- Channel teams focus a lot of resources on onboarding new partners to ensure they get the help they need to ramp to revenue
- Suppliers make considerably less of an effort to enable their own newly hired partner account managers for similar success
- Channel leaders are starting to recognize the need to improve their approach to onboarding partner account managers to accelerate sales productivity and partner engagement
Channel sales leaders leave their jobs. Often. There are many reasons for this, from capturing better opportunities to facing insurmountable challenges on the road to channel-centricity. However, the partner account managers working within these organizations have traditionally been a stable workforce. Compare attrition rates of direct sales account managers and partner account managers, and you will see very different turnover rates, with the partner account manager tending to stay in the role longer. But things are about to change. Today’s workforce is undergoing a fundamental shift as suppliers lose seasoned sales professionals of all kinds to retirement, “second life” careers or a move to greener pastures in an improved economy. What can channel leaders do to get ahead of the curve?
- Recognize that change is coming. Direct sales organizations have started to prepare for the brain drain by building onboarding programs that focus on making new hires productive, especially “young in career” workers. However, most channel sales organizations are lagging. While their teams may be invited to participate in the direct sales onboarding program, the specific needs of the partner account manager are not addressed. The result is that the partner account manager’s earliest days are spent as a new hire learning how to become a successful direct sales rep. Top-performing channel chiefs need to accept that partner account managers need special attention.
- Update the partner account manager functional job role. Whether or not you’re currently hiring, you should assess the existing job role. Is it relevant to the current channel strategy and organizational path? Many supplier organizations are balancing the need to develop existing partners with the need to recruit and enable new ones. Is the new partner account manager expected to do both, or will the organization seek to separate the roles? Defining core partner account manager competencies is required for the hiring process and to prioritize the needs of an onboarding program.
- Prioritize early success. What roles and responsibilities does the channel leader expect a new partner account manager to execute, and when? These conversations often focus on quota achievement. However, it is just as important to understand what skills and behaviors the channel leader considers the most important for new hires – those that will set them up for sales success. Is the new partner account manager expected to do joint business planning? Enable partners? Develop marketing plans? Identify new sales opportunities? Prioritizing the elements that need to be addressed in an onboarding program vs. longer term enablement programs sets expectations and helps the partner account manager achieve them. Defining key performance measures for the first 90 days can help partner account managers and their managers work toward the goals identified. This should be a combination of successful execution of partner-account-manager-specific tasks (like delivering a recruitment pitch to a partner prospect) and sales goals.
Onboarding is the first step in a journey. It should launch a new partner account manager into the field ready to engage partners and support revenue-generating activity. From there, the partner account manager can move into an ongoing enablement path that aligns personal development to organizational goals. The channel chief benefits from improved new hire performance while also benefiting from a scalable process for the next wave of recruits. Are you ready for the changes coming? Contact SiriusDecisions to learn how to optimize performance across the channel sales organization.