The Screen Play

A screen play, as any football fan knows, uses distraction and a wall of blockers to keep the defensive team at bay.

After the recent Super Bowl and victory of my hometown New York Giants, I keep seeing everything in terms of football metaphors. Last week one of my clients was intensely reviewing their go-to-market strategy. However, they were focused on the channel, while overlooking the end-customer. My client, I observed, was about to fall for a screen play.

In a previous blog post Who is the Customer? I noted that many companies start thinking that their customer is the channel, not the end-user. This happens because manufacturers are in much more frequent contact with channel partners. And, that’s a key factor in the channel screen play.

The channel, whether intentionally or unintentionally, screens manufacturers from actual customers. To break through the screen and stay engaged with end-customers, manufacturers can pick from a wide range of tactics:

• Joint sales calls on end-users with the channel partner
• Informational calls on the end-user without the channel partner
• End-customer training events and webinars
• Formation of an end-user advisory council
• Customer research and “voice of the customer” surveys
• Engage with customers via the Web, customer portals and social media
• Participation in national and regional trade shows
• Assigned executive programs – where key managers meet occasionally with executives at selected end-customers
• Analysis of channel point-of-sale data

Share the findings with your channel partners. Use the data to drive your channel strategy. Just make sure to do whatever it takes to stay abreast of customer usage, sourcing and economic trends — and break down the screen.

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