For my 21st birthday a few decades ago, all I wanted to do was skydive. I had never been skydiving before, but I loved roller coasters and flying. Skydiving sounded like it would be even more fun than both of those activities combined! My dad thought it sounded fun to him too, so on the morning of my 21st birthday, my parents picked me up from my university apartment and we drove to a small private airport about three hours outside of Chicago that offered skydiving.
My dad and I spent hours learning how to pack a parachute and practicing how to land. We watched the experts fold and refold a chute and we got on top of hay bales and jumped off and rolled, over and over. We did this for nearly 5 hours. When it was time to get into the plane, I was not nervous or scared. The thought of flying through the air was exhilarating and I felt ready.
The plane climbed to 13,000 feet and then I climbed out on the strut of the single-engine plane, holding on tightly until the instructor yelled: “Go!” I pushed off. What really struck me was how quiet it was. The only sound was my own laughter. I felt as if time had slowed to a crawl. And then about a minute later, I hit the ground running. What an incredible thrill!
When I think back on this experience now, I am proud of myself for having the courage to pursue the unknown. I’m also struck by how much time we spent learning how to land and how little time we spent learning to fly through the air. What were we to do in the event of an issue? How would we right ourselves in case of a twisted line? What was the best thing to do in case of a malfunctioning altimeter? What if the parachute cord didn’t release when I pulled? We spent time on the beginning and the ending, but not anything else.
Today, I see this same situation in my work life. At Zift, we provide Enterprise Channel Management software, enabling organizations to drive more sales through their partner/dealer network. I talk with a lot of people and listen to their challenges. I listen on planes and at events, at restaurants and on the sidelines of kids’ sporting events. Often, I hear how much time their organizations and teams spend on reporting and setting goals for how big of a gap there is between goals and results.
There’s so much time spent on the beginning and the ending, just like when I learned to skydive. Many organizations struggle because they have so many manual processes within channel sales and marketing and sometimes several disparate pieces of technology involved. They are challenged with data gaps, heavy reliance on IT, and low partner engagement. I understand why they have focused on the beginning and the ending — until recently, there has not been one clear and comprehensive solution available to enable channel sales and marketing.
It’s a thrill to provide a solution with a single platform that truly solves problems and delivers closed-loop tracking for all activities. When our clients’ partners reach and exceed their forecasted goals, it’s exhilarating. Not exactly like skydiving, but close enough.