As the channel moves toward solutions-based selling and away from the traditional, transactional sales model, partners need analytics support, ongoing training, consultation services after deals close — and more.
That’s especially true for partners selling emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), and those transitioning to a managed-services model. At the Channel Chief Roundtable, part of the Business of the Channel track at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 17-20, in Las Vegas, top executives will provide a look at how programs are evolving and what you can expect from leading suppliers.
The moderator is Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group. Panelists include Rob Rae, Datto‘s vice president of business development, Terra Bastolich, GetWireless‘ vice president of marketing, Bob Crissman, Vonage’s senior vice president and channel chief, and Tina Gravel, Cyxtera‘s senior vice president of global channels.
In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Bastolich and Gravel give a sneak peak of the information they plan to share with attendees.
Channel Partners: How is the role of channel chief changing along with evolving partner needs?
Terra Bastolich: Leaders in the channel are faced with an ever-evolving ecosystem of technology and channel partners; therefore, [we’re] always looking at best practices and areas to add value. The needs are all different, but critical to the success of working together in the channel.
Tina Gravel: I think we as a generation have to evolve with the changing digital economy and help our agents to evolve too. In the past, it was simpler: Be responsive, have a product customers want, and a compensation plan with parity. Now things are much more complex.
CP: Is training now more important than ever? What are the keys to a successful partner-training program?
TB: In a highly technology-oriented market like IoT, training is critical. The best training is co-investment from all levels of the channel, invest[ment] in on-site training, and co-developed training. A one-size-fits-all training program will not enable the learning or collaboration that is needed.
TG: Yes, without a mixture of hands-on training and selling with processes coupled with automated, self-directed coursework, I do not know how a partner could progress with all the solutions they are attempting to sell.
CP: How has your channel program evolved in response to changes in technology, customer demand, changing sales models and so on?
TB: We developed the idea of value-added distribution. We have evolved the business of distribution to service the needs of channel partners, [to] give them services that they need beyond logistics and finance. We offer free marketing services, ecosystem events, synergistic solutions, and many more unique and valuable services that solve problems in the IoT market.
TG: We do more playbook-type selling in collaboration with other vendors that are “inside” our solutions or adjacent to what we do. I cannot remember a time in the past where this was so important.
CP: What do you hope attendees learn and can make use of from this session?
TB: We hope attendees can gain some insight into the value-added distribution strategy that has been successful for us, since the inception of M2M and IoT. This market is exciting and growing quickly; but the challenges in technology, network shutdown and business models shifting require a true distribution partner to enable channel partners.
TG: I want them to understand the complexities we are dealing with as vendor channel chiefs; through mutual understanding we can do much better together.