The Channel Institute polled more than 400 channel VP’s and directors at large technology companies worldwide to learn what they look for when hiring new channel account managers.
Although most responses fell into standard categories, there were two unusual standouts in the top 5 - “Innovation and creativity” and “Commitment to the channel”.
These were accompanied by the more commonly expected factors of “Business acumen”, “Relationship building”, and “Flexible delivery”.
According to Channel Institute director Mike Kelly, there are five key takeaways from this research to help channel professionals progress their career.
1. Emphasise your business training and acumen.
2. Channel-specific CPD and channel-business certification is essential to prove your commitment to the channel profession.
3. Demonstrate “outside-the-box” thinking.
4. Prove your communication and empathy skills.
5. Convince employers that you can deliver in the face of unforeseen disruptions.
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.
Channel heads 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 how channels work, the channel landscape, and excellent skills in joint business planning.
Channel leaders are clearly raising the bar on the profession, recognising 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 through continuous professional development (CPD) with 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.
The runaway number one sought after skill falls into the general category of “business acumen”.
This covered responses such as understanding of new business drivers (AI, business transformation, digital co-marketing, social selling, etc.) and how these will impact on channel partner profitability.
New channel managers 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.
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 sales training and not something that would make a candidate stand out from the crowd.
Finally, many respondents highlighted that channel account 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 in the face of turbulence, managing unpredictability and still deliver sales results was identified as a key requirement.
The top 5 factors listed in order of priority are:
1. Business Acumen
2. Channel knowledge and commitment
3. Innovation and creativity
4. Relationship building
5. Flexible delivery