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Masterminds meet up to solve channel issues

ESTEREL, QUE. – At the ChannelNEXT East Conference, groups of channel partner executives got together with a business coach to discuss issues pertaining to their companies.

The sessions are called Mastermind and the show hosted four groups of eight solution provider executives talking about all aspects of their business.

The intention of the Mastermind sessions is to use the collective strength and knowledge of the group to improve the business practices of channel partners along with cultivating sustainable recurring revenue streams.

One of the advantages of joining Mastermind is the opportunity to be introduced to non-traditional channel partners who are born in the cloud.

But at the heart of each group is collaboration and the desire to solve tough business problems.

Case in point, Nicolas Takacs, the 27-year old president of Koncept Technologies of Prevost, Que., who has challenges with hiring and retaining good staff. Koncept is a born in the cloud solution provider that got started in 2009 and Takacs told EChannelNews that what he valued from the Mastermind group was he was surrounded by similar type businesses.

“This was a great group that made several good points. What I liked was they each have similar yearly sales, so we have no gaps and it provides better, real world problem solving. We are in the same game as the others in the group and we even have the same types of customers,” Takacs said.

He found out that all eight executives in his group were also struggling with the same issues; chief among them human resources. All of Takacs’ Mastermind group members where challenged by hiring and retaining good staff.

“We talked about how we can recruit and keep employees. All of us made good points and some presented strategies on the benefits of staying with your employer. One Mastermind member had a great idea of offering maid services as a perk,” Takacs said.

Koncept is also making the pivot towards becoming a managed services provider and believes his Mastermind group can help him with the transition.

Solution provider executives from the Quebec area at a Mastermind session at the ChannelNEXT East Conference

Pierre Namroud, the director of business development at Namtek Consulting Services of Laval, Que., did not have any expectations of Mastermind but wanted to explore the program. Namrok said he learned a few new tricks from his peer group.

“I learned that I’m not the only one who has my problems. This is big for me because at one point you feel ‘hey what’s going on’ and then you learn it’s a generic issue,” Namroud said.

Similar to Takacs, Namroud is also finding that he has HR issues. “Can’t find good people and when I do there tends to be a clash of generations. There is no more loyalty to the job. People today think it’s only a job and some leave without even saying goodbye,” he added.

One of the ideas he shared with his Mastermind group was hiring people from overseas as project managers, incenting them with parts of the revenue they bring in but managing this workforce remotely.

Channel executives Norm Landry and Michael Marleau at the Mastermind session

Norm Landry, a professional advisor for QITX Inc. in Montreal found his Mastermind session informative and interactive.

“The great thing about my group is that we had great participation, and no one was shy,” he said.

The new thing he learned from the session was predictability and ROI techniques for his online marketing campaigns. “It’s difficult to predict how you get ROI when you do spend money on marketing traditional or otherwise,” Landry said.

Another lesson Landry learned from his Mastermind group was to start small, but not too small that there’s no impact.

Landry plans to keep in touch with his group and is looking forward to being nurtured by the group along with being a strong participant himself.

Hugo Lambert, president of Montreal-based ISL Technologie was encouraged with how open all the partner executives were in his session; even though some of the solution providers compete with each other.

Just like the others in his group, hiring and retaining employees along with the cost of training was a big issue for Lambert and ISL.

One of the things he learned from his peers was too look for people with a good attitude instead of a great skill set or technical know-how.

“Good personal skills and a great attitude instead of knowledge of IT and sometimes it’s better to hire someone with no IT knowledge but has a good attitude and they will become a great employee with some training,” Lambert added.

The concept of the Mastermind program is to provide peer-to-peer brainstorming sessions from solution providers who understand what you are going through. The goal is to help channel partners get to the next level in their business.

The executive coaches for the Mastermind program will help the groups doing multiple live and virtual sessions throughout the year that will discuss topics such as being an independent software vendor, the line of business, accounting, marketing, digital and social marketing, legal, expertise in vertical markets and other business building strategies.