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The routine

by William Vanderbilt
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Successful channel management is built on effectively and efficiently repeating and automating process.  Regular reporting, communication and meetings keep all parties informed and committed to task, and trust is built by predicably and reliably repeating the basics over and over again.  Consistent application of programs and resources demonstrates fairness, and plans and processes must be regularly reviewed to be effective.  In short, the mundane is a critical part of successful channel management.

Everyone enjoys variety.  A little excitement from time to time is healthy and motivating.  Frankly, one of the joys of working as a channel manager, particularly in the technology field, is that there is always some variety.  Different partners’ employee different people, technologies are updated frequently, and as a result, new challenges regularly present themselves to channel managers.  But in the midst of continuous updates, effective channel managers must master the routine.

In fact, it is repetition that makes channels a viable and efficient go to market strategy.  When a vendor can leverage the breadth and depth of channel partners to cost effectively reach markets and customers, it makes financial sense to employ a channel strategy.  But cost effectiveness is typically possible in those situations because scale can be achieved and partners can focus on what they do best, while vendor’s repeat what they do best.

To be clear while excellent channel managers are often creative business leaders they should not be so at the expense of repeating critical tasks.  Often there are no shortcuts to the important tasks that must be done over and over again.  Creativity must be balanced with a focus on detail and execution.  Channel managers must be strategic and yet tactical.  It may be said that excellent channel managers are “stratactical”.  But it is difficult to find people that have sales and technology experience and passion combined with a healthy dose of strategic thinking and tactical execution.  Frankly, one of the challenges for vendors who are channel focused is finding and developing people that can “do it all”.

Channel managers are critical to the success of many vendors; they fill a role that employs many skills.  As a result, many companies have come to recognize a need for the professional development and recognition of channel managers.  Channel managers are, in essence, general managers of business units with responsibility for strategy and business development, as well as tactics and operations.

Most business people like to think and act strategically and see themselves as creative problem solvers who have the ability to think big thoughts and find solutions to unique problems.  To succeed as a channel manager, that kind of thinking is necessary, but it’s also necessary to love the routine and embrace execution.  The problem is that many people who like to dream big and creatively approach high level problems find it hard to embrace the mundane.  But that is exactly what really effective channel managers do.  If you are a channel manager and want to be among the best at what you do, practice being strategic and creative, but also embrace the routine and focus on routine execution.

Last modified on 6/30/2013 10:10:53 PM
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