20 Things Channel Partners Should Do To Succeed In 2020

We asked the honorees of the Channel Chiefs 2020 list to offer their advice on what solution providers should focus on to succeed this year. Here’s what they had to say.

Sage Advice

Solution providers work hard to meet their customers’ needs. But when you are heads-down and focused on the nuts-and-bolts work of customer projects, it’s possible to lose sight of the bigger changes sweeping the IT industry and the channel. And that could mean missing opportunities – or worse, failing to adapt to shifts in the market.

We asked the honorees of the Channel Chiefs 2020 list to offer their advice on what they believe solution providers should focus on – from specific technologies to broader business strategies – in order to be successful this year. Here’s what some of them had to say.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Donna Grothjan

VP, Worldwide Channels, Alliances, SMB

The key to success for channel partners in 2020 is understanding and developing solutions to the networking challenges their customers are facing in the edge-to-cloud era. From legacy networks that can't keep pace with the continued growth in the number of devices connecting to the network and the explosion of data being generated at the edge, to fragmented operations and constrained control and visibility, partners that can help their customers solve these challenges and deliver true business agility and new digital experiences will be successful.

Barracuda MSP

Neal Bradbury

VP, MSP Strategic Partnerships

To stay relevant and competitive, MSPs must embrace both IT security and data protection. One common misconception among SMBs is that if they have an MSP partner, they are covered from a security standpoint. MSPs must have regular conversations with customers around the level of security they are providing based on their managed services agreements. In some cases, the MSP must upgrade their customer agreements to provide the desired and/or needed level of protection. And, an important reminder for MSPs, MSSPs and VARs: Practice what you preach and use the tools you sell – you must protect yourself too!


Pam Cory

VP, Global Marketing

To be successful in 2020, it is imperative that BitTitan channel partners understand their customers' digital transformation challenges and unique needs. For instance, organizations in specific vertical industries, such as government, financial technology, health care and higher education may have different requirements or have different regulations to comply with as they grow their businesses and manage their data. The process of using digital technologies to create or modify business processes, culture and customer experiences is constantly changing. It is incumbent on BitTitan partners to stay abreast of these new technologies and how they're being used to reimagine business.


Charlie Tomeo

VP, Channel Sales

The key to success for our channel partners is a combined focus on data protection AND cybersecurity. Data threats are becoming more advanced and sophisticated where malicious attacks and ransomware are as much an issue as accidental deletions and natural disasters. Carbonite will continue to act as a cyber resiliency advisor to MSPs and partners on how to provide easy-to-deploy, effective data protection and security solutions. We want to enable our sales team to be the experts in this area, so they can educate the user no matter where or how they connect.

Cisco Systems

Marc Surplus

VP, Partner Strategy, Programs

In today's changing customer and technology landscapes, we see a greater need for partners to define their own unique customer value. When partners add their differentiation on top of Cisco's technology innovation, they can deliver better business outcomes and grow their profitability. We also see a need to increase the focus on ensuring customers see value from their investments through the entire lifecycle. This includes offering partner lifecycle services to drive technology activation, adoption, expansion and renewals. This focus not only leads to high-margin professional services, but greater customer loyalty and renewal rates.


Mercer Rowe

Worldwide VP, Channels, Alliances

Attracting and keeping great people should be top priority. Remain customer-focused and always be prepared to transform in order to better serve customers and be able to take advantage of new opportunities in cloud, data and storage management. Solution providers need to leverage vendor partners who can help them sell more, while also adding land-and-expand capabilities via sticky, value-added solutions. Look out two or three moves ahead to help customers be prepared for the future. Look for strong "business propositions" from vendor partners, don't get hung up on marketing bling. Focus on what will drive business forward.

Dell Technologies

Erica Lambert

VP, Global Channel, Alliances, Embedded & Edge Services Sales

Services, services, services! Dell Technologies partners that hold services competencies sell approximately 65 percent of our products and services sold through the channel. As well, these partners are winning more and larger deals than partners without services capabilities. As our product portfolio continues to grow, partners that can accelerate adoption of new technology, deliver complementary value and become a trusted advisor are going to see greater revenue and profits as a result.


Greg Adgate

VP, Global Partnerships

Building repeatable, edge use-cases, cloud-connected solutions that focus on solving networking, security, distributed data and hybrid IT challenges. Leveraging the Equinix partner programs and ecosystem to assemble, package and deliver differentiated managed solutions. Embracing change by building joint offers that meet new customer consumption models and fill the skills gap that end-users are facing.


Joshua Geist


Product innovation has now become standard practice from the large hyperscalers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft. We are now seeing virtually limitless solutions and capabilities launched at an increasingly rapid pace from these entities and it is key that channel partners identify the most effective way to incorporate this changing product and solution landscape into their own product strategies.

Hitachi Vantara

Kimberly King

VP, Global Partner Strategy, Programs

Partners must expand their capabilities. Research shows that, in the last year, partners who've added additional services and capabilities through transformation, partnership or acquisition, rather than being complacent about existing offerings and changing customer requirements, are growing margins by more than 30 percent) IPED State of the Channel Partner Profitability).

HP Inc.

Vincent Brissot

VP, Channel Digitalization, Operations

To continue to grow profitably partners need to tap into sales megatrends, such as: (1) The move from transactional to contractual services, (2) The opportunity to install, deploy, maintain, secure the 30 billion-plus internet-enabled devices which will be around by 2023, (3) Focus on Security ($6 trillion in damages by 2021!!!), (4) The cloud, of course, and (5) Make a difference in the world by pushing solutions from vendors actively engaged with the circular economy.


Todd Garrigues

Director, Partner Sales

Collaboration is the key to so many of today’s opportunities, whether that's IOT, cloud, AI or other growth segments. Customers are demanding increasingly complex solutions in this data-centric age and those solutions require multiple partners. Our focus throughout 2020 will be helping to drive that collaboration and matchmaking.


Alan Chan

Director, Presales, Technical Training

The key to success is being able to truly dive deep and understand what a customer needs by reading between the lines. A common misstep I've seen with solution providers is that they only address what a customer specifically asks for. Instead, they should be looking for ways to improve the customer's current process and suggest solutions that leverage the strengths of Laserfiche technology and the work dynamics within the customer's organization. That way the customer will see them as both a product and solution expert, which will build trust and solidify more of a working partnership.


Rob Cato

North America Channel Chief

Preparing their businesses to support their customer's intelligent transformation [by] applying smart devices, big data, artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud technologies to develop solutions for customer problems or to create new business insights and opportunities. Customers are probably already thinking about, or should be thinking about, how these technologies connected together can transform their business. We all want to get deeper relationships with our customers, “gain the trusted advisor status,” and this is a great opportunity and solution providers are uniquely positioned to demonstrate thought leadership and elevate the conversation higher into customers' organizations.


Gavriella Schuster

Corporate VP

One of the biggest keys will be employing and retaining the right talent. Technology change is a constant, and an increasing number of our partners require skilled talent in not just the cloud but also emerging areas like AI, mixed reality and IoT to fully capitalize on the business opportunities before them. Without an educated and skilled workforce, both their success and ours will be limited. To that end, Microsoft has committed more than $100 million to help solve some of the skilling gaps that companies are experiencing around the globe.

Oracle NetSuite

Craig West

VP, Channel Sales, Alliances

NetSuite partners are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate themselves and offer more value to their clients. In 2020 there's an opportunity for NetSuite partners to continue focusing on micro-verticals where they can develop unique value and functionality on the NetSuite platform. As they look for a path to quicker implementations, resources like SuiteSuccess editions and the SuiteLife initiative will allow them to expand quickly. For partners growing their practice, upselling modules to existing customers through the robust suite of products will allow them to meet most, if not all, of their client's needs.


Zane Long

SVP, Global Channel Sales

Businesses are rapidly becoming more distributed and mobile and are demanding communications solutions that will enable their employees to work from anywhere on any device. That said, the UCaaS [Unified Communications-as-a-Service] market is still very young in terms of market penetration. Channel partners need to focus on customers with outdated PBX systems, because cloud adoption in 2020 will happen faster than ever. I would encourage RingCentral's partners to continue to have those conversations, because if you don't convert them to the cloud, someone else will!

Scale Computing

Scott Mann

Director, North American Channel

Edge computing introduces a huge opportunity for Scale Computing's partners. Customers will find themselves wanting to deploy mission-critical applications at the edge, but those edge locations have typically not been staffed and have highly available environments. Partners will find success bringing an edge computing platform to their customers, driven by new technologies like those from Scale Computing.


Kendra Krause

SVP, Global Channels, Sales Operations

In 2020, channel partners need to ensure that they stay relevant in the changing buyers' market. Partners should start by taking a step back to look at their business and figure out where they can adapt to meet customer needs in today's market, which could mean adding consulting or managed services. Managed services are a huge component of enabling small businesses to protect themselves from advanced cyber threats, because traditional endpoint just isn't enough anymore. By becoming a trusted security advisor, there is so much more partners can do with managed services to ensure customers are protected.


Jay Denton

SVP, GM, Comstor North America

Keys to success include rapid adoption of new selling models for the go-to vendors that make up the majority revenue profile for partners. We've seen many "lifestyle" resellers who were slow to react to shifts in the market, whether it was for security, cloud or managed services. For VARs with practices built around specific vendors and large investments that must be "fed" by growth in a climate of ever-shrinking margins on traditional "gear sales," they need to demonstrate agility and willingness to pilot and scale the key growth areas for those vendors - or become disintermediated by their peers.

Tripp Lite

Shane Kilfoil

SVP, Global Sales

We have seen a number of disruptive influences in the market over the last 12 months. These have been political, technological and financial in nature. There is a lot of uncertainty moving into 2020 and partners that can be flexible and adjust their tactics to support their overall strategies will be the ones to succeed. While this is simple in concept, it is far harder in practice.


Matt Kalmenson

VP, Cloud, Service Providers, Americas

The key to Veeam's channel partner success in 2020 is differentiation, especially in messaging. The marketplace is extremely crowded, so partners need to choose the market they want to compete in, get a good understanding of the current landscape and use that to inform their positioning – which will enable them to stand out. Whether it be on compliance, flexibility, core technology expertise, geolocation or something else, channel partners need to be able to accelerate a unique value proposition and make it stand out within the crowded marketplace.


Jenni Flinders

Global Channel Chief

Partners should understand what they are good at and find their niche; differentiation is important now more than ever and will be very relevant in 2020. Specialization creates value, with the ability to help more customers and drive new revenue streams. Partners have many options to engage with customers. To help facilitate digital transformation conversations, VMware is aligning to strategic IT priorities: accelerating the cloud journey, empowering the digital workspace and transforming networking and security.

WatchGuard Technologies

Coletta Vigh

Director, Channel Development

IT spending in the midmarket is shifting significantly from point solutions to robust managed service offerings. Growth in 2020 and beyond for IT solution providers will hinge on their abilities to look beyond product, move away from traditional VAR and break-fix sales models, and to deliver value-added managed services offerings. This requires operational, portfolio, sales and marketing changes. The good news is that WatchGuard partners are not alone. The company has a team of experts and a plethora of resources developed specifically to help its partners make this transition.


Joe Conti

Director, Channel Sales + Global Partner Program

Creating a feedback loop is and will continue to be a key to success for channel partners in 2020. It's critical that our partner community provides feedback to us on what their needs are and how they are changing. We look at partners as though they are customers, so it's important to understand the challenges they have and what support they need from us as a trusted vendor.