Special Features

Channel Account Managers Hold the Keys to the Kingdom for their Partners

Successful Channels logoBy Gary Morris, CEO and Founder, Successful Channels, and Luanne Tierney, Managing Member, Fivesky

Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Gary Morris, CEO and founder of Successful Channels, and Luanne Tierney, one of the most successful Silicon Valley channel executives in the industry, collaborated on an article to show how channel vendors can better meet the needs of their partners and build a mutually beneficial relationship. This is an abridged version of the article.

Partners may not always admit it, but they absolutely need help from their vendors and will enthusiastically welcome the right kind of support. Partners know that their vendors have far greater reach and market presence than their own and play a major role in defining the positioning of a partner’s brand. Partners very much want to leverage all the following strengths from their vendors for defining their business strategy:

  1. Differentiated products
  2. Recognized and trusted brand
  3. Services and delivery expertise
  4. Technical support resources
  5. Customer relationships
  6. Integrated industry solutions

Partners take many different paths to become resellers of another vendor’s brand.  Most partner founders have a strong vertical market area of expertise, have deep technical knowledge, or have experience in solving specific business process-related problems.  They depend on their vendors to help build an attractive positioning strategy to win more new customers. Forward-thinking partners actively seek assistance from their vendor’s channel account managers (CAMs) to help them leverage resources to successfully position their business for the future.  

The Keys to the Kingdom for their Partners

From a partner’s point-of-view, CAMs can be a secret ingredient for accelerating their growth.  Partners depend on their assigned CAMs to provide them with expertise, resources, consulting advice and access to other vendor executives to help build their business.  Partners also actively seek help from their CAMs to grow their market position leveraging the vendor’s products, to help define a marketing strategy to generate new sales opportunities and provide technical resources to build their business operations.  Partners are setting the bar high for their CAMs while at the same time they will pay vendors back with loyalty and investment in their brand.

The days of measuring a CAM’s effectiveness by the number of partners they are able to acquire and “list” your brand is now a distant memory.   This strategy resulted in vendors acquiring a very long list of partners that will only sell your brand if they accidentally “trip” over a new sales opportunity.   This is very counter-productive to the effectiveness of the entire channel organization.

Today’s “Super CAM” is one that carefully analyzes the partner’s business and creates scorecards to determine if the partner is a good fit for the brand.   This Super CAM also provides pragmatic business advice to current and potential partners about the requirements on both ends of the partnership.  This trust-building approach will result in a collaborative, open, and mutually beneficial alliance where both parties invest and share in the benefits.

Required Consulting Capabilities for a Super CAM

A Super CAM must develop the following areas of expertise to foster productive business partner relationships.

Vendors that are looking to grow their channel don’t have to look much farther than their current CAM team. Any CAM team has the potential of becoming Super CAMs if they have executive support for their mission, are trained on partner business consulting, and are provided with the appropriate scorecarding, business planning and account management tools to build trust-based relationships with their partners.   The biggest fans of this strategy will be your partners who are actively seeking the support that your CAMs can provide for their business success.

This version of the original article is published courtesy of Successful Channels.