Channel VPs and directors at large technology companies are re-ordering an expanded list of qualifications they’re seeking in new channel account managers (CAM).
Analysis of a poll by the Channel Institute of more than 400 channel execs revealed that job applicants need more than the usual set of related business skills and relationship building capabilities. What especially surprised us was how much channel execs expect new hires to really want a career as a channel professional.
And in what we see as an acknowledgement of disruption in the overall technology industry as well as channel organizations, channel leaders are seeking new hires that have the flexibility to innovative responses to shifting business requirements.
The Channel Institute polled more than 400 Channel VP’s and Directors at large technology companies to learn what they look for when hiring new Channel Account Managers. There were some surprising results! Although most responses fell into standard categories, there were two unusual standouts in the top 5.
The two surprising entries were “Innovation & Creativity” and “Commitment to the channel”. These were accompanied by the more commonly expected factors of “Business Acumen”, “Relationship Building” and “Flexible Delivery”.
Innovation and Creativity.
This is not something that was highlighted in previous research by third parties, but innovation and creativity is a skill that appears to have jumped up the rankings. Heads of Channel want to know that new team members can think on their feet and bring new insights that can be shared across the entire channel team. This was mentioned as being particularly important for channel teams working with partners that are still trying to adapt their business to cloud-based models.
Commitment to the Channel.
The second most frequently reported response was that candidates take the channel profession seriously, and do not merely consider it “another type of sales job”. This category covers topics such as a clear knowledge of channel management and channel best practices, along with excellent skills in partner business planning. Channel leaders are clearly raising the bar on the profession, recognizing that the subtleties associated with channel program management requires skills that can only be acquired through a combination of formal channel training and experience in best practices, as opposed to the more ad-hoc learning approaches of the past.
Job candidates could set themselves apart from the crowd through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) with a business qualification specifically in channel partner program management or channel marketing. This was particularly important for those companies hiring candidates that are relatively new to the channel profession.
The runaway number one sought after skill falls into the general category of “business acumen”. This covered responses such as understanding of best practices and new business drivers (AI, Business Transformation, Digital Co-Marketing, Social Selling, etc.) and how these will impact on channel partner profitability. New CAM’s need to quickly grasp the consequences for channel partners of increasingly shifting towards service delivery with recurring revenue model programs and the impact of this on a business and its profitability.
Communication skills, empathy and the ability to develop relationships and trust are obvious skills that any successful Partner Account Manager must possess. These skills were identified as being a basic requirement in channel partner sales training and not something that would make a candidate stand out from the crowd.
Finally, many respondents highlighted that Channel Partner Managers operate in a world that is affected by many stakeholders, and many factors are entirely outside of their control. The ability to maintain focus on a channel partner program in the face of turbulence, managing unpredictability and still deliver sales results according to best practices was identified as a key requirement.
The top 5 factors listed in order of priority are:
- Business Acumen.
- Channel knowledge and commitment.
- Innovation and creativity.
- Relationship building.
- Flexible delivery.
According to Mike Kelly, Director at the Channel Institute, “There are five key takeaways from this research to help channel professionals progress their career:
- Emphasize your business training and acumen.
- Channel-specific CPD and channel-business certification is essential to prove your commitment to the channel profession.
- Demonstrate “outside-the-box” thinking.
- Prove your communication and empathy skills.
- Convince employers that you can deliver in the face of unforeseen disruptions to channel partner programs.”