What experiences are you promising your customers and how prepared are your channel partners to deliver this experience?
Engineering great experiences in the channel has always started with solution selling, determining the pain points and pitfalls of the current state and recommending solutions for a more productive, more protected future. This has traditionally created lots of upside for additional revenues for partners offering process development, onboarding and training services.
But things are more complicated now. Thanks to Amazon, the distribution landscape is changing, with more focus on customer intimacy to help partners succeed bundling hardware and software with network and cloud. In a world where end-customers are conditioned to expect self service solutions and a high level of personalization, the backend need for seamless orchestration of third party equipment and services requires defining and validating business outcomes before pitching the solution.
Think about it – in solution selling, the solution is highly defined, tried and trusted. The go-to solutions in the channel have been sold by resellers hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. The IT partner is extremely comfortable with the technology, the vendors, their equipment and processes and all the elements that combine to make up the sale, installation, and billing. All that was required in solution selling is making sure the partner understands how to focus on selling solutions, rather than products.
The shift to cloud begets an entirely new list of infrastructure requirements, and in a partner community that has traditionally been focused on hardware and infrastructure, partners are looking at entirely new business models. To be honest, they aren’t getting a lot of help in making the transition. How do you take a direct on premise sales force and get them to move over to the cloud?
The partner needs to understand what is in it for them – and what will happen if they don’t make the shift. Like a tape-based disaster recovery plan, partners will find themselves obsolete if they don’t keep up. Today, Integrating Consulting Partners (ICPs) are the ones talking about business transformation. Meanwhile, most resellers are hanging out – after all what do they know about the solution?
This is a challenge for vendors, but one that can be addressed through channel marketing. To sell business outcomes vendors need to over deliver on outreach, education, training to certification standards, providing killer demos, long term incentives, collateral, co-marketing tools, and hand-holding sales support. Building great experiences for resellers and channel partners is an investment in everyone’s future. Who will take the lead?