Agents were all-too-eager to share their pet peeves about poor-performing channel managers, including the widely lambasted end-of-month call, asking, "Do you have anything for me?"

October 22, 2013

3 Min Read
Channel Managers: Good, Bad & Ugly

By Khali Henderson

What separates a good channel manager from a bad one? That was the topic of a recent panel discussion, featuring top carrier channel managers, at Channel Connect 2013, the annual partner summit hosted by cloud and carrier distributor Intelisys in San Francisco earlier this month.

Intelisys agents attending the event were all-too-eager to share their pet peeves about poor-performing channel managers, including the widely lambasted end-of-month call, asking, “Do you have anything for me?”

Other top turn-offs cited by agents are when channel managers:

  • are inaccessible

  • take you to dinner for no other reason than to get in face time.

  • constantly hand you off to other people

  • say, “That’s not my job.”

  • have a direct sales quota, too

  • are not empowered to do their jobs

  • spend more time in internal meetings than with partners

Partners rattled off top traits of their favorite channel managers with equal ease. Agents love when channel managers:

  • anticipate next steps

  • make it easy for partners to do business with their company

  • are committed to the partner’s success

  • let us know about new services coming up

  • delegate but don’t abdicate responsibility

  • are customer-focused, especially when there’s a problem

  • have the ability/empowerment to get things done internally

“That describes a pretty special person,” said Intelisys’s Andrew Pryfogle, who moderated the panel. “It’s a rarity. When you find that, they are super stars.”

Intelisys assembled it’s own all-star channel manager panel, including Ross Anderson, director of channel sales and development for MegaPath, Derek Kessler, national channel manager for Level 3, Crystal Farley, national channel manager for Windstream; Evan Mahaney, channel manager, ACC Business and Sherrie Hiller, regional agent manager for TelePacific.

Each of these veterans added to the list of attributes for a successful channel manager:

  • “Commitment, responsiveness, acting like it’s your business as much as their business, knowing that deal makes the difference in paying their mortgage and putting food on the table for their kids,” said Hiller.

  • “What we all forget in today’s digital world is people buy from people,” said Farley, noting that good channel managers actively engage with their partners, understand their business and help them figure out how to grow their business.

  • “When things go wrong  as they will — nothing in life is perfect –  [channel managers need] to understand the master agent’s resources and carrier resources to help the partner shine in front of their customers. It’s how you act when something goes wrong,” said Anderson.

  • “Be there throughout the whole process and trying to take the pain out of the order and doing as much as I can to make it as painless as possible,” said Mahaney.

  • “A great channel manager will have internal relationships and know where to go to get things done quick. They always have to be thinking about the next order. Partners will give us the first order, but we have to deliver on the presales and quote side to get the next order,” said Kessler

Turnabout is fair play, these channel managers took their best shots at agents as well. They said the worst partners:

  • quote and hope, wasting channel manager’s time

  • want quotes/assistance at the last minute

  • think they know more about the company’s products than the channel manager

  • hit and run, requesting information from the channel manager and disappearing

In contrast, the best partners:

  • know the supplier’s sweet spots and strengths how to position its products well

  • bring in the channel manager early in the customer engagement so they can prepare

  • trust that the channel managers know what they are doing and what their company can do

  • stand side by side with the supplier

  • understand the opportunity and bring the right information to the table

  • invest in a long-term partnership with the supplier

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