WOTC Panel: Solution Providers Urge Vendors To Pay Attention To The Partner's Journey, Not Just The Buyer's

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Vendors often consider the buyer's journey, but less attention is paid to the partner's journey, said a panel of solution providers at the Women of the Channel West event Tuesday.

The panelists at the conference, hosted by The Channel Company and held in Napa, Calif., this week, opined on the channel programs from vendors and suppliers that are winning today, how these companies can make changes in favor of services-based sales, and what these programs should be offering partners tomorrow.

Companies must work on aligning their strategies with their partners' strategies to be more successful, said Calista Roussos, director of marketing and vendor strategy for Tampa, Fla.-based Vology.

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"The partner journey is very important, so [when] vendors work with their partners, they need to understand where [the partner] is at, what their goals are, and what's important to them heading into the future," she said.

Vology focused on hardware sales until about two years ago. Now, 45 percent of its sales are driven by services, with about 23 percent of that providing recurring revenue, Roussos said.

Vendors and suppliers should reward for the volume of today, but encourage the value of tomorrow, she said.

"Many partners have that transactional model still and that has to be maintained," said Roussos. "But I also need compensation models to address how my company is trying to shift and make that transition."

According to Roussos, about 25 percent of solution providers today won't successfully make the shift to becoming services-led organizations, but partner programs that encourage such sales can be instrumental in helping them cross the chasm, she said.

"The reason those solution providers won't make that transition is because the financial cost to transition your business model can be very risky, so vendors should really think of ways to reward partners for volume so that business grows," Roussos said. 

The cloud may be the biggest factor causing vendors to rethink the structure of their partner programs, and partners are looking for low-risk ways to get started selling cloud services if they don't already, said Ann Borza, vice president of services for Distributed Systems Services, Reading, Pa. 

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