Channel Champion Blog

We recently returned from the 2009 Channel Focus North/Latin America conference in San Diego-a 2 day conference and extravaganza for all B2B channel marketers. For those that didn’t attend, the conference represents a couple hundred channel marketing professionals consisting of leading vendors, luminaries, and suppliers from within the technology industry, and in this case from both North and South America.

For those readers that attended, I’d be interested in your response to the conference overall, as well as any key learning that may have come out of it. This is all somewhat subjective, as all attendees have their own agenda as to the desired learning from such meetings, as well as their actual take-away post conference. I have read impressions of this conference from other attendees on other sites, so I thought it was fitting to submit my own key take-aways:

The economy sucks for everyone right now. Can I use that word? In this context, I mean it in the true sense of the word (cut to the sound of a vacuum taking everyone’s budget). During a recession, it is customary for vendor’s to rely on their channel to “get the job done”, yet -per a reseller panel-each has expectations of the other that are impossible to fulfill due to resource constraints and poor program execution. There was a lot of finger pointing at that session. But the take away from the debate was that resellers’ (as a whole) were bad marketers and that vendors aren’t sensitive to the needs of their channel partners which —and this is key-is unique to each reseller, be it leads, cash flow assistance, or simply to ‘butt out’ (queue next topic).

Manufacturer sales assistance for reseller-originated opportunities should be invited with their roles clearly defined: A reseller panel (and the conference host himself) articulated instances when a vendor’s sales rep tried to “close” an opportunity outside the reseller’s processes. This not only complicated matters, but jeopardized the closing due to conflicting information. Apparently, this happens more often than not. Could you be guilty of this?

The financial obligations of vendors to assure channel partner solvency during tough economic times. This is another hotly contested topic as democrat vs republican politics, or Daniel Craig vs Pierce Brosnan (or Sean Connery if you’re as old as I am). The net result, though, is that for companies who rely on channel partners for their sales, there is a co-dependency for success, and that even something as simple as adjusting credit terms or as complex as developing sponsored leasing programs can go a long way to assure channel velocity, and maintain cash flow for channel partners-the life blood of small businesses.

Vendor’s are totally enamored with Social Networking as “Marketing 3.0”. Which is interesting, because no one really knows how to formulate (or at least articulate) a clear social networking strategy-especially for channel partner integration–nor provide clear metrics. But yet, the room falls to a hush when the subject comes up.

Segmenting “lifestyle” channel partners from those who have real growth potential. Gee, there seems to be something like 40,000 registered VARs and resellers in North America (don’t hold me to those figures), yet most of them are content with their size with no intention to grow (I believe the speaker said: “they already have their Ferrari”). So how can Vendors identify these “lifestyle” partners so as not to over invest? It takes a comprehensive profiling and scoring system that includes both objective and subjective data-and the list of characteristics is the subject of a future article…so stay tuned for more on that (via a workshop that was conducted by yours truly)

Co-op/MDF programs are “mature” yet most vendors struggle with how to get it right. Per a luncheon presentation, theses funds can make up the lion’s share of the channel budget, yet most vendors are not confident that they can effectively measure ROI from their program. I could write an article on this, but I already have. There is enough content on this blog and website to end that problem for ever-‘nuff said.