The Accordion Channel Strategy

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

The Accordion Channel Strategy

An Accordion is a musical instrument that is stretched and squeezed while the piano like keys are played.

A better analogy might be Thermal Expansion and Contraction.

Channel heads tend to have this mentality of "Let's sign up EVERYONE!" The more we sign up, the more sales we will make. Logical, but false.

A bunch of things bottleneck this thinking including on-boarding, training and activity of "all the partners you can sign." See, Channel Managers who are the face of the company to the partner have a physical limit to the number of partners that they can effectively work with. It varies depending on the size, activity and engagement of the partner. But there IS in fact a bandwidth issue -- the Channel Manager (or CAM or Partner Manager) runs out of time in the day to read/return emails, texts, calls, quotes, and solve problems.

Another factor to impact this strategy is the co-marketing dollars. Partners want some love. That love comes in the form of marketing funds, attention, speakers (on webinars and at shows), training, etc. A provider only has so many dollars available to spend for this. And again we run into the human resources bottleneck.

If you have SYNNEX, ScanSource/Intelysis and Tech Data as your partners, you owe some fairly big MDF as well as have a duty to appear at two shows every month (sometimes more than two). Travel and time every month.

The contraction comes when the data comes is collected. At some point, you signed up too many un-aligned or un-engaged partners. In other words, the ROI of this false strategy has hit the books.

At this point the announcement is made that the channel is being consolidated to 5 to 10 top master agents. (We have seen this play out at a number of carriers over the years and it will be happening again in the next nine months.)


On the flip side, an agent will use between three and five master agencies for his business. Also, a number of masters have pass-throughs to other masters. There are volume groups like The Agent Alliance. So do you need to have an agreement at all of them? NO!

What could be affecting your sales instead of "not enough feet on the street"?

  • It could be Demand.
  • It could be your product is mediocre or is me-too.
  • It could be the story is boring.
  • It could be that you are too expensive.
  • It could be that deployment sucks.
  • It could be your product does work well.
  • The Product-Market Fit is off.
  • Are you too expensive?
  • Is the compensation below market?
  • Do you even know how to sell it?
  • Do your channel people know how to sell it?
  • Do you even know why people buy it (or if they do)?

Here are three resources to help you.

  1. Channel Vision Magazine column, pg 68
  2. this Channel Managers Playbook
  3. My Kindle book on Channel Management

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