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3 Lessons from Channel Partners 360° Award Winners

James Anderson**Editor’s Note: Register now for the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, the gathering place for the technology services community, April 10-13, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.**

Customers need help from partners as they attempt to transform their business.

Three partners who have excelled at this challenge will share their observations at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference and Expo.

Ryan Young, managing partner at Acliviti, Don Douglas, CEO of Liquid Networx, and Shane Stark, director of vendor relations for Carrier Access, will serve as panelists for the April 11 keynote “3 Lessons from 360° Award Winners.” All are winners of the prestigious Channel Partners award that honors partner businesses for providing holistic solutions to their customers.

Liquid Networx's Don DouglasYoung, Douglas and Stark will discuss how they and their companies learned to guide customers toward a digital future. Vince Bradley, CEO of WTG, will moderate.

We asked the four speakers if they could preview their talk in a Q&A. The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: What is a difficult obstacle that you or your company have helped customers overcome?

Don Douglas: Bottom line, we have a tremendous shortage of technical talent in the U.S. This is affecting everyone that is trying to deliver technical products and solutions. As we reach full employment, it is extremely difficult to find not only great people, but those with the skillsets you really need. There is no one right answer on how to solve this, but we have helped customers and partners overcome this by offering products and solutions that can be fully managed via systematized processes. This requires investment in technology, R&D, training and expertise to drive these types of efficiencies. The benefits are huge in this tight labor market. As employees are more engaged, it results in less turnover and requires less personnel to manage these environments once in place.{ad}

Carrier Access' Shane StarkShane Stark: A customer had 14 locations across the U.S that operate on five [disparate] voice platforms. Managing and maintaining the legacy systems was not only cumbersome but very costly for the organization. As the organization continued to grow, they were seeking a unified platform that could support the scale in size and leverage new technologies. Additionally, many other aspects of business communication and collaboration were being fulfilled by a variety of multivendor solutions that were ripe for being consolidated into the new Avaya platform.

We moved the conversation past just replacing a phone system. We took a broad look at how the organization communicates both internally and externally. By learning more about their process, we could make numerous recommendations related to streamlining systems and creating more effective methods of communication and collaboration by incorporating a full unified communications solution that encompasses voice, mobility, video, conferencing, and web collaboration all in one platform. The Avaya IP Office Platform could consolidate and optimize the customer’s communications needs that were historically being …

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… supported by numerous telephony systems, video systems, web meeting services and conference bridge services.  Not only did the new solution streamline operations and reduce the load on IT, it proved to be a significant source of cost savings.

Vince BradleyVince Bradley: Staying in the theme of digital transformation, we were one of the first master agents to automate the sales process. However, making the transition into new technology was difficult for many of our partners. Since their customers were not yet using DocuSign and other digital processes over 10 years ago, our agents did not immediately adopt the shift to automated sales and marketing processes.  This was a big issue for us after we made the shift to digital/cloud process as we remained stuck in inefficient manual processes.    

With a lot of work with technology partner and the channel providers, today most all of our agent and VAR/MSP partners use our leading sales process software, PartnerEdge, to quickly quote private labeled services. It also helps them to track orders and insure timely and accurate commission payment.  Finally, cloud has enabled digital transformation in a big way as we can now use the cloud to dynamically allocate content between different users both provider and agent alike. Making this shift has helped the channel to win more of the business that comes its way which is one of WTG’s goals — partner enablement.  It also helps to much more efficiently manage the sales process at the same time.{ad}   

Acliviti's Ryan YoungRyan Young: The biggest obstacle our customers have is managing change. Customers are aware of the new market technologies they should be adopting, but they need help building a plan that outlines the how and the when. We help them assess the business drivers, technology requirements, financial models, human-resource allocations – internal and external – and the appropriate timeline that they will need to make the transition away from their current state. Most technology suppliers are great at building a plan for “turning on their solution,” but not many are good at building the plan to get away from the current system. That’s where we provide the most value — we make it easy for clients and vendors to do business together. 

CP: What do you hope the audience will take out of this keynote?

VB: We want to help empower our partners and the channel in general to lead their customers. Knowing that they are supported by a company that is offering the latest technology, that knows the industry and how to bridge the technology gaps, is a huge confidence booster for our agent and provider partners when industry shifts occur. Being able to suggest the latest products and services that are backed by the sourcing expertise of a company like WTG allows partners to sell with confidence that they have the best solution and be a leading edge partner that is guiding their customer.

For example, we are currently working to enable our MSP partners to dive into connectivity. Many have tried to crack the nut of getting VARs and MSPs active in the …

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… connectivity space. As the first master agent to regularly exhibit at IT shows … we have been at the forefront of that space for almost 10 years now. We felt it would be fitting then that we also lead the way in helping them get into the space especially now that we are seeing decreasing margins on equipment and the distributors getting into connectivity. By educating them about the benefits of SD-WAN, they can add a new leading edge piece of equipment to their sales arsenal. At the same time, they are getting into the connectivity space by selling the WAN.  We feel this will be game-changing for them and saw that tremendous interest just last month at another big IT show focused on MSP/VARs.  

SS: Different ways to think and approach current and new clients. Ideas on ways to differentiate yourself from your competition.

DD: I hope that they will reflect on something they can really become passionate about and dig deep. We have too many people in the channel still just trying to just sell something. Customers are more educated today. They are looking for more than expertise they are looking for results. To do anything well, you really need to be passionate about it. The channel is huge. Find an area, emerging technology or vertical you can really get excited about and dig in.

RY: We hope that the audience stops focusing so much on product sales, and instead develops a solution-focused mentality. Clients need help planning these transitions, not more demos or quotes — they can get those for free online. 

You too can be a CP360° award winner. Click here to learn more.


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