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Channel Matters Blog > April 2014 > How Much Time Should Territory Managers Spend With Channel Partners?

How Much Time Should Territory Managers Spend With Channel Partners?

by Rich Blakeman
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Territory managers who are responsible for making their numbers through direct sales and a partner channel are caught in something of a bind. On the one hand, they may see direct sales as the easier path to achieving quota. They know where the opportunities they manage are in the sales funnel and usually have a pretty good idea of how to bring them to a close.
On the other hand, with ever-increasing sales quotas, their long-term success depends on figuring out how to leverage the channel to achieve greater coverage. This means they must spend time with partners coaching, motivating and managing. Yet, every minute they spend with a channel partner is one less minute they have to spend selling to a prospect.
So how do successful territory managers find the proper balance, one that helps them establish a foundation for future success while achieving their near-term targets?
Finding the right mix isn’t about how much time you spend with partners, but how you spend that time. Territory managers could spend 90% of their time with channel partners, but if all they do is take them to lunch, the impact on sales will be negligible. The territory manager who spends his or her time selling for partners isn’t gaining much either. The partners aren’t learning to be self-sufficient, and with the loss of margin, the manager would have been better off taking the opportunity direct.
4 Essential Elements of an Effective Territory Plan
The answer lies in having a plan and then executing to that plan. We’ve talked about many elements of the plan in previous posts, but always in the context of the organization.  Each territory manager must also address each of the elements in his or her individual territory plan. Let’s take a moment to review some of the major components.
Market Mapping – As we discussed in The Importance of Channel Alignment, the Market Map takes into account market opportunity (e.g., market potential, market maturity, competitive landscape) along with business strategy (e.g., ideal channel type, product maturity, target markets) to determine the best coverage model.
The organization will have a common business strategy set by its leaders. However, no matter how equitably management tries to divide territories, each will have its own opportunity outlook and competitive landscape. The organizational Market Map is an aggregation of all the individual Territory Maps.
Gap Analysis – Each territory is likely to be even more divergent when it comes to channel coverage. Territory managers need to determine which markets can be realistically covered by existing partners and to what extent. Ideally, channel partners would cover all but the largest accounts or those requiring special attention, but getting to that ideal state will take time and effort on the part of the territory manager.
If the organization also has Channel Account Managers (CAMs), the territory manager should work with the CAM in structuring a plan to recruit or develop partners to fill in the gaps. If there is no CAM with whom to share the workload, the territory manager will need to develop his or her own plan.
Recruiting and developing partners are often the hardest tasks for bottom line oriented territory managers to get done. It can be time-consuming, and the results are often not immediate. However, poor execution at this stage of the plan means they will be forever chasing down bigger and bigger numbers by themselves, while their more successful peers rely on partners to do the work.
Channel Segmentation – As hard as channel recruitment and development can be, most territory managers take to the idea of channel segmentation right away.  We explained the concept in some detail in Should You Assign Your Best CAMs to Your Best Partners?  Territory managers need not handle every partner the same way. By separating partners into Achievers, Believers and Deceivers, they can focus their time on partners with whom they can have the greatest positive impact.
Channel KPIs – Finally, like all plans, the territory plan must have KPIs. We talked about setting KPIs for Channel Managers in Setting Channel KPIs, and these same principles can be used to set KPIs for territory managers.
As in so many things, quality matters more than quantity. So long as territory managers are focused on achieving the territory goals, they can worry less about the time spent with partners and concentrate more on results.
Last modified on 6/26/2014 1:35:53 PM
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