Channel Programs Have Changed

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Channel Programs Have Changed

Many companies are adding channel programs. Most look at the success that Microsoft and Cisco via their channels. The thing is most companies don't treat their channel the same way that these two giants did.

Microsoft knew that if people became certified they would sell, install and maintain Microsoft products. They made it really easy to get an MCSE - and later easier to be an MCP. (By then, the certification was diluted). The channel was not just sales but support. Microsoft's buggy software created a whole economy.

Cisco also needed installers and support for its products. The Channel worked out perfectly for them. The certifications still are meaningful and a challenge to obtain.

In the CLEC world, the channel was used for sales, lead gen, referrals, and in place of actual marketing. The big mistake the telecom industry made was not having certifications. PBX vendors do. CompTIA and TCA have certification programs, but the carriers themselves either waived it off like icing in hockey or just couldn't get the program to take root.

I see many cloud companies adding a channel program. They ask: How do you get channel partners to sell your services when the MRC is small? That's the rub, but the two biggest channel companies didn't think that way. They made their channel programs the center of the partners business. That may be harder to do today.

So you have to ask, how do you align with the right partners who want to build incremental income through selling your services?

Or can you pay your partners to promote your services to their base?

The cost of customer acquisition -- the cost for sales - has mounted. The Internet has changed sales a lot, so has mobility, voicemail, junk email rules and other filters that make it harder to make sales the traditional method. So you look for people who already have a relationship with your target market.

I guess marketing isn't an option.

I already see the Hosted PBX services going to commodity level. The rest of the cloud should follow. Without well trained sales representation in the field, it will just be a price war. Your incremental sale will be relegated to the checkout line like gum and candy.

All the channel partners in the world didn't replace a brand, marketing, a strong product, and channel support. These were the elements that Cisco and Microsoft had. Do you have them? A strong program with a value proposition?

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