Partner Managers are under-utilized, under-trained, and under-performing when it comes to hitting the organization’s goals and objectives.

Companies that sell through indirect channels rely heavily on the Partner Manager to maintain relationships with channel partners and drive the business. More and more companies these days place marketshare and revenue growth attainment on the shoulders of their partner managers. Often though, partner managers are under-utilized, under-trained, and under-performing when it comes to hitting the organization’s goals and objectives.

To fully understand the “dynamic” of the partner manager, we must first understand the “types” of partner managers.  In short, and to simplify this, these people fall into three primary categories:

“Transactional” Partner Managers

These managers are often measuring results rather than proactively “driving” the revenue.  Good people.  Hard working.  By no fault of their own, they fail to make personal connections with the partners they manage.  In many cases companies deploy junior people to manage much older, more seasoned partner executives. They don’t know how to advise the partner on how to grow their business. So they just tell them to “sell more.” Thus, nothing ever changes.

“Urgent Issue” Partner Managers

The reactive, urgent issue Partner Manager is someone the partners trust enough to be able to handle urgent issues without having to escalate to someone else. These partner managers believe that their job is to serve the partner. Because of this, they replace developing business strategy with tactical doing. They often become the partners’ puppet.

“Superstar” Partner Managers 

Superstars get it. They understand every facet of their partner’s business and have become a strategic asset to their channel partners. They know how to dig deep in order to analyze a partner’s business and how to find key “trigger” points to improve productivity, etc.

For companies selling via channel partners few things are more important than investing in Channel Manager training and development. The ROI payoff on developing strong Partner Managers is massive: revenue and market share growth, partner loyalty, partner expansion, and a bench of future leaders. 

Start with analyzing your current Partner Managers for strengths, weaknesses, and how they currently interact with your channel partners.

About the author

Keith Lubner

Keith Lubner is Chief Strategy Officer at Sales Gravy and acts as an advisor,…

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