Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 44 - Page 51

ANDREW CRUISE , MANAGING DIRECTOR , ROUTED

Q & A

EDITOR ’ S
WHAT SKILLS AND TOOLS DO PARTNERS NEEDS TO BUILD A HEALTHY SALES PIPELINE ?

Close vendor engagement is key as this will likely result in being passed more opportunities by the vendor – especially since the usual marketing strategies , typically face-to-face , are not available during current restrictions . Also , as in most sales strategies , channel partners should focus on what makes them different from others in their market . It is unlikely that channel partners are able to sell the vendors ’ products significantly cheaper than their competitors , so the focus should be on the service element of the sale . People buy from people they like and people like people like themselves . The most critical tool for channel partners is empathy – they need to engage with the vendor in a way that makes them want to work with them , and they need to engage their prospects similarly . Technical skills and expertise should be built on top of this .

Vendors and distributors should initially play more of an educational role in helping
A channel partner is a person or organisation that provides services or sells products on behalf of a software , hardware , networking or cloud services vendor . Today , channel partners share one main challenge : how to grow their sales and sales pipeline . Industry experts look at how IT vendors including Amazon Web Services ( AWS ), Cisco , Dell Technologies , IBM and Microsoft etc are helping their channel partners to grow their sales and thrive in a challenging business climate .

ANDREW CRUISE , MANAGING DIRECTOR , ROUTED

their channel partners with sales . Educating the channel partner in their products , and educating the market to generate demand . Following up from this , vendors and distributors should play a supporting role in their channel partners ’ service offerings , reinforcing to the end customer the credibility of the partners ’ offerings and facilitating differentiation .
That said , no two businesses are ever the same . Channel partners need to identify what they do that attracted their customers in the first place and merge this with the vendors ’ strategy and messaging , blending something unique and difficult to copy . One cannot rely on the standard platitudes of being “ honest nice guys ” – choose to do something in a way that few others do : maybe this is specialising in a certain specific market or product set – a niche provider ; maybe this is trying to be a single port of call i . e . offering a superior , all-encompassing range of products and services on one bill – in the IT world , this would be the systems integrators .
There is a perception that cloud vendors are creating conflict and competition between themselves and their channel partners , but I think this is misrepresented . Certainly , cloud vendors ( like the hyperscalers e . g . AWS , Azure , GCP ) can and do market and sell directly to end customers , but the most valuable engagements are almost always through a channel partner whose expertise in that vendor ’ s product
catalyses the sale and makes it more profitable and more relevant . These vendors need their channel partners to drive sales , in many instances these are historically partner driven companies and they are successfully leveraging their partner programmes at the expense of direct sales .
It is important to point out that there is a symbiotic relationship , a synergy , between a vendor and their partner channel . If vendors are going to pass leads onto their channel partners , they need to know that their partners can satisfy the end customer ’ s requirements from a technical and service perspective . The channel partner trains and becomes certified in the vendor ’ s products to evidence this expertise , to verify not only to the end customer but particularly to the vendor that they are capable of addressing the customers ’ requirements ; that they are a credible recipient of the opportunity .
INTELLIGENT TECH CHANNELS Issue 44 51