Everyone sees the world through a different lens.
At no time has this fact struck me harder then at a recent partner event. The event was designed to bring channel partners from around the world into one room to learn and discuss the future of manufacturer’s product direction.
Now any time you get folks from all parts the of the world into a room there’s bound to be differences of opinion, but I was shocked by the reality distortion of some individuals when it came to certain topics, like product roadmaps.
This not to say that their reality was distorted negatively; it’s just that many failed to see that there is no such thing as one size fits all or one way to please them all. An especially vexing position for a manufacturer to be in, considering they have to attempt to serve many masters.
So what’s a manufacturer and a channel partner to do? Maybe consider a different view:
- You – As a channel partner, be it distributor, reseller or retailer you always want what is best for your company and the customers or market you serve. No one expects less, but the plain truth is that most channel partners are specialized in one particular area. There are few, if any, one size fits all partner because it is virtually impossible to serve everyone’s needs adequately if you are playing in any market of considerable size (trust me, I’ve tried). Your best bet is to align yourself with those manufacturers who fit your niche and value proposition; then educate current and courted manufacturers on how you can help them address that market. Never fight or demand; show them how you can give them a hand.
- Market – We’re all part of the market and thus the “market” is a vast landscape with folks at all levels looking for different products and services. Typically there are mass and then niche market products all which attempt to meet demand. Demand, however is tricky. What has hot yesterday, might not be hot tomorrow and manufacturers must keep a keen eye on the future; as much as preserving the here and now. Same goes for channel partners, expect we’re typically niche players ourselves, however we need to be mindful of the overall trends that are occurring. “Follow the money” is a famous saying that hold some truth; just don’t don’t turn that follow into a chase. Overall channel members, serve your market today and do it well, but look for parallel and ancillary niches that a growing to fuel your expansion.
- Manufacturers - You’ve always got the most to win and the most to lose. You’ve got to serve and protect existing market, place bets on the future and respond rapidly to new trends. You’ve got to know the end customer, but also satisfy the demands of your channel. Doing this all successfully is no easy feet. But the best of the breed, all have one thing in common. They are great listeners; they listen to their end customers, their channel partners and the market THEN make decisions on where you are headed (which in this day and age can be done quite rapidly) . You will never serve everyone, nor will you ever make us all happy, however, at least let us know we’ve been heard.
There’s a multitude of different ways to look at anything, all of which is distorted by our own self-interest and experiences. But some times it’s good to step back and take a different view.
You might just find that you’ll learn something new.