BARS Partner Suitability and Stack Ranking: Process and Tools Background and Overview: Part 2

Introduction: the BARS “what”

The job of an Alliance or Channel Manager is many-faceted. There are many tasks that need to be accomplished during the day/week/month for the CAM or AAM be truly successful. The AAM or CAM must find a balance that works for their population of partners, and for their employer.

BARS stands for:

B: Bandwidth
A: Advocacy
R: Revenue history
S: Subjectivity

This document and the BARS process begins by positing these three basic tenets:woman-juggling-time

  • All partners are not created equal
  • Some long-term customers/partners have become friends, possibly affecting our objectivity
  • There are only 24 hours in a day

OK – actually, there are four tenets. The forth is “there is a balance.”

It’s all about Time Management and ROI

The BARS process and tool set were created several years ago to help me personally find that balance, by getting a better handle on my own time-management challenges, and do it in as objective a manner as possible.

To be an effective time manager, one must choose to become effective at prioritizing time and effort spent on all the many and various activities that present themselves to us each hour of every day.


covey-quadrantsSteven Covey’s “Quadrants of Urgency

Time-management expert Steven Covey points out that most – if not all – professional activities can be categorized into one of four major quadrants. The trick is to strike the appropriate balance between the four, based on our professional positions and responsibilities, and future growth plans and desires.

It should go without saying that some time must be spent in all four quadrants. But to become most effective, Covey says we need to balance amongst them, so to best focus on those activities that provide us the greatest long-term payouts (both financial and emotional) that coincidentally provide us the widest impact. Alternatively, we can spend our time with efforts that provide momentary payoff, classified as those activities we find in Quadrants 1, 3 and 4.

As humans with emotional strengths and weaknesses that can drive our thinking both positively and negatively, we may be better served by making these decisions rationally, using objective data points and intentional thought, leading to more impactful actions based on those data points. But how best do we derive those data points? There are many ways, of course. Bandwidth, Advocacy, Revenue History and Subjectivity (BARS) is just one set of possible tools that can help in the process.

But first, here’s an overview of Covey’s four “Quadrants of Urgency.”

Quick Quadrant Review

So, how does Steven Covey’s original work, “The Quadrant’s of Urgency” relate to the BARS process?

1) Quadrant 1

This is where, many times, we find ourselves inadvertently spending a disproportionate amount of our time. We do so, because when we’re “in the zone” in this quadrant, we find that we’ve fixed a problem for someone reactively, and we derive satisfaction from that.

Maybe we’ve “responded quickly to an emergency” from a partner when we are operating in this quadrant. And it can feel very good to be considered useful and helpful. It can also feel “expedient” to operate here. The good news is, being good with the systems and technologies available to us can help us operate more quickly here, which can subsequently reduce our time spent here.

fisherman-in-a-boat-fishing-fishing-rod-hooks-bait-boat-fish-anchor-water-beard-chain-compass-vector-stock-vectorThe main (negative) side effect of operating in Quad 1 is, we train our partners to depend on us to fix all their issues – regardless of the severity of any given issue. Consider the proverbial story of feeding a person – “give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Also, Quad 1 activities can almost be considered “enablers” of undesirable activity, if allowed to rule our schedules.

An example of a Quadrant 1 activity is the urgent phone call from the partner asking about why they’ve fallen off the Partner Locator; or they just saw an article on a website where our products were being called into question – and what is our response; etc. Many times, we “fall into” this trap, because emotionally, this partner is our friend, or someone we’re trying to become closer with, and we allow their issue to become ours. It’s human nature for many sales people to desire to become friends with all our partners, and be considered helpful and responsive to all of them, regardless of ROI. After all, positive relationships provide positive results, right?

But our Partner Program Marketing Manager has created an extensive (and if well done) useful Partner Portal on-line that has the ability to fix many issues, and supply answers (or brandable literature, sales tools, price lists, etc.) to many of these reactive questions. And it’s available when the CAM or AAM is asleep…

2) Quadrants 3 and 4

I’ll treat these two quadrants together, because as successful professionals, we have a tendency not to spend much time in either of these quadrants, anyway. Some time is of course spent here, but it is normally managed quite well, or we wouldn’t find ourselves in the positions we’re in today. Examples of Quad 3 and Quad 4 activities are:

  • water-cooler chat (Quad 4) about the local baseball team, etc. (gotta do some of this as co-worker personal relationship-building)
  • web “research-for-the-sake-of-research” instead of based on the needs of a current or future project
  • updating our FaceBook status on company time
  • watching mindless television – even on personal time; and the like

Quad 3 is also where we receive phone calls from our colleagues and partners about topics unrelated to our current activity, possibly representing “emergencies” for their situation, but not really for us, and the like.

3) Quadrant 2

To be most successful over the longest term, Covey states that effective managers and individual contributors should spend the preponderance of their time operating inside Quadrant 2 – labeled “Important Activities that are Not Urgent.”

This is where we find Strategic Planning activities; self-improvement training; executing Training Days; providing proactive, leveraged presentations to partner sales forces; possibly “Channel Chat” webinars; planning and executing MDF activities; meaningful 1-to-many activities, in other words. As Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, these are “sharpen the axe” activities.

Because this quadrant focuses on activities that are considered non-urgent, we often find ourselves treating these activities as “second-class-citizens,” which can actually harm our professional growth and, therefore, our future perfosixtyfour-thousand-dollarrmance.

But how do you figure out what activity belongs in which quadrant?

That’s the $64,000 question.

And we’ll talk about how to divine the answers in Part 3 of this series. That will be published soon.

Click below to continue to Part 3 of the BARS process description.

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