Ep. 7 Channel Marketing Is Dead, Long Live The Channel

Rod Baptie has been a channel marketing professional for longer than many of my colleagues have been alive.

The great thing about having such a long perspective is that it helps one to see what truly matters during the ebbs and flows of the industry, having seen so many trends, downturns and upswings come and go.  The ability to stay detached from the hype that accompanies each new wave of change and identify only that which is going to be of meaningful or even lasting value is a skill that comes with wisdom gained through experience.  Rod is no exception to this rule, and as the principal of Baptie & Company, he curates a community of some of the top vendors and channel chiefs on Earth. 

With that as a backdrop, here is a quick and partial summary of the insights Rod shared with us in this episode.  As ever, I do recommend listening to the full episode at your next opportunity.

“It’s changing far more rapidly than people think it is…” – Rod Baptie

Different Roles, New Points of Leverage

The topic of alternative or even “shadow” channels has been on the minds and lips of channel marketing and channel management folks for some time now, as described in this 2016 article by Jay McBain.

A helpful way to think about it is this; many of these people or roles have always existed in our traditional sales channels, it’s just that now we have robust and often highly-specialized technologies available to help us finally reach and engage them.  There is still room for everyone, but we all need to step up our game while new partners and players continue to find each other and build powerful alliances along the way.

Your Product Alone Is No Longer Enough

If you listened to episode five with Sal Patalano, you’d remember that Sal delivered this harsh wakeup call to vendors: “Customers don’t want to buy your software.  They don’t want to buy your hardware. They’re not interested in your products; they want to buy an outcome. They want something that does something, and they don’t care how it gets there.”

Rod agrees completely and adds that it’s important for vendors to see the immense opportunity presented by the current state of competitive affairs.  “Vendors need to embrace the idea that these deals are no longer simply an opportunity for technology revenue, but also really high-value consultancy revenue resulting as part and parcel with a technology sale.”

To highlight his point, Rod points out that many large consultancies, and even PR firms, are taking part in the vast amount of consolidation currently happening in the channel management technology space.  The ability to sell premium consultancy bundled with powerful enabling technologies is a recipe for competitive advantage, growth and profit.

More Channels, More Niches

Not only is it critical to understand your accounts in a meaningful enough way that you can deliver consultative selling, but it’s also important to understand an emergent dichotomy of this specialization.

An example Rod shares is a new company who specializes in cloud-based services for boutique optometrists.  The founder knows all aspects of the business, giving her the authority to add value for her prospects by meeting them right where they are in addressing both the growth opportunities and challenges associated with the space.  Many larger, traditional vendors may be tempted to look at the upstart company as playing on a level that doesn’t necessarily group them in with the incumbent’s competitors, but as Rod points out, “Before you know where you are, bits and pieces of your business are being nibbled away.”

LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION NOW:

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