… consultants (specifically for major tech investments like data centers) that come armed with sophisticated questions, demands and contract specifics that display the same level of comfort with the subject material as any agent.
You, in turn, must be prepared for more complex interactions, and that requires a commitment to training on the part of your upstream partners and providers. The agents that embrace training and sales enablement as part of their regular routines will continue to thrive in this time of customer empowerment, while those who either ignore or don’t have access to training will ultimately be dismissed.
Lack of creativity and flexibility among partners. There’s no way to overcome the first three problems without going to market with some creativity. Channel partners in the data-center space need to take a page from their counterparts in the security market, who act as de facto consultants on most projects well after their final deployment of the technology. Data-center agents must promise their customers similar post-sale value. This can include involvement in joint marketing activities, providing complementary products and services above and beyond those in the original contract, or simply being more flexible on terms. The goal is to build long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships among service providers, agents and customers, as it’s the only proven way to ensure a committed, loyal and plentiful channel.
In the decades since the data-center market took off, the competition has never been stronger, the customers have never been as powerful and the technology options have never been as varied or complex. Still, it is, in fact, a terrific time to be a data center channel partner. Opportunities continue to be plentiful and service providers are increasingly going the extra mile to ensure that their channel partners are well-treated, have access to the best sales-development tools and are marketing top-of-the-line technology.
Frank Eagle is vice president of business development, leading a national team responsible for driving revenue through partners at QTS. Under his leadership, the channels team’s contribution to QTS has grown from 22 percent of total revenue to 52 percent over the last three years. Prior to QTS, Frank held leadership positions in channels at several technology companies including Aspect Communications. He has also been in sales management at IBM and head of marketing at Ernst & Young Consulting’s (now Capgemini) information technology business.