The tension between short-term channel sales target achievement and medium-term partner enablement has never been greater. At the end of 2017, I overheard a VP of channel sales saying to his CAM team “you can invest in enabling your partners as long as you are achieving your sales targets.”
Any long service CAM knows how funny that quote is. It is simply not possible to achieve your partner sales targets if you are not equally investing in enabling your partners for success. Every work day a professional “Super CAM” is managing this balance between developing the next few sales opportunities with their partners while at the same time helping to build a self-sufficient, scalable, and effective partner.
Partner Enablement is Investing Well Ahead of Expected Return
It is getting harder and harder to find channel organizations that are steadfastly committed to partner enablement. This is a classic example of investing well ahead of the anticipated return with uncertainty in ROI. This is a struggle that every VP of channel sales deals with when making budget and resource allocation decisions. Providing partner training and certifications, learning management systems, partner sales incentives, and partner marketing dollars is expensive and hard work. And the justification for these expenses is not easy to put together because the return is usually not immediate or is only indirectly related to this investment. Unfortunately, when times get tough and sales targets are getting tight, one of the first things cut by VPs of channel sales are partner enablement budgets. Pulling CAMs off important partner enablement activities happens too often in the channel to achieve short-term sales targets and sacrificing longer-term growth prospects from partners.
CAMs are Repairing the Engine While the Plane is Flying
Despite declining funds and focus on enablement, CAMs are still expected to achieve their numbers while at the same time building partners that will generate increasing rates of “partner-led” deals for their brand. The top performing CAMs, or “Super CAMs,” are experts at the balancing act of investing just the right amount of time in partner sales development efforts, while at the same time finding a way to help their partners get better. This blog attempts to detail the practices of these “Super CAMs” that can keep the plane in the air and help get more lift and speed out of their channel engine as they build partner capabilities and relationships.
Two Levels of Super Partner Enablement & Activation
Level 1: Partner Program Achievement Enablement
Most channel programs today define a set of expectations that they have for their partners to be successful. But these program definitions by themselves do not create motivated and activated partners. CAMs need to help partners understand these program requirements, how they can achieve them, and create action plans and performance metrics for helping them monitor their progress along the way. Super CAMs take all their partners through a level 1 Partner Program Achievement enablement exercise to ensure that they can succeed.
The program elements below are a set of expectations that your company has created to guide a joint business planning process between CAMs and partners. Each metric area is an expression of a partner’s commitment to the vendor’s brand while at the same time is a blueprint for a partner’s success. But these program elements don’t automatically lead to partner success. Super CAMs take the initiative to build a partner scorecard, business plan and QBR process around these program metrics to engage, motivate and measure partner’s success. There is a specific “how-to” to put these program metrics into action for an individual partner. Each step below is the how-to process that Super CAMs use to help their partners internalize these program goals and take actions to achieve greater program performance.
Super CAMs take these program requirements and turn them into a commitment and motivation building process with the help of a 5-minute scorecard, business plan and QBR tools. They demonstrate how partners will be more successful, make more money, and be more satisfied with your brand.
There is also a second level of partner enablement and activation. The second level of enablement is partner life-stage activation. This is a process where Super CAMs meet partners where they are in their life-stage journey with your brand. Each life stage requires a unique set of assessments and actions to advance your partner’s success. This partner life-stage management process is made much simpler with the use of a scorecard system to assess, profile, measure and track partners and create customized action plans in minutes.
For each of these metrics, in just 15 minutes, a Super CAM can provide their partners with a score from 1-100 of exactly where they stand on their life-stage journey along with a quarterly custom action plan.
Are There Super CAMs within your Organization?
Are you asking yourself if you have any mythical “Super CAMs” within your organization? The answer is yes. But very few regular CAMs become “Super CAMs” on their own. They use tools to help them become highly efficient and effective in managing and motivating their partners. These tools include a 5-minute partner scorecard, a 5-minute partner account planning tool, a 5-minute partner business plan, and a 5-minute partner QBR tool. These tools integrate with your CRM / PRM to automatically bring in the required sales, pipeline, and other certification data and make it very easy to create custom improvement action plans for your partners. Armed with these tools, CAMs and VPs of sales will never have to choose between a focus on sales or enablement. Both goals will be achieved efficiently and effectively including short term revenue targets and long-term goals of a more self-reliant and partner driven channel growth program.