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Confessions of a Channel Marketer: Matt Hensler
May 7, 2015
Confessions of a Channel Marketer: Matt Hensler

If you’ve heard me speak at B2B and channel marketing events, you may have heard me say that no one chooses B2B marketing, B2B marketing chooses you. Nowhere is this more evident than in indirect channel sales and marketing. While over 70% of goods and services globally are sold through indirect sales channels, no one goes to college to be a channel marketer or to oversee a channel sales ecosystem. That said, I’ve found that those individuals who eventually take on these roles can have every bit as much passion as their consumer-marketing peers who get to spend their days promoting the newest smartphone release, fashion line or fast food.

At Allbound, we’re hyper-diligent about leveraging our flexible SaaS platform to help any sized business recruit, onboard, measure and accelerate growth through sales and marketing partners. As a result of that focus and expertise, there is no shortage of ideas, philosophies and opinions about what companies can or should do to help make their channel partners more effective. Those sometimes ‘spirited’ discussions can be thought-provoking, motivating and even humorous.

This blog post is the first in a series of what will become an ode to those conversations that I’ve had countless times with employees, colleagues, clients and peers in the industry. I graciously volunteered Matt Hensler, Allbound’s Director of Customer Success, to be the first ‘confession’. Matt has been a B2B channel marketer for over 15 years. As a long time agency marketer working across industries and company types, Matt has pretty much seen it all.

What’s your favorite thing about working in the channel?
Navigating the unknowns. I think marketing in the channel is like coming across a flash mob. You can decide to jump in and participate, but just when you think you’ve got the steps down, the song changes, and the dance does too. It keeps you on your toes. Lack of innovation in the channel has prohibited any sort of scalable, rinse and repeat activities that support long-term success.

What would you say is the biggest challenge in channel sales and marketing?
Consensus. It’s difficult to lock everyone in on the same goals. In many organizations, staff gets rewarded differently and unless there is agreement across the board on the need to align and reward everyone for achieving the SAME outcomes via the SAME goals, everyone will pursue their own self-interest. The channel amplifies this challenge even more because you only have so much influence and control over your partners’ businesses, and no two partner organizations are alike.

Tell me one tool, mobile app or magic potion you wish you had in the channel.
A crystal ball. Marketing is still more gut and intuition than science. We have access to a lot of data, but I’ve seen that data paralyze sales and marketing programs more than I’ve seen it help them progress. I’m not saying it isn’t useful – its just that most organizations don’t take the time to set up their data streams to converge into insights that accelerate them toward easier and faster marketplace wins.

What’s the future or “the next big thing” for channel sales and marketing?
Robots, or at least that’s what it seems like we’re trying to turn sales people into. I think the marketplace has been over-correcting to try and force sales reps into a box – to act, say and do exactly what WE think is going to make them successful. In reality people in B2B channels buy from people. Valuable products and services are a must, but if you don’t like the person you’re sitting across from, you’re not going to buy from them. In my view, the next big thing won’t be technology, it will be a resurgence of human connection. That’s something we’re trying to restore through Allbound. Making it easy and fast for reps to get what they need so they can focus more on selling to people.

What are you best in the world at?
If I’m being honest with myself, I’m not the best at anything. My wife is a psychotherapist and based on the psychology, books and theories I get exposed to – I’m not even sure I’m the best at being me. Facing this reality is humbling, which is a critical quality for being a successful channel marketer. It forces you to keep your eyes, ears and mind open to better ways to get more done faster. It keeps your ambition alive.

Hopefully this discussion got you thinking about some things you can be doing to drive more effectiveness into your channel. Do you have something you want to add to the discussion? Send me your confessions…errr…answers to the questions above and subscribe to our blog so you can find out what others are thinking as well.


Daniel Graff-Radford