How many employees can name the Channel Partners responsible for 80% of your revenue over the last 12 months?

Follow me as I blog my way through my book: 99 Questions to Jump Start Your Partner Channel Brain.

99Questions_standard_Page_031One thing you learn in engineering school is the importance of rules-of-thumb. While mathematicians concern themselves with precision, engineers live by SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guesses).

For much of life, estimates are generally good enough:

  • You shouldn’t buy a house that costs more than 2½ years’ worth of your income. (
  • A good question beats a good answer. ( ← as you might guess, I like this one A LOT!
  • The sale price of a small business is between seven and ten times the average profit of the last three years. ( ← there are several other great ones on this page
  • The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint (Guy Kawasaki)

Which brings me to the story of Pareto. Pareto was an Italian economist who became famous for his work, published in 1906, which observed that 20% of the population owned a whopping 80% of the real estate in Italy.

Known now as the 80/20 rule, Pareto’s Power Law has got to be the most often cited and over-abused (sorry for the Bushism) rule-of-thumb for defining income inequality, poverty, size of earthquakes, the frequencies of words in most languages and the concentration of revenue from just a handful of Channel Partners.

Not many names to remember

And that’s the beauty of the 80/20 rule. Your list of top producers is a short list. A small number. For many of you, you may be able to count them on one hand.

So there’s absolutely no excuse for making sure that everyone in your company knows who these Channel Partners are. Not just the sales staff—everyone.


  • Reception
  • Shipping and receiving
  • IT
  • Finance, A/P and A/R (especially A/R, for goodness sake!)
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • HR
  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Chief ______ Officer  (the entire executive team)

Bonus: if your executive team doesn’t get a perfect score, let them buy lunch for everyone in the company.

What would be the impact?

If you were to implement this for just a couple quarters in your business, what would be the impact on your staff? Would they speak with Channel Partners differently? Would there be an impact on your Channel Partners?

Your business may be different, but when I’ve instituted this policy in my companies the result is astounding.

For many employees—especially those who have little day-to-day connection with customers or Channel Partners—knowing the players drew them into the business. Suddenly, the names on the emails and PowerPoints meant something. Rush orders and special handling required less begging and pleading.

And my biggest partners told me the change was noticeable.

John Fox

John Fox

CEO - Founder at Venture Marketing
I’m an experienced, revenue-focused, B2B marketing leader especially devoted to the success of the direct and channel sales rep. After all, at the pivotal moment of truth—when reps meet one-on-one with qualified decision-makers—everything the company has put in place to make this meeting happen will be measured.
John Fox