So much of Vendor success is about understanding how the Channel Journey is shifting, then ensuring your program and communications arm Partners with the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s market. With this in mind, we’re excited to welcome Debbie Kane, VP Client Strategy and Brad Rolfe, VP Client Engagement, to the Channel Maven team. Both formerly with Penton and Everything Channel (now The Channel Co.,) they bring Channel experience and interesting insights to our team and the Vendors and Channel Partners we work with.
“Our growth over the past almost 8 years has been amazing, invigorating, and quite humbling,” says the original Channel Maven, our CEO Heather K. Margolis. “It is a testament to the relationships we build and the great clients we get to work with every day. I’m excited to add two such highly thought of Channel veterans to our team to continue that growth and better support our clients. Past, present and future.”
We sat down with Debbie and Brad to hear their thoughts on how they see the Channel changing and what Vendors can do to better help Partners find success along their evolving journey.
On The State of Today’s Channel Journey
“The Channel has changed significantly from the early days. When I got into the Channel in the mid eighties, Vendors had all the power,” Debbie explains. Today, Partners have their own brands to establish and promote. The Vendor-Partner relationship changes when Partners no longer have to lead with the Vendor’s brand. Even more, Vendors brand is less important as services and cloud models continue to increase. To adapt, Debbie says “Vendors have to re-train staff and re-tool [resources and programs], because it’s not business as usual.”
Despite this changing dynamic, Brad adds it’s easy for Vendors to get stuck in a bit of a time warp. To succeed in today’s Channel, understanding that it’s not so much about the Partner-Vendor relationship anymore is key. Brad explains “it’s about helping the Partner-Customer relationship grow and prosper. Hearing about the speeds and feeds of Vendor products can actually make Partners tune out because they know their customers are more interested in the overall solution and business challenge being solved.” As Debbie notes, with Partners constantly bombarded by messaging in today’s saturated market, rising above the noise with a valuable and relevant message is key.
On What Partners Really Want
What then should Vendors focus on in order to rise above all this noise? First, “you have to make it easy for your Partners to sell your solution,” Debbie says. “Give them tools, resources, sales acumen, and marketing materials that’ll make it plug and play for them.”
As we move to a recurring revenue model, articulating the ROI and value proposition to their customers is vital and Partners don’t necessarily have the seasoned sales or marketing staff to effectively communicate and use social media, leverage mailing lists, and create compelling content to demonstrate value to end-users. It is now the Vendor’s job to help Partners communicate the ROI and value of the Vendor’s product, solution, or service to the end-customer. “The easier you make it for Partners and the more knowledgeable you make them look, the more likely it is their customer base will continue to put trust in your Partner, and in turn, your products, solutions, or services,” Debbie says.
Brad notes the best way to get Partners to understand your value is to tell stories. Instead of handing them a datasheet, he suggests “taking your Partners on a journey.” Showcase how other Partners in their vertical have faced similar challenges, successfully improved ROI, and strengthened customer relationships with your products, solutions, or services. Storytelling will not only invigorate and educate Partners, but, as Debbie points out, also makes it easier for them to sell the value of your products, solutions, or services.
On How They Can Help Vendors Drive More Demand
Brad and Debbie join Channel Maven Consulting with nearly 40 combined years of Channel experience. Having worked on all sides of the Channel – as Partners, Vendors, Distributors, and most recently, Channel media and events – they’ve seen not only how the Channel Journey has changed over the years, but (more importantly) where it’s headed.
At the end of the day, no Channel Marketing or Partner Program is successful without creativity and collaboration. Debbie and Brad will work with you to expand and strengthen your Channel footprint by offering more than your standard “out of the box” marketing solutions. Our goal is to help Vendors connect with Partners in today’s shifting Channel, and bridge gaps between Vendors’ internal marketing and sales to amplify your Partner Journey story to ease recruitment, and enable successful Partners.
Interested in reinvigorating your Channel Sales, Programs, and Communications?