20 Biggest Channel Partner Myths We’re Tired Of Hearing About

We asked the honorees of the Channel Chiefs 2020 list to tell us what are the biggest falsehoods about the channel they routinely encounter. Here’s what they had to say.

Myths, Misconceptions And Misunderstandings

Many people who don’t work directly with the channel – and maybe a few who do – often hold misconceptions and misunderstandings about it. Channel executives often find themselves battling misperceptions about the channel, some widely held: The channel primarily provides a sales fulfillment role, the channel can’t provide the high level of service a vendor can, partners sell mostly to SMBs, many solution providers are having difficulty adapting themselves to the cloud computing world, and so on.

So what are the biggest myths and misconceptions that channel executives at the top IT vendors often find themselves having to dispell? We asked the honorees of the Channel Chiefs 2020 list that question and here’s what some of them had to say.

Amazon Web Services

Sandy Carter

VP, Public Sector Partners, Global Programs

The biggest myth is that partners move to digital transformation faster than our customers. Our partners also need/want help moving to the cloud, and to leverage new technology like IoT, machine learning, and serverless [computing]. AWS is investing in our partners' solutions with credits, technical resources, and proof of concepts to help them not only move faster but become a trusted advisor to their customers.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company

Jim Harold

VP, North American Channels

The biggest myth, which is often believed by new sales reps, is that our partners can't sell our solutions as well as they can. They also often believe the channel is unable to handle complex installations and deployments. In reality, however, our channel partners are often trusted advisors to their customers who have a great deal of influence on the sale. We've seen countless large sales we would have never won without our partners' involvement. As far as technical ability, it's not uncommon for us to outsource technical work to our network of partners that have a strong technical bench.


Joe Sykora

VP, Global Sales, Channels

The biggest myth about the channel is that you can replace personal relationships in the field with marketing development funds. The relationships that our team has with our partners goes beyond any other investment we can make.


Garrett Gee

SVP, Indirect Sales

It's a common myth and misconception that indirect channel partners only target and sell in the small and medium business segments. Although partners have a history of success in those segments, many Channel Partners are extremely successful in providing trusted expertise to large, complex enterprise deals and winning business with larger, higher-spend organizations.

Check Point Software Technologies

Frank Rauch

Head of Worldwide Channel Sales

I often hear that the born-in-[the]-cloud partners are the primary drivers for cloud adoption, and that the legacy channels are not equipped to meet the demand. I've personally seen highly successful legacy [channel] companies that compete very successfully in public, private and hybrid cloud scenarios by leveraging their install base and evolving their solution mix.

Cisco Systems

Nick Holden

VP, Global Strategic Partners

Myth: Channel partners are focused on fulfillment of product only, don't lead transformation or build business outcome-led integrated solutions to open new buying centers of opportunity that drive customer success. In actuality the channel leads the transformation and direct engagement with customers. They are, in most cases, the trusted advisor to customers on technology architecture, business process re-design, application integration and business model migration. It's vital that we engage proactively with the channel to help them accelerate their customer engagements and ensure the channel invests in the right solutions and business transformation motions to help mutual customers evolve and transform.


Bill Lipsin

VP, Global Channel Sales

That channel partners simply fulfill orders. This is an outdated view of the channel. While there may still be some partners that are successful with a 100-percent fulfillment model, they are few and far between.


Curtiz Gangi

Sales VP, Midmarket, U.S. Channels, Data Center

Perhaps the biggest misconception I encounter is the idea of "box pushers" – it is simply not true. The technology channel is full of intelligent commercial and technical leaders. They include anyone from entrepreneurs to those in academia – but all of them are passionate and focused. Our industry drives the economy and at the end of the day we are pushing nothing more than solutions that add daily value and benefit a variety of industries, including our own, in the long-term.


Landon Scott

Director, Channel Operations

That channel salespeople are an extension of a vendor's salesforce. This misconception undervalues their true role of providing objective, multi-vendor business solutions to their customers. Their sole purpose is to become a business partner with their customer, providing successful outcomes and opportunities for growth. As a vendor, our role is to provide partners the best solutions and tools that deliver these customer outcomes.


Christopher A. Oliver

VP, Strategy, Business Development

The biggest misconception about the channel that I routinely encounter is that there are well-defined partner types that behave in highly predictable/repeatable/routine ways that can be managed accordingly. What most fail to grasp is how dynamic the channel is in that they engage in very different activities depending upon the client, the issue to be solved or the business outcome to be achieved, and the technology and resources available. The activities are extremely fluid, making partner distinctions according to legacy business models (VAD, VAR, SI, ISV) largely irrelevant and poor predictors of how to engage successfully with partners.


Sean P. Kane

SVP, U.S. Channel Sales

One of the myths that we encounter is customers who suspect that they might receive substandard implementation and customer lifecycle support if they order services through the channel. This myth couldn't be further from the truth. Customers using the channel benefit hugely from the expertise and relationships their trusted advisor has established with suppliers. Channel clients also have the benefit of the clout of the master agents that their trusted advisor teams with.


Ken McCray

Head of Americas Channel Sales, Operations

The biggest misconception about the channel is that it doesn't provide incremental lift. Through our deal registration program, we have shown tens of millions of dollars in partner-led bookings. Furthermore, we will implement a new validation process with deal registration to continue to tell the channel-led story.

Oracle NetSuite

Craig West

VP, Channel Sales, Alliances

I think the biggest myth about the channel is the notion that distribution via the channel slows down the delivery of the product to the end-customer. We've proven in our model at NetSuite that cloud-based delivery of our product, combined with localized partner services, can accelerate client delivery and adoption versus what we as a vendor could potentially do on our own.


Ryan Walsh

Chief Channel Officer

The biggest myth is that the channel is dead or will be disintermediated by online marketplaces or buy-direct cloud vendors. I hear this all the time by those who believe a technology buyer will bypass the channel when buying technology. The missing element in this thinking is the new cloud buyer and their buying journey does not start and stop with a checkout in a cloud marketplace shopping cart. When ordering a cloud product in a buying process, it proceeds into automated delivery via APIs, customer on-boarding and implementation, support, aggregating billing and then the cycle is repeated.


Nick Tidd

VP, Global Partner Organization

One thing we realized pretty early on is that there is more to a partner's economics than simply how much revenue or contribution they bring in. It's certainly important but we've found that revenue is simply one of three main characteristics that make a valuable partner. It's also about the commitment a partner makes in your organization. It's about the capabilities a partner has in being able to showcase and talk intelligently about your products. Sure, contribution makes a big difference, but by no means should it be the ONLY standard you value your partners on.

Red Hat

Terri Hall

VP, Global Partners, Alliances

The biggest misconception that exists – and has persisted for as long as I have been in the channel – is that channel partners are somehow beholden to us. The very definition of the word “partner” implies a mutually beneficial relationship. Yet somehow, as an industry, we forget or overlook that fundamental principle. As a leader in the partner ecosystem, I must continually challenge the organization to rationalize their expectations of the partner ecosystem with sound win-win business cases for partner investment.


Harry Gould

VP, Worldwide Alliances

The biggest myth is businesses saying that engaging with partners will slow deals down. In fact, when partners are involved, deals have a 30 percent greater chance of closing, deal sizes increase by 25 percent and the deals that do close do so at 10 percent faster rates than normal deals. One of the biggest things for SailPoint is we play for "no light." What I mean by this is that when our customers or prospects see us, they can't see any light between us and our partners. SailPoint is proud to stand as one with our partners.

Schneider Electric

Nichols Windpassinger

VP, Global Channel Programs, IoT Platforms

Channel partners are analog. This is untrue. In fact, the channel is in the midst of a very fast-paced transformation to digitizing their operations, as well as the level of service they provide to their end-customers.


Jeff Zobrist

VP, Global Partner Solution Sales

Myth: Partners are transactional and only efficient fulfillment engines. In today's environment, partner margins on product sales are decreasing and the digital buyer is replacing traditional purchasing practices. Partners, too, are evolving. Over the last 24 months, I have noticed a significant change in partners' ability to execute digital marketing campaigns, incorporate solution and challenger sales approaches, increase recurring revenue streams, and invest in developing formal customer success practices. Partners not adapting are going out of business or being acquired by other companies who are, ultimately, lifting the quality and capability of the entire partner ecosystem.


Bradd Barmettler

Head of Global Channel

For years there has been a stigma that partners cannot effectively do proof-of-concepts (pre-sales professional services or post-sales professional services). But the reality is that partners like Optiv not only deliver services but do it as well or even better than the manufacturer.


HoJin Kim

VP, Worldwide Channel Sales

Within the vendor community I continue to hear how the vendor creates and closes all of the demand in the market. That is completely untrue. With the many thousands of sales and technical professionals that work for a solution provider, there is no way that a vendor can say that they create all of the demand. The work required and personal relationships that our partners have with their customers is something that vendors cannot match, which is why solution providers need to make sure they are partnering with companies that are 100-percent committed to the channel.


Brooke Cunningham

Area VP, Global Partner Programs, Marketing, Operations

I often hear comments about there not being roles for all different types of partners in the cloud world. I believe this is a misconception. Yes, partner types are evolving but there are still roles for all different types of partners: distributors, solution provider/resellers, SIs, MSPs and even cloud providers like AWS, GCP and Microsoft Azure. We see examples of this all the time, where different types of partners are all participating and providing different types of value to the customer.


Rachel Cassidy

SVP, Global Channel

One misconception I encounter frequently is that more partners [equals] faster growth. The reality is that the majority of partner revenue is often the result of a small percent of the partner program's participants. It is less about the number of partners but more about the value and empowerment of the partners so they can truly build their own pipeline and/or solutions to better address the needs of their customer base. It's all about quality, not quantity.

Ubiq Security

Steve Pataky

Chief Channel Officer, Head of Americas Sales

In the vendor community, you still encounter some who believe that the field technical acumen or skills in the channel are not as sharp or honed as they are in the vendor companies. On the contrary, I am constantly wow'd by the SEs [sales engineers] and technical leaders I meet in my partner companies. They tend to have broad skills, spanning many technologies and vendors, and the best among them have a completely customer-centric approach to the business. They will work through the night and over weekends to ensure their customers’ solutions are implemented and optimized.

Wasabi Technologies

Marty Falaro

SVP, Global Sales, Alliances

The biggest misconception are that the channel is not ready for the cloud. We are seeing channel partners both small and large with strong cloud practices and developing a growing recurring revenue stream by offering cloud services. Many more are in process of following suit.