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I work as a channels marketing manager in the computer networking industry and have 2 years of experience in this position. Channels marketing is a very specific field, so my responsibilities differ greatly from those of traditional brand or corporate marketing professionals. The major differences are: close contact with field sales and partners, heavy reliance on business intelligence in creating campaigns, and accountability for every dollar spent.
I have strategic partner accounts that resell our company's products, and I am responsible for growing their sales. I spend my days looking at the sales data, analyzing it, and coming up with creative ideas on how to motivate our partner's sales team to sell more of our products. I have budgets that I can allocate to certain activities, and I need to stay within those budgets. I talk with our internal sales managers and the marketing team at the partner company to make sure we are designing programs that will drive sales, and once everyone agrees on a program or promotion, I hand it over to the partner to manage the execution. Upon completion of every program I gather results and see if it was successful and generated additional sales. Programs that we run range from small sales spiffs to major trade shows.
My job satisfaction is very high, probably 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. The work I do is a great combination of analytical and creative tasks, and I also have a lot of decision-making power. Nothing motivates me more than seeing sales numbers grow at a higher rate than the forecast, and knowing that what I do has contributed to that. It's great to feel appreciated by the people I work with and get recognition. I would say, I have found my calling.
I feel very fortunate about the way I started in this line of work. I wish I could say it was my dream to work in channels marketing, but that wouldn't be accurate. I got my bachelor's degree in liberal arts, and worked in an administrative job for 4 years after finishing college. I didn't feel it was going anywhere, so wanted to change my career path, but didn't know to what. I enrolled in an MBA program at a local university while still working as an admin, in hopes that it would at least help me see what jobs I might be interested in. I didn't feel I had any skills or respectable experience to even try to apply for jobs with major technology companies. Luckily, I was wrong. I applied for an entry-level sales support position at my current company and was hired. It did feel like a major step back - other people in this position were recent college grads, while I was already older and had work experience. It was emotionally hard on me, but it was a necessary step. I was immediately noticed by my managers, and the upward movement in my career in the past two years has been unprecedented: I've grown from a sales support analyst to a manager of strategic channel accounts.
I have learned a lot of things in my job, but one thing that was a surprise to me is how much relationships matter. They matter more than skills, experience, education - you name it. I'm really good at what I do, but at a large company you need to go out of your way to make yourself noticed. If I had a successful program, I always try to schedule some time with my director and present the results to her. I basically have to constantly advertise myself and become known to the upper management. I'm still getting used to it, but this is just the way it works in the business world in general, so I am adapting.
Generally, my team and my partners are very helpful and supportive, but my workload is high and it does get stressful at times. There are deadlines and a lot of last minute asks that I need to address, and sometimes I work till 8 o'clock at night. I also work with people in different time zones all over the world, so it is often necessary to be on calls very early in the morning or later in the evening. I rarely take vacation for more than one week at a time, because it's practically impossible to be away from the office for even one day - everyone will still be calling me on my cell phone, telling me they need my help. Good thing I love my job and the people I work with!
The median salary in my profession is about $80,000/year nationwide, so it pays well. I feel that having a business degree is a great asset in this field. I learned a lot on the job, but having gone through an MBA program helped me understand the big picture and the way a business operates, which gained me a lot of respect from the management. I feel that my line of work is both challenging and rewarding, and I would love to advance to a channels marketing director in 5 years.