Why You Should Think About January in July

Ah, summer! Baseball games, barbeques, vacation. Why would anyone want to think about January now?

Well, if you manage a channel partner program or the associated sales team, now is a particularly critical time to think ahead to January. What happens in January? If you operate on a calendar year

you have a new budget. You have a new, and undoubtedly higher, sales quota. Even if you are on a different fiscal year your partners have new budgets and so do your competitors. Your partner contracts may terminate and/or come up for renewal then. Partners’ new business plans will kick in.

Most importantly you will likely be introducing some new elements to your channel program. Perhaps you will add a Platinum partner tier on top of your Gold tier. Maybe you will introduce or change a quarterly growth rebate. Possibly you’ll modify the partner planning process or re-organize the sales team responsible for implementing the partner program.

Let’s “walk back” these new program elements. You begin implementing the program in January. That means you need a communications plan by December. That, in turn means you need final executive approval before Thanksgiving. The executives will have plenty of input, implying a series of meetings in November and possibly even earlier. That requires a completed legal department vetting by late October. So the program design must be 90% finished sometime in the first few weeks of October. The new program plan is not going to pop into existence in October, however. You will need to 4-8 weeks to collect and analyze relevant data. Perhaps longer if you need market research to augment the internal data or pinpoint the key opportunities or problems. This puts you into July to gather a team to begin the project.

Welcome back from vacation!


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