come together – sales people build their own brand
  • Buyers want expert advisers in business service management, ITIL, change management etc.  The sales person can no longer say, “I’m in sales”, but must rather be positioned as a consultant in one of more of these areas.
  • Every sales person should be commenting on blogs in their industry, using phrases that are searchable through Google, and considering building their own blog with links back to their corporate websites.
  • Publish,post, and tweet unique, edgy, controversial, and pointed information.  People want opinions not more bits and bytes.
  • Don’t advertise in social media.  No one wants to read another product special.
  • Build out your linkedIn profile – it’s your billboard so use it.  Use first person to create you summary, list searchable areas of expertise, and make is readable and interesting.
  • Connect with people – don’t be shy.  You’re in sales…
  • Join groups, create groups, and get involved in delivering unique content that will brand you as the expert.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of twitter.
  • Build a following.

© David Stelzl, 2010