Which sales role has more room for advancement - Direct Enterprise Account Manager OR Channel Partner Manager?
November 23, 2011 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Which sales role has more room for advancement - Direct Enterprise Account Manager OR Channel Partner Manager?

I'm fortunate to be working in an American software firm with a good boss, with whom I'm going to be having an appraisal soon as we come to year end.

One of the things I know for sure that she'll be asking me about is my plan in the company - whether I would prefer the role as an Enterprise Account Manager that has direct engagement with our customers, OR being a partner manager that manages our channel resellers.

The gist I'm getting from my boss is that she'd prefer me to embark on the latter option as she has remarked that such a role would afford more room for growth. And my boss is a testament to that as she was a channel manager herself before rising through to ranks to Regional Director.

Any advice, anyone?
posted by magazineaddict to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Whenever I have a career choice like this - I take a look at the department that I'm considering, and ask some questions like:
What are the people like who would be my coworkers?
What would the managent be like?
What is the political climate like?
What is the water-cooler level perception of the team I would be on?
How stable would it be? (ie - is it on the short list for being re-orged into something i wouldn't like, etc)
What are "graduates" of that department doing in the organization?
Also, unless there are red flags or other factors to consider - and given that you trust your boss, I would weigh heavily on what she is advising career-wise.
posted by machinecraig at 6:16 AM on November 23, 2011

The former option sounds more like sales, which can make you more money, but kind of pigeon-holes you as "sales". The latter option sounds more like a management position, that connects you more with the hierarchy and goals of the company.
posted by gjc at 6:40 AM on November 23, 2011

It depends on what you want to do. Companies generally consider indirect and direct sales to be two somewhat distinct skill sets. Once you are in the channel role, you may find it difficult to transition to a direct role, and vice versa. In my 15+ years in direct sales, I really have not seen many people switch back and forth between the channel and the direct role. Th e people I worked with as channel reps 15 years ago are still in channel related roles today. And I'm still in a direct role.

As a career direct salesperson. I will say that my perception of channel folks in the tech industry is that their job is less sales and more training, education, and relationship management. You won't be closing deals as much as you are enabling others to close deals more effectively, and trying to work the bureaucracy when needed to get stuff done for your channel partners. That lack of control over the end result would drive me batty.
posted by COD at 8:16 AM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: A direct sales role will prepare you to advance within the direct sales hierarchy - it's a pretty well-defined path and advancement is usually based on well-defined criteria. Channel sales can potentially open up more lateral moves - to business development, to sales training, to marketing, etc. and a wider set of criteria on which to distinguish yourself.

The smaller the company you're working for, the more the flexibility of advancement path matters.
posted by psycheslamp at 9:53 AM on November 23, 2011

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