Early in my channel career, I worked at a company called EqualLogic. EqualLogic was large enough to be 100% channel-focused, and we had very close relationships with our Partners, but was also small enough where I got to sit in a room with all of our Channel Account Managers (CAMs) and ask them what they really wanted and needed.
Their answers surprised me. Not because they were so off the wall or outside of what I had heard before, but because they were so incredibly different from one another. One needed separate and custom content for each of the two National Solution Providers (NSPs) they worked with. Another, who was managing and growing our second-tier Partners, needed co-brandable material. And others, managing our Partners in other regions, like EMEA, were running renegade doing things on their own, even though we begged them to tell us how we could improve what we were doing for their Partners. Although this was well over a decade ago, I’m positive this is a story you probably know all too well.
Even more concerning, was the fact that their “To” Partner communication styles were completely different. And, even with so many different communication mediums today, including text, video, chat and social, like LinkedIn, I’d bet email and phone are still their primary go-to’s.
You know as well as I do, that CAMs really are the face of your channel on a day-to-day basis, and it’s time to empower them! Here are some great tips to help support their and your success!
LinkedIn Should Be The First Line of Communication:
Whenever CAMs meet a new Partner or executive at that Partner, they should immediately connect on LinkedIn. Connection doesn’t end there, however. Whenever a Partner shares a post, has a birthday, work anniversary, receives a promotion (you get it), CAMs should comment, congratulate or repost. Nurturing the relationship on and offline is key to engagement. This is also a great way to keep track of Partners who are using your content, or taking your advice on leveraging social and demand generation content.
Video Is Key:
I know, I know, we talk about video constantly! Back in 2009 when I started Channel Maven, all I did was talk about LinkedIn and Twitter. I was met with many eye-rolls and comments like “I’m not looking for a job” or “No one cares about what I had for breakfast!” Just sayin’. And now I’m telling you we’re going to look back in 5 years, heck probably 18 months, and realize that video is THE most crucial type of content you can give your Partners, your salespeople, and your CAMs. What kind of videos you ask? Well, who would I be if I didn’t put it in a video? Here you go!
Your Comms Would Do Better Going Through CAMs:
Every month that you do a newsletter, send invites to Partners, host a webinar, and create educational videos, your Partners should watch. Every month, most of you send content out via an email address your Partners don’t recognize. Now is the time to enable your Channel Account Managers to personalize your content before they send it to your Partners. Think about it. When the message comes directly from them you’ll know:
A) They’ve seen it.
B) They’ve approved which Partners should get it.
C) Most CAMs are not afraid of the spotlight.
What if I told you, your CAMs could customize your videos or webinars in under 2 minutes? And that whenever you load new content it would be automatically customized and sent to them via email, which they could instantly turn-around and post on social, send to all Partners or only to specific ones through their own email or even text.
Different Partners Need Different Things…Period:
While they should have input, your CAMs shouldn’t have to create “with” Partner demand generation content themselves or beg/borrow/steal for it. Tech Alliances need content you’ve truly created together (which by the way, is probably being done by their CAMs…yes, I know I’m contradicting myself). NSPs have their own marketing teams and are churning out content on the regular. They need your copy, your imagery (sometimes), and your “business outcome” type content, but they don’t want co-branded speeds and feeds…ever. Solution Providers are more apt to take a look at your co-branded materials, but it would have to be videos, pre-recorded webcasts, and podcasts. Most, if not all, now have their own marketing automation tools or at least a CRM, but they could use some help on the copy and the carrot to lure their prospects to a killer piece of content. Managed Service Providers are a whole other animal. “Just the content please”, and it should not have your branding anywhere on it. It seems counterintuitive I know, but it works. If you’re still skeptical, we really need to chat.
Now more than ever, we need to engage our Partners, make sure they’re ok and that they have what they need.. And, your CAMs are your first line in defense when doing that!
Want to talk more about empowering Channel Account Managers with the education and resources they need to be successful? Contact us!