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What makes a great channel partner manager?


One thing is for sure; they're not made from flour and water. But sometimes companies think it's not that much more difficult!


In many businesses, channel managers and direct sales staff are considered largely interchangeable and often indistinguishable. However, companies with successful channel operations appreciate that effective channel management is a very different discipline from that of direct end customer sales.


In many ways, the roles are as different as, say, software development and technical support: both are involved with software but they're coming at it from different angles. In the same way, channel partner managers and direct sellers are both interested in sales success but they have different mindsets and different approaches. They have fundamentally different beliefs:

Channel Partner and Direct Sales Example Beliefs

That is not to say one is right and one is wrong; they're just different. And it's not easy to hold two sets of beliefs at the same time. That's why it's unusual for one individual to be simultaneously successful at both channel partner management and end customers sales.


Likewise, although direct sellers and channel partner managers are both focused on achieving sales success and meeting targets, they think about the task in different ways.

Channel Partner and Direct Sales Example Thinking

There are specific differences required in the thinking required when maximising three-way relationships between the supplier, the channel partner and the customer. A successful channel partner manager will think of all the angles, for example:

Three-way Relationship Example Questions

As you can imagine, there are plenty more questions that can, and should, be considered when there are three, instead of two, parties in the commercial relationship. For those people who have dedicated their careers to success with channel partners, the three-way relationship and it's constantly shifting dynamics, add an interesting extra dimension that makes the role so rewarding.


Everyone is different, as are roles, situations and opportunities. Therefore, identifying some common traits which mark out the best channel partner managers is not easy but here are my suggestions:

  1. Belief that working with channel partners delivers on-going value to our company, our shareholders and our end customers.

  2. Thinking that identifies and optimises the role for channel partners that delivers win-win and win-win-win outcomes for our company, our channel partners and the end customer.

  3. Interest in the added complexity of dynamic, three-way business constructs and relationships.

  4. Inquisitiveness to understand these three elements, their interrelationships and their interactions.

  5. Motivation to continue optimising channel partnerships and results as people, markets, companies, opportunities and offerings evolve.

Of course, there are many other attributes (such as determination and sales ability) which are essential for success but I believe these five elements are the differentiators between successful channel partner managers and successful direct sellers.


Ash Madden is Founder and Director of Madden Associates Limited, the Specialist Channel Sales & Partnering Consultancy

#efficiency #returns #partnering #channels #sales


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