Living On Borrowed Time: Why Channel By Convenience Is Dead


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Vendors that are stuck in a time warp bringing partners the same tired channel programs riddled with on-again, off-again field engagement are living on borrowed time. If you want a glimpse into just how fast the solution provider landscape is changing, look no further than the merger of Accuvant and FishNet, creating a $1.5 billion security giant with 1,400 employees.

It's no small matter that as Accuvant-FishNet stakes its claim as the premier cybersecurity solution provider, it is launching a new name and brand in the second half of the year. Accuvant-FishNet knows the brand it establishes will become bigger than any of the technology behemoth brands that are becoming less relevant as customers rearchitect their IT environments for a new era. Accuvant-FishNet is, perhaps, the most striking example of the rise of the new strategic solution providers displacing vendor brands, but it is happening in every segment of the market as solution providers build recurring revenue services with deep technology and vertical market specializations for the cloud era.

Chris Scanlan, a 10-year Accuvant veteran who is now the senior vice president of North American sales for Accuvant-FishNet, has seen firsthand how slow-moving technology behemoths have misplayed their hand. He calls it "channel by convenience," and it is killing old-world vendors. The channel-by-convenience model is characterized by erratic and inconsistent channel terms, engagement, pricing and compensation. At the root of it is a company that thinks its brand and singular product can carry the day. That might have been the case in the reseller era circa 1985. But it is certainly not the case in 2015.

[Related: 2015 Channel Chiefs]

Strategic service providers such as Accuvant-FishNet are the trusted adviser for their customers. They are driving the customer buying decisions—not the vendor.

"You have these large, historically slow-moving, cumbersome rigid channel programs from these behemoths that demand you do it their way and adapt to their model of sales," said Scanlan. Those vendors declare themselves channel-friendly and expect partners to follow them blindly. So what needs to happen for these outdated vendors to get Accuvant-FishNet to sell more of their product?

"If I could bottle that, label it and sell it, I would stop working for Accuvant," said Scanlan. "It's a combination of almost 20 different variables and how committed the vendor is to those variables. Honestly, I have had these conversations with vendors, and I can tell they are fatigued. They don't have the energy, the time, the staff, and it is not their model."

There are many ways to put a stake in the heart of the channel-by-convenience model, but what is needed, first and foremost, is a 100 percent commitment to being at the center of how new-era strategic service providers go to market, delivering the right programs, compensation and field engagement.

The benefits of the new-era strategic provider model mean robust annuities and tremendous insight into solving customer problems. Those vendors that cross the bridge will thrive. Those that don't will find they no longer have a seat at the customer table.

BackTalk: Do you want to get an MSP monkey off your back? Let me know. Contact Steven Burke at sburke@thechannelcompany.com.

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