Is channel conflict preventable?

In our work with clients, we do a lot of discovery interviews with internal stakeholders and partners, and channel conflict is always a pressing issue.

In a recent interview, a CRO at a large software company shared his frustration, saying “a partner stole a deal from us!”

How could a partner steal a deal from the company when the company also won from the business?

After further investigation, I discovered the company had no rules or guidelines to manage “channel conflict,” or as I like to call it, “differentiated selling opportunities,” with their partners.

Over the past few years, and in various partner program circles, there has been a lot of conversation around the future and necessity of deal registration in partner ecosystems.

Some see deal registration as an administrative task that adds friction to doing business, while others see it as a necessary way to reward and engage with partners. As much as I value program simplification, I believe that deal registration is here to stay, even if it is only to help manage channel conflict and avoid the partner-stealing business frame of mind.

Deal registrations offer vendors insight into the pipeline of opportunities, helping them manage future business. If you have a direct sales team and a channel sales team who could target the same opportunity, it also serves as checks and balances. In a healthy, trust-centered relationship, deal registration works well for all.

Deal registration as part of your PRM, your program, your financial benefits package for partners, and your engagement strategy makes sense. Registration refusal by your partners is often a sign of a bigger issue likely related to trust or baggage from being previously wronged (and maybe by a completely different vendor!). 

For these partners, it’s important to help them see deal registration as a co-selling opportunity that offers a win-win for all parties. It is an opportunity to deliver an amazing customer experience with the subject matter expertise from the vendor combined with the partner’s trusted relationship with the customer. 

Here are five actionable steps you can take to start building trust around co-selling with your partners:

1. Enforce your deal registration policy

  • Be clear with your partners and internal teams about what happens when a partner registers an opportunity; what happens when two partners register the same opportunity; and what happens when that same opportunity is identified by your direct team.
  • Publish a supplemental deal registration guide that is separate from your program guide to help differentiate, educate, and reinforce your commitment to the policy.

2. Communicate candidly with partners about opportunities

  • Communication is essential when building trust with partners. Dedicate a space, likely in your PRM, where you document who owns and is involved in the opportunity and track the stage and journey. Notify all parties when something has happened or hasn’t happened.

3. Encourage and reward co-selling 

  • Your internal teams and your partner selling teams should all be in the same boat and rowing together. What benefits one person in the boat, benefits all. Celebrating all wins is essential in trust-building. 

4. Set everyone up for success

  • Success starts with education, knowledge, and skill. The AchieveUnite Partner Performance Advisor Certificate (PPA) develops elite partnering expertise and teaches all parties how to effectively and successfully work together and co-sell. 

5. Use data to tell your story

  • You may need to encourage your internal teams to partner with partners. The best way to do this is by sharing success stories based on data.
  • In our Ecosystem Co-Selling engagements, data is used to uncover the most effective behaviors for your company. How many partners should a seller be engaged with? How many partner reps? Are the sales cycles longer or shorter with partners? (hint, our data says shorter). Are the discounts to the customer higher or lower with partners? (hint, our data shows lower.)Ready to understand the story your data is telling? Reach out to me today!


The foundation of all successful partnerships is trust. Let’s say no to conflict and use deal registration to work together and achieve joint success!


AchieveUnite is a partner performance company built by experts with extensive leadership experience in channel strategy, program development, partner ecosystems, go-to-market models, leading edge education and management coaching. We empower companies and individuals to create value-driven, lifetime partnerships and drive transformational business results through Partner LifeTime Value®.