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Channel Insider: When is the end-user not the customer… when you are a vendor – crazy, right?

Channel Insider: When is the end-user not the customer… when you are a vendor – crazy, right?

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Glyn Yates is Principle Consultant, GTM International. In this monthly column for Intelligent Tech Channels, he shares his expertise and views on the channel and partner community.

As a vendor, you will have worked many years with a clear vision, strong development and deep pockets/backing, and if you find yourself towards the top right hand corner in the Garter MQ, then well done. It will not have been easy or cheap to get there, so celebrate and leverage while the going is good and you are in demand. End-users will demand, as a minimum, to investigate your proposition, and partners will clamour to be among your channel and have your logo on their website as a sign of credibility to their target audience. Life is good and you should ‘make hay while the sun shines’. However, don’t take it for granted, as the next disruptor is in stealth or incubation as we speak (think of how ServiceNow, Nutanix, Arista, Okta changed their respective markets, to name a few)

But there are exponentially more vendors not in the top 10 Gartner, Forrester, IDC analyst reports than are in the top 10.  Should they just give up? Of course not – markets can support many players, but it does mean they have to be a little smarter and laser-focused on the right strategy.

The ‘home’ market may be established and mature with robust revenues, many references and an enabled, proactive channel reflecting the ‘home’ strategy within that market.

When considering expansion into new markets, none of the above factors apply, so while expansion from national to international to theatre to global is a natural progression, it is important to understand the need for segregation of go-to-market strategies.

When entering new markets, the initial focus can tend towards customer acquisition. You may have been active enough to have initial logos before seriously setting up a local base, but to drive strong customer acquisition requires either a focused dedicated direct sales effort or a focused dedicated channel sales effort. The former is very expensive so, understandably, channel establishment and development is a great way to scale sales penetration, but that does present a double edge sword – an effective channel will lead to success, but will take some time to enable. I don’t need to voice the outcomes of an ineffective channel.

When you are not one of the Gartner MQ highflyers, then getting the channel interested is not easy, but it is easy to see why.

Channel partners and channel partner salespeople have targets – there is no surprise there. They have a selection of vendors within their current portfolio, they have customers and they have prospects. Their role is to achieve their targets from the customers and prospects – again, not rocket science. AND they want to do this with the path of least resistance and that means the easiest vendors to sell, or to demonstrate a real differentiator, backed by lots of resource that can support them. The old adage of ‘What’s in it for me’ is as relevant now as it ever was when discussing a new vendor.

All vendors state they are aligned with the customers, but some think the customers are the end-users, where in expansion models the customers are actually the partners, as they will be doing your bidding. Without effective partners, there will be no end-users. It is important to keep things simple and easy – make the positioning simple, make the partner programme simpler, make the price list simpler and make selling it even simpler still.

So, if you are not a market leader or ground-breaking disruptor, then it is vital to have a core proposition but segregated go-to-market. Above all else, ensure that everything you do to support a market entry truly supports the partners as they are your voice, they are your engine and they are your success factory.


I have walked many roads and worn many hats and, although my experience and expertise can be valuable, my outlook on the world at large is my own and does not necessarily represent that of ITC.

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