by Ross Baker
In my career as a “channel guy” I have spent countless hours trying to explain to my family what I do; what the channel is. Well, my job just got that little bit harder after my brother Scotty swam the actual English Channel: 14 hours and 21-miles of non-stop superhuman effort.
So, is there anything to learn from my brother’s remarkable achievement? With the right support, strategy and determination, you too can conquer the channel.
Making sense of the channel
More people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum the English Channel. That might be why most people I told about my brother’s plan reacted with incredulity: “Why is he doing that?”; “It doesn’t make any sense!”.
If you stop and think about it, the IT channel doesn’t make any sense either. I call it a “mutually acceptable unfaithful relationship”. The vendor has other partners; the partner has other vendors. We accept this open relationship, knowing or hoping that we will get our fair share of business or that our version of the relationship is somehow better; the water warmer.
Whilst Scotty had been training both mentally and physically for four years, he really only had three days’ notice after he received the call, due to the very specific weather, tidal conditions, water temperature, and crew availability required. Thus, he had to understand intimately the landscape and the vital support infrastructure needed before he undertook his task.
As a vendor, I believe those of us closest to ‘conquering’ our own channel are those who understand their market and clearly see the bigger picture. They have done all the research and training necessary to be ready when they get “the call”. The better Channel Account Managers (CAMs) know how to navigate a business and handle conflict; or better still, prevent it.
They are planners and essential crew.
They know there are jelly fish lurking and busy shipping lanes with huge passenger ferries that have to be crossed. They know it’s a tough task, but that if you get it right there’s no feeling quite like it.
A team effort
Scotty swam in a straight line from Dover to France, but if you look at the course they actually took it might not make sense at first glance.
The tide and conditions dictated this path. The pilot knew the best and fastest course to chart, using all of his experience to do so. He wasn’t the only essential member of the team. Scotty’s long-suffering wife Fiona, and two other swimmers came along to provide vital support when it was most needed. One of them even took a jellyfish bite for her trouble. There were many moments where he nearly gave up – when he felt his body just couldn’t take it. There are also reports of an almighty strop at one stage too. But they helped him through.
As he wakes up today he will be incredibly proud of his achievement. The pain in his aching limbs will fade but the memories will live on forever.
Likewise, when a deal closes the salespeople often get most of the recognition. But the best ones acknowledge the role their SE, their sales support, their marketing function and of course their channel team played.
Now I’m already in planning mode for my next major challenge: 2018. Hugely motivated and inspired by what my little brother has accomplished, I’ll ask myself and my team what is possible if we dedicate ourselves 100% to the task in hand and never doubt what we are capable of.
Check out Scotty’s full story here: www.justgiving.com/scottsbigswim