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Channel Matters Blog > October 2011 > It's Everyone's Issue

It's Everyone's Issue

by William Vanderbilt
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Channel management is the responsibility of Channel Account Managers.  The CAM is working with channel partners every day and is right in the thick of things when it comes to influencing partner outcomes, selecting partners, enabling partners, measuring partners and leveraging partner programs to drive partner behaviors and results.  But if a vendor sees channel management as the sole responsibility of CAMs, channels will fail in that organization!

Effective channel management relies on processes being established throughout the organization to facilitate scale and repeatability.  Too often, helpful people in a vendor's corporate office try to do the right thing by helping a partner on a case by case basis and when the vendor adds up the cost of channels they discover it is just too high.  For channels to succeed, they must provide a lower cost of reaching and servicing customers than doing things direct.  Lower costs in channels is built on leveraging expertise and producing scale through process.  Heroic, one-off efforts are applauded in direct sales, but in channels, they can be the downfall of the channel structure.

As vendors look to channels as a significant source of their future revenue, it is critical that channel management be viewed as a true discipline in the organization that needs to be developed and nurtured.  After all, what good is there in telling staff that channels are the way to future growth without giving any education or direction on what exactly that means to each person's job?  Can you blame a person for doing what they think best if they have never been told or shown to do things differently?

Successful vendors have recognized that CAMs cannot be sales force and technology staff "leftovers".  CAMs must be well versed in sales and technology AND then build on that to be influence and channel experts.  To be a CAM is a promotion!  All over the world, vendors are realizing that the best people need to be put into channel roles and the role of CAM needs to be elevated to a genuine profession.  But those same companies realize that successful channel management doesn't and can't end there.

Marketing groups, IT teams, Services, HR, Finance and many other groups in the organization are instrumental in making channels successful.  The people in these departments need to be able to speak the same channel language and understand the purpose and process of channels because their work dramatically affects the ability of the channel.  Successful vendors are preparing the CAMs to be professionals at their job, but they are going further to provide training for the rest of the organization too.  It is only when the entire organization is aligned to channels and the approach required throughout the organization that channels succeed.

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