Channel Focus 2019 Conference Highlights

Channel Enablement Drives Partner Success

  • May 31, 2019

One of the central themes at this year’s Channel Focus conference revolved around driving partner success through better channel enablement tools and best practices.  The opening keynote session was delivered by Gavriella Schuster, Corporate VP, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft and her central message focused on the power of channel partnerships.

The Pathway to Empowered Customer Ecosystems

Partners/resellers make it more possible to sell or resell services and products by empowering the customer ecosystem.  Gavriella outlines the move from “Partnering to Partnerships” which is transforming the customer experience and ultimately creating new growth opportunities and helping to increase engagement.  In order to continue doing business and to stay competitive in today’s world of emerging technologies and new business models, channel leaders need to focus on delivering strategic marketing programs and better guidance to fuel partner success.  This means enabling them with the proper tools, skillsets and resources to build their own customer success organizations and add recurring revenue offerings.

Channel Partners: Where’s the Love?

Another key theme that surfaced at Channel Focus was that vendors need to stand out from the competition as the channel ecosystem grows more complex.  According to Cesar Castro, Senior Director, Adoption and Engagement at Salesforce, “Partners are getting even more selective where the average number of vendors a partner works with is 12.”  His presentation focused on research-based recommendations for engaging with partners/resellers who want to work with large vendors.  Basically, it all boils down to how much love (time, investment and resources) you are giving to your partners.  Big vendors/brands need to demonstrate they are vested in their partner’s success and move beyond transactional relationships.  But how can this be done?  Using channel incentives is one way to increase engagement and influence behaviour.

Use Incentives to Increase Channel Engagement

When businesses want to add channels to drive revenue, they employ channel partners to fulfill those needs and then train them to sell or resell their services or products properly.  Large brands seeking to broaden their reach and accelerate growth should identify and highlight ways that partnering with them will bring unique high value to the rest of their partner ecosystem.  Scott Mangelson, National Sales Director for Microsoft works primarily in the channel.  In Episode 24 of 360insights’ Channel Edge podcast series, he discusses how Microsoft uses incentives to reward behaviours that drive revenue and create a smoother experience for all parties involved.

Channel Program Strategies: Make the Ease of Doing Business a Priority

According to Larry Walsh, CEO & Chief Analyst (The 2112 Group), another way to increase channel partner success is to make the ease of doing business a priority in channel programs.  Larry reinforces the idea of “keeping things simple”, where he reports, “73% of partners say vendor channel programs are too complex.”  In an exclusive study done by the 2112 Group entitled, 2019 Ease of Doing Business, more than 200 North American partners were surveyed.  The report discovered that the ease of doing business presented three times greater wallet share for the vendor; (EODB = 3X Greater Wallet Share).  Findings  also concluded, “Difficult vendors pay 30-40% more in Partner Compensation & incentives.”  Larry also stated in his session that, “We need to give partners more information and lean on them as conduits of the customer experience to drive engagement.”

Channel Management: How to Stay Ahead of the Channel Enablement Curve

Sal Patalano, Chief Revenue Officer at Lenovo Software and keynote speaker at 360insights channel focused event, Relevance ’19, outlined in his session how the channel business is changing dramatically with new business models, new competitors, partners and new customer expectations.  Sal reinforced the requirement that “staying ahead of the curve means continual reassessment of your perception of the channel in terms of what you need from them and what they need from you.” He goes on to suggest that, “We need to define our channel and the ways in which we do business.”  Tune into Sal’s discussion in Episode 15 of our Channel Edge podcast series where he challenges organizational structures and suggests rebuilding the framework of how we think about channel planning.

Final Thoughts

For a first-time attendee at this year’s Channel Focus conference in Carlsbad, California, it was a truly refreshing and enlightening experience to meet and network with so many different Senior Channel Leaders from across North America at one focused event.  This year,  360insights was also a proud sponsor of #CFNA19 and the Women’s Leadership Council which kicked-off with a full day of engaging panel discussions and roundtables.

To learn more about the topics shared at the Women’s Leadership Council event, read our post where Cassie Fuhr, 360insights Director of Customer Success shares her thoughts from the connections made with other female leaders working in technology at Channel Focus North America 2019.

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