Theresa Caragol

"You have to ask yourselves: Do we have to have the right foundation that allows us to do one-to-many, and do we have the right people with the right skill set so they can be successful?"

Theresa Caragol, founder and principal consultant of AchieveUnite, LLC, a strategic advisory firm that provides performance partnering and business acceleration services to global enterprises, has been named a Channeltivity Channel Champion.

Channel Champions are selected because they have built thriving relationships with their partners and are growing their channel programs, or with Theresa, helping many channels to grow, in exciting ways.

View the video to hear Theresa talk about the strategies that are most effective for channel growth, pitfalls to avoid, and where she sees the channel evolving.

Channeltivity: What do you believe has the biggest impact on the success of a channel program?

Caragol: When you think about the success of your Channel program you really have to think about it, think about it like a house.

If you don’t have the right plans for the house, you don’t have the right strategy for the house, it’s not going to get built correctly. If you don’t have the right foundation, the structure, the automation, the foundation of the house it’s going to fall apart later. And then if you don’t have the right people building the house it’s not going to work.

So you have to think about when we build our channel programs, do we have to have the right strategy and the right plan. We have to have the right foundation that allows us to do one-to-many and we have to have the right people working on it with the right skill set so they can be successful.

Channeltivity: What do you see emerging with innovative partner programs? 

Caragol: I see several things emerging with channel programs. One simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. Two, how do we improve the partner experience?  We have to get out of the lens as vendors and service providers with channels and we have to put ourselves in the minds and the hearts of our partners and we have to create an incredible partner experience for our partners.

I see enablement and education and value beyond the products that we offer as being way more important. I see really concrete simple business planning and I see us really needing to get out of a hierarchy of doing business as vendors. And believe that our partners are the ones that have the face and the hearts of the customers and how do we enable their success. 

Channeltivity: How do you believe PRM solutions, like Channeltivity, can help a channel program reach their goals?

Caragol: Automation is a critical part of channel programs, and if you think about going back to our foundation of the house, if we don’t have automation in place it’s very hard for us to scale to do business with more than one-to-one transactions. So the automation the PRMs– they’re the foundation of the house.

Companies like Channeltivity who offer very simple easy-to-use solutions are really critical in building these successful programs long term.

Channeltivity: What do you see as most often failing in programs you work with?

Caragol: So I see three things failing in partner programs today. One is companies take a transactional mindset instead of a partner-for-life mindset. We need to be thinking as vendors and service providers about our partners as extensions of our organization and as partners for life. We’ve done extensive research on partner lifetime value and we can quantify now exactly what the predictors are for long-term partner successful relationships. So that’s one.

Two is the complexity I see in these partner programs is astronomical. It’s too much business planning that takes hours and multiple tabs to complete and isn’t actionable at the end of the session. MDF that is so complex that it has many, many pages to a guide, and partners don’t know how to take advantage of it. So this complexity that has to get reduced is really important.

And then the third thing is we fail on what the right strategy is. Evaluate it constantly. Every six months to a year we have to evaluate our strategy and make sure that we’ve got the right plan and we’re executing the right plan to be successful.

Channeltivity: What words of advice would you have for channel managers?

Caragol: So I have three areas of advice for channel managers. One, continue to improve both your EQ and your IQ. You know it is as important as your intellect in the channel and being an expert in your space as it is to have the soft skills and the understanding of what it takes to build long trusted relationships. So that’s one to really put your minds and your hearts into the mind and the heart of a channel partner. What is the owner of the partner thinking about? What does the sales rep care about? Because if we do that we will build programs that really enable their success and we’ll build initiatives that enable their success. And three, it’s all about relationships and it’s all about trust, so make sure that you know and understand what those folks care about and how you help them be successful.