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What do channel partners and vendors really want from channel conferences?

Vendors will probably say “recruit new partners”. Partners will probably say “find ways to grow business”. There is overlap between these two goals but they are not the same. Of course, there are many other reasons why people attend conferences such as networking, learning, scoping out the competition, partying and so on. We decided to dig deeper and wider to truly understand what really matters…

After 2 years of digging, improving and tweaking (from feedback), the ChannelNEXT conference transformation has now been completed. YEAH! The final experience was just released at ChannelNEXT19 WEST in Banff, on Oct 28-29.

 The verdict? 

★★★★★

Don’t take our word for it. Watch for the latest video coming soon on what attendees had to say about the experience. In the meantime check what they had to say earlier this year.

Check out the most recent picture gallery.

Many partners told us that they were becoming frustrated with channel events (including some of our past events) mainly because they had to wade through the loud noise to find the real nuggets of value that matters most to them. The sales pitches became overwhelming. As such, we decided to reinvent our events to take a different path.

We will share some info on how we changed and hope other channel conferences will also improve their game to better serve the needs of the channel…

ChannelNEXT is that new path! Mastermind Peer-group coach-led collaboration to solve big pain points is the foundation. Speakers and experts who live in the channel space to deliver deep and wide insights. Networking that brings everyone together. Maximum use of time while still having some fun. No nonsense. No waste of resources. We put real value back into time spent at conferences.

That said, ChannelNEXT is NOT for everyone. It is a smaller VIP event where leaders come together to do some extreme business building. Until we figure out how to service more with the same quality, a maximum of 100 channel partners may attend each of these events. The value and VIP experience is simply too difficult to be mass-produced. As such, we may have to host more regional ChannelNEXT events in order to meet the demand. The most common feedback from this last event was to put more breaks between sessions and add another day.

Recap of ChannelNEXT19 WEST held on October 28-29 in Banff, Alberta

On the evening before the show, a major snow storm moved into Banff as only the Canadian Rockies can bring. Forecasters called for a massive storm so we were bracing for a lot of no-shows. It was nasty and took a lot longer to get to Banff with icy roads and limited visibility, but all the attendees made it safely! Thank you all for braving the elements!

After a short introduction from ChannelNEXT’s Event Manager, Gerlinda Ringe, to personally outline all of the upcoming activities, I kicked off the conference with a brief fifteen-minute keynote on the future of the channel. I talked about 10 things that will shape the success of channel partners in the next decade, starting in 2020. Our team is constantly analyzing the trends and real-time data to bring our community the most accurate insights and guidance.

In a nutshell: Channel communities and marketplaces will be the new feeding grounds of channel partners. Security practices will make or break the MSP business. Peer-group collaboration will be the new norm. Peer-to-peer partnerships, especially with ISVs will become commonplace. NOCs will become SOSs and managed services playbook will be rewritten as more software and automation take root.

Sales is #1 on the wish list for most channel partners so we were happy to have Shane Gibson talk about building a playbook and process, and fuel it with social selling then accelerate it with AI. Shane is simply awesome when it comes to social selling and he wrote a book on it. Ask about having him speak at your next partner conference or spend a day at your MSP business! Check out the 12-month virtual sales training program where up to 5 sales reps per company can take the course for only $297 per month! Crazy good!

Communicating effectively so others can understand and buy into what you want is the key to unlocking success in business and life. It is not about what you say. It has more to do with how it is said by adjusting tone and content to fit the 4 types of personalities. You really need to know what drives each of the 4 personas. When you master these skills, there is nothing holding you back. Glynis Devine hosts all sorts of mastermind sessions with business leaders around the world. She is also passionate about Women In Technology and is part of our WIT movement. Glynis helped the audience to better understand what makes each of the 4 personas tick. Everyone was able to self-identify their persona as well as their colleagues. The audience got a special free access to complete the full persona test and also invite their colleagues. Glynis can be contracted to help any company to identify the personas of each employee and teach all how to better communicate with each other! Imagine what better communications and understanding between your employees could mean to the success of the company?

After a great lunch with tasty and healthy local ingredients (that is the pride of the Banff Centre), it was time for the first of two MasterMind sessions. MasterMind is the heart of the new ChannelNEXT. Peer-to-peer collaboration to solve real pain points guided by a professional coach. These sessions were ninety minutes and next year it will be extended up to three hours. All delegates wanted much more time!

Learn what is a MasterMind session and why it matters or contact Randal Wark. You really need to experience it firsthand to truly appreciate its power to solve big problems and build strength. One thing that almost every MSP struggles with is putting value on their time. Randal Wark makes it crystal clear by demonstrating the 4 buckets of work and its associated value in dollars per hour. It became so simple to see where management needs to spend their time to drive more value and growth in the business. Many told me that it was an eye-opener on how they spend their time and vowed to change.

The only vendor keynote was by Datto as they presented a ton of data to help MSPs benchmark their business with their peers. As Datto digest the data of their MSP partners, they have extracted some solid trends and insights to help everyone improve. The Datto product portfolio continues to grow with PSA, RMM, Networking and more.

Back in the main conference room, it was time for Saher Ghattas to rock the world of every MSP by showing them how to double their monthly recurring revenue within 12 months! He currently works with many MSPs so he knows exactly how to get the job done right the first time! Every MSP got a 3-step plan that they can immediately implement by themselves to prove the results. Unfortunately, you had to be there to get this digital marketing power playbook.

With brains pumped and energized, it was time for the fun Lions’ Den where each vendor had a quick 3 minutes to make their best sales pitch. It is always interesting to see how these manufacturer reps step up to the plate on stage. All did very well and all had a different style. Allan Weiss from Datto won this round. He also got to pick a lucky winner for a bottle of top champagne and a cool prize.

It was time for our famous speed introductions over an open bar with a backdrop of the breathtaking snow-capped mountains. Channel partners moved from vendor station to station every 3 minutes for a quick meet and greet. The networking continued and wrapped up with lots of prize giveaways.

Dinner was in the floor to ceiling glass windows’ Vistas restaurant. Great food, drinks, conversations with a gorgeous sunset over the mountains in the background!

Oktoberfest was the main theme in the hospitality suites with German decorations and German beer. But there was a twist! Karaoke! Everyone became a rock star for a night. There are hundreds of things you can do for entertainment, but there is something about Karaoke that brings out the rocker in everybody. One very brave soul did a Michael Bublé song and posted it on LinkedIn. We are very proud of him for jumping way out of his comfort zone! The women did several group sessions and one of our very own team members did a solo that literally stunned us.

Early next morning we passed by several elks and deer on the way to breakfast – something that’s always amazing to see. Breakfast kicked off the second Mastermind session as they switched to a new topic to solve different pain points. These sessions give each channel partner a powerful roadmap to solve their problems. It will not stop here as the coaches will be following up with each attendee to ensure that they implement and execute what they learned.

STOP THE PRESS…. 

Did I mention that ChannelNEXT is now the home of Channel Partner Alliance members? This is a fast growing group of channel partners looking to do one big thing… improve their best business practices! This new group is going to be a game-changer in the channel. These best-practice channel partners are the type that vendors want to recruit. It is also the type of well-run companies that end-customers want to buy from. We are pleased to have strong supporters like Sherweb and Synnex. Learn more about the Channel Partners Alliance and why MSPs, VARs and ITSPs should join for FREE. I encourage all vendors to learn how to access this group and support their partners to get the benefits in 2020 and beyond.

We are very proud to have had 19 Channel Partner Alliance members attend this event and more joined right at the show!

Two tracks, eight mind-bending workshops! 

The vendor track featured four workshops on making money with the amazing opportunities that they provide. Sherweb with everything Microsoft and more. Datto with BDR, PSA, RMM and Networking.  AppRiver with security and compliance around everything Microsoft. Purplesoft and HansaWorld’s ERP solution that generates top MRR and deep customer entrenchment.

We also showcased two VoIP and UCaaS solutions for the channel. Unified Cloud and Wildix. As VoIP becomes a fundamental solution offered by smart channel partners, it is critical to select the right solution. We are starting to see some VoIP stars emerging as the go-to partners for the channel. Expect an avalanche of VoIP business to be hitting the channel. More to come…

The educational track explored how to generate bigger and more profitable sales deals. Like improving diversity and leadership in the workplace. Or building out a practical digital marketing business practice to generate properly qualified sales leads. And, last but not least, building out a must-have IT Security business practice and exploring the available options.

The Expo lounge with an amazing lunch is how we always roll up the ChannelNEXT event. Vendors networked with the channel partners one last time and gave away lots of gifts. We also handed out some cool awards to vendors for outstanding performances as voted exclusively by the channel partners! After some last news interviews, it was time to bid farewell until next time.

Wrapping up ChannelNEXT is always bittersweet. We can all finally get a rest after all   the work that went into building and executing the event. But, it is also sad to see everyone leave. Many new attendees arrive as peers but leave as partners and friends. Over the past 17 years doing these events, we have built some great life memories and feel honored to have helped our delegates to improve their business, even if it is just a little.

Of course, the new ChannelNEXT VIP experience had a lot more depth and activities, but its structure, flow from beginning to end, strong content and its effective delivery in the peer-group Mastermind format as well as the networking mix was all part of the secret recipe of success. We have a lot more surprises planned for the future as we make ChannelNEXT one of the best workplaces for channel partners and vendors to build extreme business that is sustainable and predictable.

Save the dates for the upcoming ChannelNEXT2020 conferences. Come experience ChannelNEXT20/20 Vision!