Unlocking Your Potential: How to Get Started and Promoted in Channel Account Management
Channel account management is essential for any company looking to drive sales and increase revenue while keeping costs low. As businesses continue to turn to cost-effective sales channels, the role of the channel account manager has become increasingly important. However, managing relationships with partners requires a unique set of skills that only some possess.
In this article, we will explore what channel account management is, the typical jobs and responsibilities of a channel account manager, the critical success factors and KPIs for channel account management, and how to be successful in this field. We will also cover the typical career path for a channel account manager and how to join a company with a channel. Whether you are just starting out in your career or looking to advance to a more senior role, this article will provide valuable insights on getting promoted in channel account management.
What is channel account management?
As companies continue to look for cost-effective ways to drive sales, channel account management has become increasingly important. Channel account managers are responsible for managing relationships with partners to increase sales while ensuring that the cost of sales remains low.
Before we explore the details of channel account management, it is essential to understand what a sales channel is. A sales channel is a product or service path to reach its customers. The approach often involves one or more partners, such as a direct sales team, a distributor, a reseller, an online store, or a combination of these.
Account management, on the other hand, refers to the process of managing customer accounts to ensure they are satisfied and continue to do business with the company. Channel account management is the process of managing relationships with partners who are involved in the sales channel. This consists in managing partner relationships, driving sales through the channel, and ensuring that partners are onboarded and able to sell effectively.
Why channel-based sales are not for everyone
While channel-based sales can be cost-effective, it is only for some. Managing relationships with partners requires a unique set of skills that only some possess. It requires the ability to build trust and rapport with partners, understand their business needs, and effectively communicate the value of your product or service.
In addition, channel account managers must balance the partner’s needs with their company’s needs. This requires a deep understanding of the partner’s business and the company’s goals and priorities.
Typical jobs in channel account management
A typical channel account manager is responsible for managing the following areas:
- Channel partner recruitment: This involves identifying potential partners and convincing them to join the company’s partner program. This requires an understanding of the partner’s business and the ability to communicate the program's value effectively.
- Onboarding: Once a partner has joined the program, the channel account manager ensures the partner is onboarded effectively. This involves providing training on the company’s products and services and the partner program.
- Enablement: After onboarding, the channel account manager ensures that partners have the tools and resources to sell effectively. This includes providing sales collateral, conducting joint sales calls, and providing technical support.
- Management: Finally, the channel account manager manages the partner relationship continuously. This involves regular communication, setting targets and KPIs, and ensuring that partners meet their commitments.
Success factors and core KPIs for channel account management
Success in channel account management requires a combination of skills, including:
- Relationship building: Building trust and rapport with partners is crucial to success in this role.
- Communication skills: Effective communication is critical to convincing partners to join the program and to sell your products effectively.
- Business acumen: A deep understanding of the partner’s business and the company’s goals and priorities is essential.
- Sales skills: Channel account managers must be able to drive sales through the channel, which requires strong sales skills.
The core KPIs for channel account management include:
- Sales: This is the most important KPI for channel account managers. They are responsible for driving sales through the channel, which is how they are evaluated.
- Partner satisfaction: Ensuring that partners are satisfied and continue to do business with the company is crucial to long-term success.
- Partner recruitment: Bringing new partners into the program is essential for growth.
- Partner enablement: Channel account managers must ensure their partners have the tools and resources to sell effectively.
How to be successful in channel account management
To be successful in channel account management, there are several key strategies that channel account managers should follow:
- Build strong relationships: Relationship building is crucial to success in this role and will ensure partners are more effective in selling your products.
- Communicate effectively: Be clear and concise, and listen to the partner's needs.
- Understand the partner’s business: This will help you identify areas where your products or services can add value to their business.
- Be proactive: Don’t wait for partners to come to you. Be proactive in reaching out to partners and offering your support.
- Set targets and KPIs: This will help ensure that partners meet their commitments and drive sales through the channel.
No-nos in channel account management
While there are many things channel account managers should do to be successful, there are also a number of things they should never do. These include:
- Overpromising: Don’t promise more than you can deliver. This will only lead to disappointment and frustration for the partner.
- Neglecting partners: Neglecting partners is a surefire way to lose their trust and business.
- Focusing too much on sales: While sales are significant, focusing too much on sales can undermine other essential aspects of the partner relationship, such as partner enablement and partner satisfaction.
- Being too pushy: It is essential to strike the right balance between being proactive and pushing too hard; partners will likely be put off by pushiness.
Typical career path for a channel account manager
The typical career path for a channel account manager is as follows:
- Entry-level: Channel account managers typically start in an entry-level position, such as a sales or marketing coordinator.
How to join a company with a channel
If you are interested in joining a company with a channel, there are several things you can do:
- Research companies: Research companies with a channel and identify those that align with your career goals and interests.
- Network: Network with people who work at companies with a channel. Attend industry events and conferences to meet people and learn more about the industry.
- Tailor your resume: Tailor your resume to highlight your relevant experience and skills for channel account management.
- Apply for positions: Apply for positions that are a good match for your skills and experience.
In conclusion, channel account management is an important field that requires a unique set of skills. Suppose you are interested in a career in channel account management. In that case, building solid relationships with partners, communicating effectively, understanding the partner’s business, being proactive, and setting targets and KPIs are essential. It is also important to avoid common mistakes such as overpromising, neglecting partners, focusing too much on sales, and being too pushy.
As you progress in your career, you can expect to move up the ladder from an entry-level position to a director of channel sales role. To join a company with a channel, you should research companies, network, tailor your resume, and apply for positions.
In summary, channel account management is a rewarding career for those with the necessary skills and willingness to do the work. By following the strategies outlined in this article, you can be successful in channel account management and achieve your career goals.