Coaching channel partners: which game do you want to play?

Which of those roles are you more likely to play when dealing with your channel partners? Bully, victim or rescuer?
That’s the question I asked the participants in a recent workshop I delivered. Most of them answered that bullying their channel partners was probably the role they had to play the most to get sales results. “They always complain, don’t send me any accurate information, I’m even sure they even try to position other products on some leads we sent them” was saying a young sales rep. “I have to remind them who’s the boss, right?” he added, as the rest of the group nodded approvingly.
“Well, I sometimes play the victim and it works” said another participant, adding “You know at the end of the quarter, when I’m not sure to hit my target, I get them closing the deals…and when THEY are in trouble I’m the one who come to rescue them..”.

I asked them if they actually played the three roles, depending on what the situation and what they were trying to achieve. They all agreed it was true.
In the workshop, the fist series of role plays is based on those three behaviours, trying to achieve a common goal, winning a deal, based on a specific case study. The first series of role plays usually ends with no agreement between the sales rep and the channel partner and the deal is lost.
The second part of the workshop focuses on how to use coaching as a way to work more efficiently with channel partners. After reviewing the main coaching models, techniques and behaviours, the second series of role plays gives an opportunity to use coaching on the same deal. The outcome is usually a clear win-win situation. Opportunity review meeting, opportunity management coaching session, preparation of a meeting with the prospect, each interaction between the sales rep and their channel partner becomes more productive.
Participants find out that rather than “telling” the partners what they should do to win a deal, a collaborative and coaching-oriented approach leads to better results.
“Coaches and coachees”or “victims, bullies and rescuers”? What game do you really want to play to win more deals?

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