Recessions have a way of accelerating change in the business world, and the channel is no different. I've seen this movie before, and there will be lots of changes solution providers and vendors will need to deal with. I've recently written several columns on the challenges solution providers will face, so I'd like to focus this time on some things vendors need to think about.
First off, there is going to be a large influx of new solution providers coming into the market. As the big vendors downsize, many of their former employees are going to hang a shingle. We've been tracking this for 30 years. Vendors that ignore this fact will miss an opportunity to recruit new partners that have solid skill sets, are hungry and will become part of the mainstream channel in the years to come.
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The number of sales calls made by solution providers is going to increase. It sounds a bit counterintuitive in a recession, but when the current customer set pulls back on its deployments, solution providers cast a wider net. For vendors, this also means that partners will be accelerating the move into new areas of expertise. As they expand, what is in their sales bag often means expansion of the vendor lineup they carry and the de-emphasis of some they have today. I've seen this happen in every downturn the channel has faced. Ultimately, this offers vendors an opportunity to capture market share. Trouble is, you have to look at this recession as an opportunity to do just that or you will miss it.
If new partners are coming into the market, current partners are casting a wider sales net and both are driving into new areas of expertise, the way to gain share is to enable more partners and get closer to the ones you already have. No one can predict with a great deal of accuracy which partners are going to be successful, but we know that those knocking down sales are going to be adding vendors during this recession.
The other take-it-to-the-bank trend is going to be consolidation. While new solution providers will be coming into the market, we are going to see more consolidation. This will be driven by healthy solution provider organizations that want to grow and see an opportunity to get bigger, whether regionally or nationally, when valuations are low. For vendors, this can mean turmoil and loss of focus on your product set in merging partnerships so channel expansion may be necessary.
All these issues and more require a greater focus on channel engagement, recruitment and enablement over the coming months. Those vendors that follow through will gain share in the channel and benefit greatly both during this recession and when we exit it.
What else should vendors be thinking about?
Make something happen. E-mail Everything Channel CEO Robert Faletra