Carlos is a seasoned business professional and entrepreneur, with over 30 years of domestic and international experience. During his corporate career, he held executive technical and channel sales and marketing positions at DCA, Micro Tempus, Verint, Ingram Micro, Eastern Airlines, Citicorp and FPL. As the founder and managing director of Pigs on the Roof, Carlos and his team focus on provisioning channel development, marketing, and sales services in U.S. and Latin America.
A New Age for Channel Partner Recruitment
It seems counterintuitive. With the internet comes more information and with more information greater transparency. So, it stands to reason that Channel Partner recruitment should be easier than ever, but nothing could be further from the truth.
At Channel Focus North America 2016, Claudio Ayub delivered his presentation, An Incentive Framework Aligned to the Buyer and Partner Journey Outperform the Competition. Claudio, Vice President and Chief Channel Strategist at Perks Channel, did a wonderful job explaining how the cloud and the digitally-connected buyer are disrupting the Channel.
The presentation highlights that when it comes to purchasing decisions, B2B buyers are acting more and more like consumers; yet, traditional channels have not evolved their sales processes to cope with this reality. Furthermore, given the channel disruption caused by the cloud, Vendors are responding with incentives to influence Partners to drive demand for cloud solutions. Vendors are making up for displaced license and service revenues by using incentives as a currency to compensate Partners (e.g. give cloud credits when traditional resellers close a SaaS deal).
Although many traditional Partners talk up cloud on their websites, the reality is a majority of them will never make the transition. There are clearly new Partners that "get" the cloud. They don't need incentives to compensate for lost revenue or reduced margins; these Partners thrive in the cloud.
All this means two things for technology Vendors:
On-going Channel Partner recruitment is a must
The tried and true Channel Partner recruitment tactics of days gone by no longer work
Always Be Recruiting
In our blog post, Is Anyone Born in a Cloud, we make note that there are undoubtedly new channel business models built for the cloud. These Partners stand out from the rest. So, if a Vendor is building a cloud business, and which ones aren’t these days, recruiting needs to be a top priority. New Partners whose businesses fit with the new direction of the corporation are key. Providing incentives to the old guard in the hopes of changing behavior is a costly proposition. Making pretend this will work is even more dangerous. Think Uber and the taxi cab industry.
A New Channel Partner Recruitment Age
If we agree on the behavior of the new digitally-connected buyer, and we acknowledge there really are “born in the cloud” Partners, then using old recruiting techniques won't succeed.
I propose that cloud-centric Partners behave exactly like the digitally-connected buyer. And why wouldn't they? These Partners not only use online search and social channels to learn about and form an opinion of a Vendor's offerings, they also take the information they glean online to decide internally which products to stake their reputation on.
Further, we live in a mobile world. If we care about any relationship, business or personal, we automatically offer up our cell number. When we don't care that much, we give out the office or the house number. Sharing our personal cell number is a sign of trust and a desire to engage at a different level.
Clearly, old school recruiting--do a quick search; web profile; call and sign--does not work today. More likely than not, prospective Partners will not answer unsolicited calls, and are more technologically informed and business savvy than ever before. The good Partners only engage when they are ready.
Today, Channel Partner recruitment is about business engagement and demonstrating efficient competency. White papers, eBooks, online community participation, case studies, trials, online demos, honest Vendor comparisons, and social channels are the standard tools of the current recruiting trade. New age Channel Partner recruitment personnel must be sophisticated, learned in business, and make effective use of these tools. Low-skilled, poorly trained phone reps reading from a script with no methodology no longer cut it.
Yes, Channel Partner recruitment personnel will still use the phone but only when given the liberty to do so. And when the call is made, they better make a darn good first impression.