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Are vendors in tune with today’s channel partners?

At the recent Channel Manager Summit in Toronto, a panel of four leading VARs and MSPs had the opportunity to explain how they are doing business today and how it is best for vendors and distributors to fit into their new model. It became very clear that the next generation of VARs and MSPs did not like what many vendors and distributors are still doing. They said that they are still hearing the same old “sell…sell…sell” story. It is like some vendors are completely out-of-touch with today’s channel reality.

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Here are 10 things they told vendors and distributors and the worst-case outcomes:

  1. Do not just pitch hardware to sell! Worst case…you will be tuned out!
  2. Do not send inexperienced rookie channel reps to meet them. Worst case…they may drop your product line!
  3. Do not make your channel program complex. Worst case… they will not use it.
  4. Simplify your channel partner portals to make it much easier to find information that they need. Worst case…they will not visit it.
  5. Demonstrate how your product fits into their overall solutions that they already.  Worst case…they will not add it into their portfolio.
  6. Help them to market and sell as much as you can. If you do not, worst case…they will pay you less attention.
  7. Listen to what they want and need and do your best to accommodate. If you do not, worst case…they will think you are arrogant and ignore you too.
  8. Help them to learn and improve their business. If you do not, worst case…they will not be able to sell more of your product.
  9. Do not over distribute. Worst case…they will not make enough margins to justify carrying.
  10. Make your deal registration program work properly to protect them fairly. Worst case…they will not register any deal and switch to your competitors.

Already, thousands of VARs/MSPs have made the transition to a managed service-centric business model. As such they are much less dependent on products, hardware vendors and distributors. They are already making more profits and selling less volume. This is definitely good news to SaaS type vendors but hardware type vendors may need to adapt their channel game.

Of course the traditional channel partners will be business as usual, but for how long?  The data shows about half of the channel partners are already stagnant. Also, keep in mind that the channel continues to shrink through consolidations, retirement and bankruptcies and general attrition. Hardware vendors must explore new ways to realign their channel strategy to better exploit this new generation of “profitable and sustainable” channel partners.

Here are some of the other takeaways from the summit:

  1.  It’s all green lights for SaaS vendors. For hardware vendors, explore how you could offer a Hardware-as-a-Servcie model or something close to it. It is possible! Just 5 years ago, many people said it was impossible to sell a service on a monthly recurring fee!
  1. Find a way to integrate your hardware and/or software into whole solutions. Build an end-user demand generation strategy around its target audience and align with the right-fit partners.
  1. Build a solution around your hardware and software so as to attract more attention from the right partners. They are looking for whole solutions to sell to their customers. Nothing less will suffice.
  1. Keep on working with current partners, but keep in mind that some will go away. Hedge your bets. The best time to build a roof is before it rains! Always keep hunting for new partners.
  1. Identify your current partners with potential and help them to join a VARMasterMind group. This is what they really need to improve their game! Explore how VARMasterMind, VARCoach and VAROfficeSuite can help you make your partners bigger better and stronger!
  1. Maintaining a stable channel team is good business. Inexperienced new faces tend to aggravate your current partners and can be negative to your channel growth. Build and leverage a team approach to help buffer such situations.
  1. Keeping it simple is better than making it too complex. What you loose from simplifying your channel programs, you will gain much more in results and support from partners. No one has time to jump through hoops.
  1. Connect with your partners as often as you can, in anyway you can. Face-to-face is best, but at least virtually on a regular basis. To save costs, time and other resources, meet your partners in groups at channel events.

Finally, there was something new and exciting launched at the Summit to help VARs, MSPs and ITSPs to figure out their business strengths and weaknesses. It helps them to determind their overall readiness to be part of the next generation channel! If they are already on top of their game, they could win a cool award! If not, they can get the help that they need! Learn more at www.bestmanageditcompanies.com.

There was a lot more insights that the vendors and distributors got from attending the Channel Manager Summit. They saw the 10 trends that are driving the channel and their future in it. They got deeper insights from research companies like IDC. They got a taste or how VARMasterMind groups can help them to help their partners to grow business. Plan to be there next year if you want to get the full package to grow your channel business!