Issue #1 – Vendors face Decreased Mindshare
Right now, there is a backlog in corporate R&D projects across the globe. The economy of the past several years put many projects on hold. This year, a reversal is underway and the amount of new products hitting the market is about to explode. If you rely heavily on your channels to sell these new products, keep in mind that all of their suppliers are asking them to do the same.
Consider the fact that VARs, in general, are still running lean on headcount. As they add new sales people, they have to educate them on the entire portfolio. This is a very different scenario than when they were running at full steam and your new products represented an incremental education. VARs will instinctively focus on mature product lines with the most established markets. Your channel engagement strategy must change in light of the circumstances. I have provided a perfect example of how Cisco is doing this further below.
Issue #2 – Channels are ill Equipped to sell a new Wave of Products
The new solutions coming to market in just about every industry are radically different from those of the past 10 years. Whether they are mobile enabled, green powered, socially oriented or cloud driven; these are not strong areas of subject matter expertise for channel partners. Very few of your partners are prepared to answer the “so what?” question from their customers.
This issue currently plagues the Cloud Solutions Provider market. Two years ago, we saw how reluctant VARs were to embrace cloud because they interpreted it as a threat to their revenue model. Business technology VARs like to sell big over-architected solutions that can handle the biggest spikes in usage but normally the extra capacity sits idle. Cloud solutions eliminate the need to buy extra capacity and they don’t need to be hauled away every few years and replaced with a new solution (i.e. new sale). Who could blame them for resisting?
At the time, we had suggested that the offsetting revenue play was to establish Cloud Strategy services to define the roadmap for cloud implementations and guarantee the VAR would participate in all cloud projects
Last month, Cisco did exactly what we have been advocating for some time. They launched a Collaborative Professional Services offering for their partners. It teaches them how to build Cloud services organizations and how to sell these services along with Cisco Cloud solutions. This is the main take away for you – if your next product is truly disruptive then teach your channel not only how to sell it but how to provide the value-add consulting that leads to the eventual sale of your product.