How to Find the Right Channel Marketing Manager

Hiring the perfect candidate for the job is often a daunting task. When it comes to hiring a channel manager, you will be putting a key component of your business’s success in his or her hands, and this person will become the face of your business to many of your partners. It is crucial to make sure you find the right candidate for this important and external-facing role. The first step in hiring the best channel marketing manager for your company is to determine what skills and experience are required for the role and for your channel. Before a baseball team’s manager goes looking for a pitching coach, he first considers what his team and pitching program need to be most successful.

Of course that means he needs to have a pitching program in place—or else he needs to hire someone who has the skill to help build the program. If your company hasn’t built out the channel yet, you’re going to need a channel manager who’s done it before.

So where are you in establishing the channel?

If your program is just getting off the ground, you want someone who understands everything a channel program requires, someone who can build it. He or she will need experience in creating a strategy for recruiting the right partners and for enabling them. The proper channel manager should be able to establish the contacts and the partner profile.

Will your channel manager be responsible for training your partners, or do you have another position dedicated to training? Will enabling the partners be part of the job? If so, obviously you will want someone with experience in getting channel partners up to speed and selling quickly and with training experience if that is included in the role.

For early-stage channel programs, there are also quite a few materials that need to be developed. Partners need access to a variety of sales tools—for example, positioning documents, marketing collateral and competitive info—and your channel manager needs to be able to create them.

With a mature channel program, lead distribution and management become more of a focus. The channel manager will need to track deal registration and partner performance, and effectively manage the Market Development Fund (MDF). Look for a candidate who recognizes that the MDF should be easy for partners to use while still driving accountability and measuring results.

Where are you as a company?

If you’re a start-up, you probably haven’t fully developed your sales or marketing teams and the channel marketing manager will need to handle a lot of the things she might have otherwise relied on corporate marketing or the sales function to do.

Also, it takes time for the channel to begin generating deals so you need a channel manager who can help you ramp up quickly—especially with technology or other products that need to ride a market wave.

With companies that are more established, keeping your products top of mind with enabled partners will be an important focus. Other vendors will be vying for your partners’ attention. Good channel marketing manager candidates will have worked with a mature channel program previously, and know how to generate and maintain awareness. Ideally, they’ll be able to show a track record of growth after the program has been up and running for a year or so.

Look for a Sales-Marketing Hybrid

If you’re following along at home, you’ve probably already noticed that the channel marketing manager position doesn’t fit neatly into either the pure “sales” or pure “marketing” buckets. It’s really a hybrid of these two disciplines. And with the scope and volume of skills and responsibilities required, it’s a role that needs a fairly senior person as well. Ultimately, the best candidate will know how channel partners think, what keeps them interested and what they need from their vendors to close deals.

For additional information and to get connected to potential channel management candidates, join our group on LinkedIn.