I had the pleasure recently of doing a podcast with Kimberly King, Vice President of Global Partners and Channels for Progress Software. Progress has been in business for about 35 years and works predominantly with ISVs that embed Progress software. Only in the past few years has it begun working with global systems integrators, VARs, distributors and, most recently, digital agencies. But it has moved quickly into the channel, and now gets more than 70% of its revenue from its partners. King attributes much of the company’s channel success to partnership with these new agencies.
Unlike many of the partners that vendors do business with, digital agencies are all about using the latest marketing techniques to reach a new generation of buyers. I’ve written many times about the need for partners to adapt their techniques to fit the new buyers journey. Digital agencies, with their fundamental understanding of the importance of social media, SEO, and thought leadership, have a lot to offer vendors and partners alike in terms of updating their marketing and sales techniques.
What I thought was so interesting was the challenge Kim, or any vendor who works with digital agencies, faces in integrating this new species into their partner ecosystem. This integration process could go a couple of different ways. Some traditional partners might immediately see the value of working with digital agencies. By combining their skill at selling with these new agencies’ ability to establish a strong online and social presence, these partners could become much more successful at selling to new buyers. Other partners, however, might be see these agencies as threats—entities that get vendor support even as they undercut traditional partners’ ability to attract new customers. It will be up to vendors to demonstrate to these old-school partners the critical role digital agencies play in the sales pipeline.
Over the course of the podcast, Kim made a good case that digital agencies are here to stay, and that it’s up to traditional partners to find ways to work with them. Given the ability of these agencies to speak the language of the new business buyer, I think that vendors will likely find more and more room in their ecosystems for them. Partners who work with and learn from digital agencies will position themselves for the future of selling. Those who don’t may well be left on the other side of the digital divide.
Listen to the entire podcast with guest Kim King to hear the details of Progress Software’s success story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Kellam, President at CCI
As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for driving CCI’s evolution to expand its offerings and grow across its product suite, utilizing marketing to position the organization for continued, long-term success. He is also responsible for developing the strategic alliances necessary for CCI to achieve its revenue and profit goals, including technical alliances, service partnerships and sales relationships. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful managed services IT business, and a background in manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.