What does a Partner Account Manager do?
One of my readers recently asked me what the role of a Partner Account Manager is.
The answer is that it really depends on a number of issues.
A company can be in three main stages:
- Make or break
The definition of a startup is “a group of people looking for a business model that works.” The first job is to find a a match between the startup’s ideas and requirements in the market that can be served profitably with products and services.
If the startup believes that there is a need for engaging channel partners in serving the customers, then the next job is to decide which part of the solution, services and insight these partners should assume responsibility for and which roles they should play in the revenue generation process.
The profile required for finding the right role for the partners, for developing the partner value proposition, developing the first partner program and for finding the first partners is a business development type of person. In this stage there is a lot of trial, error and correction iterations, so we need to look for an entrepreneurial type of person with solid business acumen. If we can find someone who has done this type of exercise before then that would be a major advantage. However, there are enough literature and workshops available in the market on this subject, so I would put most emphasis on business acumen, entrepreneurial attitude and analytical capability.
Make or break
Companies in Make or Break have proven that there is a market for their products and services and now the job is to scale like crazy to get past the tipping point (20% market share) before the competitors.
In Make or Break we need channel partner recruiters. Scaling our business model requires growing the partner channel and as it is extremely difficult to predict partner performance we need to get as many partners as possible on board as fast as possible. The profile of a channel partner recruiter is a systematic and well organized business developer with solid business acumen. She must be able see the value for the partner in introducing our products and build the business case for the joint investment with the partner.
Partners showing signs of commitment and growth potential should be assigned to Partner Account Managers, that work like management consultants helping the partners with strategy, organization, business planning and execution (joint marketing and co-selling).
5% of the channel parters have an aggressive growth profile and only need little support primarily initiated by themselves. They need and enjoy access to our own executive management with whom they will initiate major growth initiatives.
15% of the partners have growth potential, but need a proactive helping hand from the Partner Account Managers. We must develop and execute business development programs for such partners and the Partner Account Manager is the facilitator and their mentor.
80% of the partners have no or very limited growth potential and need to be handled by inside channel support resources and served by our self-service partner portal.
The Ideal Partner Account Manager Profile
A partner account manager is always a hybrid between a sales person and a management consultant. The ideal Partner Account Manager must be capable of translating our products into business value for our channel partners, which requires that she understands the partners’ business model including helping the partners develop value propositions that are attractive to their customers.
The Partner Account Manager must focus on strategy, organization, marketing and sales and can therefore not be a technical person with detailed insight into our products and services. We need such people in pre- and post-sales support function, but not as Partner Account Managers.