What’s Missing in Your Indirect Channel?

Entering or expanding your presence in the Asia Pacific region invariably requires working with an indirect model engaging channel partners in one form or another, for all or part of your business. There have been many and varied ways of recruiting, enabling and managing your channel partners, just as many agreement types to work with, all well documented, all well researched. We have, over our years of experience, witnessed those that have worked, unfortunately many more that have not. After thirty odd years of business, many organizations in the IT sector continue to struggle with the complexities of an indirect route to market, nowhere more so than in Asia Pacific.

Of course there will be academic nomenclatures for some of the more common scenarios exhibited, however we have provided a slightly more descriptive categorization of those we come across commonly, all have something missing in the relationship.

“Dump and Run’ Model

Mr Vendor recruits Mr Channel Partner, seemingly with all the right criteria followed for selecting the perfect partner. The agreement is negotiated, the contract is signed, hand shakes and bows exchanged. Mr Vendor hands over a box of collateral, some CD’s and manuals, a help desk number, a web address and gets on the next plane returning home, heading straight for the fax machine to collect the flood of orders. Obviously a slight exaggeration, yet not an uncommon approach to partner recruitment.

Clearly partnerships require commitment from both parties. On one side the commitment to enable and transfer skills and knowledge, on the other a commitment to provide capable resources and focus, and a mutual commitment to agree a business plan, with continued review and measurement.

“Show Me Yours First – Stand Off” Model

These agreements take a form where Mr Vendor won’t provide anything or make any significant commitments until Mr Channel Partner first shows some commitment to the ’cause’, maybe hiring dedicated staff, allocating marketing budget or opening the ‘kimono’ up to the customer list.

Mr Channel Partner on the other hand hesitates to provide or commit precious funds and resources until Mr Vendor shows an active desire to support through supplying qualified leads, committing to free training or allocating resources to work with Mr Channels Partner resources. After a time with each waiting for the other to make the first move and not living up to expectations, little if any business is written and the partnership fades with both parties moving on to other pastures.

‘Indirect Is Cheaper’ Model

Many unfortunately still look to the indirect channel model as a free or cheap entry into a market with an expectation of huge success. The indirect model in any of its forms requires discounts, infrastructure and support, by implication there is a cost to this. It should NEVER be considered free.

What should be expected from any indirect channel model is a broader reach into previously unavailable markets with access to domain expertise and or regional experience at a better return for each dollar of outlay. Straight forward, right? Not for all unfortunately.

One all too common example is relatively successful and established organizations making the decision to change to the ‘cheap’ indirect model, significantly downsizing or closing local operations, not implementing a channel enablement and support infrastructure, nor managing the customer expectations. The expectation being revenue and maintenance renewals will continue and grow and the partners would carry on business as usual. The results, not surprisingly, are usually massive drops in revenue, defection of customers, partner dissatisfaction, low staff morale and competitor successes.

‘The Silver Bullet’ Model

Many organizations enter a market such as Asia Pacific looking for the ‘silver bullet’ channel partner, the one that has the contacts, the relationships, technical and sales skills, support infrastructure to sell and support their products – the obvious choice for the desired market segment. Of course this is the perfect scenario. What is often missed is that these channel partners (likely larger organizations) will have a sales force paid on gross profit, already committed to selling known products from multiple vendors with targets like any other sales force.

Ask yourself the question: Will a salesperson focus on a new, unknown, difficult to sell product with a slightly higher margin or will they go and achieve their quota with what they know and what is currently selling, even though the margin may be slightly lower?

‘Committed Start-Up’ Model

Relative to the above, seemingly a reasonable approach. Mr Start Up Partner will be keen to prove themselves, hungry for revenue, eager to impress, often with a specific domain expertise and driven to build their business. Everything that one could want in a sales force. Sometimes. What about resource availability and quality? What about scalability? Smaller organizations will be juggling issues like cash-flow, breadth of relationships, depth of contacts? Again, there are numerous examples of these well intentioned ‘partnerships gone wrong’.

‘You Need Us More Than We Need You’ Model

Typically either Mr Vendor or Mr Channel Partner are a recognized brand in their specific market, sometimes even both. The one more recognized in the market to which the other wants access plays hard ball, or more often, an individual charged with the relationship, suddenly wants to show their value and plays hard ball. A relationship built on animosity from the outset, destined for the ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ pile. These relationships do have much to offer when executed correctly but can be difficult to manage or negotiate if either party believes they are in the dominant position with little to gain.

If all of these scenarios sound unfamiliar … then credit to your channel people, they should be rewarded handsomely as your channel is most likely working well for you, with mutual benefit.

But if any sound a little too familiar then … the big question! “What IS missing in my indirect channel?”

It’s not difficult to search out the plethora of material on the ‘6 things’ or maybe even ’12 things’ you must do to make a channel partnerships work. Or, on how to select your channel partners with what criteria etc. All these will have valid guidelines, all will have important aspects you should take note of and incorporate in your channel approach. Most will highlight aspects of company alignment, market segmentation, sales processes, clear rules of engagement and documentation of mutual expectations combined with constant, open communications, some identify a need to support your channel partner through resources and infrastructure, even funding of direct sales support during the enablement stage. All of which is correct and important.

Personally I like to boil things down to their simplest level, a common denominator or two. In this instance there is a fundamental state of mind that determines whether the partnership will succeed or fail, the one thing in the scenarios above that is missing.

A level of desire and ability to INVEST.

Each of the scenarios fail due to a lack of investment and we are not talking only of financial investment. We are talking about investment in all its forms – time, resources, focus, commitment and financial.

The ‘dump and run’ model lacks investment in support and commitment; ‘show me yours first’ lacks investment in the relationship and building trust; ‘indirect is cheaper’ lacks investment in many areas and so on. I’m sure you get the point.

Think of it this way, you would not expect your bank to pay you a dividend or interest income if you have zero dollars invested in your account. So it is amusing and somewhat worrying when speaking with seasoned and generally successful executives who seek to expand into Asia Pacific, actively avoiding investment in their channel development, yet they maintain high expectations of results. This is no more important than in Asia Pacific, a region accepted as requiring a strong indirect channel strategy to succeed, built on commitment, relationships and mutual trust.

The summary

The key to a successful channel partner strategy and in turn a business that will grow and gain strength year on year is simply, a commitment to invest appropriately based on the returns required and expected. Namely in the areas of:

o Understanding the market through research and segmentation.

o Partner selection and due diligence.

o Partner enablement (resource allocation & execution support).

o Support infrastructure and partner management.

o Communication, relationship and trust building.

o Regular and focused reviews.

Like all good things, successful, mutually beneficial relationships require commitment, focus and effort – there are no short cuts, there is no money for nothing. Your outcomes, returns and profit is directly proportional to your desire and ability to invest in your channels.

Uncover the Mysteries of Asia

Have you been to Asia? Have you explored the beauty of Asia? If no is your answer, you have missed a bit of your life. Asia has a lot to show to the people and to tourists as well. Asia houses some of the best tropical countries which is very much ideal to those who would like to get a taste of hot summer weather. It is more than perfect especially for tourists from the west who always have cool temperature. There are actually many things that Asia could offer and not just those beaches. There are spots here that have been recorded as one of the wonders of the world. There are also places which has a wide and interesting history to share to newcomers. Asia is known as the largest continent and with its size comes a lot of places to explore.

Where to Go in Asia

If you are the type of person looking for tropical beaches, you can visit the islands of the Philippines like Boracay, Cam Sur, Siargao and Palawan. There are also beaches in Thailand, Bali in Indonesia and Langkawi in Malaysia. If you are the person who loves looking at temples and historical figures, Thailand is the place to be. If you are looking for great cuisine and a lot of modern tourists’ spots, you can go to Singapore. If you love to shop, you can go to Hong Kong. If you would also like to see some of the wonders of the world, you can go to China for the Great Wall of China, to the Philippines for the Banaue Rice Terraces, etc. Aside from that all Asian countries offer a wide array of tasty and delicious food. Anywhere you go, there is always something interesting to eat. You can always look at each country and search them via the internet and see more of their famous spots.

Revealing Some Secrets in Asia

This may no longer be a secret to some but one of the most visited places in Asia is Johor Bahru. It is a city located in Malaysia that connects the country to Singapore. This city is highly visited because it is highly urbanized, has the best shopping experience and has many attractions to visit to. These attractions may not be like those in Thailand but they have a few to boast. Aside from that, this city is one place where Singaporeans and Malaysians meet and greet, have fun and enjoy the night away! Aside from Johor Bahru another place which hasn’t been explored that much is Burau Bay which is found in Langkawi. Just like famous beaches, this place boasts a nice and seductive beach and shore line. It is also surrounded by wild rainforests. This town is yet to be discovered for some people since this beach front is not that famous as of now.

Those are just some of the many and thousands places you have to uncover in Asia. There are so many attractions to see that a month’s trip wouldn’t be able to cover it all. Once you arrive in Asia, you will be greeted by great and colorful culture along with hospitable people. Enjoy your travel soon!

Asia Cruise – How to Maximize Your Vacation in 5 Easy Ways

An Asia cruise allows you to discover fresh sea foods, expensive imported fruits, great water activities and also thrilling evening markets. A travel to Asia allows you to check out virgin seashores, century-old churches, coupled with a variety of religious and even social celebrations, glimmering temples along with the warmth as well as hospitality of the citizens.

Having an Asian adventure should not compel you to invest a year’s value of personal savings. Meticulous planning not less than three to six months in advance should really get the job done. More or less all you need to do is go along with these five hassle-free suggestions to help improve your travel to Asia.

1. Arrange your flights at least three months earlier on some sort of budget airline. They feature flight fare 30% to 50% cheaper as compared to big airlines. Frequently, budget airlines feature special deals in which you only need to pay for air travel taxes, which signify zero air fare. A handful of the much more well-known budget airlines touring in and around Asia include Tiger Airways (Singapore), Eurasia (Malaysia), Cebu Pacific (Philippines) and Jetstar Asia (Singapore). These flight companies or nearly all of them equally provide flights to Australia and several additionally have flights to UK and Hawaii.

Add Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong within all your itineraries. Flights toward many of these spots are mostly more affordable and way more constant. Use the bus, train or ferry if heading from just one place to another. Mix trips so you will be able to conserve a great deal of money than traveling by air.

In the event that you choose to travel with Singapore Airlines, you will get to end up with an absolutely free city tour and also enable you to pay a visit to great landmarks found in Singapore in the airlines’ bright colored tour bus. That could be, in the event you keep your boarding pass long enough when you arrive in the airport.

2. Learn about cultures along with practices in the countries you are about to visit. Find out how to carry out activities that’s not offending to their culture. Know how to behave, address people as well as say things accordingly.

Travel a few days or maybe a week ahead of any premier festival. This way, you will be able to get a totally free immersion in their particular local customs. Several festivals you can’t miss are Lantern Celebration in Seoul, Chinese New Year in Shanghai or Hong Kong, Deepavali in Singapore and Pahiyas Festival in the Philippines.

3. Buy your souvenirs within flea as well as evening markets. Besides presenting low cost pieces, you can also acquire rate reductions when you haggle enough. Among the better evening markets you can travel to are the Russian Market in Phnom Penh, Ben Than market in Ho Chi Minh, evening markets in the Shenzhen boundary and then in Hong Kong, as well as the Chatukak market in Bangkok.

4. Take a trip like a local. Try out the horse-drawn calesa along with the jeepneys in Manila, move round Phnom Penh in a tuktuk, cruise Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong on-board the Star Ferry. Wind up awestruck with the interesting free Light and Sound Show at around 8 pm in Hong Kong.

5. You could try just about all the local food items that you can. Food stalls in close proximity to schools as well as market offer you low price meals. Trying out every one of the exotic cuisines is going to be adventure itself. Several of the must-visit destinations include Bali and Manila for fresh sea foods, makeshift tents all over Seoul for a little hot treats, and also hawker stalls spotted all-around Kuala Lumpur and Singapore for a bit of nasi plus laksa. Almost all these food sampling as well as dining at restaurants will really help make your entire Asia cruise worth it.