Birch laid off its direct sales force, proclaiming they are going all channel. The number of channel only companies is growing. Unfortunately it isn't as easy as that. The channel lost 30% of its partners over the last 3 years, while gaining 600+ new vendors. Attention Deficit Disorder coming!
That is a lot of noise. That is a lot of email begging for attention.
We have a sales problem. Cold calling, cold emailing, spam, robo-dialing, call centers, direct mail, pop-ups, etc. have created an audience that has gotten really good at ignoring people.
Buyers complete more than half the sales process before talking to a salesperson. Why? Because no one wants to talk to a salesperson. No one wants to be added to the list. No one wants to be sold, but they want to buy. And for non-logical reasons.
All these vendors looking to the channel for sales. But are channel partners looking for new vendors? Not really. Unless your product is in demand. And most aren't.
Not only that most companies do ZERO marketing. No branding. No PR. No anything. This not only doesn't help demand, it stifles lead generation and even hampers building trust, the number one requirement for sales.
People ask friends on social networks for recommendations. They aren't looking in the yellow pages. They aren't even Googling it. They don't see billboards, because they are watching their phones instead! They don't get newspapers. News now comes on the mobile or as a trend on a social network or in a social media feed. That has turned it all around. It makes everyone a Publisher; everyone is a media company. (Seth Godin said that a few years ago!)
So the vendors will turn to more master agencies, who quite frankly have too many vendors also. The portfolios if printed would be a Sears catalog or a copy of War and Peace!! That doesn't solve the Noise-Attention-Demand problem either!
Despite what YOU want or need quota or revenue wise, not everyone will want to offer your product. There has to be some alignment. Either they already sell something similar or the customer base is your target market. Unfortunately, no one wants to identify a small target market. It has to be 1-1000 or Everyone! Or Wall Street and VCs will not give you more money.
It is important to note that most channels supply demand with sales activities, BUT THEY DO NOT DRIVE DEMAND! They do not create demand in the buyers. That is supposed to be done by the vendors like IBM, HP, Cisco, Comcast, Verizon Wireless, AT&T.
These named vendors are some of the biggest spenders on advertising. Effective is a different story. Branding or awareness campaigns are not lead generation.
The problem is all Marketing.
Peter Drucker said "Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two-and only two-basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business." Later he added, "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself... The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous."
Cable broadband did that. Microsoft a few times. Apple. Cisco for a little while. Now, who does that?
The Product-Market Fit is ignored. The Customer isn't even included in any of the product launch. It's like, "Well, there are similar products out there, so we need one." Whether or not there is a customer for that product. Any innovation added? Not a new feature but actual innovation? Probably not.
When Amazon launched Chime, the response was OOOH! Then it was: "That's a crowded space." But Amazon will take friction out of some of the sales process. It will also eliminated some margin for many players in that space.
The companies in the price and spiff war, have failed in all areas of marketing. They have basically given up. I'm kind of tired of the Race to Zero.
Think about cellular phone plans. For most people, it is about good enough. Not the best. That is the problem VZW faces right now. The best just can't command the same premium anymore.
Think about Internet. Broadband is good enough. Except when it is down or congested. Except when your speeds or throughput suck. But for many people buying Internet for their business, it is good enough.
For most people, it is about good enough. They go with Cheaper because no one has explained the Value.
When the master agency has 24 VoIP/UC vendors, I dare anyone to explain the Value of one over the other. Or the specific difference in service offerings.
I already see it happening with SD-WAN. It is the MPLS replacement with broadband IP-VPN. We have been there and done that, but again price, because we don't know how to market.
And why do we choose to market the technology as the product???????
Even with security, where is the demand? Every enterprise needs it. Companies get hacked every day. But the cost benefit analysis says we will risk it. Not much demand.
The channel cannot manufacture demand. That isn't what they do. They sell to people who want to buy. And they sell them what the customer wants, not needs.
And quite frankly, especially in voice, the channel sells the cheapest.
Basically we are all in the insurance sales game now. Think about that.
And it is all the fault of the vendors. For NOT positioning better. For lack of Product-Market fit. For not branding, lousy stories, lack of marketing and then following all that up with having no floor on the pricing. It's a complete business disaster.