The Perfect Fit: Looking For A Channel Chief


OPINION


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The successful candidate will have phenomenal political skills that would be the envy of any full-time Washington politician. The job requires a thick skin and the ability to sit quietly, while others without any direct involvement take credit when things are going well. However, you must be able to absorb all blame when sales slip whether it be because the product teams are behind the competition, or logistics can't meet demand.

Travel is a necessary part of the job, and you must be willing to be in another city, country or continent as much as 75 percent of the time. If, God forbid, you are not located in headquarters, expect to spend the other 25 percent of the time walking our hallways in order to prevent some nut in another department from getting buy-in on some insane partner program adjustment. In short, expect to be away from home so much that your dog will attack you when you show up, thinking you are a burglar.

You must be able to build strong relationships with indirect sales partners that are not compelled to sell our product but can be convinced to do so if you can grease all the skids of our organization to make it worthwhile. You will be responsible for the sales number through these partners even though you can't really direct their sales force.

[Related: The Birth Of The Strategic Service Provider]

The last character we had in this role had no experience building, managing or incentivizing indirect sales channels. We expect you to clean that mess up in a week, maybe two, and then get our sales on the hockey-stick trajectory it should be on in week three because we have the most incredible products in the world and they really sell themselves.

You should not expect much support from marketing because we always underfund our channel marketing department and generally keep it separate from our corporate marketing where we put all the money. The next reorganization will likely have channel marketing report into corporate marketing, which will give you even less support.

If you are interested, our compensation program is respectable but not overly lucrative, and you will earn every cent of it.

Now while the above may be an exaggeration, and certainly a bit of a spoof, there is a lot of validity in the reality that Channel Chiefs in this industry, and their teams, have a very difficult job.

What's also a reality is that most of them absolutely love it and have built incredible relationships with partners that have learned to trust them. I've also been fortunate to get to know most of them over the years and, outside of a very small few that were really just passing through, I can honestly say they are some of the smartest and underrated executives in this industry.

Every year, when we compile our list of Channel Chiefs there are a few names missing from last year who have moved onto something else, and more than a few that have changed companies. It's rare for a channel executive to last a decade or more at a single company.

Channel Chiefs, the really good ones, are critical to the success of this industry and, in my opinion, don't get enough credit, nor do the amazing teams of people that surround them. The hard-working teams in channel marketing, sales and operations also play important roles in helping make the indirect sales model the efficient sales and marketing engine that it is.

BackTalk: Make something happen. Robert Faletra is CEO of The Channel Company. You can contact him via email at rfaletra@thechannelcompany.com.

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