By Michael Kelly, Director, Channel Institute
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.
Our survey resulted in a wide range of responses that we grouped into the following five categories:
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.
Committed 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 how channels work, the channel landscape, and excellent skills in joint business planning. Channel leaders are clearly raising the bar on the profession, recognizing that the subtleties associated with channel management require skills that can only be acquired through a combination of formal channel training and experience, as opposed to the more ad-hoc learning approaches of the past.
Job candidates could set themselves apart from the crowd if they had a business qualification specifically in channel management or channel marketing. This was particularly important for those companies hiring candidates that are relatively new to the channel profession.
Business Acumen — The runaway number one sought after skill falls into this general category. This covered responses such as understanding of new business drivers (AI, Business Transformation, Digital Co-Marketing, Social Selling, etc.) and how these will impact channel partner profitability. New CAMs need to quickly grasp the consequences for channel partners of increasingly shifting towards service delivery with recurring revenue models and the impact of this on a business and its profitability.
Relationship Skills — Communication skills, empathy and the ability to develop relationships and trust are obvious skills that any successful CAM must possess. These skills were identified as being a basic requirement in channel sales training and something that would make a candidate stand out from the crowd.
Agile Resilience — Finally, many respondents highlighted that CAMs operate in a world that is affected by many stakeholders, and many factors are entirely outside of their control. The ability to maintain focus in the face of turbulence, managing unpredictability and still deliver sales results was identified as a key requirement.
To help channel professionals at any point in their careers develop their skills, the Channel Institute provides business training through a syllabus validated by a vendor-independent Industry Advisory Council. Free trials of the Certificate in Channel Management, Certificate in Channel Marketing and Certificate in Digital Co-Marketing are available.