I have been working for the past 15 years with channel partners all over the globe and I am just loving it as the industry keeps changing and the challenges as well. Working with channel partners offers a wide range of opportunities to grow and improve your hard and soft skills.
There are so many skills that you develop during your career. However, there are some strategic ones that have helped me during my 15 years of experience and failures. I am glad to share them with you today.
If you are considering a channel position or looking for a career in this field, these are the top five pieces of advice that I would give my younger self.
1. Business Acumen
In a partnership, both parties are there to do business and come to a winning agreement. With channel partners, you need to have a quick and strong ability to understand different business models and be able to create, implement, and execute business strategies which should end up with a unique value proposition to generate profitability, cash flow, and shareholder value.
Are you a good listener? If so, this should definitely help you ask the right questions to your channel partner and have a quick understanding of his or her business strategy, market, and customers, and come up with an impactful proposal.
2. Relationship Building
Every single channel partnership is mainly built on relationships and trust. This relationship begins when you have your first contact with your channel partner and lasts for a long time. Sometimes it can last even after you leave the company.
I still have great relationships with some of the partners I have worked with more than 10 years ago. You need to be a people person and be able create this social connection when you meet people for the first time because this will end up being the basis to influence, close deals, keep a good reputation, and sustain commercial relationships.
This skill should also help you implement mutual beneficial communication and workflow between both parties. Relationship-building skills enable channel executives to accomplish tasks easier and make better-informed decisions.
I've had numerous discussions with channel leaders and there was always one point that we could all agree on: Being a channel leader feels like being a constant tightrope walker.
Indeed, the situation with your partners can change drastically from one day to another. Even from one hour to the next.
With these situations, you need a high level of adaptability. You have to be ready to address any unexpected issues, and be proactive. Get creative and be ready to come up with innovative ideas. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.
I had to adopt that kind of approach on specific delicate situations and I had to come up with new business models or new ways of doing business.
4. Time Management
Organization becomes a golden skill when working with channel partners. We all have endless to-do lists, but the strength here is to be able to prioritize, delegate, create strategic planning, and be a star at how you address problem solving.
You will get plenty of requests coming from your channel partners network but also from internal teams, and at some point you will need to set priorities that are aligned with your goals but also support your partners' goals as well.
Delegating can be challenging at times as well as managing stress. With partners, you won't be able to give the necessary support by yourself. All the technical and marketing support needed to optimize partners' enablement can be done in collaboration with the marketing and technical teams.
I already mentioned the importance of implementing a trusting relationship with your partner. Commitment goes further than that. Through your level of commitment, you gain trust. At the same time, your high level of commitment will motivate your partners to spend time selling your solutions/products.
A channel partner role isn't exactly a 9-5 position every single day. You will have to keep a high level of energy, positivity, and a goal-oriented attitude.
Working with channel partners is an exciting and very challenging career path. However, I would not change anything in my professional experience. This career helps me grow, stay humble, and gives me the opportunity to meet so many incredible professionals.
Are you up to the challenge, now?
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