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Five Key Channel Marketing Competencies

In many companies today, employees are asked to wear multiple hats, sometimes distracting from the core competencies for which they were hired.  Take Channel Marketing, for instance.  The primary function (Marketing) is implied in the title, yet it is not uncommon to see channel marketing people playing the role of channel account manager.  So, at the risk of stating the obvious, here is a reminder of five core skills that go into the channel marketing role.

1. Marketing is a core competency. The primary role for your channel marketing managers is to lead the development of marketing plans and initiatives with your partners.  This requires a solid understanding of what drives demand with end customers, and how to inspire the partner’s sales force, including training.  Successful channel marketing people understand how to bring together a partner’s marketing resources with your company’s to create something more brilliant than either of you could do alone.

2. Marketing funds (MDF and Co-op) stewardship is key. If the purpose of MDF and Co-op is to drive demand through marketing programs with partners, the best place for the funds is with the resource that has the most marketing expertise.  Seasoned channel marketing managers know how to balance demand generation investments with the occasional partner golf tournament sponsorship, and work to leverage every dollar.

3. Business Development mindset trumps “What have you sold for me today?”Successful channel marketing people think and behave strategically, and work with their partners to identify and penetrate new markets.  The role is more akin to a business development role than that of a channel salesperson whose role is to ensure that partners are enabled to close business quarter-to-quarter.  Channel marketers think ahead six to nine months, meaning they should be armed now for 2013 planning.

4. Channel marketers are business people too. Channel marketing walks a fine line between balancing your company’s business requirements with those of your partners.  Often, channel marketing is funded by and pushed by various product groups to gain more partner mindshare. But, there is not always a match between the product group objectives and what a partner can or should do.  Seasoned channel marketing people know how to guide product marketing to the right partners and set expectations, so that dollars, time and marketing programs are optimized.  In other words, channel marketing managers are diplomats and demonstrate a keen ability to negotiate.

5. Channel Marketing people are NOT coin operated. Effective compensation recognizes and rewards the various hats worn by a channel marketing manager.  While it’s important that channel marketing people are accountable on some level to the partner’s number, they should not be compensated solely on the partner’s number.  A balanced compensation plan with MBOs that acknowledges and recognizes the strategic marketing function will go a long way to minimizing “unnatural acts” to affect revenue, and reinforces the role of trusted advisor status.

The role of channel marketing sounds obvious, but helping your team stay focused on these five core competencies will go a long way to ensuring your channels team is optimized for success.

October 1, 2012  ·  

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