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Prepare alternative distribution plans

  Nobody hopes for a collapse of our reseller channel. But what if it happens? Management must manage. Even if you assign a small probability to the scenario I've described which could leave us in short order without a channel for moving our products, wouldn't it be wise to assign a commensurately small working group to explore alternatives should that come to pass? What I envision is the preparation, discussion, and adoption of several contingency plans for reacting to anticipated problems in the dealer community. What is important is that these plans be sufficiently specific and well thought out so one could be implemented merely by disseminating it throughout the company and giving instructions to execute it.

I do not wish to prescribe the strategies such plans might recommend. They could range from utter abandonment of the reseller channel and a transition to direct-mail and telemarketing with a greatly expanded direct support operation to a program of equity investment in key resellers combined with pricing changes intended to guarantee the viability of the surviving distribution organisations.

Thinking about this today, before the problems become severe, will not exacerbate the situation any more than drawing up a will hastens your demise. It's far better to worry about a potential crisis and then discard a contingency plan as unneeded than to be forced to react without adequate time for reflection on the consequences of various courses of action.

Editor: John Walker