The Voice of the Channel


Partner Improvement Series, Part II

Are You Taking an ACTIVE Approach to Partnership?

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

To better understand the underlying structure and the factors that are most important to partnership success, we've teamed up with the University of Glasgow to conduct a study of Partner Lifetime Value®—and what we learned is game-changing.

In the study, we asked 150 technology partners in the U.S. about their attitudes and policies toward their channel partners (see chart below for distribution across industry). Central to the philosophy of this study was the notion of going beyond partnership as a locked-in commitment and instead examining it as value-based commitment. In locked-commitment, partners stay in a relationship because it would be costly to leave, but in value-based commitments, the partnership is viewed as actively enriching and productive.

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Partner Improvement Series, Part I

How to Increase Profitability and Success with Partner Lifetime Value®

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

As the supply chain model changes to be increasingly based on collaborative partnerships, companies are looking for ways to inspire loyalty in both their customers and partners.

The value of loyal customers is well-established, both in empirical literature and industry wisdom about best practices (increasing profit by saving on the costs of prospecting and nurturing new customers, providing a reliable metric of success, etc.). Companies are finding a benefit from developing and nurturing the relationships they have with their partners—and, as they do with their customers, they are placing a premium on developing partners that remain loyal throughout their lifetime.

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Okay MSPs, It's Time to Switch Gears

By Bob O'Malley, Partner, AchieveUnite

The IT industry has a habit of remaking itself approximately every 10 years, which means MSPs are ripe for dramatic change. New pressures such as technical labor shortages, margin pressures and confusion about technologies like 5G, AI and IoT have MSPs re-thinking their business models. If not, they should be.

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There's No "I" in Sales

By Karen Falcone

"Doing More with Less" is the mantra at many organizations today. Revenue goals continue to rise, but too often resources don't follow suit! With only so much time in the day, it's getting harder for sales reps to keep up.

But what if sales reps had their own team of "hunters" working for them, finding opportunities and filling the funnel?  Companies that have strong channel programs in place understand the force multiplier effect of building a sales engine with a strong partner focus.

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Cloud Computing — Friend or Foe for Channel Partners?

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

There has been much conversation lately and increasing buzz around cloud solutions bypassing channel partners, and enterprises working directly with the vendors and service providers.   We all know cloud mandates a tremendous change in the skills of an internal team and the IT department.  In fact, this is a primary reason why partners (if you have the right skillsets) will absolutely play a critical role in the enterprise digital transformation to cloud.

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Goodbye Channels, Hello Partners

By Bob O'Malley, Partner, AchieveUnite

For decades, we in the Technology Sector have referred to our path to the market as a channel. As a result, we have Channel Strategies, Channel Programs, Channel Account Managers, Channel Incentives, etc. In the process, the scope of delivering solutions to businesses of all sizes and types has broadened to include much more than IT Infrastructure components: networks, servers, storage, printers and workstations.

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Cloud Series, Part VI

How to Stand Out in Today's Cloud Market (Hint: Partner, Build or Acquire?)

By George Mellor, KloudReadiness, and Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

Today's cloud market is packed with new players—everyone looking to grab his/her share of the opportunity an early majority market creates. Standing out in this type of environment can be challenging. However, you can build a competitive advantage.

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Cloud Series, Part V

3 Proven Steps to Dispel Customer Concerns in Cloud/IoT/Managed Services Sales

By George Mellor, KloudReadiness, and Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

In monthly recurring revenue (MRR) models involving cloud, IoT and managed services sales, customer objections often center around the potential risks of deploying new solution-stacks. Therefore, from our experience, we find that sales organizations that identify and proactively incorporate risk conversations with customers are in a better position to drive the sales process and close more deals.

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Cloud Series, Part IV

The Two-Step Process Every Organization Needs to Follow to Close Deals Faster

By George Mellor, KloudReadiness, and Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

With the shift to monthly recurring revenue (MRR) models, now more than ever, companies are keenly vested in retaining customers for life. In fact, long-term customer retention and true partnership with customers is now an organization's number-one goal, but this can be challenging.

We find that companies that are most successful in driving MRR growth build a level of trust with their customers that less successful companies don't. They do this through a two-part discovery and qualification process.

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Cloud Series, Part III

3 Best Practices for Building a Robust Cloud Business

By George Mellor, KloudReadiness, and Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

You've identified who your buyers are within an organization. Now what?

To build a robust cloud practice—one that capitalizes on the opportunity a maturing cloud market presents—you need to be savvy about the value-added services you offer, the talent you hire and the partnerships you form and nurture. Those who do will deliver the outcome-driven solutions that customers demand and that accelerate monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth.

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Cloud Series, Part II

Success Strategies for Courting Today's Cloud Buyer

By George Mellor, KloudReadiness, and Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

Selling technology solutions used to be a rinse and repeat process: engage IT department, pitch speeds and feeds/technology benefits, negotiate price and repeat. But the digitization of business has changed the buying process. Today's organizations are looking to drive business outcomes and be competitive in the market. The technology solutions they seek need to support these objectives while yielding ROI within six months of deployment.

Driving this process change is the maturation of the cloud market.

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Cloud Series, Part I

Cloud Maturation Spells Opportunity for the IT Channel

By George Mellor, KloudReadiness, and Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

According to Roger's innovation adoptive curve, cloud is currently in early majority stage, and this has significant implications for the industry in general and the channel in particular.

In fact, the opportunities are so great for the IT channel that 2018 has been coined "The Year of the Partner" as companies look to channel partners to help them drive cloud strategies to support their digitization and business transformation initiatives.

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CxO Series, Part IV

Two Things to Consider Before and After Moving Applications to the Cloud

By Tim Cecconi

At some point in our lives, we've all been warned about the dangers of over-analyzing a situation. But when it comes to rolling out a cloud strategy, the bigger danger lies with making decisions based on partial information or acting prematurely to show business teams you're moving forward.

Time and time again, I see organizations become preoccupied with implementation and showing results rather than taking the time to 1) thoroughly review the interdependencies of the applications they've earmarked for the cloud and 2) develop, test, and continuously test, a recovery plan for their environments.

Enterprise apps and workloads don't run in isolation. In fact, their value is increased when they work in unison to integrate business processes or share common data—delivering more results than any single app or workload could. On the flip side, when organizations don't take the time to consider interdependencies upfront, the effects can be devastating, rippling across their IT ecosystem and decelerating business operations and transformation initiatives.

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Collaborative Selling, Part VI

Best Practices for Ensuring Selling Success Across Generations

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

Selling success hinges on understanding who your customers are, and today more than ever before, this means building trust across generations. Not only does today's IT workforce comprise the widest age range of workers ever seen before, but dynamics have also shifted as Millennials represent an increasingly larger portion of the industry.

In fact, according to CompTIA research, Millennials will dominate the workforce, accounting for 52% of target customers by 2022. These changes in workforce composition affect collaborative selling strategies, necessitating a review of communication mediums, communication styles and personal motivators to ensure we continue to deliver dynamic, customized solutions for our customers.

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Collaborative Selling, Part V

How Cloud Trends Impact Selling Strategies

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

Industry trends have a significant impact on sales models. According to CompTIA, a non-profit trade association that issues professional certifications, the Cloud has entered a new phase of maturity and, as a result, businesses are racing to upgrade their digital expertise at the Board level. This "will result in higher expectations for business value, security, transparency, and equal access to opportunity," – and, importantly, will impact the way we sell.

The move to the cloud, the deployment of cloud-centric solutions and the race to go digital demand a more collaborative, comprehensive sales approach that integrates business as well as technical considerations and require the Solution Provider to act a Business Consultant to the customer rather than the provider of a point solution.

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Collaborative Selling, Part IV

Three Strategies to Help Bridge the Gap Between Business and Technical Decision Makers

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

According to a CEB study, on average 6.8 decision makers are involved in most IT purchases, and the average buying group now consists of 3.4 different functions.

With the advent of cloud, we see business models dramatically shifting and disrupting the industry.  Some well-known examples include Airbnb, Netflix and Uber. Agility and velocity have become the name of the game. Companies cannot afford to just maintain the status quo and strive for healthy, incremental growth. They need to be ready to take advantage of the next paradigm change. This means that IT solutions are no longer just about operations. They are a conduit to driving business growth, so business leaders across the organization need to be engaged.

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CxO Series, Part III

What Do You Do After the Plan?

By Tim Cecconi

You've done your due diligence. You've performed an intelligent analysis of your application-readiness for moving to the cloud and your business goals over the short- and long-term, and you've got a plan of attack. Now, what do you do?

Instead of trying to swallow the proverbial elephant, I suggest trying chunks. By this, I mean taking a crawl, walk and run approach to moving your applications to the cloud. Doing so will not only maximize the results for your business from an ability to meet business expectations, reduce risk and maximize potential cost-savings but also get you one big step closer to regaining control of your IT environment.

We recommend starting with your lower-tier (non-mission-critical) applications that have been confirmed to be cloud-enabled, and possibly some of your testing workloads. Once you have proven "successes," you can move up the stack to the Tier 1-2 mission-critical applications that drive your business forward.

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Collaborative Selling, Part III

Do You Have the Skills to Implement a Collaborative Selling Approach?

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

Effective Collaborative Selling rests on one's ability to build relationships with their customers – and this starts with forming connections. As the adage goes "people buy from people they like." It takes time and skill to strike up a relationship.

In my work with Channel companies, I find that that the skills development sessions that we deliver are especially impactful because they help build confidence in a fundamental way that influences partnership performance more than most would expect.

Historically, soft skills training has been perceived as "fluffy" and possibly regarded as not as important as more role specific training like product or process training. However, with the age of digital disruption, it's more important than ever that people are agile. People need the skills to be able to reinvent themselves as business models evolve. This is driving great demand for soft skills training.

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Collaborative Selling, Part II

The Formula for Successful Partnerships

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO

Building blended solutions heavily relies on the existence of strong partnerships. Strong partnerships fuel better outcomes for customers and generate pipeline, accelerate sales cycles and, ultimately, increase revenue production for solution providers.

However, while we may all see the value that partnerships can bring, according to a recent study my team conducted, 80% of partnerships never reach their full potential.

Why might you ask? Well, too often partnerships are based on good intentions. For a partnership to thrive and grow and for customer opportunities to be developed, they need to be approached with a strategic planning discipline that is fueled by collaboration and pragmatism.

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Collaborative Selling, Part I

How to Deliver Better Outcomes for Your Customers

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite

With the advent of Cloud and IoT, innovation is changing the technology landscape and the way we do business. As a result, the buying process is evolving to be more inclusive of other considerations outside of the technology alone. In my work as an advisor on Partner Performance Management and Channel Trends, I see that the role of the Solution Provider has shifted from a provider of point solutions to a master facilitator of complex, cohesive multi-vendor and often multi-partner solutions.

This shift requires partners to have greater expertise in addressing customers' business and technical issues as well as the ability to identify and implement the solutions to help them achieve the business outcomes they seek. Further, with customers now seeking an on average 6-12-month ROI from the solutions they implement, business outcomes are far more critical to these conversations than ever before.

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CxO Series, Part II

4 Common Pitfalls of a "Move Everything to the Cloud" Strategy That Every CIO Needs to Know

By Tim Cecconi

As the cloud market matures, it presents opportunities for organizations to accelerate initiatives, expedite processes and save money. But only if organizations take the time to do their homework and make cloud decisions based on a thorough understanding of their application and enterprise needs.

As I pointed out in my last post, organizations that move forward with cloud directives too quickly may not see the expected benefits and find themselves knee-deep in problems. They may learn that the applications they have moved to the public cloud belong in a hosted private cloud or, vice versa, that applications they have are running on dedicated infrastructure belong elsewhere.

Few organizations are doing the type of intelligent analysis needed to ensure a "right fit" today and prevent costly "retrofitting" three to five years down the road. Blame it on executive direction, changes driven by the application companies, lack of knowledge about the interdependency of application and infrastructure or complicated/non-existent recovery processes, but it's not happening.

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Yep, Business Execs Are from Mars and IT Execs Are from Venus

By Heidi Biggar

If there's one thing I have learned in life, it's that everything changes, but nothing changes.

This is particularly true in the IT world.

From my vantage point as an editor, analyst and marketer over the past two decades, I've witnessed a steady stream of new technologies (virtualization, big data, IoT, blockchain) as well as technology companies come and go—and, in some cases, be reimagined under different market conditions and different names.

Anyone remember YottaYotta?

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CxO Series, Part I

Helping CIOs/CTOs Regain Control in 2018

By Tim Cecconi

For many organizations, 2017 started a public cloud tsunami of sorts.

Looking to capitalize on the potential cost-savings and business synergy benefits of the public cloud, CEOs and the leadership teams of organizations across the globe put intense pressure on their CIOs and CTOs to move as many applications to the public cloud as quickly as possible. In fact, from my vantage point as a sales executive within the global technology space, moving applications to the public cloud was one of 2017's top narratives, and I expect it will be again in 2018.

This narrative is being fueled by Senior Executives who want to maximize the potential benefits of moving applications to the public cloud; however, the benefits can be easily overestimated. CIOs and their teams have learned all too quickly about the pitfalls of blanket cloud strategies, including issues with application interdependencies, security and DR as well as unexpected retrieval/usage costs.

The tidal wave of emotion—and expectations—that has ensued has caused many organizations to rush into critical application and infrastructure decisions that will likely impact their enterprise data environments over the long term.

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Yes, You Can Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

By Bill Bush

I have a confession to make. I love my job but if I could be doing anything right now I'd be on some high mountain peak or in some remote location taking pictures of something beautiful. Photography has been a passion of mine since I was young.

Like many things, photography has been affected by huge advancements in technology. Until the era of digital imaging, the barrier of entry was quite high. Photographers had to understand the technical aspects of choosing the proper speed film, lens exposure time, etc. Today, the average smartphone takes care of all this automatically.

The one thing new technology can't do, though, is create the image. Doing so is no simple task. It requires technical and artistic acumen and an ability to look differently at a subject that may have been photographed a million times before. Photographers often spend years thinking about how they will photograph a certain subject or scenic location to capture something different. I know I have.

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Why Haven't You Moved Everything to the Cloud Yet?

By Derek Siler

I find that this simple, open-ended question opens the door to productive conversations with clients better than any other. And the reason is simple.

Business problems don't stop at the edge of a particular application environment nor are they able to move everything to a hyper-scale cloud environment even if they have a cloud-first strategy. Interdependent legacy systems prevent clients from moving to a fully virtualized, cloud-ready environment. In fact, analysts estimate only 25-30% of applications environments are ready for the cloud.

This type of question puts the focus on the bigger picture and allows for better understanding of the client's desire to exit the data center business while supporting non-cloud applications through managed hosting or hosted private-cloud configurations.

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Are You Asking the Million Dollar Questions?

By Jim Schwartz

It seems like everything we do these days is in some way new. Gone are the days of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to see better and better results. Change is in fact the new constant, leaving us with two choices: to embrace it or get out of its way.

Take, for example, the IT industry.

Recent research from CompTIA, a non-profit trade association serving the IT industry, underscores a big shift in behavior and strategy among organizations when it comes to the purchase and use of IT within organizations—a trend that parallels the digital transformation journey.

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About the Blog

Today's businesses share a common objective: to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently than ever before. However, if your customers are like many of the companies we talk to, they're straddling two worlds – they've got one foot in legacy and one foot in the Cloud. They're struggling to deliver the speed and agility stakeholders want while maintaining the resilient and stable IT environment they need to make everyday business happen. We've created the ChannelView blog to provide the info and tools you need to help support your customers through the transformative digital journey. We hope you come to think of us as the voice of the channel.