Sunset is not far away for the channel partners who are still carrying the burden of legacy go-to-market strategy for their vendors. As more and more sophisticated technologies enter the market and cloud-based solutions and environment create challenges never faced before, the regional channel players stand at the threshold of a new reality and have a big question in front of them. How do I help my vendors tackle the niche market opportunities?
Charbel Zreiby, Senior manager, Channel Specialty Sales, META at Dell Technologies: “Innovation accelerators (IoT, AI, AR/VR etc.), cyber recovery solutions and the move to multi-cloud is driving the niche market and we are witnessing growth globally as well as regionally. To that point, we’ve already announced a new cloud competency with its associated certifications under the Dell Technologies Partner Program that will support the new Dell Technologies Cloud solutions.”
Stephan Berner, CEO at Help AG: “These days, every vendor is part of a bigger ecosystem, so it is all about the power of integration. When we discover that there is a certain kind of threat vector, we identify and carefully evaluate best-in-class products and solutions from specific vendors.”
Mario M. Veljovik, General Manager, VAD Technologies: “Disruption should be at the core of all channel engagement activities. Our Channel Mapping exercise is one of the most effective ways to help a vendor reach the right audience in the right vertical.”
If this takes your mind to a wedding aisle, then you are not very far from the metaphor I would say. As it has been repeated over and over, a relationship between and vendor and a channel is no less than a coming together of two individuals. Over the time, things have just got complex. Be it the ever-evolving business landscape, economic turmoil, change in market behaviour, loss of appetite for a particular solution…… the vendor-channel relation has always been a walk on a tight rope.
Well, the term niche is not a one-meaning-fits-all concept. What the channel partners need to understand is that (specially the ones who have diverse or competitive vendors under one umbrella) the term niche means different for each vendor. This understanding has given rise to many distributors and resellers initiating dedicated ‘business units’ for each vendor or each solution depending on the appetite in the market.
There is a tough competition out there in the industry between the legacy channel partners and the ‘born-in-the-cloud’ channel partners who are having an edge over the others in shifting their business model from selling products and solutions outright to bundling it as a ‘As a Service’ model.
UNDERSTANDING THE TRANSFORMATION GOALS
Let us sit together and tick off the channel transformation mandates. So, it requires;
- Understanding the difference between value addition and value creation
- Motivating vendors to re-assess capabilities of channel program
- Addressing changing consumption models
- Creating a customer story rather than a vendor story
Charbel Zreiby, Senior manager, Channel Specialty Sales, META at Dell Technologies says, “The key to capitalizing on niche market opportunities is to lead with transformational solutions whilst possessing the right skills to sell. Also, deploying those solutions becomes a critical factor for partners to differentiate their capabilities in a niche segment of the market. Innovation accelerators (IoT, AI, AR/VR etc.), cyber recovery solutions and the move to multi-cloud is driving the niche market and we are witnessing growth globally as well as regionally. To that point, we’ve already announced a new cloud competency with its associated certifications under the Dell Technologies Partner Program that will support the new Dell Technologies Cloud solutions. Our partners can leverage this competency and clearly define how they can support a customer’s cloud transformation goals.”
THE TOUGH PART OF CATERING TO DIVERSE AUDIENCE, YET BUILDING AN EXPERTISE
Vendors shift their models in how they use their channel partners. Partner level, certification guidelines, positioning and everything changes. It is a dynamic world and hence very vital for the channel partner to understand and probe a bit into the present and future expectation of a vendor from them. Well, this goes unsaid for the vendor as well. This calls for an unwavering tandem between the vendor and the channel partner, which includes conducting regular training sessions, creating a winning customer story and much more.
Today, the business is complex and so are its expectations. There is a mounting amount of pressure on the channel partners to cater to diverse markets yet have a strong hold or expertise in the solutions that they offer. Charbel says, “One of the critical step for us is to serve the role of an educator in equipping and engaging our channel partners with the right training and tools that can develop their skills, tackle roadblocks and ensure business success. This is important as catering to a niche market means serving a specific audience and building on an expertise that can help you create market differentiation.”
Mario Veljovik, General Manager of VAD Technologies says that winning in today’s marketplace is all about staying relevant and creating a strategy to stay relevant for the next five or probably ten years. “Disruption is at the core of all that we do. All the investments we make and priorities we set are based on the customers and the ecosystem. If business does not follow this, regardless of which country you cater to, you shall be squeezed out. It is pivotal that we keep challenging ourselves and keep ourselves prepared for what’s ‘Next’.”
Mario also talks about the strategy that VAD technology embraces when it comes to onboarding competitive vendors to cater to the same market. “At VAD, we are vendor agnostic. We believe in organic growth and we achieve this by creating a well-defined customer story and taking that to our vendor. We sit with our vendor to identify the customer roadblocks and how we can tackle it. There is also a great deal of exercise that goes into pre-selecting the partners to help the vendors reach the right set of vertical and right set set of audience. We do this through our channel mapping exercise, wherein we create a roadmap for the next three to four months (or a quarter) and pull out certain patterns to understand the vendor’s go-to-market strategy and combine it with our best practices.”
THE POWER OF INTEGRATION
Stephan Berner, CEO at Help AG says that before positioning any vendor, Help AG pro-actively identifies the security controls required for the changing threat landscape. “Through extensive R&D, we understand the pain points for organizations, and then look to identify and evaluate the vendor solution that addresses a certain niche area and adds significant value to our end-customers. These days, every vendor is part of a bigger ecosystem, so it is all about the power of integration. When we discover that there is a certain kind of threat vector, we identify and carefully evaluate best-in-class products and solutions from specific vendors. We then make sure to map these to our technology blueprint which we present to our customers. This approach has proved highly successful because vendors themselves, especially if they are niche, tend to lack resources within the region. Hence, they need to have subject matter experts like Help AG working closely with them, identifying customer requirements and building a design and architecture which can be implemented in the most successful way. Of course, whether it is with a leading vendor or a new niche one, there are always going to be challenges. These challenges often arise when there is not enough awareness in the market for end-customers to understand why it is relevant to invest in a specific technical security control. This is where Help AG’s go-to-market strategy of working closely with its vendor partners across the various aspects of the sales cycle comes in handy. We have a joint go-to-market strategy with each of our vendor partners, that starts with identifying end-customers that would benefit from the introduction of the new solution into the market. The sales and pre-sales team of Help AG and our vendor partners then join forces and take the lead in introducing the new product. While doing so, we ensure they are capable of delivering the solution based on the demonstrated value of the proof of concept, and pre-defined success criteria.”
When it comes to winning the market place, there is no idiom or phrase that can be a life-changer. Neither go with the saying ‘Swim against the tide’ nor with ‘Go with the flow’. Not every situation can be judged on polarized thoughts. When it comes to creating a winning business strategy with your vendors, only ‘Tailor-made’ solutions or approaches will help you.
Do not follow, make your own manifesto!
By : Anushree Dixit