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The Theory of Evolution for Channel Partners — Part 1
January 03, 2013 - Article
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7 Steps to Transforming Your Channel Business Strategy

By Pam Avila

Channel-partner models are evolving to keep up with rapid changes in technology and customer buying processes. This four-part series will provide a high-level view of the steps facilitating the evolution of the traditional business model — whether a telecom dealer, agent, IT VAR, or integrator. This first article looks at the overall business (strategy, tactics, etc.). Later articles will address sales, marketing and operations.

Here are seven steps you can take in evolving your channel business to a more relevant model for the future:

1. Assess core strengths/competencies and available resources. Strengths/competencies could relate to company leadership, business acumen, personnel, vision, technical expertise, etc. Available resources could include special personnel, financial resources, specialized training, strategic relationships and more.

2. Examine your overall market for current and future opportunities. Investigate potential opportunities in your existing customer base as well as in your overall market area. Your investigation could take you into areas your company hasn’t even considered yet but align well with your company’s strengths, competencies and resources. Look at VoIP, UC, collaboration, hosting, cloud services, professional services, managed services, etc.

3. Match opportunities with possible business growth plans. Consider the current plans and options that you have for growth. Examples include growing expertise/sales in one area, growing relationships/revenue from current customers, developing a new market/position/practice area, expanding geographic reach, training to improve staff competency or designing custom solutions/services packages.

4. Identify potential vendor partners whose forward strategy aligns with your new strategy. The relationship between vendor and channel partner has become more important than ever as the rate of technology change increases and integration of platforms and applications becomes more challenging. You want to know about your vendors’ road map for the future, but you also want to know the extent of their commitment to your success. Do they understand that the playing field has changed and the channel can no longer survive by selling products? Are they prepared to support your consultative selling efforts?

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