As we’re approaching the end of 2009, I wanted to revisit the red hot topic of channel sales performance. This is a topic I covered in July in the whitepaper Unified Communication: Capturing the Growth Wave.
So, the question was, and still is: Are the manufacturing vendors in the Unified Communication (UC) market sufficiently tuned-in to have an affect on the sales performance of their indirect sales channel?
As you know, the assessment back in July was a resounding “No”. The main reason being, that the vendors were not sufficiently engaged at the field level to offer the proactive support the resellers needed. The economic crisis had a strangle hold on the market, which accelerated the market disruption and the vendors were unable to keep up. UC vendors turned inward to sort out their own problems, while their VAR’s were at the epicenter of the economic downturn, experiencing severe problems with shrinking margins, poor cash-flow and limited access to new capital.
So where do we stand now? Well, much has happened in the last 6 months:
- In a market with increased demand for OPEX based solutions, the customer’s focus has shifted away from product features and towards the operational details and proficiency of the solution provider. As such, leading vendors, including Cisco, Avaya, Siemens EC, Mitel and Shoretel have announced new products or changes to existing product roadmaps, which are more aligned with these demands. Examples of these include, focus on software and standards (SIP) based voice applications, focus on data center integration and virtualization for scalable service delivery, and focus on integration with standards based collab and social media services.
- Lots of intense recruitment activity. Vendors have been trying to “steal” resellers away from their competition.
- The customer demand for OPEX based solutions has made cloud-based communication capabilities more viable than ever. As such, there has been an influx of new players coming into the market offering hosted or managed communication services. It’s predominately classic network providers (wireline & wireless) that are moving higher up in the value stack, monetising their assets through more services.
- Several vendors have also been busy re-launching their partner programs. Hopefully with simplicity in mind.
Unfortunately, newly recruited resellers, new products and new or simplified partner programs generally don’t have much affect on the business for existing channel partners. No, in order to improve sales performance of the indirect channel, vendors need to find ways to have meaningful impact on their reseller’s sales capability and loyalty. What has been done there?
Are the vendors actively making progress in:
- Developing and transforming their channel partner’s business, to where the market is today?
- Driving continuous demand for OPEX based UC solutions, for the indirect channel to fulfill?
- Developing new commercial assets and marketing automation tools that drive channel commitment and loyalty?
What do you think, which vendor is winning market share due to effective channel development and demand generation? Please add your comment below as I’m very interested in hearing from you.