I was inspired to attend an HTG Peer Group meeting not too long ago, after hearing feedback about this group through conversations with multiple channel companies over the past year. No matter what the feedback, the word ‘accountability’ was always thrown in. “What does that really mean?” I often wondered. Accountability? After attending the peer group meeting, I got that question answered. After signing a nondisclosure agreeing not to reveal any specific company’s sensitive information, I was permitted to sit in on one of HTG’s longest running peer group team meetings. It was not at all what I expected.
During the first part of the meeting, a member stood up and discussed the quarterly business goals he had set during the previous quarter, and he explained to the group why he did or didn’t hit his goals. The other group members, which were also MSP business owners (from other geographies, so as not to compete with one another) took turns asking very probing questions about the presenter’s missed goals and offered improvement suggestions. After the QBRs (quarterly business reviews), the group divided into three smaller groups of four individuals, and took the conversations to a much more personal level. Any topic was fair game. In the subgroup I sat in on, one CEO discussed a difficult choice he was going to have to make to terminate an administrative assistant who wasn’t performing up to par. Several group members asked for more details (How much do you pay her? Have you tried finding another position for her in your company?) Later on in the meeting, another member discussed his concerns over a star sales rep that recently quit with no notice, and he was wrestling over how he could have handled the on-boarding process and the 90-day probationary period to prevent this from happening in the future. A 10-minute round of probing questions and advice-giving followed from the three other members.
The meeting took on the feel of a group therapy session at times, but with one distinction: the therapists were other business owners who were either going through similar problems, or they had already gone through them, and they were sharing their wisdom. Each one of the MSPs was very successful, experiencing double-digit growth in an economy where flat is considered the new up.
In addition to the peer group meeting I attended, Ingram Micro has a number of similar groups that partners can take advantage of including the SMB Alliance and Venture Tech Network. When you consider all the challenges and obstacles channel businesses face, it’s hard to imagine how any VAR or MSP would not make the time to join a peer group to start reaping the benefits.