• Key Attributes of Good Channel Management

    A channel manager is a pivotal role that guides, supports and helps VARs to succeed. At its core, good Channel Management is the foundation upon which Resellers and Vendors build a long and fruitful partnership that is profitable for both parties.

     The information below has been extracted from a forum discussion on LinkedIn for VARs/Resellers/Distributors. 

    We start off by looking at some of the key attributes of successful channel professionals and how putting these into practice can establish a clear path to your success story. 

    Face Time – A good channel manager is one who invests his time and knowledge in order to build trust and confidence with their channel partners. Without a ‘hands-on’ approach, it would be impossible to understand the intricacies of the VAR’s business model. Consider the channel manager as a bridge between the vendor and the VAR, and all communication must pass over this bridge. A VAR must be able to trust that their partner will be there when they need them, and not just show up when the VAR registers a large deal.  They need to be willing to get their hands dirty and be intricately involved each step of the way in order to make the partnership a success. 

    “Understand their business model and what is important to THEM!!” advises one discussion member. “And once you know this, you can align your products and services to slot into their offerings, and remember it’s not always about margin but the ability to build a sustainable partnership.” 

    Honesty –In the early days of any partnership it is vital to gain the trust of your partner which can be achieved by being open and honest at all times. It is not enough to be able to talk the talk, but you need demonstrate your commitment to the partnership by delivering the goods. 

    “The best way to build trust with a VAR is to be consistent in your communications and deliver on your promises,” says a discussion member, “i.e. when speaking with your VAR about running joint marketing activities don’t let six months go by before you actually are able to deliver on a promise.” 

    Professionalism – A channel manager’s job is to represent their company as well as themselves with complete professionalism as they are the face of that relationship. In some cases if the individual is not credible and trust has been broken down, ultimately the vendor will end up with a very disgruntled partner. The channel manager should understand that the value of the partnership they represent is always being judged by the VAR, and to act professionally or the partnership will be at risk. 

    “Remember you are demonstrating to the partner how you want them to work with you by the example you set,” says a discussion member. “Be prompt, polite and professional in all your partner dealings!” 

    Another member adds, “If predictable across all fronts: honesty, integrity, trust, availability and accountability, you become the trusted advisor your VAR needs to feel confident to take you into their account base without worries or concerns.” 

    Size Does Not Matter – If a VAR isn’t performing at the level you first envisioned, it is up to you as a channel manager to address any issues that may be obstructing their success. You cannot, under any circumstance, leave an under-performing VAR on the back burner while tending to other ‘more profitable’ relationships. A good channel manager cultivates the relationship with their VAR, regardless of the size of the VAR’s sales figures. 

    “No matter the size of the VAR’s sales volume,” explains a discussion member, “tailor the help to their needs. And remember, the small ones become big ones with proper assistance. In a nutshell, be honest with what you can assist with, be knowledgeable, and don’t over promise and under deliver.” 

    Play Many Roles – A good channel manager should not only look good on paper; they should have a few “non-resume” qualities that give that person the ability to handle almost any challenge the VAR could present. Among those qualities is the ability to be sensitive and wise, yet tough and fair. 

    “Partners are like kids and will pull and push as much as they can to test just how far they can go,” explains an insightful discussion member. “If you have someone who repeatedly crosses the line and is seen as a disruptive factor don’t hesitate to make an example – even if they’re a top performer…especially if they’re a top performer! Being seen as tough and fair will bring confidence and loyalty to your channel.” 

    Good channel management is about having all these qualities and more. If you don’t already have established channel partners in place be sure to download and read the “Best Practices for Channel Partner Recruitment.” guide 

    OneStopClick delivers white papers and technology-related research for IT professionals.  Click here to download all white papers published by OneStopClick.

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