As you are a channel partner manager, you know that proper navigation through your channels is key. For the sake of this article, let's pretend that the Channel Partner Manager is the Captain of a cruise ship.
Before the Captain sets sail on a vessel, what happens first? He gathers the First Mates and crew and sets the course before he leaves the terminal. What does the traffic in the harbor look like on the day of departure? How will the weather affect the journey? At what ports of call will you anchor? What are the high tide and low tide schedule? What happens on the ship to make sure that the passengers are safe, comfortable, and happy? What happens IF THE SHIP START SINKING? Of course, we can add many other items that would need to be covered, but let's take these points and apply them to you and your channel partners.
"What does the traffic look like in the harbor?"
As the Captian, you need your First Mates (Channel Partners) to inform you of the obstacles that are preventing the deals from closing and the timing of when the deals will come across the plate. More than likely, competitors will be bidding for the business that your First Mates are pursuing. Do they need assistance on sales calls, competitive battle cards, or direct-from-the-source demos? Navigate around the other ships in the harbor to get to the open sea.
"How will the weather affect the journey?"
This is when a good Captain has the foresight to be aware of any danger to the ship that may happen in the near future. If a hurricane is approaching in 4 months (ie. New VP of Sales, change in the C-Suite, acquisition, etc.), work with the First Mates to make sure the transition is smooth and that your ship is top-of-mind throughout the process. Put on the live vests and brace yourself! You'll get through it, but if you do not prepare for the inevitable "bad weather", you may go down with the ships. Now, if it's sunny and 80-degrees, enjoy your sail! Keep up a great attitude and serve, serve, serve. Don't forget to put on the sunscreen, though!
"At what ports-of-call will you anchor?"
OR, "When will you anchor at the port and regroup with the First Mates?" Check-in's, conferences, sales meetings, and dinner with the C-Suite is a great opportunity to build personal relationships. Get to know each other a little better. Decide together when these meetings will happen, what needs to be accomplished, and what happens next. Everyone has been busy on deck sailing the boat, entertaining the guests (End Customers), and working below deck making sure the ship is full-steam forward. Make your ports-of-call an event and a rapport-building activity.
"What is the high tide and low tide schedule?"
Industries can be seasonal. When are the peak months and low months of business? the Captain needs to communicate with the First Mates as to when a push happens in marketing and when call behavior needs to increase. The tides are a natural occurrence. Be sure to keep your eye on the moon or you can get stranded on the deserted island with no way out to sea.
"What needs to happen to make sure the passengers are safe, comfortable, and happy?"
Ahh, the end-customers. The ones enjoying the products and services. Aer they sipping pina colada by the poolside tiki bar? Are they snorkeling with the fishes in the tropics? Or, are they sea sick on a rough journey? The Captain must keep the telescope on the First Mates' customers. they are the buyers and revenue-generators.
"What happens if the ship starts sinking?"
ICEBERG! When a Captain realizes the ship is sinking, a lot of shoulda-woulda-coulda starts happening. What has happened is that the points earlier in the article didn't happen. Set your itinerary, set your navigation, and keep an eye not only on the sea before you but on the decks below you. Remember, women and children first in the life boats and a good Captain always goes down with the ship. In other words, own your failures and learn from them to sail another day.