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If you’re wondering what affect the layoffs at large technology
vendors will have on the channel, you only have to wait to find out,

As vendors trim their ranks, their ability to service and support
their channel partners will diminish. Already, solution providers are
reporting few channel account manager meetings and longer wait times
for support calls.

“Since many of the layoffs were announced, we see vendor
representatives covering larger areas than before. This mean less
contact with our representatives,” says Pete Busam, vice president and
chief operating officer of Decisive Business Systems in New Jersey.
“Those we used to see once every other week we now see once every other

Many say the channel is a relationship business, in which solution
providers don’t do business with vendors but rather with the people who
run the programs and enable channel field operations. The unsung heroes
of the channel are geographic executives—such as North America channel
chiefs—and regional sales staff—often called channel account managers.
Unfortunately, these positions are often the ones most at risk when
layoffs happen.


Tech Layoffs Climb Above 100,000

Channel Insider has
reviewed publicly available reports of layoffs at technology vendors
and solution providers. Since October, more than 100,000 technical,
sales and market positions have been eliminated as a result of the
deteriorating economy.

Top Channel Executive Changes of 2008
Turnover of channel chiefs and executives accelerated in 2008, with
more than two dozen high-profile leaders changing jobs or leaving their
posts. Here are some of the most visible and high-profile executives
that have changed employers.

In recent months, several North America and global channel chiefs
have either changed positions or left their positions as a result of
corporate restructuring. Reports of many more channel account managers
being let go are replete on social network message boards and personal
blogs. While layoffs aren’t cutting off transaction between solution
providers and vendors, it is having an impact and creating more work
for partners.

“It takes time to build new relationships. I don’t run a large
manufacturing company, but it would seem to me you keep the people that
build the relationships and know how to build business with their
channel partners,” says Mike Hicks, general manager at Electronic
Business Machines in Lexington, Ky.

The importance of channel relationships means vendors are taking a
big chance by laying off channel sales and support personnel. Sales and
channel managers often take years of relationships with them when they
leave a job by choice or reorganization, furthering the potential
disconnect between vendors and their solution provider customers.

“Times are tough and you cannot just move from company to company.
If you have your own phone, you have your own contacts,” says Doug
Mahan, who recently lost his sales job at an IT vendor. “A full Rolodex
and networked relations is the No. 1 thing employers are looking for
after job skill.”

Solution providers are experiencing many of the same economic
pressures affecting large IT vendors. One recommendation they offer is
cutting back on perks before personnel. Employees know full well the
need to cut costs, and many would be willing to forego free coffee and
company-paid cell phones in favor of a paycheck and continue to grow
their company.

“We do not offer all the perks of a company paid for cell phone,
free lunches in the break room or pay for the Internet at home,” says
Hicks. “We are an employee-owned company and we continue to grow our
profits and revenue by taking care of our customers together.”