Everything Sounds Reasonable in a Bubble

Experience is a tremendous guide to go-to-market strategy development, but it’s no substitute for data.

By Larry Walsh

The technology industry and channel are full of seasoned, experienced people. If you can get someone to talk about their experiences in running channels, interacting with distributors and partners, and managing C-suite expectations, you’ll get an MBA-level education. The reason vendors hire experienced channel leaders is because of their experience.

The channel is full of smart people too. Do a quick scan of LinkedIn to follow channel chief pedigree. Many channel leaders hold advanced degrees in business administration and engineering. They’ve held multiple types of jobs in sales, marketing, operations, and product management. They have outside interests such as serving on boards, teaching at universities, and developing start-up companies.

Arguing with seasoned and knowledgeable people is a challenge, which is why everything sounds good in a corporate conference room – or what we’ll call the “bubble.”

When you’re in the bubble, you hear about how things worked so well at the last job, tried-and-true strategies and tactics of successful peers, and how previous strategies will continue to work with evolving technology and market trends. Of course, much of this reassurance based on experience comes in the context of change.

And this is why everything sounds good in the bubble. It worked before, so it will work again.

It’s not to say that these assurances of future success based on sound strategies of the past are unfounded. Experience counts tremendously in the development and execution of channel strategies. Through experience, channel leaders can recognize potential opportunities and pitfalls before or as they emerge from the fog of daily operations.

Experience, however, can also create fog, blinding leaders and teams to courses of action that underperform or – worse – fail.

The problem with sitting in the bubble is that not everyone with a role in the go-to-market equation gets a seat.

In any go-to-market equation, you have at least four constituents that influence the outcome: yourself (the source), partners (resellers and distributors), customers, and competitors. Any one of these parties has the power to derail strategies and operations.

Inviting all the constituents into the conference room for collaboration is a practical impossibility. You need shortcuts to understanding market conditions, perceptions, experiences, and expectations. You can pierce the bubble through research and communications.

The 2112 Group facilitates partner research and communications on behalf of its clients and the general community. Here are some of the services we offer to ensure that the vendor bubble is permeable:

  • Perception Studies: Benchmarks of what partners, customers, and competitors think about your company, channel programs, and products.
  • Satisfaction Studies: Measures of how well you, your company, and programs are meeting the needs and expectations of your partners and customers.
  • Partner Profiling: Through our exclusive 2112 Profiler tool, 2112 can identify what technologies, products, and vendors partners sell and support.
  • Segmentation Analyses: Identification of partners by attributes that determine their performance probability.
  • Market Studies: Surveys of partners and customers to determine which technologies, systems, and brands they seek and perceive as having value.
  • Workshops and Advisory Councils: Facilitation of one-time or ongoing discussions with partners and customers to gather feedback on strategic concepts and initiatives.
  • In-Depth Interviews: One-on-one discussions with partners and customers to gather information about market trends, experiences, and potential disruptions.

Through applied research, you can get more well-rounded views of the surrounding market and world, uncover new opportunities, identify threats, craft strategies with greater chances of succeeding, and validate your experience with real data.

Some people think research tells you only the things you already know, but as management guru W. Edwards Deming said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”


Larry Walsh, The 2112 GroupLarry Walsh is the CEO of The 2112 Group, a business strategy and research firm servicing the IT channel community. He’s also the publisher of Channelnomics, the leading source of channel news and trend analysis. Follow Larry on Twitter at @lmwalsh2112 and subscribe to his podcast, Pod2112, on iTunes, Google Play, and other leading podcast sources. You can always e-mail Larry directly at lmwalsh@the2112group.com.