Providing Real Value With a Partner Development Manager

October 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

By Susan Pessemier, Consultant

As vendor technologies and partner business models have become more complex and focus more heavily on services, engagement has become most crucial for determining channel relationship success. If done right, little else matters.

So what is currently missing? Solution providers expect more from the vendor enablement process than ever before. It’s not enough to simply get a welcome letter from a channel manager and login credentials to the channel partner portal.

Partners want more hands on support, better guidance during business planning and faster deployment of resources to achieve a quicker return on their vendor relationship. In fact, most partners expect to start selling in the first six months of entering a vendor relationship and to achieve an average ROI of 200 percent in the first 12 months.

Vendors need to start transitioning partner management from a program management function to a true business development function within the next 2-5 years and the way to begin this process is to build a suitable role for someone to lead the charge. In Amazon Consulting’s Thought Leadership Brief on “The Strategic Role of the Partner Development Manager,” we discuss what it takes to enhance your team with this new channel leadership role.

There may be some challenges and investments in this transition, but giving value to your partners with a Partner Development Manager will surely set the necessary foundation for the future. More than a Channel Sales Manager, a Partner Development Manager should be a savvy recruiter with skills in building complex go-to-market business plans and a strong background in building an enablement team around a new breed of partner. It’s a leadership position that will encourage successful long-term relationships even in the face of tough economic times and shifting channel business models.

A Partner Development Manager should not only have the ability to research, identify, qualify, sell-to and recruit solution providers, but also to establish team relationships where the vendor and the partner can build technology solutions together. This new channel role doesn’t replace the Channel Sales Manager, but works to recruit and nurture new solution providers throughout the partner development lifecycle, which we identify as a series of four steps: engagement, activation, ramping and management.

Once the Partner Development Manager has ramped up a new partner, that relationship is then transitioned to the Channel Sales Manager for ongoing management.  The Partner Development Manager coaches, mentors and facilitates newly recruited partners. They lead the partner on-boarding and enablement team and show the new partner the path to productivity along with a strong virtual team consisting of a Technical Solution Specialist, Partner Marketing Manager, Program Support Manager, and Sales and Technical Trainer.

While these recommendations for a virtual team may seem extreme and costly, the vendors who have gone down this path (Microsoft, SAP, etc.) have seen measurable results and benefits of their investments, especially in the area of ramping new partners and helping partners navigate the relationship. It takes patience and dedication to drive measurable success for a new partnership.

Here are some of the new rules that every technology vendor should consider when it comes to the evolution of the strategic role of the Partner Development Manager (download this thought leadership brief to get them all):

–          Invest in the Partner Development Manager role with a new entrepreneurial and hunter skill set. If you can only have one role…make it this one!

–          Establish clear role definitions with measurable metrics for each stage of partner development cycle for all virtual team members

–          Keep it as simple as you can – adding complexity detracts from partner value.


Entry filed under: Industry Perspective. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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