B-to-b channel ecosystems are changing – not because icebergs are melting somewhere in the North Atlantic, but, most recently, because changes in supplier solutions are altering the role of the channel partner and how it helps take these solutions to market.
One notable change is the expansion of partner types. B-to-b companies are continually asking themselves: “Do we have the right partners to drive success?” New cloud solutions, for example, are forcing channel programs to recruit new types of partners, some of which are native to the cloud.
Some supplier organizations are trying to bypass partner skepticism by helping to retool partners to take advantage of the unique opportunities in the cloud. Others realize they simply can’t change their partners’ business models overnight – or, at least, in time to meet their revenue commitments.
This change in the partner ecosystem is also attracting new types of partners – e.g. telecom service providers, agents/brokers and smaller managed service providers that who now have their own tracks within many leading channel programs. Suppliers will need to ask themselves if they are equipped, in terms of staff and resources, to support these new types of partners.
Another change is that suppliers are doing less guesswork. Instead, they’re opting for better reporting and visibility in the channel, and relying on concierge services and business intelligence tools to gain better visibility into partner business. Whether it’s marketing campaign ROI or individual partner performance, leading suppliers are focusing less on connecting their sales force automation platforms with partner relationship management. Instead, they’re taking a prescriptive approach to marketing with partners and investing in programs with predictable outcomes.
Suppliers must adapt to these changes and actively seek to enable existing partners, while seeking measurable, predictable outcomes when driving demand in the channel.
Laz Gonzalez is Service Director, Channel Management Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. During a career spanning close to two decades, Laz has gained extensive executive, front-line and international experience implementing solution-driven sales programs with OEMs, strategic alliances, distributors and value-added resellers. Follow Laz on Twitter @LazGonzalez