Don’t miss go-to-market strategist Theresa Caragol highlight new channel dynamics transforming partnering today. Theresa is a member of the Impartner Channel Chief Advisory Board (CCAB). The CCAB is a group comprised of top channel thought leaders, analysts and consultants who each have decades of channel experience and insights to contribute to channel best practice discussions.
Thank heavens for partners.
That’s what a lot of business leaders must be thinking today, more than a year after the global pandemic shut-down workplaces everywhere. When Covid-19 upended our world, millions of business leaders scrambled to adjust. Many fast-tracked digital transformation projects. Others tossed five-year plans or recalibrated policies to support work-from-home (WFH) initiatives.
Those that doubled-down on go-to-market strategies centered on third-party business partners found they had a leg up on rivals that over-emphasized direct sales. Like never before, partners were literally the eyes, ears and feet on the street that many vendors depended on. Thanks in part to partners, vendors mitigated business disruption and enjoyed surprisingly strong customer engagement.
The results speak for themselves. Take the IT industry.
Though the technology industry as a whole shrunk in 2020, partner-centric companies including Microsoft, Cisco and Datto fared well during the pandemic. Microsoft, which relies on partners for more than 90% of its sales, posted record sales and earnings in 2020. Datto, meanwhile, saw full-year sales jump 10% over 2019 and subscription sales increase 16% year-over-year.
Even sales through distributors, a more mature segment of the tech channel, demonstrated resiliency in 2020. In Europe, sales of IT products and services through distribution grew 7.3% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to CONTEXT. In the U.S., sales through distribution matched 2019 results, despite pandemic-related product shortages, business interruptions and economic challenges, according to NPD Group.
Which brings us to your company: If you oversee or work in channels and partnering, then be sure to tune into our friend Theresa Caragol’s April 8 online presentation, “The Ultimate Guide to Building a Channel in 2021.” Caragol is the founder and principal analyst with Achieve Unite, a Washington D.C.-area consultancy that helps vendors optimize their channel programs and strategies. She is also a member of the Impartner Channel Chief Advisory Board (CCAB).
In her exclusive presentation for Impartner, Caragol will share her insights on key channel trends Impartner believes are transforming partnering. This includes industry economics, technology and management strategies. Again, take the tech industry.
Today, nearly half of channel partners are undergoing a digital transformation themselves as they rebalance their technology portfolios and overhaul their business models. The latter has significant implications for vendor companies. Just a decade ago, for example, channel partners in tech looked to vendor commissions and rebates for much of their profits. Today, this is no longer the case, according to CompTIA, as partners embrace new business models that prioritize the sale of digital services and consulting.
That’s not to say partners don’t want financial help from vendors; they do, obviously, but one that comes in a predictable and manageable fashion. Which brings us professional automation.
Channel building today depends on world class automation that can help vendors with the management and disbursement of Market Development Funds (MDF), partner onboarding and enablement, and so much more. With advanced automation, vendors have the following at their fingertips:
- Financial performance by partner per quarter
- Up-to-the-minute data on registered deals and pipeline activity
- A closeup of MDF spending and marketing activity
If your company does not have this information readily available, you’re likely competing with one arm tied behind your back.
Finally, there’s partner management, which is also evolving — from an art to a science. Thanks to automation, partner management is more metric driven, more scientific and more equitable than ever. As a result, it’s more human, too.
So how can a partner program manager or channel chief keep abreast of all the changes happening simultaneously? Caragol suggests thinking in terms of what Achieve Unite calls the five “Ps” of channel development. Each one triggers a distinct question to ponder:
- Policy: Why are we doing what we are doing?
- Process: How are we going to do it?
- Program: What are we going to do?
- Platform: Where are we going to do it?
- People: Who will own this?
One you’ve thought through these issues, you’ll be on your way to start building your channel. If you’re wondering where to begin, don’t miss Achieve Unite’s “The Ultimate Field Guide to Starting a Channel.”
The channel can be a tricky thing to navigate. But we’ll always be here to help guide you.