Thus was the case last week when I had an opportunity to lead a Thought Leadership forum during the annual 1NService Interchange conference. The group included several representatives of high-tech vendors, like 8e6 Technologies and Packeteer, who wanted some feedback on their existing ideas. It also included some of the 1NService member companies, which represent a bunch of different channel business models including regional integrators, managed services providers and IT services companies.
The topics we discussed were various and far-reaching: touching on things like how to accommodate managed service providers without whacking out the rest of your programs and how an integrator can realistically juggle multiple relationship with multiple high-tech product suppliers AND multiple project implementation partners. Collaboration is a pretty easy word to say, but it’s pretty hard to pull off without a lot of human intervention right now.
The discussion got really lively, however, when we hit on the topic of training.
A couple of threads here. First, why is it that vendors spend hours on getting their channel partners to take a technical class and then devote only a couple of hours to sales issues? Or, better yet, why do very few cover sales management issues?
One great idea that came out of this debate was the notion that maybe several related vendors could band together to address these issues collectively on behalf of their partners. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that channel partners aren’t any worse off than the internal sales teams for many vendors, according to the discussion participants. Although, this is sort of a sad statement. The high-tech industry operates very much according to a sink-or-swim mentality across the board. The exceptions, honestly, seem to be the companies with direct sales legacies: EMC, IBM, Dell. You can bet they’ve trained their salespeople.
And then, the really GREAT question bubbled to the surface: Most vendors already tier their channel partners according to some sort of designated volume commitment or services skills. Why shouldn’t those partners get some sort of extra consideration when it comes to training, a reward (if you will) for attaining that level?
It actually is an idea that makes a lot of sense. For one thing, the vendor already knows that these are committed partners. What’s more, these are partners who are likely to put that training into practice. Anyone know of a company embracing this approach?