My previous posts have explored the evolution of the producer-reseller-end-user model that has previously defined the technology procurement process. Companies looking to implement a solution, whether it be a PBX or IVR system, have often gone through third-party channel partners who sell and maintain the product.
The cloud has significantly altered the tech landscape, and businesses are becoming increasingly likely to contact companies that provide cloud-based systems directly rather than involve third-party channel partners. The reasoning behind this is understandable: cutting out the middleman is more efficient in terms of both pricing and system maintenance. So how do channel partners combat this emerging trend?
In his piece for NoJitter Jim Burton adeptly explores how channel partners can improve and ultimately maximize business in light of this new model. For Burton, resellers must alter their sales methods to match the transition from selling physical products to selling storage and services that customers cannot physically see or touch.
This centers on revamping sales strategies and focusing on a consultative approach that underscores cultivating a customer base that pays for services on a monthly or quarterly basis. Per Burton: “this may prove to be an even more attractive business model.”
From the point-of-view of a software as a service (SaaS) company that operates on the supply side (and that produces the product that is purchased and utilized by the end user), channel partners that don’t evolve will no longer add value to the sales cycle, or service offering. Especially in the realm of unified communications and data hosting, where data storage, hosting and software operations function in large part via the cloud, there is no need for complex installation or maintenance.
To continue operating effectively in this (and other) tech-based industries, channel partners will need to think outside the box and add value through their industry experience and by providing niche, specialized applications that are developed for a particular vertical market.
The most successful resellers are those who build or offer an application or service that is unique to an industry or company. Why? Because these resellers will have expanded on the existing technology by altering it in a way that serves a specific and unique purpose utilizing the expertise they have acquired through years of providing solutions to a particular industry.
Channel partners who simply buy and then resell the technology without adding value by adding features or industry specific applications will most likely not survive, but those resellers who expand on the technology, utilizing knowledge of the specific industries they cater to, will create their own space and will most likely remain popular and successful among those companies they specifically target.