It’s not like the office of every channel chief is equipped with a revolving door. But according to research by Forresters’ Jay McBain, principal analyst of global channels, newly appointed channel chiefs may not want to order the big box of business cards. According to McBain, the average tenure of a channel chief is a little over four years. In contrast, CEOs tend to hold their jobs for 7.4 years.
As 2017 wrapped up, CMR had a conversation with Impartner CMO, Dave Taylor, about the challenges channel chiefs face these days. He shared some comments on what channel pros should be doing to extend their tours of duty.
The top three things that are key to longevity as a channel chief, said Taylor are:
Indeed, ensuring that your provide partners with an engaging experience that makes it easier for them to take advantage of all the support you provide is essential, he insisted.
“If you’re not providing your partner community with access to the tools they need, a fairly wealthy program for them, and an awesome partner experience, you can bet that there is a competitor down the street that is.”
Driving partner engagement by creating that world-class partner experience is essential, said Taylor. “If you can’t provide updated and relevant content to your partner community, you have yourself to blame if your engagement is low.
“When partners come to your website and find, A, new content, or B, new leads, or C, a new training and certification track they can take, or anything like that that enhances their margin, increases their revenue, when you start doing that, and start doing it in a mobile responsive way so they can do it from their smart devices like everybody wants to, that’s how you start driving partner engagement.”
Based on the research Impartner has done with its clients, using technology to enhance the partner experience resulted in a 53% increase in partner engagement.
Those are the kind of results that senior management wants to hear from their channel chiefs, said Taylor. “A 53% bump in partner engagement says, ‘Hey, there’s a channel chief that’s got his or her head on straight and they’re thinking about this the right way.’”
Retaining partners – especially leading performers – is critical for extended tenure as a channel chief, said Taylor, “If there’s one thing that channel chiefs do that could cause them to be targeted for termination — that’s a terrible phrase — if there’s something they can do to weaken their position, it’s lose key revenue-producing partners.”
Taylor emphasized that channel chiefs can’t count on their instincts or even past performance to succeed in the digital age. As he related, some channel chiefs wonder. “If I do this with my top 10 and it generates a result, why can’t I do that with the next 10% and get the same result from them?”
Channel chiefs can and should explore different strategies to align them more appropriately with partners, he said. “But if you’re not, A, tech-genic, and B, driven with data, how would you ever know which strategy has the best chance of working? You can’t manage at that level of detail based on gut instinct.”
Success for modern channel chiefs is “all about predictability, repeatability, sustainability,” said Taylor. “If I can predict my revenues and repeat my revenues on an ongoing basis, that means I get it, I understand my channel, I’ve got the data flowing in, I’ve got my fingers on the buttons and I know how to drive that. That’s what the C-level is looking for in that channel chief position.
“It’s anecdotal only, but the number one thing that I see people getting the boot for is not because the result was over or under,” said Taylor, “but because they can’t explain why the result was over or under.”