The Penguin’s Hockey Guide to Channel Enablement

OK. Got your attention at least. Otherwise, who’d look at a posting on Channel Enablement?
More importantly, how am I ever going to draw a link between the two things?
The Penguin's Hockey Guide to Channel Enablement

The comparison is simple.
No sports franchise has ever been successful without nurturing good players from the bottom up. They scout for the precise skills and character that match their team culture and goals, and every scout they send out knows exactly what he/she is looking for. Once they find a prospective player, they bring him up through farm system where all of those specific skills and attitudes are trained, ingrained, and reinforced, reinforced, reinforced. (US channel enablement types call this onboarding.)

By the time a player has been brought up to the pros, he knows exactly the style of play that is expected by the front office, the coaches, and general manager. He knows the expectations for behavior as well. From the day he first signed out of high school, each player has been steeped in the culture the team has fostered and the behavior expected on and off the field. This “build from the ground up” is the hallmark of a successful franchise in any major league sport. I’m not sure what sports teams call this process, but in the channel world we call it enablement.

Bringing on new channel partners to sell your product or service should be a very similar situation, but we know that isn't happening very often. Let’s look at companies that rely on channel distribution for the bulk of their revenues. They go out looking for channel distributors, sign them up, provide a catalog, maybe an orientation day or two of on-site training and off everyone goes. They expect the model to yield revenues without significant efforts on their own part, and then get all shocked when sales don’t take off and the results from each new partner are a disappointment.

Looking at the efforts taken to make a successful sports franchise, why would you not expect that the same effort, nurturing, training and support is necessary to make your channel model a success?

The lesson for sports fans who want to sell is that if you expect a channel partner to succeed, you have the responsibility to give them the knowledge they need. You need to enable them, and that means training them from the first day they sign on. This means walking them through your messaging and the pain points of the leads they will encounter. They need to be guided via an onboarding process, along the sales path, be told every obstacle and dead end, so they can get to a sale fast. Successful professional sports franchises take great effort and planning to succeed. The same model is true in the channel distribution model. We just call it something different, and they don't feature us on ESPN.

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