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Channel Matters Blog > March 2013 > Thought Leaders Discuss Channel Trends

Thought Leaders Discuss Channel Trends

by David Perrett
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As we close out the first quarter of 2013, Channel Enablers asked four thought leaders how they thought the year was going so far, and what they thought were some of the biggest challenges moving forward.

Sam Reese, CEO of Miller Heiman 
@MillerHeiman

The challenge going forward this year that I think is going to be important in direct and indirect selling is analytics. Analytics helps organizations better understand their clients using data taken from their CRM. Analytics will be the next capability that vendors are going to need to provide to their partners to help the partner better understand and serve the end-user customer. We'll see much closer integration between vendors and partners, as customer data flows up to vendors through the channel and back down to partners in the form of useful information.

Braham Shnider, President of Channel Enablers
@BrahamSh

As the influence and share of indirect sales continues to grow across almost every industry, what strikes me most as we go further into 2013 is the change in the types of discussions taking place between the manufacturer and their channel partners which strongly correlate with the professional development of the Channel Manager. Only a few years back, it was ok for the Channel Manager to just have strong transactional, product and industry knowledge. As a consequence, the role of channel management was not seen as a strategic growth driver by either the Manufacturer or their Partners. As the maturity of channel management moves from individual transactions to one of real partnership, the discussion naturally moves to a business oriented conversation. There are a few manufacturers out there that have elevated the importance of the channel management profession to one of a 'mini General Manager' and these manufacturers will continue to take share from their competitors. I am very confident in predicting the list of manufacturers who will invest in the development of their channel management professionals will grow in 2013. Their partners and stockholders are both demanding it.

Ian Moyse, Sales Director at Cloud CRM Vendor Workbooks.com
@imoyse

The channel trends in 2013 will include an awakening on the cloud front, a realization that this is something that cannot be ignored and that it will change and cannibalize a good portion of product business, whether you resist it or not. We are seeing the same swathe of change as we have seen in other industries with providers who ignored the changes in customer buying choices (take Kodak, Blockbuster Video and the big record shop chains such as Tower Records and HMV). This change will be a contributor but not the only cause to the start of a new re-shaping and re-sizing of the channel with resellers facing new competition from Telco's, Xsp's and a new breed of reseller and potentially vendors themselves. This has already started with an unfortunate failure of many resellers already in 2013, including in the UK the collapse of 2e2 a large reseller of over 1,000 staff."

Alicia Fiorletta, Channel Marketing Analyst at G3 Communications
@AliciaFiorletta

Based on Channel Marketer Report's areas of coverage, it's evident that vendors are focusing on improving efficiency in partner communication, enablement and support to keep pace with B2B buying behaviors. Buyers are spending more time researching potential partners and solutions on the web long before they communicate with sales teams. As a result, vendors are spending more time and financial resources to help partners transition to digital marketing and sales strategies.
In 2013, we anticipate that vendors will strive to consistently collect partner feedback and insights to identify the digital tools and marketing strategies they're seeking: from SEO, to content marketing and social media. Training and enablement will become a key part of creating more efficient marketing and sales initiatives, added services to support digital marketing initiatives will become central to MDF/co-op marketing programs. By ensuring ongoing communication and enablement on new, cutting-edge marketing strategies, vendors can increase partner engagement and garner long-term loyalty.

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