Channel partner programs, Channel chiefs

Channel Account Managers: Three Required Skills for Success

Author: Heather Margolis
Author: Heather Margolis

Hiring the right Channel Account Managers (CAMs) can make or break your relationship with Channel Partners, increase (or decrease) their ability to drive revenue with your solutions, and greatly impact their willingness to engage with your teams. In a recent presentation at the 20th anniversary of Channel Focus North America, I gave details on the top traits of world-class CAMs. Here are three to look for when hiring an effective CAM:

1. Channel Knowledge

Successful CAMs understand in detail how The Channel works. They know the different Partners types, your company, solution value propositions, revenue objectives, market segments, MDF, available resources, tools, programs, and certifications.

During CAM interviews have candidates explain their experiences with Partner enablement; ask for examples of techniques they use to motivate Partners and make sure they give specific situational examples. Then discover what type of experience they have working with Partner portals, driving demand, and explaining nuances to Partners. Pay close attention to their personality and ask yourself – if this person were my CAM, would I trust, like, and look forward to speaking with them?

2. Business Acumen

Your Partners have unique business plans, organizational structures, ways of making money, talent challenges, and demand generation pain points. Channel Account Managers need to understand your Partners’ business inside and out in order to gain trust and align solutions and programs to their needs. They also need to be flexible and able to help your Partners identify their organizational pains and offer actionable advice.

The best CAMs are part private investigator, part problem solver, and fully versed in integrated sales and marketing methodology and tactics. Find out if your candidates know how to conduct SWOT analysis, have expertise in marketing and sales best practices (especially inbound), and can assist Partners who have talent and skill gaps in those areas.

3. Customer Service Ninja

Channel Account Managers work for Vendors; but in order to drive revenue through The Channel, they must work on behalf of your Partners. This includes developing trusted advisor relationships, putting Partner needs first, and knowing that today’s Partners seek relationships with Vendors who understand their business goals and align and design programs that are easy to work with and drive revenue quickly.

Being proactive is critical. Make sure your Channel Account Managers have the drive to quickly resolve issues, are available to Partners, put a high degree of attention on speed in answering questions, work proactively to remove roadblocks, and look for ways to help.

The CAMs you hire are the face of your company to your Partners. It takes a Partner-centric mindset; a desire to elicit the best from Partner relationships; and a strong sales, marketing, and business development mindset to be successful.

Heather K. Margolis is CEO of Channel Maven Consulting. Read more Channel Maven Consulting blogs here.