Smarter Channel Hones Customer Relationship Skills

By Howard M. Cohen  |  Print this article Print
smarter channel

ANALYSIS: We look at how the roles of sales and tech people should change to improve the relationships with those who consume channel services.

It's important to recognize the change in the customer and how it requires a change in how solution providers approach them, Hoppers said.  "Sales has changed because marketing has changed," he said. "Successful products are more dependent on really high-quality marketing now more than ever before. The client has more knowledge at their fingertips than ever before. Marketing puts information in the hands of the customer that drives the customer toward the appropriate level of salesperson, transactional, technical or consultative."

Balancing the increased knowledge of the customer with the economics of operating a channel company exposes the need to provide new dimensions of training and a whole new approach to creating the culture within channel companies. Hoppers pointed out, "It has to be about the firm, not just the individuals."

Creating a Smarter Channel

This need is both challenging and exciting. It's challenging because you can't just stick a horn on a horse to create a unicorn.

You need to breed so-called unicorns from the start. They will need to have more information available to them than their customers can obtain from the Web.

Much of that comes from experience solving problems for many customers in many environments. Some of it comes from deeper investments in far more robust training, not only on the syntax and specifications of technologies, but also in the practical applications of them. Tying this all together will be interpersonal communications training that helps channel professionals appreciate the complexities of effectively managing relationships with people.

That's exciting because it results in a smarter channel, a more capable channel ready and able to survive and thrive beyond the commoditization and "cloudification" of IT. A channel that fixes the customer first, last and always.

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.