Driving revenue through the channel is hard. Because the channel partners don’t actually work for the vendor, many vendor channel managers and channel executives seem to take a less structured approach to revenue achievement planning. They seem to follow the “if we build it they will come” approach, spending more time worrying about their partner program and associated benefits than about creating a typical sales accountability culture.
We can’t drive predictable, consistent revenue through the channel if we don’t hold each channel manager accountable for developing and executing a reasonable plan on how they will achieve the assigned revenue objectives with the assigned portfolio of partners. We need channel managers to take a thoughtful, analytical approach to determine which partners can produce what kind of revenue and with what required assistance. It should be no different than what we expect from a named-account or territory sales rep in terms of a “quota achievement plan”.
At the top of that achievement plan is an admission that few channel managers want to make: how much revenue is each of my partners going to produce whether I show up for work or not? Our self-promoting alter-egos want to demand that our partners couldn’t possibly produce anything without us; but the reality is that the vast majority of channel partners are quite capable and produce more than we’d care to admit without us. The best channel managers however, are able to clinically identify which partners produce adequate revenue with little or no assistance in order to spend time and effort with other partners where they can have the biggest impact on revenue production.
A channel manager’s achievement plan details their portfolio production capacity and where they have expected performance gaps. The plan should identify what kind of engagement strategy they intend to pursue with each partner in order to maximize the portfolio growth and revenue production. In which partners will they heavily invest for both current and future exponential growth? In which partners will they invest just enough to maintain a reasonable revenue production? And in which partners will they only invest opportunistically as the situation requires?
The channel manager role is not one of “perfection”; it is one of balance and leveraged investment. The channel manager needs to approach their portfolio and achievement plan much like a manager approaches a team of individual contributors: identifying which team members require what kind of assistance, and leveraging their management efforts where the return can be most impactful. When channel managers are honest about where their efforts have true impact, they can build a much more effective achievement plan that directs their daily efforts towards meaningful impact.
What does your organization require in terms of achievement plans from Channel Managers?