Posted By: Mike Moore, Averetek /
As a channel marketer, I never aspired to manage tools, but that’s what I found myself doing after a simple question in a business review meeting turned into a terrific opportunity to build a scalable program to enable through-partner events. While working on a seminar team at Microsoft, our vice president asked what our team could do to enable channel partners to deliver Microsoft-themed events.
In about four months, I architected and managed the development a web-based event management tool and hired and trained a team of event managers who enabled thousands of Microsoft partners to deliver more than ten thousand events across the United States within the first three years of the program.
And just like that, in an unexpected career twist, I was knee-deep in the world of channel marketing tool management.
As I speak with other channel professionals in my daily work, I find that my experience is common. People working with channel partners often look to use the power of software to support programs that enable the work of others, but they almost never sought out a role that would require such a unique mix of business and technical skills. As the business owner of a channel marketing tool, you need a wide range of talents to launch and sustain a successful program.
Prior to leading the initiative at Microsoft, I only had a general understanding of what it takes to build and run a program like this. I did, however, know a lot about channel partners, and because of that knowledge and the support of many contributors, the program thrived. Along the way, I learned a great deal about software development, website hosting, information security, privacy, budgeting, and vendor management.
The most important thing I learned was to stay focused on what I was good at and to find collaborators who could contribute the skills and experience that I didn’t have.
The Key is to Play to Your Strengths
Having worked in sales and marketing roles in the IT industry for ten years at that point in my career, I understood how software applications worked, but I didn’t know how to code. There weren’t commercial software products for through-partner marketing automation available at the time so we had to build something from scratch.
As I worked with the company I hired to build the web-based event management tool needed for the program, I focused my time on the capabilities needed in the software and let the developers figure out that best way to get things done (workflows, user interface design, etc.). Luckily, the company I worked with understood how to translate the business requirements into the technical side of the project.
Today, much of what companies need for channel marketing automation is available in SaaS-based products that can be licensed and customized so you shouldn't be in a mode like I was many years ago where you're building from scratch. Instead, find the solutions that most closely match your needs and look for opportunities to customize the solution to meet your specific situation.
When dealing with companies that offer these types of solutions, my advice is to focus on your strengths – your knowledge of your company, your products, and your partners – and choose a vendor that you can work with that brings expertise in both the business and technical side of the equation.
If they don’t get the business or the tech, you need to keep looking for another vendor.
Without either part and most importantly the connection between the two, your program may not lead to the success that you and your stakeholders expect.
By the way, the company I hired to build the event management tool for Microsoft was Averetek. It was the first channel tool that Peter Thomas and the team built, and it was the precursor to the platform we offer today.