GitLab’s Michelle Hodges on Spotlighting the Value of the Channel

Michelle Hodges, vice president of worldwide channels at GitLab, joins host Larry Walsh to discuss how channel executives can develop better relationships with board members while showcasing the benefits of the channel.

Channel chiefs are often challenged in explaining and demonstrating the value of partner programs and relationships to decision-makers in their organizations. Having a seat at the management table means having a voice in strategy and decision-making. In business, there’s no bigger table than the board of directors.
Gaining the attention of the board in supporting the channel is becoming increasingly important to channel chiefs. Helping boards understand the value and importance of channel programs and partners can make all the difference when it comes to strategic priorities and funding for indirect routes to market.
The challenge is bridging the “language divide.” Channel executives and board members often fail to use the same lingo, rely on the same metrics, or even identify the same priorities. To help board members – extensions of the investors behind companies – better understand the value of the channel and what it brings to the table, channel and business managers need to make more of an effort to cultivate a relationship between themselves and the board. In that relationship, channel leaders should focus on using the same metrics, showing demonstrable results, and making it clear that their aim isn’t to sell a product but to explain the channel’s impact on a company’s business.
A channel leader at the forefront of cultivating these types of relationships is GitLab Vice President of Worldwide Channels Michelle Hodges. She’s long been a fierce advocate of working closely with boards and encouraging others to do the same.
Hodges, like other channel leaders, knows it can be difficult to make a material difference in the eyes of the board. That’s why her game plan involves asking lots of questions and catering to the board’s goals. She starts by asking her leadership team about the pressure they’re under by the board and familiarizing herself with management-level metrics. Then she approaches the board, making sure to use the right language to ask about their objectives and explain how their goals align with the value of the channel – and how the channel can produce critical results in serving the business.
In this edition of Channelnomics’ Changing Channels, Hodges joins host Larry Walsh to discuss how cultivating a relationship with board members while zeroing in on the power of the channel can lead to unparalleled opportunities for growth and a more unified value set across an organization.

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