Recently, I posted on my blog that one notable technology vendor was reversing their decision for a “Global” channel program in favor of a more localized effort. My point was that this seemed to be bucking the trend for globalization and standardization elsewhere in the industry. However, in less than 2 years this decision was reversed.
Well, to answer this question lets first address the appeal of a standardized global program: Today’s multi-lingual, multi-currency SFA/PRM solutions facilitate a common platform throughout all global territories. The resulting standardization assures that consistency and simplicity program-wide is attainable now more than any other time in the past. What’s more, the universal set of program standards and reporting inherent in the design give executives a strong sense of control and empowerment-which feels really good if you’re writing the check. It is no wonder that this is the key selling point for system standardization. However, the people writing the check aren’t the people that ultimately get the work done.
Very few channel partners indeed have a global trading area. And although the promise of a “Global Village” is nearing every day, I contend that for most of us it is far from a homogenous market. Channel marketing, by definition, implies “creating efficiencies through partnership to delivering products and services to the consumer”. When designing a channel program, there is a lot to consider about its application on a global scale because while consumers en mass are indeed global, any one purchaser is local. For a global program to be truly effective, there needs to be common standards across the following: category maturity, channel maturity, regulatory requirements (as to how incentives may earned and paid among them), GTM strategy, solution “mix”, value added requirements that must be fulfilled by the channel, distribution strategy, availability of local resources, logistics and fulfillment, culture and language (and its impact on the sales process), business processes associated with program management, marketing mix, pre- post sales training support requirements, customer purchase motivations……….do I really need to go on?
The point is, any difference in any one of these conditions from market to market will require some adaptation of your program. Therefore, the sheer number of conditions that require localized adaptation then multiplied their relative importance to your channel GTM will address the full scope of localization required for your program to be equally effective globally.
The good news is, that there are solutions out there that will allow you to “have your cake and eat it too” through localized flexibility and centralized reporting and control. But no solution is ideal for everyone (“You can please some people all of the time or all people some of the time……”), so it’s best to REALLY understand your requirements before you completely push your pendulum from localization to centralization (or visa versa). In closing, I repeat what I stated in previous posts: it shouldn’t be a matter of one extreme of the other (as seems to happen), as the ideal global program is likely a compromise between local flexibility and centralized systems. I know we can help you get there.