Channel Champion Blog

by Chris Becwar

Crystal-Ball-2014I was honored to recently be asked by Channel Marketer Report to share some insights on channel sales and marketing trends for 2014 and wanted to also share them with our blog readers. Here are a few key channel trends we’re seeing on the way for 2014:

  1. A major front in the partner engagement wars by top channels for 2014 will be heavy investment in UI and UX for online partner portal, training and incentives management environments. Vendors are learning that they’ve got to make it as easy, fast and rewarding as possible for partners to get in and out of their online portals, or else partners just won’t use them.
  2. The rise of through-partner marketing agencies (TPMAs) like Zift Solutions, Elastic Digital, Averetek, etc., will accelerate. Unfortunately, the fact remains that the majority of resellers and solution providers are brilliant technical and relationship people, but just aren’t great at marketing — or properly representing a vendor brand. Who would you rather see conduct marketing efforts for a partner you just sent $50,000 in MDF to: An agency with a deep understanding of integrated lead generation, social strategy and brand management, or the fresh-out-of-college nephew of the reseller firm’s president?
  3. Vendor-centric partner social communities are another phenomenon picking up a lot of steam in the channel. Many top channel vendors are plunking down considerable investment dollars in them right now. These environments are of course different in nature from social syndication solutions, which compile and deliver sanctioned content in primarily one direction: from the vendor, to and through partners, to prospects and end-users. Rather, communities are about vendors enabling organic, two-way dialogs to pop up between any members of a channel community — be they vendors or partners — that others can see and learn from. Recent studies have shown that these types of communities are getting strong receptions from channel partners/resellers. Vendors and distributors are finding that they can reduce the load on their channel account managers and channel marketing staff by providing environments where partners can help support each other with advice and mentoring.’s recent product push in this direction has definitely been a major driver here, but other partner relationship management (PRM) vendors like Relayware also are bringing great approaches to this this that are more channel-friendly and plug and play.

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