Managing Channel Relationships

Managing Channel Relationships

In a growth business, why are channel/distribution, relationships the key to continued growth?

The four key growth strategies are Brand, Product ecosystems, Channels and Sales.  Out of all of these, the most difficult to master for most is Channels.  You'll find the explanation in the context of each strategic area.

For Brand, it's about focus and positioning your business and your product in the marketplace. It’s a strategic conversation and about bringing in the best advisors and
agencies to design and develop your Brand DNA.

For Product and Product ecosystems it’s about choice. You can strategically work your way through the innovation process to come up with a product architecture to engage and sell to the market.

Sales are the easiest understood of the four growth strategies and is about creating relationships to convert sales.

The trick with Channels is that the context is not only about creating a relationship - it's about maintaining and managing that relationship. And relationships are complicated.

Relationships rely on clear communication where expectations are created, agreed and broken. If you go out to the market and ask anyone if they have the same relationships in business they started with, you’ll find it’s very few. If you find anyone with even one relationship that’s stayed constant, that’s remarkable.

One of the few people I’ve met in the remarkable category told me this story. He ran a business selling carpet to developers and forged a relationship with one of the biggest developers in Sydney. He did this by a simple act early on: he pointed out that he had been triple paid by accident on a particular job. This one act created a healthy relationship bonded with trust that lasted for many years. He was repeatedly granted work without having to quote, and as long as he maintained the relationship and didn’t do anything to jeopardise it over the years, he won and so did the developer.

So, why is relationship management so hard for so many?  Its all about how well you manage a relationship. Creating and maintaining a relationship is a process and a discipline.

Firstly, it's about knowing the benefits of being in relationship and what could be.

Secondly, it's about understanding what breaks relationships: the fears. These are most often not talked about at the outset, nor are they well managed throughout a relationship.

The key is how to manage expectations while being clear on the benefits.

All relationships need love. By revisiting the expectations on both sides regularly, checking in they still work for all parties, relationships are maintained.  Having the conversations while in relationship can allay the fears most of us can have around trust and integrity, control, quality, consistency and timeliness.

Once you have mastered Channel creation and management, it is then key to build a process around it that can be followed by others in your business. This way you can ensure that as you grow all your relationships are attended to through the process.


Tim Dwyer is a business growth expert, who specialises in helping businesses strategically grow their assets, increase their business value, and improve their capabilities. Tim would welcome the opportunity to share more with you about Growth Metrics for business. You can contact Tim, and read more of his business insights and advice via his profile and learn more about Growth Metrics here.

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