Thursday, August 28, 2003

A channel professional is not just someone who works in the channel.

Position or job titles are not a guarantee of professionalism. I have met VPs of channels who are clueless and green Channel Account Managers who intuitively understand the requirements of professionalism.

While there is no certification for channel professionals, a true channel professional demonstrates the following:

* Knows that value-add comes from addressing business issues not discounting

* Understands the business models of the channel ecosystem and how they interact

* Creates demand by identifying, scoping and developing new opportunities

* Holds executive conversations with vendor and partner senior management

* Spots and predicts trends in the market and relates them to the partners

* Increases the ROI on channel expenses by aligning programs to opportunities

* Develops and implements practical channel strategies

Simply put, channel professionals, like other experts (e.g. scientists, doctors, engineers and politicians) uses their unique experience and training to transcend the status quo and advance the state of the art.

I did not dream of being The Channel Pro when I was a kid, I just evolved into it. It was a transformation I made through experience on 1000s of consulting projects. From the start, clients said my company brought a professional, structured approach to channel sales. Lately, clients have asked us to write about channels based on my experiences in the high tech and telecom industries.

I am obsessed with making channels run efficiently. I built MSI Consulting Group to improve channel strategies and programs, created The Launch Group to promote products more effectively into the channel, raised money from channel investors as CEO of Chinawave Broadband, developed sales rep acumen as co-author of The Channel MBA and started Channel Ventures to increase ROI on channel expenses.

Although my experiences are unique, I believe I have a similar perspective to many executives, colleagues and associates, e.g. that of a channel professional who strives not just to hit a number but to make a difference.

Scott Karren, The Channel Pro

Scott Karren ( is the CEO of Channel Ventures, a consulting firm specializing in profitable channel development.

This is a blog for channel professionals; those individuals who ended up in channels for some reason and decided not only to make a career out of it, but saw the opportunity to make a lasting impact. Direct involvement in numerous program designs and sales force deployments has helped shape our perspective.

Below are ten statements that outline our viewpoint:

1. Billions are wasted in ineffective channel programs every year
2. Senor executives expect higher performance from their channel personnel
3. Product features are not a substitute for disciplined channel management
4. Account Managers (CAMs) are capable of much more than account support
5. Clear objectives and process will reduce channel amateurism
6. Vendor's channel programs provide minimal differentiation
7. Solid communication, not spin, is the key to channel partner motivation
8. Channel Marketing need to produce more effective promotional materials
9. Channel results can be quantified and measured
10. Accountability and measurement drive improvement

Although we bristle at slights from direct sales and engineering, we have to admit that channels often are not run very professionally. Filled with ambiguity and FUD, channels are often a place where mediocrity thrives. Increased professionalism will drive results and earn respect most channel personnel crave.

Our team of channel veterans is committed to (some say obsessed with) channel professionalism. We eat, sleep, drink and live channels 24-7-365. Each team member has their own company and a specialized perspective be it research (John Bailey), communication and community building (Bill Weir), sales management (Elliot Levine), partner intimacy (Bryan Johansen) account manager coaching (Rick Vieth) or channel strategy (Scott Karren).

We hate fuzziness and hand waving. Look to us to tackle the most important issues head on. We and will stake a leadership position and define a stronger process for professional channel management based on measurement and accountability. If we are controversial, that’s good. If we slaughter a few sacred cows along the way, that’s even better.

Each week, The Channel Pro will post an article on an issue or topic related to channel development and management. These articles will simplify and model the complex issues around channels, each building upon other indirectly to amass a wide base of knowledge to apply to specific channel problems.

During the week, the team of channel professionals will post ongoing insights from our interaction with clients and customers. Shorter and more specific than articles, these daily posts will spotlight real world issues and approaches to specific problems.

Welcome to the community of channel professionals. We look forward to getting to know you through you comments, feedback and results.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?