Cheryl Cook, Dell Channel Chief
By Cheryl Cook
One year ago, I took on the next challenge in my career and stepped into the role of Dell’s Channel Chief. With no time to waste, I immediately oversaw the expansion of the Dell PartnerDirect program to include new product lines and the rollout of new offerings. As a result, both our partners’ and Dell itself have seen growth in channel revenue, as over one third Dell’s revenue comes from the channel.
As the Channel Chief of one of the fastest-moving vendors, as well as a prominent female leader in the channel, I often get asked how others can grow and expand their sphere of influence, so I wanted to share my advice. I know how important it is to keep up with the constant change in the channel and stay on your feet to be aware of everything around you. This can be challenging at times when you are moving in a hundred different directions. When you get a chance to slow down, it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and where you are headed in your career path. My top six tips for the channel are explained below. If you have others to share, please do so in the comments section.
Build Relationships Beyond Your Sphere of Influence
Relationship building is very important in any industry in the business world. Take that next step and build strong relationships with leaders in other areas of the business, such as the CIO and CMO. For example, I’ve always worked closely with Dell’s CIO, and what Dell IT has learned from running Dell’s business on Dell solutions we pass onto our partners and customers through our partner trainings, new solutions, and more. You never know what you may learn from your peers in other lines of business. Don’t forget networking within the channel and nurturing those relationships is also very important, as you may do business with those people down the road.
Institute a Scorecard
Be transparent and routinely self-assess your team. Every quarter, we analyze how we’re doing on a detailed scorecard and then share those results and review what we’re doing well and what we need to do better. Since I took on the role of Dell Channel Chief, I have shared the topline takeaways of these self-assessments with colleagues, customers, partners, and the public via my blog here and here. This ensures that we are always striving to be the best we can be and deliver the best solutions to our customers.
Deepen Your Knowledge of What Lies Ahead
Invest in training and certifications so that you can be a trained expert and trusted advisor across a full breadth of products and solutions. This involves gaining a deeper insight into how industry “mega-trends” such as the cloud, mobility, and big data are changing both technology decisions and business decisions. Once you have this information under your belt you can become a trusted partner to the channel on these hot issues in the industry.
Cultivate the Next Generation
Mentorship programs are a new trend we are seeing within corporate environments. Whether they are formal or informal, both parties can grow from the experience. I am a big advocate of sharing my past experiences, whether they were successes or failures. Discussing how I came to those results, whether it’s the right decisions I made or how I learned and grew from failures. We are also seeing women resource groups within large organizations such as Dell, that provide opportunities for networking with similar career-minded women in organizations and at industry events.
Companies are spread all over the world today, and so often we only communicate via email or phone and can go years before meeting those you work closely with face-to-face. Make a concerted effort to get out on the road and meet partners and customers face-to-face. I find these face-to-face conversations are my best opportunity to ask the tough questions, change people’s thinking, or really take relationships with colleagues and partners to the next level.
Put Yourself Out There
Most importantly, take risks. Staying in your comfort zone will not allow you to experience new things or grow in your career. Do something once a day that scares you and don’t be afraid to fail. Making mistakes in your career is one of the biggest learning opportunities. If you make a mistake, accept it and grow from it.
Overall, I suggest learning from everyone and everything around you. Be a sponge and soak up knowledge everywhere you can –you can learn something new every day. These are just a handful of tips and tricks I recommend to get ahead in your business and become well versed in the channel, but I’m sure there are many, many more. If you have others to share, please do so below!