Creating harmony within the channel

Cloud Data
Alex Walsh, manager of channels, UK and Ireland, Veeam, outlines three ways to cultivate a positive channel community.

It might surprise you to hear 54 per cent of channel partners have accelerated digital transformation initiatives in the last eighteen months – set against the context of multiple lockdowns, employees in isolation, and the general unknown. The rush to innovate in a turbulent time comes with its own challenges. The Veeam Data Protection Report tells us that 89 per cent of organisations in the UK and Ireland said maintaining operations during the pandemic has been the main barrier to digital transformation.

The race for greater flexibility, especially as more businesses move to hybrid working, and demands to deliver technologies ‘as a service’ all impact on end customer needs.

It means more than ever, partners need to be a guiding light for their customers, helping them navigate these difficulties. So, let’s explore how vendors can help create harmony within the channel.

Strategy for a positive channel community

As the economic climate rapidly shifted, what was considered important as well as the ways businesses operate changed. Hence, vendors must also evolve their channel approach to work more comprehensively with partners.

A channel strategy that sees value in all customers within the channel community and prioritises their needs is essential.

Whether it’s looking at it from a vendor’s perspective where the partner is the customer; or from the partner’s perspective at the end user, the customer really needs to be at the centre of all operations.

Creating harmony within the channel is critical – from the technology that’s been offered to the service provided. To create this harmony, the channel strategy needs to include these three elements...

1) Enable partners to provide a comprehensive service

Vendors can offer value by creating a program like the Veeam Accredited Service Partners (VASP). This matches VARs with our VASP community that have the technical skills and knowledge of the products and services to confidently implement a Veeam solution. Through this program, partners have the opportunity to collaborate with our VASP partners personnel, helping them to provide adequate and timely support to their customers.

The other side of this approach is creating a symbiotic relationship between the array of partners in the channel who provide a multitude of different services.

With the rise of Backup as a Service (Baas) and Disaster Recovery Management (DRM) service providers, some customers no longer want to manage these services themselves. Instead, they would rather work with a third party. And since the vendor has a huge partner base, there’s a true value in working with each other.

This is where the value of a vendor as an enabler to its channel community comes into play. Whether that’s being an enabler to digital transformation, moving to the cloud, or growing partnerships, vendors can maximise their value by creating harmony with everyone involved. This way, everyone in the channel benefits.

2) Help partners to invest in their people

A shortage of skills to implement technology and meeting changing customer needs are key challenges facing 30 per cent of UK and Ireland organisations, according to Veeam’s report.

Vendors can help by reinvesting in their channel. Educating partners, for example, can offer greater value to customers.

As businesses look for ways to keep their digital transformation on track, they’ll turn to partners to provide the services and skills to accelerate their cloud journeys, as well as education and guidance.

In particular, upskilling staff is critical to growth and will enable partners to gain and retain valuable talent which, in the long run, becomes a win-win for everyone.

Better still, with Veeam’s ProPartner Network, partners don’t have to invest money in training, only their time. We provide free training so they’re equipped to support customers.

Also, we’ve designed our ProPartner Network with the knowledge that our partners’ employees need time to upskill. A part of our strategy includes rebates, a successful approach that enable partners to reward their sales teams for investing their time in training.

All this has resulted in increased profitability for partners, and indeed the vendor too. Whether it’s through training mentioned above or marketing programmes and sales programs – all this together means we’re able to provide maximum value and support for solution providers.

3) Offer a subscription model

Another key to creating harmony within the channel is moving away from the legacy system of vendor lock-in, providing a subscription-based model to customers.

Customers want to easily move between different platforms and not be stuck in long contracts. Vendors need to understand that customers desire flexibility to choose the services that best meet their needs, or leave services no longer fit for purpose.

Using this strategy, we’ve seen a huge increase in subscription sales and our renewal rate is very high. This creates an annuity-based business for the partner, which is great for predicting future profitability.

Creating a defined strategy that really listens to each customer’s needs on various fronts and doesn’t just implement what’s good for the vendor reaps long-term rewards.

It will help to create harmony within the channel, identify and address the challenges partners face, build better relationships and lead to business longevity.

This feature appeared in our December 2021 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.