The three levels of channel management

Ten to 15 per cent of channel management personnel in the IT industry are at “Level 3” of channelmanagement activity.

Level 1 channel management takes place when channel management personnel are engaged in activities today that will generate results today. Level 1 channel management, although

very common, is an extremely operational orientation to the job and is generally reactive in nature. At Level 1 channel management personnel are just getting by; limited financial skills are present.

Level 2 channel management takes place when channel management personnel engage in activities today that have an expected payoff or return within the next six months. Level 2 activities are in addition to Level 1 activities and tend to be tactical in nature. Level 2 channel management requires channel management personnel to begin to understand finance and to talk to partners about investments andreturns.

Level 3 channel management is the top of the field practiced by the “best of the best”. Level 3 channel management takes place when channel management personnel engage in activities today that have an expected payoff in twelve to eighteen months.Level 3 activities are in addition to Level 1 and Level 2 activities. Level 3 activities tend to be financial and strategic in nature. Level 3 channel management is required to develop channels with high value added partners or when working with channels for complex or large high value added product, services and solutions.

In general, most vendors do not have enough Level 3 channel management personnel and they do nothave content (not process) based education to get their people from Level 1 to Level 2, and Level 2 to Level 3.

Questions for contemplation – the current state of channel management

1 Which of the five channel management challenges that were cited does your channel management organization have?

2 How did you score on the Financial Acumen Quiz?(Published in Oct. 6 CDN This Week)

3 How did, or how do you think, others in your organization would score?

4 How did you do on the channel management competency self-assessment?(Published Nov. 3 CDN This Week)

5 How did, or how do, you think others in your organization would score?

6 At the corporate level, what did your channel strategy/channel management competency gap look like?

7 Was the gap acceptable or unacceptable?

8 How many Level 3 channel management professionals do you have in your organization as a percentage?

9 What education programs do you have in place to move your channel management people through the levels?

10 How do you think you and your people stack up against your competitors?

The best of the best channel professionals (understanding Level 3)

After more than fifteen years working with vendors, channel partners and channel management professionals, one begins to wonder why the best channel professionals are in fact the best. Why, for example, do there always seem to be a group of channel managers who always make their quota? Why, on the other hand, do some people have what it takes to do a good job in a channel management role and other people hate the job.

Bruce Stuart, is the President of ChannelCorp Management Consultants Inc.

ChannelCorp is a global management consulting firm that specializes in increasing the productivity of vendors’ channels, and the valueof the businesses of IT vendors’ channel partners. Visit ChannelCorp’s Web site at

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