The days of traditional channel roles are numbered due to the growth pressure on vendor brand sales and a partner’s expectations for improved profitability. A CAM (Channel Account Manager) is a role focused on helping partners achieve their sales goals through a range of enablement and sales-assist efforts. A PSM (Partner Sales Manager) has a primary role of partner sales leadership / sales-assist. The new hybrid CAE (Channel Account Enabler) role is designed using the best of both CAM and PSM approaches to deliver more capable and profitable partners that drive more revenue.
The number one reason to use channel partners is to grow a brand’s business through the cross-sell of your product to a partner’s customers. Too often channel executives say “First and foremost, we need to focus our channel team on closing deals.” This is the short-term trap that many channel organizations fall into due to the pressure from quarter-to-quarter sales targets. Many channel sales opportunities are missed because PSMs are relied on too much to lead the process of developing new deals versus enabling partners to develop them on their own.
Partners have many local relationships that vendor brands can leverage to grow their sales. More opportunities can be developed if the partner is properly enabled to identify, present, progress, and close deals. Channel chiefs don’t have to choose between these two roles anymore and can build a hybrid role that borrows the best of each. The new CAE role is better suited to help develop a partner’s team to become a more capable independent representative of your brand, while providing the needed sales support to assist in closing deals. This CAE role is also equipped to deliver the highly-valued partner business and profitability development consulting that partners need to build a more effective growth business.
This new hybrid CAE role raises the expectations and professionalism bar for traditional channel managers to deliver more consulting, enablement, and direct sales support to their partners. CAEs can help their partners deliver more revenue with the following eight methods:
- Partner Capabilities Improvement Scorecard: In as little as 3 minutes, CAEs can create partner-customized scorecards to compare their capabilities to best practice and to peer partners. In an additional 2-3 minutes, these customized partner scorecards are then converted into action plans for improving a partner’s sales, technical, marketing, and support capabilities. (3 Minute Partner Scorecards)
- Partner 36 Month Business Plan: Partner business planning is all about commitment development. In as little as 10 minutes a CAE can help partners create a 36-month business plan with goals, strategies, revenue forecasts, partner staffing and business transformation consulting. (10 Minute Partner Business Plans)
- Partner Profitability Forecast: Partners are interested in your products but are even more interested in how they can sell more partner-delivered services and run a more profitable business. As a part of the 10-minute partner business planning process, CAEs can also create a customized P&L for the partner with the sale of your brand. This turns the CAE into an instant partner business model and profitability consultant. (Instant Partner Profit Models)
- Partner Account Planning: The fastest way to grow partner’s sales is to target cross-sell opportunities within their current portfolio of customers. Account planning with individual partner reps allow the CAE to identify target opportunities that can be put into a structured pipeline management process to be tracked, managed, and reported on from contact to close. (Partner Account Planning)
- Partner Sales Assist: CAEs are one of the largest and most valuable investments a channel team makes in growing their business. All eight factors listed here, along with the corresponding 5-10 minute tools, allow a CAE to free up more time for targeted sales assist. Through enabling partner sales reps and coordinated account planning, CAEs are able to more efficiently allocate their time to support reps with sales opportunities vs. the traditional PSM role. (Partner Sales Assist)
- Partner QBR’s: QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) are an opportunity to celebrate partner successes and refocus a partner’s activities on actions to help them achieve their business plan. New 10 minute QBR tools bring all plans, performance-to-plan, pipeline and other action plan data together automatically to enable CAEs to consistently deliver QBRs in a timely and motivating fashion. (Partner QBRs)
- Increase CAE Partner Enablement Capacity: CAEs need to do more in less time. New 10 minute tools turn CAEs into expert capabilities development, commitment development and pipeline development consultants and allow CAEs to deliver better service for more partners. (CAE Systems)
- Partner Life-Stage Enablement Targeting: Not all partners at all life stages need the same level of support. In most channel ecosystems, partners are at various life stages and require different levels of help to meet their sales targets. CAEs are able to allocate their time differently by partner based on their life stage to give them exactly what they need to be successful. (Life-Stage Enablement)
It is the combination of two factors that that makes CAEs particularly effective in generating productive and revenue producing partners:
- The right balance of partner enablement and sales assist support (CAM Vs. PSM) activities
- Partner life stage enablement to focus the right support on the right partners at the right time
Channel executives that do not adjust their channel management approach to the changing times run the risk of not achieving their sales targets. With the right channel manager enablement tools, virtually any organization can turn their CAMs and PSMs into highly productive and revenue producing CAEs.