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ChannelNEXT Turns it up to 11

What do you do when you are at the top of your game?  You keep changing it up and keep improving!  In business, if you are not moving forward, even if you are at the top, the current will take you back and you will eventually fall behind.

ChannelNEXT, over the last 15 years has become one of the top IT events for VARs & MSPs and the longest running IT channel conference in Canada. One of the reasons they stand out from other events is that there was always a good mixture of education along with Vendor sessions.  The event also adds a good dose of fun and great food into the experience. Being able to take a step back from your IT business for two days really makes this a valuable experience and because it’s an intimate crowd, relationships are built and partnerships are created. This special recipe gave attendees the tools needed to work ON their business while at the event.

This year, ChannelNEXT turns it up to 11!  When Nigel Tufnel shows his amp to the director of the mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap”, he proudly shows that his amp can go to eleven, and not 10 like the others.  “It’s one louder, isn’t it?”

The Esterel, Quebec ChannelNEXT event turned it up a notch…maybe more!  “We are going all in on training.” Says founder Julian Lee.  The first thing attendees this year noticed was that on day 1 of the event, out of all the Keynotes, only 1 Vendor was included.  The afternoon was packed with powerful information and training.

The day started with a bang, as Randal Wark (Winner: Best Keynote) took the stage and spoke about “The Mechanics of the IT Business” giving attendees 2 game changing strategies:  One 15 minute strategy for the business owner and one competitive advantage for the business.

Julian Lee next took the stage and shared the 10 Secrets of the Most Successful VARs and MSPs.  Julian is at the pulse of the Channel and shared what makes the most successful IT companies thrive in this changing market.

Datto (Winner: Best in Show) showed us how to conquer the “you are too expensive” excuse and turn this conversation into a win. They also introduced their latest Networking-as-a-Service offering as they help their partners to manage more of the business continuity solution.

Sara Gilbert spoke about “Mastering The Language of Influence” and gave us specific strategies to give power to our words. The value of knowing these strategies can have a dramatic impact on closing sales and growing the business.

Larry Poirier, a leader when it comes to IT Mergers and Acquisitions helped us understand the ways we can increase our company’s value and make it an attractive option for buy-out.  He also warned us of some of the dangers that could sabotage our best efforts.  He backed this up with data from the sale of his multi-million dollar IT business (Nitro and N-Able). You can’t put a price on the advice that was given, because it was valuable to everyone in the room, even if you had no intention of selling or merging.

Julian Lee returned and showed us “8 Channel Trends That You Must Exploit To Future-Proof Your Business”.  Julian’s super power is the ability to see the future of the Tech industry and its channel.  He shared what should be on a company’s radar to give them a head start on the competition. A solid roadmap for VARs and MSPs to remain relevant in the Channel’s future.

For most of the attendees, the next part of the day was not only a highlight, but the most valuable part of the conference.  The room was divided into 5 groups, led by Randal Wark, Co-Founder of VAR MasterMind.  Each group had their own MasterMind facilitator (Pierre Jean-Baptiste, Bruno Cyr, Sara Gilbert & Julian Lee) and for the next 1 hour and a half, each group worked on solving the biggest pain point in the group.  This was the first MasterMind for most of the attendees, and it didn’t take long for them to let their guard down and share their best strategies with the rest of their group.  Some were furiously taking notes as one gold nugget after another was shared.  A solution for each group was discovered with their peers and a specific action was put in place.  Even if the group was helping one person that day, everyone benefited from the advice and made them realize that deep down, we all have the same issues and problems in our companies.

“When I heard one and a half hour, I was sure I would be bored.” said one attendee.  “But the time just flew by and I wished it was longer!”

So much valuable instruction in such a short time made us thirsty, so the open bar helped us unwind and during the Speed Introductions, meet all other attendees.  Already, you could sense the bond from the 5 MasterMind groups had begun.

The evening ended with a spectacular meal of almost raw steak or Tuna, served on a hot stone that allowed you to cook your meal your own way.  Smoke from each individual meal rose and replaced the smoke of churning brains we had all afternoon.  What followed was an evening of comraderies and karaoke, that was well supported.  Something was different this time, the MasterMind allowed each of us to be vulnerable, so karaoke wasn’t as scary as it used to be.  We sang, we let loose and occasionally, we would hear “Tequila!” yelled, an inside joke for the evening.

We returned to our rooms smiling, but tired.  The rooms at Esterel were incredibly comfortable and stylish – much appreciated to rest from such a big day.  We woke up, after some coffee intake and an amazing breakfast where you actually got to squeeze your own juice, to be split up into 4 groups to attend the “Gold” Meetings.  Epson (Winner: Best Gold Room) spoke about their new Channel Program and an avalanche of new products.  VarOffficeSuite (Julian Lee) spoke about digital strategy – “It’s not an option anyone, it’s a necessity!” Datto showed how we could profit from and protect their clients businesses with their solutions.  VarMasterMind (Randal Wark) did a workshop on Branding & Culture to help attendees see the importance of defining your brand, identifying your target customers and making sure your website reflects your unique brand.

We next had a choice of two workshops.  SherWeb (Winner: Best Workshop) showed us how to take control of Office365 with the latest CSP program and why SherWeb are considered the best choice to partner with because of their excellent North-American based support.

The 6 Word Intro (Randal Wark) allowed attendees to use a formula which allows them to answer the question:  What do you do?  In 6 Words…or less!  By the end of the session, each had a new 6 Word Intro they could use, and many will further tweak it after the event, now that they know the formula.

The next workshop choice was between Cisco & Microsoft.

Cisco spoke about “Monetizing IoT in the Channel”.  Attendees found out how to take advantage of this trend in their business. The event will be expanding its showcase of channel-ready IoT solutions.

Microsoft spoke about “Are You Adapting To The ERA of Digital?”  Business models and company culture was discussed as well as optimization of our current customer base. How much of your customer’s spend do you control?

The event ended with a healthy lunch and Expo where prizes were given and awards handed out. EcnTV was doing video interviews with vendors and the delegates – see www.ecntv.ca for more in the next coming days. Did you know that ecnTV can help channel partners to a variety of company videos for their websites?

The buzz from the attendees was that they just attended something special.  This event was focused on helping them become a better company, and all walked away with more tools and frameworks to apply to their business than any previous event.

Are you ready to Turn it up to 11 in your business?  Make sure you attend the ChannelNEXT Conference (schedule can be found at:  http://channelnext.ca) in a city near you and see why VARs and MSPs are calling this the Must Attend Event in the industry!  It’s one louder!

One more thing… Just introduced at this ChannelNEXT.  The organization is launching an Elite MasterMind group of 300 VARs and MSPs from across Canada who want to accelerate their business to become one of the top 300 fast-growth IT companies in the country. Want to learn more? Ask at top300@technoplanet.com.