Call us @ +1 508-827-4318

Leading Partner Executives Say CAMs can be the Secret ingredient to their Success

SuperPartner

I thought it was about time we heard from a person who is more qualified to advise vendors on their channel programs and go-to-market strategies than just about anyone else. Luanne Tierney has been one of the most successful Silicon Valley channel executives in the industry,Authors holding the highest-level positions at Cisco, Juniper, Fortinet, and Proofpoint. After building an exceptional track record leading channels at each of these companies, she decided to move to the other side of the desk to build an innovative partner organization focusing on next generation technologies and services to meet the IT needs of 2017 and beyond. Luanne and I collaborated on this article to show how channel vendors can better meet the needs of their partners and build a mutually beneficial relationship that is a win for all parties.

Partners Need Help from Vendors

Partners may not always admit it, but they absolutely need help from their vendors and will enthusiastically welcome the right kind of support. Partners know that their vendors have far greater reach and market presence than their own and play a major role in defining the positioning of a partner’s brand. Partners very much want to leverage all the following strengths from their vendors for defining their business strategy:

  1. Differentiated products
  2. Recognized and trusted brand
  3. Services and delivery expertise
  4. Technical support resources
  5. Customer relationships
  6. Integrated industry solutions

Partners Need to Leverage Their Vendor’s Attributes to Grow Their Market Position:

Partners take many different paths to become resellers of another vendor’s brand. Most partner founders have a strong vertical market area of expertise, have deep technical knowledge, or have experience in solving specific business process-related problems. They depend on their vendors to help build an attractive positioning strategy to win more new customers. Forward-thinking partners actively seek assistance from their vendor’s channel account managers (CAMs) to help them leverage resources to successfully position their business for the future.

Channel Account Managers Hold the Keys to the Kingdom for their Partners:

From a partner’s point-of-view, CAMs can be a secret ingredient for accelerating their growth. Partners depend on their assigned CAMs to provide them with expertise, resources, consulting advice and access to other vendor executives to help build their business. Partners also actively seek help from their CAMs to grow their market position leveraging the vendor’s products, to help define a marketing strategy to generate new sales opportunities and provide technical resources to build their business operations. Partners are setting the bar high for their CAMs while at the same time they will pay vendors back with loyalty and investment in their brand. Below are detailed expectations for a highly-valued CAM.

Valuable CAM's

Leading partner executives like Luanne Tierney expect a lot from their vendor’s assigned CAMs to build a profitable growth model for their business. CAMs are expected to ‘bring up their game” to become highly capable business consultants for their partners.

How can a Vendor’s CAMs Start Becoming this Wonderful?

CAMs don’t simply decide to be “extraordinary” one day and instantly become the darling of their partner community. CAMs and vendors must first decide that they are committed to their partner’s success. This commitment starts from the top of the vendor’s channel organization which directs the CAM team, first and foremost, to understand their partner’s business and work closely to build a joint value proposition that serves both organization’s goals. Channel chiefs need to resist the temptation of diverting their CAMs to closing short-term deals for the partner, and reward CAM behavior that focuses on partner collaboration, enablement, and consulting.

Once CAMs are supported in this role by their executives, they need to make a personal commitment to become more knowledgeable on their own products, the served market, the competitive landscape, and the partner’s business. This new enablement model requires that CAMs themselves become expert consultants on many aspects of a partner’s business.

Super CAM / Partner Business Consultant:

The days of measuring a CAMs effectiveness by the number of partners they able to acquire and “list” your brand is now a distant memory. This strategy resulted in vendors acquiring a very long list of partners that will only sell your brand if they accidentally “trip” over a new sales opportunity. This is very counter-productive to the effectiveness of the entire channel organization.

Today’s “Super CAM” is one that carefully analyzes the partner’s business and creates scorecards to determine if the partner is a good fit for the brand. This Super CAM also provides pragmatic business advice to current and potential partners about the requirements on both ends of the partnership. This trust-building approach will result in a collaborative, open, and mutually beneficial alliance where both parties invest and share in the benefits. A Super CAM must develop the following areas of expertise to foster productive business partner relationships.

The Required Consulting Capabilities for a Super CAM:

  1. Partner Capabilities Assessment Consultant: Super CAMs need to be able to quickly assess a partner relative to vendor expectations and provide a scorecard assessment of their business capabilities.
  2. Partner Improvement Action Planning Consultant: Super CAMs needs to be able to build a customized partner capabilities plan and organize the resources of the vendor to help them achieve these goals.
  3. Partner Positioning and Value Proposition Consultant: Super CAMs need to be able to understand their products, the market, and the partner’s business to help the partner build a competitive advantage.
  4. Partner Growth and Profitability Consultant: Super CAMs need to collaborate on joint partner business planning, and calculate a custom partner profitability forecast for the sale of the vendor’s products along with partner-delivered services.
  5. Partner Account & Pipeline Management Consultant: Super CAMs need to be able to easily collaborate with the partner’s sales team to identify accounts for joint selling opportunities and manage and report leads as they develop / before and after deal registration.
  6. Partner Marketing Consultant: Super CAMs need to bring in the vendor marketing resources (social/digital assets) for driving joint demand. Work with the partner to have a 6-month marketing plan in place.
  7. Partner Performance Management Consultant: Super CAMs need to be able to easily pull together performance-to-plan Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) with their partners to celebrate successes and motivate goal achievement.

Vendors that are looking to grow their channel don’t have to look much farther than their current CAM team. Any CAM team has the potential of becoming Super CAMs if they have executive support for their mission, are trained on partner business consulting, and are provided with the appropriate scorecarding, business planning and account management tools to build trust-based relationships with their partners. The biggest fans of this strategy will be your partners who are actively seeking the support that your CAMs can provide for their business success.

1 Comment
  1. Great article and one that highlights the true value of the CAM to a vendor AND Partner organisation.
    For too long the CAM has been viewed as just another member of the sales team and focused primarily on quarterly sales goals.
    Maybe, at last, senior vendor Exec’s will see that the real role of their CAM is to build lasting and effective relationships with their Partner community.
    This in turn, will ensure a stronger and more manageable sales pipeline for both parties.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.