Chandra Kumar, Chief Digital Officer
Channel Partners are a big focus for many vendors. In fact, we have seen in 2017 that vendors have announced that they will focus more on Channels for growth and invest more in that space. All of this attests to the importance of Partners for a viable business ecosystem and more so to the actual demand by customers. So we have Partners who have been around for long and emerging Partner types enabled by the Cloud and Digital Trends. All Partners are striving to play an important role in their customers’ Digital Transformation. At the same time, it’s equally important for Partners to look at their own Digital Transformation.
Let us look at few areas, impacted by Digital Transformation, in Partners both legacy and new.
“According to a new Digital Transformation MaturityScape Benchmark study from International Data Corporation (IDC), 59% of worldwide organizations are stuck in Stage 2 or 3 of their digital transformation.”
Impact on Growth: Thinking Big
Getting closer to your customers’ view is key to growth. How does your customer profile look like? Do you, as a Channel Partner, look at a Geography say Australia as a focus? Then it’s time for you to drill down on what your market exactly is. Instead of saying it’s a focus on Australia, it could be Office Automation for Law Firms in NSW. Wrap a healthy mix of AAS Services, ongoing License Subscriptions, and recurring Support – You could be well on your way to grabbing a larger share of an emerging market which no one else is noticing and servicing today.
Think TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) than pricing alone. A focused approach on TCO metrics will enable channel partners to grab market share from other adjacent providers than just immediate competitors. And the overall market share is only growing due to heavy investments in Digital technologies.
Again the secret to success here is an Increase in Value that you provide to your customers and the perceived value by prospects.
Coming to the actual high growth area: Enterprises. That’s where Channel Partners need to think big. Research shows it takes as much time to sell to Enterprises as anywhere else. So you need to think big as in larger revenues by working with larger enterprises.
Enterprises are interested in Business Outcomes. Value is important. More than Price. Being a Commodity Seller is your choice. You can continue the Price game or you can up your game by selling at the C-Suite. Remember, everyone has problems. And where there are Problems, there needs to be a Solution.
So Size doesn’t really matter. If you can wrap around a specific solution for a specific business problem , it will get you the right response from the Enterprise buyer. Just that it will be a different buyer.
Impact on Operations : New Target Operating Model
Convergence of Channel models is the order of the day. Who is a Channel Partner? Rather who is NOT a Channel Partner? Service Providers, Resellers, Telcos, Resellers, Distributors – The overlap is pretty high. With Disruption of all business models being the order of the day, you are seeing how Startups are emerging as Star Channel Partners.
Wait? How do they do it – Well it’s the effect of the API economy. Startups build Apps which use a Vendor’s platform or product and provide new Services for Customers to consume. Just look around you – The more you consume NetFlix, the more Amazon benefits. You could consume more Driving apps for your daily rides and Google benefits. There are just numerous ways it happens.
Its upto Vendors to accept and embrace these new partners. For existing partners , you need to think about how you are going to add value to your customers. Its time to work with the Disruptors.
“IDC expects it will take until 2027 for 75% of organizations to have digitally transformed. At the same time By 2022, IDC predicts 80% of revenue growth will depend on digital offerings and operations”
Impact on Revenue: Recurring Revenue Models
For the customers As A Service is a boon. That means they don’t have to pay Capex anymore. Opex it is. But for Channel Partners its any entirely new way of doing business. It brings its own set of challenges to sell SaaS or PaaS – from Change Management to Reduction in immediate revenues.
The Silver Lining here is it’s not all a bed of roses to adopt As A Service solutions. There is Customization and Integration which are key for success of AAS solutions. As a Trusted Partner you can convert this rather sticky situation in your favour by offering such services and also convert the product sale into recurring revenue.
Yes, it may not be as high as traditional revenues but you could automate much of the services and make up for loss of immediate revenues through Volume Sales. The trick is to incentivize your Sales team to start selling along with the trend and recruit more Inside Sales folks to keep costs low.
Impact on Marketing: The Rise and Rise of Content Marketing
If you are a Channel Partner and didn’t know about Content Marketing, then you better learn about it fast. If you thought Content Marketing was all about SEO, blogs, social media, videos you still need to catch up on the principles of Content Marketing and its impact on business growth.
Simply put you need to do more Content Marketing where it matters and less of Content Marketing where it just adds to the noise.
You need to create Evergreen Content which positions your company as a Thought Leader and attracts the right set of customers from your region or even globally.
You need to definitely test different marketing channels and measure how your content is received. In today’s world, you can get access to tools which were once available only to those with deep pockets. Much of the tools are free and added functionality costs only a few dollars more.
Rather than obsess over your achievements or awards you won with a Vendor, create content which makes sense to your customers. I am sure you are the best expert who knows what matters to your customers. What keeps them awake at night. Think in terms of simple articles or Youtube videos. Keep it short, maybe 300 words or 3 minutes of video.
Ask yourself if the Content will be useful to your customers even without mentioning details on your products or services. In short, keep it non-salesy.
And Reuse the Content which gets a lot of traffic or Views. A Single piece of Content can be repurposed into 73 different ways according to studies. Example an article can be reused as a script for a video, an infographic, Facebook Post, a Tweet and so on.
Just don’t forget to collect the prospects email id. You could do that through a separate landing page on your website or through a pop-up. Talk to your IT guy to get it set up in less than an hour.
Be responsible with the email ids. Don’t automate too much to send plastic sounding emails. And be aware of regulations which prevent spamming your customers. Here’s a concise video you can view to understand about regulations on spamming : CAN-SPAM ACT. Always take permission and maintain copies of the permissions. Of course, much of this can be automated while you focus on converting prospects to customers.
VIEWPOINT : We looked at few key areas which will be impacted due to Digital Transformation. Digital is no more a fluff word as you can witness. Some industries are transforming more rapidly while some are catching up. Eventually the speed will accelerate and it will be a true disruption. As a Channel Partner you need to look at Digital as an Ally and Transform your business according to emerging market realities. To score a goal and win the game, You need to be where the ball will be, not where it was.
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