Channel Maven Consulting
Channel Maven Consulting

Who is Channel Maven Consulting?

Call us crazy. We’ll admit, we’re a little off our rocker with passion for making channel marketing teams succeed. That’s just what happens when you get a team of strategic channel experts working to understand individual client’s channel marketing and communications goals. What we really want is for you to see what happens when we help drive more effective relationships “to” and “through” your partners. LEARN MORE »

From Our Blog

Women in Technology

by Channel Maven on July 23, 2014

In today’s day and age, we’d like to think that women and men are equal, especially in the workforce. While there is some distinction across different industries and fields, both genders should be able to hold equal stance, right? Unfortunately, this is not true for the present day technology industry, where women only make up only 28% of the IT workforce, compared to the 72% that are men.

This is particularly interesting, considering that a higher percentage of women enter into universities than men, however only 18% of those are graduate with IT degrees. It’s not that the interest is not there, 95% of young women say that they like and are interested in technology, but only 9% of those say they definitely want to pursue an technology career. So what can we do to encourage the female youth (who have interest in the technology sector) to pursue a career in IT?

What Makes a Career in IT so Attractive?

In the somewhat still turbulent economy we have, the IT force can offer security that many other industries and positions cannot. The unemployment rate in IT is a low 2.9%, compared to the general rate of 6.7%. Additionally, 79% of women who are currently in positions in the industry say they feel a sense of accomplishment, versus the 74% of men that do. The field currently has nothing but opportunities, with over 500,000 position openings and salaries that compete at twice the amount of the national salary, a whopping $76,000 versus $35,000.

The industry, contrary to popular belief, offers a wide variety of sub-fields and positions, including: analyst coder, consultant, CIO, software support, web-design, solution provider, developer, customer service, content manager, programer, etc.

Why We Need to Encourage Women to Enter into/Stay in the IT Industry?

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be almost 1.5 million computer related jobs available by 2020; furthermore, they also estimate based off current circumstance, that our country will only be able to fill 30% of these positions. Around 56% of women in tech leave their companies half way through careers, making their attrition rate twice that of men. Reducing this rate by only 25% would add more than 200,000 workers back into the industry. Entering into a career in the IT industry,or maintaining one to reach high level positions and management, would also allow women to make a difference in leadership.

At a low 22%, the United States is also falling behind most of the countries in the world in terms of women in leadership roles. 53% of women who are currently in IT, make up entry level positions, 45% of managers are women, 30% are directors, 27% VP’s, 24% SVP’s and 19% of C Suite roles are women. IT is the perfect way for women to get their foot into the door and change this and the balance of the industry as well.

How Can We Encourage Women in IT Careers & Leadership Roles for Women?

We need to encourage women to not only work in the IT field, but to lead it as well. So what can those in tech do to help?

  • Offer classes to train and develop tech skills
  • Encourage one another by keeping track of internal and external accomplishments
  • Initiate company recognition and incentive programs
  • Encourage the next generation by equipping members of the technology industry to go into schools and communities to educate young women about
  • Promote from within

Establishing strong, hardworking women leaders will increase not only the number of women in technology, but will also encourage those in the field to continue their careers and thus climb the ladder into higher leadership roles. In turn, this will successively start the steps to ameliorate the U.S.’s deficiency of women in leadership roles as well. Overall it is a win win.

It’s great being a part of Baptie’s Women’s Leadership Council and CompTIA’s Advancing Women In Technology to bring more of these issues and solutions to light.

What are some of your ideas to encourage those young women thinking about a career in tech? What is your encouragement towards those women already in the field who are thinking of leaving it? Comment below and let us know!

A special thanks to Nancy Hammervik, whom Heather had the pleasure of meeting at Baptie’s Channel Focus Women Leadership Council event in April, as well as CompTIA  for educating us on Women in Technology.

Photo source: Tech Cocktail

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5 Things You Need to Understand About Your Partners’ Small Businesses

by Channel Maven on July 23, 2014

Every once in awhile, Channel Maven takes off her Channel Marketing hat and puts on her entrepreneur hat.

Oh who is she kidding, she wears them both at the same time.  In any event, in recent months, the team has had the pleasure of meeting a lot of solution providers at one of your partner summits during a Social Media Rally Station.  At these events we love talking to partners to hear more about what their day-to-day struggles are and how we can guide vendors to better meet those needs.  As a small business ourselves, Channel Maven, more importantly Heather K. Margolis, knows the struggles and challenges that only a small to mid-sized business executive would fully understand.

Here are 5 things our vendor clients need to understand to create better programs and resources for their partners:

1.  Money Matters:  While 40% margin or 42% margin might be a line item to you, to the SMB owner it makes a huge difference.  If there’s a struggle with a direct sales team or a discrepancy that can easily go one way or another consider this, a scorned solution provider will never forget and will most likely tell everyone they know not to work with you.  Now let’s be fair, sometimes the Solution Provider might be pushing the envelope, but if you’re in the wrong, make it right.

2.  Time out of the Field is Money:  If you’re asking for multiple members of a partner’s team to be attending live trainings and jumping through too many hoops, the Solution Provider executive is going to work with someone else.  Sure you want your Solution Providers to be well versed in your solutions, but be sure you’re not asking for more than is reasonable.  Remember that anytime their team isn’t selling it is costing them money (see #1).

3.  HR is Painful:  Or is that just me?  Hiring, firing, dealing with those who aren’t team players, or aren’t pulling there weight is probably the hardest thing we as entrepreneurs deal with on a daily basis.  Sure, you as executives have to deal with some similar issues with team members, but you also don’t have to go through the pain of finding and hiring replacements or worry about spending money on someone who isn’t helping the business thrive.  Anything you can do to help your partners find and keep talent is a huge plus!

4.  Goals Need to Align:  If you as a vendor are putting requirements on me as a partner they had better align with my overall goals.  Putting together a business plan? Yes. Getting my team educated?  Yes. Registering a deal? Yes.  Putting your solution content on my website? Yes.  Listening to your webinar on Solution X when I only sell Solution Y? Nope.  Paying for a huge demo unit when I’m just starting to sell your products? Nope.  Putting me in contact with 5 different people on your team for 5 different functions who don’t understand my business?  Nope. Nope. Nope!

5.  Deadlines May Need to be Flexible:  We all work crazy hours and need to be understanding of each others schedules.  That four hour work week guy is nuts.  I’m not suggesting that entrepreneurs are busier, maybe just that that fill multiple totally unrelated functions can be dizzying at times.  Today I spoke to a client about a project, worked on a deliverable, posted our own social, approved our newsletter, wrote a blog post, presented to a prospect, updated our financials for quarterly tax estimates, wrote up an offer letter for a new employee, met with our building manager about some issues we’ve been having, talked to someone about sponsoring an event and interviewed someone for another role we have open.  I’m not asking anyone to play a huge violin for me, I love it! I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else! However, when putting deadlines on Solution Provider executives of “next week” you need to try to understand that they are filling a lot of different roles and may need a little more of a template or guidance from you.

I’m sure I’m missing some.  I haven’t even touched upon the lack of marketing ourselves (yes, even we have a marketing team), and I would love to hear from Solution Providers what I may have missed!

Vendors, how are you helping your Solution Providers today?

 

Photo credits to: Small Biz Trends, Get Entrepreneurial, 4 Bp Blogspot

 

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Engaging Partners You Want to Recruit & Managing Those You Have

by Channel Maven on July 14, 2014

Alright, so you’ve got your highly targeted and profiled list of 1,000 partners using the “Channel Partner Recruiting Model,” we talked about in our last blog post. Now, how do you make sure that you engage them in order to recruit them?  How will you manage those recruited partners that warrant such attention?

Engaging Channel Partners

What do you need to do to convince an ideal channel partner to choose your company or product over all the other alternatives? This will be based on a variety of things, among them: the size and types of partners, your value proposition, partner program details, financial modeling, third-party validation and channel partner proposition, etc.

Ask yourself this: what do you have that you can bring to the table? Remember that you need to SELL potential partners on working with you.  Why should they take time out of the field to train on your solutions, to learn your value proposition, to navigate your resources?  If there isn’t a longer term benefit, they won’t.

Let’s talk about managing partners in order to build successful business relationships.

Managing Channel Partners

How can we determine which partners to focus on? We asked Carlos Blanco, of Pigs on the Roof, for a little insight. “Managing partners is extremely important; it builds a systematic trust and cooperation in order to successfully drive revenue. This is reliant on the type of partner and the relative importance of that partner to you. The best way we can do this is break it down into 4 tiers to better evaluate:”

Tier 1 This is the primary focus tier; contact with partners in this tier would be at an average frequency of two times per month. 

Characteristics of these partners:

      • You have a high ability to influence
      • Expected high ROI
      • Their business model mirrors your ideal partner profile

Tier 2- This is the secondary focus tier; contact with these partners would be at an average frequency of one time per month.

Characteristics of these partners:

      • Have some limiting factors that may include: size, credit capacity, etc.
      • There is potential for long-term ROI
      • Their immediate impact and influence and significantly less that Tier 1 accounts

Tier 3- This is the tertiary tier; possible contact with these partners would be at an average frequency of one time per quarter, mainly via e-contact.

Characteristics of these partners:

      • Their business models are not complimentary to yours
      • They will have little impact on your sales

Putting it into Play

1.  Ask, understand and adjust: take a good look at partners, competitor partners and customers, and see what changes can be made and where. Here are some examples of main criteria to consider when selecting a network supplier:

      1. Price
      2. Quality and reliability of products
      3. Pre and post-sales support
      4. Customer service

2. Field vs. Inside Sales: How do you decide if you should visit or call? This depends on the number and types of partners. Let’s take a look at this broken down into 4 tiers based off of revenue producing partners:

The critical decision is to determine how best to manage partners and what resources to use in order to maximize results vs. potential.

Before doing anything, begin with the data.  Intelligent, data-driven channel  management is about making smart decisions about what you are already spending or planning to spend, rather than spending more. Take a serious look at the numbers and see what you can adjust without adjusting your budget.

With data in hand, the first step is determining the type of management to be provided:  Field vs. Inside Sales.  This decision depends on the number and types of partners.  Let’s take a look at this, broken down into 4 tiers according to revenue producing partners.

3. Insource vs. Outsource: When deciding whether to insource or outsource, it is important to first review the business needs that will drive the final choice.

  • Some of the benefits of Insourcing are the product knowledge only your team can attain.  They also know how and where to get answers to questions partners may have and how to navigate your proprietary knowledge like pricing, discounts, and procedures.  There’s also more control over the brand, your internal people have the same loyalty to your brand, and can “sell the kool-aid,” so to speak.  Your internal team has a vested interest in making sure the relationship with the partner is solid and that the benefits of partnering, specifically with you, are measurable.
  • If Outsourcing is the way to go, you want to be sure you choose a contractor or agency with specific knowledge of the channel that is quick to learn your value propositions for your program and your solutions.  While sometimes it may seem silly to outsource something so important, keep in mind, the people you’re outsourcing to know nothing better than recruiting and enabling partners.  In the long run it can also be more cost effective to outsource so you’re not bringing on an entire team to manage something that may only be necessary for a short time.  Also think about what should be outsourced: data analytics, targeting, engagement, management, field sales, inside sales

Key Takeaways

In today’s highly competitive IT environment, it is important to have a well thought-out and executed channel strategy. By focusing on and analyzing the data, using the budget and resources you already have, paying attention to your partners and your competitors, and combining insourced and outsourced resources; you can engage and manage partners in the most effective and intelligent way best promote your channel.

Thank you again to Carlos Blanco for walking us through recruiting, engaging and managing partners.

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Linkedin Premium- Is this Upgrade Worth the Cost

by channelmaven on July 10, 2014

In this technology driven world, it seems like there is a new social media tool or upgrade out every month! If you work in the business or marketing world, keeping on top of these tools and how they can make your company and everyday work life easier, is very important. One example of these beneficial and popular social media tools, is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn also has an upgrade, “LinkedIn Premium,” that we get asked about all the time.  Premium adds a monthly fee and some extra tools in your toolbox. The cost of this ranges from $19.95 – $49.95 a month, from the least expensive tier to the top Job Seeker Premium account. This leaves us with the question- Is this upgrade really worth the monthly fee when you can still access LinkedIn, (less these extra additions), for free?

First, you need to think about a few things: Am I looking for prospects or clients? Am I looking to fill an open position? Do I outsource this search to a recruiter?

LinkedIn Premium Pic

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros of this upgrade and how they relate to your everyday tasks and long-term goals.

Pros for People Looking to Connect with Prospects or Customers/Clients:

  • Send personalized inMail message to anyone, allowing hiring managers to directly contact prospective employees, regardless of if connections are established.
    • InMail reaches as much as 44% of contacts, surpassing typical email efforts.
    • InMail is a very proactive and quick way to contact leads and establish an introduction rather than waiting to be connected.
  • See more detailed profile data for everyone in the extended network, regardless of connections, including: past employment, contact information and full names.
  • For some companies, this more detailed search tool can cut out the middle-man recruiting position.

One thing to remember, is that it is possible to grow your reach and connections organically. By being active on LinkedIn, joining different groups that share your interests, and liking companies you are interested in or would like to work for, all can also expand your reach on LinkedIn. LinkedIn Premium, in a way, offers a short cut to doing this, so you don’t have to have formed all these connections before being able to establish contact or send an InMail message. However, without the upgrade, this type of contact is still possible and just takes some good old time and a little effort.

Pros for People looking to Fill a Position:

  • Send personalized inMail message to anyone on LinkedIn, regardless if you share connections or not, including prospective employees who may be in a similar position.
  • View all information on anyone who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days, including how they found you. This can be a great way to determine who to contact that is interested in you or your company.
  • Access to beneficial data including: other jobs by salary range and individual job details.

In short, LinkedIn Premium allows you to break out of the confines of waiting for mutual connections to be contacted, or to get in contact, which could make all the difference in the world. If you are a company or hiring manager looking for prospective clients or employees, LinkedIn Premium can cut out some of intermediary research work with the detail search tool and increased mail contact rate with InMail.

Keep in mind some people may feel InMail is another route to spam, and so may be less interested in connecting if that’s your first contact.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the LinkedIn Premium cost is worth or outweighs the benefits? Comment below and let us know!

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