What one thing could any Channel Partner sales rep do (specifically) to make money with your product today? What can they do today to put cash in their wallets?

is blogging through each question in his book: 99 Questions to Jump Start Your Partner Channel Brain.

Question #29 in 99 Questions to Jump Start Your Partner Channel BrainI want you to take a ride on Mr. Peabody’s wayback machine to 1980. Intel, the undisputed 8-bit microprocessor king, had stumbled. Xerox had just selected Motorola’s 16-bit processor for their next generation word processor (the predecessor of the office PC). That loss was the tipping point for Intel technology.

Week after week another Intel customer announced their intentions to “play with another team.” Intel was on the ropes. Japanese competitors were waging a price war on DRAM and EPROM memory chips while Motorola and Zilog were giving them Hell in microprocessors. It was a two-front assault. Many predicted doom. The stock was tanking.

In Santa Clara the sky was officially falling.

I was there. I was an insider and can give you just a small snapshot of one of many tactics the company used to defend, repel and overthrow the barbarians at the gate.

Aside from a company-wide incentive program (aka, Operation: Crush) aimed at new design wins and taking $150 million investment from IBM as part of a major licensing deal—giving IBM rights to manufacture their own Intel-designed microprocessors—Intel opened its kimono to the world, giving everyone a peek at future, unannounced products, such as the infamous 32-bit microprocessor, the 432.

intel432This was big news. While everyone in the press and engineering water coolers were talking about next-generation 16-bit processors, Intel changed the conversation to 32-bits. You don’t have to know anything about the chip business to understand the sheer brilliance in this move.

The reason I’m telling you this is the critical role our Distributors played.

The future-technology announcement strategy hinged on trotting out some of our chief engineers from the 432 design group in Aloha, Oregon to the field to give seminars on the future of microprocessors. 

Since there was no time to waste, our Distributors became the main conduit to the broad, engineering audience. Seminars (mostly, major ballroom-style events) were scheduled by Intel. Distributors got butts into the seats.

If you were an engineer, you wanted to be there. But you needed a ticket. And the great majority of the tickets were held by our distributors. I don’t really recall if there was a charge for the tickets, but there could have been.

And that’s my point.

Here’s how I believe it could be done today.

Let’s assume you’re in charge of Channel Partners at HP. It can be any company, but I’ll use HP since everyone knows the trouble they’re in. While I’m certain HP could follow Intel’s 1980-82 playbook and trot out its own white coat geniuses, let’s do something ever cooler.

Since I’m in charge of my mythical scenario, I’m going to put Meg Whitman on the road (and on the offensive!). Meg is well-liked and well known, especially among SMBs. Her former eBay reputation is just that strong.

I’d reach out to all my Channel Partners and create a series of live (and simulcast) events with Ms. Whitman as the featured speaker. No PR fluff. Instead, real, red-meat. Details. Plans. Strategies.

None of the sessions would be free. Customers have to pay to attend. Channel Partners sell tickets with all the proceeds going directly into their pockets…not HP’s.

Naturally, Meg HAS TO change the conversation. She’s got to take customers up to the HP technology and services mountain and let them see the promise land (just like God did with Moses!) beyond today’s technology conversation dominated by personalities from the likes of Cisco, Asus, Apple and Google.

I’m sure Ms. Whitman can do this.

Far fetched? Perhaps. But my point is not so much about seminars and future products. Rather, I want to illustrate that even companies in a heap of trouble can create value for their Channel Partners to take advantage of immediately (as in, cash in wallet today).

It doesn’t have to be futurist, either. It’s called priming the pump. Demonstrating how Channel Partners can put cash into their pockets today for doing activities that help them achieve the bigger goals, just like my John Doerr example.

So you’re not HP? No problem.

I’m convinced you can create saleable “products” to put into your Channel Partner’s hands for them to sell and deliver on your behalf today:

  • Skill assessments.
  • Pre-sale technology readiness assessments.
  • Pay Channel Partners for writing articles, case studies.
  • Comparison guides.
  • Let Channel Partners sell your book (assuming you have one) and they get 100% of the sale. Plus, give 5X the face value in the form of a rebate to the customer.
  • Seminar featuring one of your executives. Partners sell tickets and keep 100%.

Any of these ideas is easy to trial out in a few geographies before a major investment. If you have more resources, you can split-test a few simultaneously.


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