Soft Solutions co-sponsored this Reseller News event on Hamilton Island in Queensland, with Ron Pher and Chris Fitzgerald attending to take advantage of the intensive networking opportunity and learn from the information sessions.
Key messages that repeated many times were
- We need to learn to connect with the “shadow channel” – the non-IT decision makers who are driving a lot of the new spend in IT
- Yes channel partners need to connect to many, but each prospect needs to feel their unique situation is within your capability – they need to feel they are being engaged with individually, with a great customer experience
- Channel partners need to figure out what they do and how they do that better than anyone else – what is your unique “value wrapper”?
- What is it that you do that has value to the customer? What content do you have that will show your customers how unique you are?
- Marketing needs to have a message for the customer about which they will say “I didn’t know that – that’s interesting”
This year’s keynote speaker was to Nancy Rademaker-Gysbrechts from nexxworks, a European consultancy focussed on helping organisations to focus on customer experience – the need to engage with customers on an individual basis while still leveraging tools and resources to communicate with many. She argued that KPIs in the sales team should be customer based, and those people should be specialists in subject areas relevant to the customers they are engaging with. Her presentation also talked about how beefing up your customer experience skills can definitely help with customer acquisition – while there might be new business to be found in blue oceans, if you can get your approach to customer experience right, there’s plenty of business to be found in the busy “red” ocean where frustrated customers are just waiting for you to help them out.
Tech Research Asia presented analysis of surveys on areas relevant to the channel and the results stimulated some good conversations.
- 60 percent of IT spend is on maintaining or transforming existing systems, but 40 percent is on completely new projects – and a lot of that comes from the line of business units like marketing or HR; as an industry we need to recognise that the people making those buying decisions will not necessarily come to an IT company just to buy “product”, they will need some services too – what does your capability look like? How are you selling it?
- 74 percent of end user organisations across ANZ have increased their IT budgets in the last year, 44 percent of them will be increasing the number of partners they use in the year ahead, (looking for specialists with proven experience), and biggest point – where will they be looking for those new partners? Only 27 percent say it’s from pro-active partner contact, ie selling.
How do end user organisations find new partners? Some interesting numbers here were 24 percent who said they do this by web search/word of mouth/peer referral, 21 percent by referral from a partner they already use, and 13 percent see content or marketing related to their specific area of interest … only 6 percent referenced conferences and similar events.
One of the best insights from the research is the disparity between what customers said they want from a partner, and what partners think the customer expectations are
A slide from the final presenter, Gary Morris of Successful Channels, Inc., gives the perfect picture of the transition that is happening in IT
The main value of the event is in the connections you develop that will last for years ahead, but equally there were good takeaways from the speakers – give Chris or Ron a call if you would like to talk in more detail about any of the concepts introduced here