The Lunch & Learn Channel Manager is Dead: The New 2016 CAM Trusted Advisor

“Are you free to catch a ball game, play a round of golf, or catch a show at the Apollo?”  The channel has a great legacy of old-school sales techniques to help gain the trust and commitment of partners for your brand.   However, the days of driving meaningful revenue from your partners on the golf course, over steak dinners, or at baseball games seem to be gone.   Channel account managers (CAMs) are now expected to be highly collaborative, industry knowledgeable, business growth and profitability consultants to help guide partners through new business strategies.   Partners are asking vendors and channel teams to take a deeper interest in understanding and offering practical business advice to help them grow profitably.   A successful CAM in 2016 is expected to be have four core competencies: knowledge of the industry and direction / trends affecting partners; high emotional intelligence; deep channel expertise, and a strong business acumen.

Let’s examine more closely business acumen and deep channel expertise: A CAM becomes an expert partner capabilities development consultant, a professional partner growth and profitability consultant, and a partner marketing planning and pipeline development expert.  These are the skills that partners are expecting and demanding from the channel managers of their leading vendors.   Relationships are still extremely important across the partner’s business.  It’s important for the CAM to offer insight, expertise, and cultivate the trusted advisor relationship with the executives of the partner, the sales teams, the engineering teams, as well as the operations, marketing, and services teams. Channel managers in 2016 also need to be equipped to help their partners build their capabilities, advise them on improving their business model, and help them create pipeline development programs that will generate measureable leads, revenue, and ROI.

Most companies today rely on the experience of individual channel managers to provide this counsel and advice to their partners.  However, because CAMs are at different levels and experience; some lack the skills, tools, and training to provide the guidance that partners are looking for.   As a result, companies may miss growth opportunities because CAMs may lack expertise, tools, programs, and/or resources to give channel partners what they need to succeed.

The New 2016 CAM Trusted Advisor

The modern day channel account manager is a business advisor with a range of required competencies.  In the channel expertise competency; knowledge in partner capabilities development, planning, profit modelling, and pipeline development are critical.

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This new CAM ) model is also the champion for the partner to assist in securing marketing funding, executing programs, and measuring program performance.  And on top of these sophisticated and business consultative tasks, CAMs often need to deliver these tasks to many more partners and do it in less time to realize the full potential of a company’s channel.

One way to systematically upgrade the consultative skills of CAMs across the board, provide highly valued support to partners, and deliver this service to many more partners than before is to utilize technology and systems designed to address this purpose.   Specifically, equipping your CAMs with cloud-based tools to deliver partner scorecarding, business planning, profit modelling, marketing planning, and performance management QBR’s (Quarterly Business Reviews).   This approach will allow your Channel account managers to become expert consultants more easily with the help of work-flow guided tools to deliver what partners value.

Companies that have transformed their CAM model to this new consultative approach have adopted expert tools to assist with the day-to-day activities of their channel managers.   These tools align with the key tasks that channel managers must complete to generate growing, profitable and motivated partners for their brands.

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CAMs often value these tools because they are able to focus the majority of their time on delivering partner-valued consultative support.  Partners respond because they find value and will dedicate a larger percentage of their time to driving revenue for your brand.

All of these steps can be completed in a one-hour meeting with your partner once per quarter to do plans and update them with QBR’s.

New Partner Scorecarding Model:

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The Partner Business Planning Model:

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Partner Marketing Planning Model:

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Partner Quarterly Business Review:

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Salesforce.com Integration:

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CAMs can deliver these services in a fraction of the time required versus the “old way” with these tools.   CAMs also can use these professional tools as “applied training” to lead them through an expert process of engaging their partners to build their capabilities, grow their revenue commitments, and generate new leads and opportunity pipeline.

The New 2016 CAM Trusted Advisor is in a perfect position to deliver highly-valued services to their partners.  Education and training is a critical component of enabling the CAM Trusted Advisor.  One of the finest opportunities in the industry to gain this knowledge is with CompTIA.  The organization offers its members excellent industry education, specific CAM training curriculums, communities and industry events and conferences to participate in and gain a greater understanding of partner business models and trends. CompTIA also leverages independent industry experts as trainers which contributes greatly to a really meaningful experience for the participating companies’ leveraging the organization’s curriculums

To learn more, visit www.compTIA.org.

Plus, channel organizations can transition from relationship-based CAM management to expert business consultants with the support of education from organizations like CompTIA, help from industry consultants and advisors; specific vendor enablement programs that support the CAM with this model; and technology and best practice tools.   These initiatives in your organization will help all CAMs at all levels of experience adapt to this evolving model for partner management – and everyone wins. Partners build preference in your brand, CAMs feel more valued because the company is investing in them, and channel executives get the planning and reporting they need to run their businesses effectively.



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