Anyone who has ever worked, well, pretty much ever, has probably experienced micromanagement. And as many can attest, the feeling is unpleasant at best—and suffocating at worst. Being closely monitored and controlled by your boss can take a toll on not only your confidence, but also your productivity and overall satisfaction at the office.
So how does micromanagement factor into partner sales? Truth is, it’s not all that different. While channel managers may interact with their partners’ reps in a way that’s far different from traditional sales, it’s still possible to fall into a micromanagement trap.
To help ensure effective channel management, here are five tips.
1. Define the Scope of Your Leadership
When one considers the concept of management, it’s generally in the context of individuals. And while channel management still requires managers to lead a group of humans, it demands a much broader scope. Rather than focus solely on individual reps, managers must take a look at the big picture and outline markets, industries, and focuses to ensure that all reps are clear of expectations.
Defining your channel framework gives your partners a model within which to operate.
2. Align Business Objectives With Your Partners
Channel partnership is indeed a symbiotic, strategic business alliance. However, at the end of the day, each side is equally concerned with one overarching thing: its own business.
Not understanding your partner’s business model and objectives can hurt your relationship from the start. While it’s not necessary to completely match your partner’s business model, it is important to be aware of how your partner operates. Listen to your partner’s leadership team and identify what they consider to be important—and base your relationship on those needs.
Fostering an environment of open communication ensures that both sides are satisfied.
3. Provide Flexible Leadership Support
Whereas singular business models work across more conventional sales teams, it’s important to remain flexible when managing a channel. Relationships between channel managers and partners can vary across the board. And offering flexible options attracts and retains reps and empowers them to sell on their own terms—all while avoiding stifling micromanagement.
Training channel partners on your sales engagement model provides partners with the tools to succeed, all while empowering them to do what they do best. Provide your channel partners with support and communications training so that they can embrace your channel management model—rather than be forced to use it.
4. Empower Employees to Make Their Own Decisions.
Channel partners are just like your in-house employees in that they are much more inclined to own their work if they have a say in what they’re working on.
Consider implementing partner portal software to provide them with co-branded content and personalized marketing collateral. Not only does this facilitate the channel onboarding process, but it enables partners to utilize useful tools throughout the duration of their partnership. Plus, as a bonus, it automates a lot of your tedious responsibilities that come with managing partners.
5. Check in on a Routine Basis.
While it’s important to give partners space to breathe—to, you know, avoid micromanagement—it’s also recommended to check in with employees to display your leadership and support.
So, how often is it recommended to check in with partners? It depends on the expectations you set. Whereas some organizations can get by with quarterly check-ins, others prefer weekly or monthly sessions. Know what works for your partners and your organizations—and stick to your schedule.
In summary, a good partner channel leader demonstrates confidence in their partners. What’s more, demonstrate respect by seeking their opinions and feedback. By managing them as teammates rather than subordinates, you’ll earn their loyalty and enthusiasm.