Channel programs News

'Dead' Sales, Marketing Strategies Can Be Resurrected By Considering the 'Why,' Not The 'What'

Gina Narcisi

Traditional sales and marketing techniques are flatlining. Companies, both vendors and solution providers alike, need to relearn what their customers really want from a supplier or partner, and reimagine how they are courting new clients.

Buyer are more educated than ever before, and buying tickets to a sporting event won't seal the deal anymore, a panel of executives explained to a packed room at The Channel Company's Women Of The Channel, West event this week.

"Our buyers are probably better educated on certain solutions than I am … A fair amount of humility is needed," said Chris Wolff, head of global OEM and IoT partnerships for Dell Technologies.

[Related: WOTC West 2018: Executives Share The Mantras That Drove Them On Their Road To The Top]

Buyers armed with more information on technology solutions means that channel partners need to approach clients as an advisor, a company that is game to working alongside their client to help connect the dots. At the same time, internal sales and marketing teams should be more tightly aligned, said Lorraine Battipede, channel director, Kaizen Technology Partners, LLC, a San Francisco-based MSP.

Sales and marketing strategies aren't changing in a vacuum. So is the art of the meeting, said Britta Butler, vice president of sales and staffing GTS Technology Solutions, a women-owned solution provider with a focus on government and education customers.

"We used to spend a lot of time talking about who we are and what we can bring to the table, but now because most customers have done their own research, we are spending out time listening and asking more qualified questions," she said. "What's really changed is that our sales people are now connectors, and they are connecting research, best practices, and are actively listening."

Sales pitches have become more conversational, and by the same token, marketing strategies need to be reimagined, said Margaret Dawson, global product marketing vice president for Red Hat.

"We’re still doing live events like its 1985," she said. "We think we have to be at every event, but do we?"

Dell's Wolff encouraged the audience to think about new ways to engage clients and prospective clients using their sales and marketing funds.

"IT buyers don’t want tickets to games anymore. Take them to SoulCycle," she said.

But while client engagement has changed, the channel is still about relationships, Dawson said.

"Customers want to have a trusted partnership, and they want to have conversations about overall goals and why they should partner with you," Dawson said.

Too often in the past, marketing efforts have been focused on the "what." Understanding the "why" or the mission of your company, and where your values as a sales or marketing professional align with those of your company will ultimately help guide and evolve your sales and marketing strategies, Battipede said.

It's a strategy that is working for GTS Technology Solutions, Bulter said.

"This idea comes across in all of our marketing messaging, and customers are responding to purpose-driven businesses," Butler said. "It you look at the best brands out there, they have shifted their focus to play up what they stand for and why they are in the communities they are in."

Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at

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