Guest Column | May 13, 2019

Getting Respect With Channel Automation

By Rob Spee, Channel Journeys Consulting

Jay McBain, Forrester

Jay McBain

Channel Analyst



Cambridge, MA

Year Founded



Accomplished speaker, author and innovator in the IT industry. Awards include the Top 40 Under Forty by the Business Review, Top 8 Influencer by Channel Partners, and Top 8 Thought Leader by Channel Marketing Journal.

Channel Experience

25 Years

“There’s this Rodney Dangerfield effect where you don't get any respect in the channel … you're behind other departments in terms of investments, funding and attention.” Jay McBain, Principal Global Channels Analyst

Indirect sales drives 75 percent of world trade across all 27 Industries. It's the biggest industry in terms of getting things to market. And yet somehow, we in the channel have this red-headed step-child complex. That may be about to change according to Jay McBain. In my Channel Journeys podcast interview, Jay describes what he calls the third wave of automation for sales and marketing leaders that’s bringing respect to the channel profession.

The first stage of automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) started in the sales department 20 years ago. Now just about every company has invested in CRM and sales is now a data-driven profession.

The second stage, marketing automation, started 10 years ago. Today, it’s hard to imagine a Vice President of Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer not having experience in marketing automation and marketing analytics.

The third stage; channel automation, began in 2018. Companies are paving the “last mile” using indirect channel automation tools such as Partner Relationship Management (PRM), Through-Partner Marketing (TCMA), and Channel Incentives & Program Management (CIPM).

Key Take-Aways

  • Channel chiefs are like CEOs. They're general managers running channel programs that have on average 90 different components they must juggle and fine tune, while at the same time they’re putting out fires that pop up by the hour.
  • Jay has documented 106 channel software companies across 6 categories in his Channel Software Tech Stack Infographic. These companies represent a $1.3 billion market. Expect to see a high level of mergers, acquisitions, and investments in this space.
  • Channel management will become just as automated (and respected) through the adoption of channel automation as sales and marketing have become through their adoption of Customer Relationship Management and Marketing Automation.

Take Action — One Thing You Can Do Today

It’s time to stop running your channel business on old tools, elbow grease, and guesswork. Have your channel leaders review the Channel Software Tech Stack and identify which areas to prioritize for automation. If you need help, bring in a channel expert to help advise you on this next step in your channel journey.

Listen to the complete podcast and learn more about channel automation.

About The AuthorRob Spee, Channel Journeys

Rob Spee is founder and CEO of Channel Journeys Consulting and host of the Channel Journeys podcast. Rob applies his channel expertise to help clients create and execute channel strategies to accelerate revenue growth. His global channel experience spans from building channels at startups to vendors and distributors like Arrow, BMC, Carbonite, and SAS. Follow Rob on Twitter and LinkedIn.