Forgive me for sounding like a self-help book. Thats not my intention. Many of you have spoken to me privately about my recent editorial (February 2007) on carrier commitment and ways that your partner sales organizations are trying to insulate themselves from the inevitable ups and downs of carrier compensation and engagement policies.
Many of you saw the writing on the wall long ago and have been evolving your models with very diverse revenue streams, including ones that are not dependent on vendors but wholly on the strength of your own skill sets. For those of you who are just considering making some moves, I would encourage you to use this show as a way to seek out those new paths.
I think its great that you spend time with your core suppliers. Its a fundamental value of this event. But, professional development also is another. Take some of the time you have here to focus on your companys next steps.
Here are a few ideas:
One, talk to your peers. They are telling me all about the things they are doing to protect themselves against unpredictable carrier decisions. Maybe they can steer you into or away from certain ventures. If you are worried about competitive intelligence, seek out someone you know doesnt operate in your neck of the woods. Or corner some of the analysts and consultants that are in attendance. They get an earful and can pass along some valuable tidbits in exchange for a few choice nuggets from you (before they put you on the clock).
Two, talk to the exhibitors. Many of the companies that are in todays hall offer a varied fare from what you might be selling today. These include managed services, e-commerce and other differentiated services. While they are still commission-based, they are a means of diversifying your supplier base and revenue source. Some of these companies are taking a chance on developing a channel; show them their instincts were right that you are serious about looking for diversification strategies.
Three, think about resellers. Resellers can offer you access to top carrier networks without requiring you to live up to carrier-specific quotas or rules of engagement.
Four, revisit me-too providers. If you already have a carrier of a certain service or geography, dont discount other options. Several providers are offering agents a chance to control their margins and to own their customer bases. Investigate these offers.
Five, consider resale. For many of you, this may be an intimidating option, but there are some of you that are ready for this next step in control over your revenue. (You know who you are.) Several exhibitors are on hand with turnkey solutions to ease this transition. See what they have to say and if its something that you should be considering more seriously in 2007.
Six, attend todays sessions. There is a lot to learn yet today that may be new to you. Managed security is one. If you are not looking at this option, maybe its time you should. And, what about disaster recovery? Is this professional service part of your portfolio? With todays uncertainty over man-made and natural disasters, it certainly cant hurt to consider adding this specialty. Fortunately, we have two back-to-back sessions that discuss how you can make money consulting on business continuity planning and the related services that you can sell around such plans. Its just the thing to get you started developing a discipline and product set for your prospects and clients.
Seven, most importantly, keep an open mind. Who knows what may be your next big money-maker. Im willing to bet that you heard about it here at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.
Let me know how it turns out.