Decision Disconnect: Many Vendors Fail To Recognize The Partner Journey

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

That advice from Atticus Finch to young Scout in the acclaimed novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" is a lesson technology vendors would be wise to heed as they attempt to influence the new breed of solution provider: strategic service providers.

Strategic service providers, which are driving cloud-based business outcomes for customers, have $1 million more in annual revenue and nearly double the percentage of cloud and managed services sales than solution providers that have not moved to the new model, according to exclusive research from CRN parent The Channel Co.

[Channel Co. Exclusive Research: The Partner's Buying Journey Is As Big A Game-Changer As The Buyer's Journey]

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The research covers not only how much progress partners have made transitioning to the new model but also sheds light on the lack of alignment with vendor annuity pricing models, automation and sales teams. It includes details on the partner's buying journey as well and on just how partners are making decisions with regard to adding technology practices or vendors.

A whopping 86 percent of solution providers are planning to add a new vendor or a new technology practice in 2016, according to The Channel Co. research.

With more strategic decisions being made every day, many vendors are simply sitting on the sidelines talking to themselves. Never in the history of the modern technology sales channel has there been a bigger disconnect between vendors stuck in the old model and partners driving business outcomes in the new model.

Those new vendor and practice decisions are not made in a vacuum. Just as there is a well-established buyer's journey showing as much as 70 percent of a buying decision is complete before a technology buyer speaks to a sales rep, there is a partner's journey that is every bit as compelling and powerful. For some reason, though, vendors often discount or underestimate its importance.

What's almost beyond belief is that in a world of more, more and more filled with social media, blogs and all manner of self-inflated puffery there is less and less communication with strategic service providers.

"This [new business model] is a really big shift," said Travis Weber, chief technology officer for WBM Office Systems, a $55 million, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based partner that has driven double-digit sales growth in recurring revenue for the past seven years by adopting the strategic service provider focus on business outcomes.

"The organizations that figure it out are going to be the big winners in an era where we are going to see lots of consolidation in the managed service provider market," Weber said. "The ones that figure it out are the ones that are going to be around in five years."

Time is running out for those vendors that ignore the partner's point of view. They need to start walking around in their partner's shoes or they will find themselves bystanders to the lucrative strategic service provider business transformation.

BACKTALK: Are you walking in your partners' shoes? Contact Steven Burke at [email protected].