A great way to boost sales and maximize distribution of your product is through channel partners. When you join forces with another company in a partnership arrangement, you can amplify each other’s strengths, minimize weaknesses, and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome. For even better results, you can recruit various partners for different products, services, or marketing campaigns. However, someone needs to know who’s responsible for what, especially as your partner network grows. This is where a partner account manager comes in.
What is a partner account manager?
A partner account manager (PAM) is the contact between your company and your channel partners. Basically, they recruit new partners and then build, manage, and maintain those relationships.
What does a partner account manager do?
If you compare a few job listings for partner account managers posted on sites like LinkedIn, you’ll notice that there are slight differences in job description from one company to another. This is because in the ever-changing IT landscape, the role of the partner account manager constantly evolves, too. Additionally, companies with more or less robust partner ecosystems will have differing needs when it comes to their partner account managers. However, regardless of changing industries or company size, the partner account manager’s general duties are similar across companies.
As a partner account manager, you can divide your duties into four broad categories: recruiting, building relationships, managing relationships, and maintaining relationships.
To recruit new partners, you first identify potential partners and the ways that a partnership with them can be beneficial to both their company and yours. So, you need to do a bit of research on these potential partners first. Then, you need to recruit those partners by contacting them and convincing them that a partnership will be good for their bottom line. In other words, show them what’s in it for them.
Once you have a new partner on board, you’ll begin to build, manage and maintain the relationship. This involves constantly evaluating the relationship, identifying areas for improvement, and devising strategies to strengthen the relationship to benefit everyone involved. Consider the following as a partner account management guide:
- You provide the partner with product and technical support.
- You address any concerns and queries the partner might have as soon and as thoroughly as possible. The goal is to keep the partner satisfied with the partnership.
- You develop plans to ensure that the partner meets the requirements for competency and qualification that you require. If they fall short, you look for ways to help them meet those requirements. After all, it’s not only about what you can do for them, but also what they can do for you.
- In collaboration with cross-functional teams, you develop business strategies to generate leads.
- You develop a business plan to boost sales and increase the potential for profits. You then work with the different teams — including development, marketing and services — to achieve the set revenue goals.
- You coordinate with the different partners to plan, manage and prioritize different business activities.
- You evaluate each partner’s marketing plans and recommend ways to improve them when needed.
- You review business plans and revise them according to what the partner’s needs are.
- You oversee the partner’s rewards programs.
- You take an active role in business review and revenue forecasting.
Throughout the process, you liaise with the partner to ensure you all know what your roles and responsibilities are, stay updated, discuss any issues, and find solutions to any problems that may occur.
What makes a good partner account manager?
As a partner account manager, you’re a combination of a management consultant and a salesperson. You need to be able to see the bigger picture while also being able to take care of the details. You need to be super organized, since you need to manage not only everyone in the channel, but also various channels at the same time. You also need to be able to think strategically, since much of your job is about developing strategies, and you need to be good at problem-solving.
Being a great communicator is essential for the job, and this means that you also need to be an active listener when needed. While it generally isn’t a requirement to be proficient in an additional language, it’s definitely an advantage, especially if you’re going to work for a company that does business internationally and may look for partners based in international markets.
Of course, you need to have excellent people skills too. You’re going to work with a wide range of people and they need to be able to relate to you if they’re going to trust you. You also need to be able to motivate them to meet targets, so they need to feel comfortable coming to you if any issues arise that they may need help with.
Being adaptable is essential too, since no two days are the same in the world of B2B SaaS partner account management. You’ll often have to work under pressure too.
Most employers looking for a partner account manager require you to be experienced in sales and business management. You’ll need to be computer literate in programs like Microsoft Word and Excel but also proficient in customer relationship management or CRM software like SalesForce. Employers normally also require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field like business administration, business management, or marketing.
The best partner account managers don’t necessarily know the minutiae of how each of the company’s products and services works but are able to quickly grasp the basics. After all, they need to understand the products and services in order to identify suitable channel partners and to support those partners once they’ve come on board.
It’s quite the wishlist, but the right partner manager can make a major difference in the overall success of a partner program.
How can you support your partner account manager?
Good partner account managers are hard to find, so for their success and retention you need to provide a work environment that will make them want to work for your company rather than the competition. Of course, this starts with offering a competitive salary and benefits. According to Glassdoor, the base pay for a partner account manager in Canada ranges from between $46,000 and $117,000 per year, with the average a little under $74,000 per year.
Certain tools can make their job easier, which can help them stay efficient and happy. For example, PartnerStack makes it easy for them to identify the right partner for each channel, recruit those partners, and manage the partnerships all in one place.
Make sure your partner account manager has the training they need to succeed — not just during onboarding, but as products and relationships change, too. This includes reports and data on how the channel is performing. It also includes all the information they need about a new product so that they can use that knowledge to recruit new partners and retain current ones.
Partners expect their partner account manager to be able to make sound decisions quickly. You can facilitate this by avoiding a complicated decision-making chain and setting clear parameters within which they can make decisions on their own.
Finally, you need to provide them with the best team possible. To this end, it’s wise to allow them input in staff recruitment decisions for their team rather than leave everything up to HR.