The Channel Business: A Look Back at 2020’s Insights and Expertise

28 December 2020 | Channel Business

During 2020, many expert opinions about the channel business were shared here on the Aximpro Blog. Here is a roundup of some key insights and expertise – from the implications of the coronavirus, transforming sales experiences, using business intelligence and moving beyond the basics of incentive and partner programs to channel changes, challenges and future focus areas.

Leahanne Hobson, Founder and CEO of Alinea Partners
Leahanne Hobson, Founder and CEO of Alinea Partners

“Too many companies leave the most important client decision – whether to buy or not – to chance. Companies need to proactively assess, understand and act to make sure their buying, onboarding and customer service processes and experiences are exceptional. Broken contact links, poor proposal processes, unclear value propositions, confusing onboarding processes and more all lead to unsatisfactory buying experiences and today’s buyer will leave the process before buying. This is a differentiator that adds to the bottom line.”

Read Leahanne’s Q&A: Taking Risks and Transforming Sales Experiences

Andreas Ried, CEO of Aximpro
Andreas Ried, CEO and Founder of Aximpro, Entrepreneur and Coach

“Over the past years, channel strategies, programs and the way of driving economic value across global partner ecosystems have changed significantly. Partnerships have always been a big help for B2B organizations to grow sales, but economic, social and technological aspects have changed. Companies that ignore technological developments and do not transform digitally to the fullest, cannot strengthen their channel business. Therefore, an end-to-end digitized stack is basically required. When I reflect on the great business solutions that we have developed at Aximpro, such as gaining more than 50 000 sales partners for a tech vendor, technology was always instrumental to the success. Getting the right information to the right audience at the right time to trigger the right action is not an easy task, but if this is done smartly and effectively, economic value will be achieved.”

Read Andreas’ Opinion Piece: What Driving Economic Value Really Means

Vedran Lescan, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development Officer at FinScore INC.
Vedran Lescan, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development Officer at FinScore

“I believe that the current trend of using business intelligence boosted by big data is going to stay and be accelerated. The world is changing and one of the most valuable resources at this moment is data, which is being generated on daily basis in enormous amounts. Today, based on data analytics, you can predict epidemics or public health issues, you can win baseball matches, accurately predict the weather, reduce equipment failure, prevent fraud and assess risk – it is in every aspect of our lives and should be in every aspect of an organization’s life as well. That is why it is important to evolve with, leverage and benefit from the opportunities business intelligence and data analytics provide.”

Read Vedran’s Q&A: Understanding, Managing and Utilizing Data to Get Results

Annika Buntzoll, Sales Director at Aximpro
Annika Buntzoll, Sales Director at Aximpro

“To really drive an effective and successful sales incentive program, there are three cornerstones. First, you need interesting and relevant incentives that are not too complicated or complex to understand and are well explained on your program’s portal. Second, you should have content like trainings and sales material on the portal to help partners sell the incentivized products or product groups. Third, you need to include gamification elements to keep partners active, interested and informed about the latest incentives and available material. Of course, these cornerstones can only be used once the program has started and has an existing user base. A new portal would need to be well communicated first, listing all its advantages and benefits to give partners a reason to join.”

Read Annika’s Q&A: Beyond the Basics of Sales Incentive and Partner Programs

Arthur Fritz, Global Sales Manager and Digital Transformation Expert
Arthur Fritz, Global Sales Manager EMEA and Digital Transformation Expert

“The impact on sales enablement is not necessarily related to digital transformation, but rather the way in which customers have evolved. They are much better informed through digital media and all their networks. In the past, selling products was much easier and the focus was on knowing your products inside out. If you were good enough in knowing your products or had a good relationship with your customer, you were set for successful sales. Nowadays, customers are much better informed, they already know your products before the first conversation and the goals are more business related than technical. Taking the same approach might still work in some instances. However, in the long run, you need to rethink the way in which you enable your sales force.”

Read Arthur’s Q&A: Key Approaches for Digital Transformation and Sales Success

Christine Röder, Executive Director Global Accounts and Account Management at Aximpro

“Out of numerous strategical and tactical channel marketing challenges, the following three are major, as all vendors seem to face them in multiple ways: Whom to target; how to onboard and nurture; how to engage and foster loyalty. With channel marketing being centered around partner relationships, and the fact that no partner or partner relationship is the same, it is crucial for vendors to treat the various partners differently – taking their individual needs, specialties, strategies, status and given targets into account.”

Read Christine’s Opinion Piece: 3 Core Channel Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Jan-Jaap Jager, Board Advisor and CRO of Acronis
Jan-Jaap Jager, Board Advisor and CRO of Acronis

“The IT channel is all about community and relationships. Trust is built through engagement, feedback and programs that help both parties and it takes a lot of work. The world of IT is changing and it’s important that we work together as a community to bring new solutions to market. For example, with the advent of the mass move to remote work, the IT channel needs to work together to ensure new processes and cyber protection practices are put into place.”

Read Jan-Jaap’s Q&A: Channel Changes, Challenges and Future Focus Areas

Dalibor Protrkic, Program Manager at Aximpro
Dalibor Protrkic, Program Manager at Aximpro

“Now is the time for Everything-as-a-Service due to uncertain future economic developments. This is the desired approach to avoid big, one-time investments. Also, set up virtual customer experiences fast through, for example, webcasts and switch to virtual sales processes. The key is to switch from the old-fashioned style of selling hardware and extend offerings and services to digital and virtual solutions. This is important to prepare for the future. The new normal will be here for a while and those who want to stay relevant, need to adapt and transform.”

Read Dalibor’s Q&A: IT Channel Trends and Transformations

[CASE STUDY] Overcoming Key Challenges Across the Channel

Find out how Aximpro’s business intelligence and data management solution, and the sales incentive, partner enablement and loyalty solution were tailored to the needs of a global IT company to unlock growth.

Read Case Study