One of the best IT channel chiefs I know is a guy who’s been in the IT space for 20 years. At events he’s known as the last guy at the bar–buying drinks, schmoozing and talking shop with all the right people until closing time.
My longtime associate and now business partner is another recognized professional in the channel space–leveraging his position on LinkedIn, offering learning opportunities, and connecting in meaningful ways with potential partners.
This is the magic of a channel chief. They have soft skills. Those intangible abilities to interact with others effectively and harmoniously, which enable them to connect in a meaningful way, and leave a lasting impression.
And that’s good for business.
You may think that because we’re in tech, we get a pass on the people stuff. Think again. Relationships matter. And relationship building is where your channel chief should shine.
Profile of a Channel Chief
If there was a dating app for the channel space, the channel chief’s profile would read something like this: “Outgoing. Loves people. Thinks outside the box. Great conversationalist.” In stereotypical business development lingo, the channel chief is the one “kissing babies and shaking hands.”
They’re sales, marketing, PR, acquisitions and business development all rolled into one. They’re the ones speaking on stage at an event; they’re taking calls and booking lunches; they’re responsible for strategy and keeping a pulse on competitors, helping you to differentiate from the pack.
And, perhaps most importantly, they’re gifted at being able to articulate exactly why you’re special. Your company might offer the most innovative product on the market, but if you can’t effectively communicate what you do, why you do it, and how it can make a difference to an MSP, then the best tech doesn’t matter.
Most vendors spend huge amounts of money attending events, and then get little to no return on their investment. If you spend $10,000 at an event (and often more like $50,000), you need to come away with enough leads to justify the expense and to generate new business and meaningful growth.
But guess what? For many, many vendors, that simply doesn’t happen. Big money is wasted every year, with little or nothing to show for it.
A channel chief will represent the company, communicate effectively, and make meaningful connections that actually have the potential to lead to something good. Then they’ll field calls and follow up on those connections after the event is over. They understand the MSP’s audience and pain points, and they have an answer as to why you can help solve their problems.
The channel chief is also someone who is experienced in navigating the channel space, who understands the nuances of each event, and is able to build a rapport with the channel itself. They need to have enough years under their belt to know the channel well, they need to be personable, and they need to understand the MSP’s needs and goals.
You May Think You Know…
Some new vendors may think they can get away with handling this stuff on their own. But if you take a junior person or total newbie and put them in front of a room full of MSPs, they’re almost guaranteed to fail. Most emerging vendors simply have no idea what’s needed to be successful in the channel space. And like I said, even though we’re tech people, relationships count.
You may think you can’t afford to invest in what would be the face of your company, but if you’re throwing away big money at events that result in zero leads, that money would be better spent on a channel chief. Trust me–it’s a wise investment in your business’s future.
Channel Chief 101
To recap, here are a few takeaways. A channel chief has two primary roles:
- To help a vendor gain exposure. They’re like the front door to potential partners. They sell the reason why an MSP should work with you. They understand the nuances of the channel space and of each event, they build solid relationships with the right people, and they ensure that your time and money are well spent.
- To develop strategy and communicate it clearly. Your channel chief works with you to get super clear on your goals, your values, and your unique offerings. They know what makes you special, and, most importantly, they know how to articulate it. And if you’re too much like your competitors, they help you figure out how to be different. (If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know how critical it is to stand out from the crowd.)
If you want to scale, or even if you’re just looking to launch successfully, the right channel chief can help you realize your goals. They’ll learn what you have to offer, and they know what MSPs need–and they work their magic to bring those two things together.
If you still don’t think you can hire a channel chief, or feel like you have some work to do before getting to that point, I’m here to help. I love building meaningful relationships and sharing my experience in the channel space with those who are eager to learn more. I can help identify the barriers to growth and set you on the path to success.