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How To Overcome a Dazed and Confused Technology Landscape

The rate of cool technology is accelerating at an unbelievable pace. Across the board, vendors are developing and releasing applications and services quicker than ever before.

This amazing speed is causing two particular problems in the channel: Partner personnel are becoming overwhelmed and complexity is dictating the day.

Let's break the problems down. Because technology is so easy to spin up and spit out, more vendors are producing more applications. Couple this with existing vendors revamping and retooling their applications to fit the consumption economy, and you get a massive inflow of technology in the market.

For instance, do a search on "CRM" or "ERP," and the results produce endless options. Sitting in the reseller's shoes, it's exponentially more difficult to figure out this landscape, especially when they are trying to determine how to round out their technology portfolios. Prospects know much more now than they used to about a technology before the reseller knocks on the door, making every sales interaction much more challenging.

Secondly, salespeople are making their interactions much more complicated than they need to be with prospects. They try to deliver relevant information via a cocktail of technology platforms, campaigns, social media, chat, text or a hundred other options. While employing technology is supposed to minimize the complexity of the interaction, it actually does the opposite in many cases: It causes an erosion of any potential relationship with a prospect.

The road around this dilemma is multifold. First, how we are enabling salespeople must change. There are more and more generations coming into the workforce who rely too heavily on technology to create the connection with the prospect. Because of this, there is a widening gap in the soft skills of most of these workers. Simply put: People don't know how to speak to one another. Need proof? Next time you are in a restaurant, take notice of how many people have their mobile phones out.

To remedy this, training needs to incorporate a blend of skills that are set up in logical "pathways," making absorption of any knowledge impactful. Enablement becomes fast, as well as meaningful, as a result of this approach.

Next, platforms and systems must be used in a way so as to push relevant and thought-provoking information to the prospect, ahead of the prospect trying to find data on their own. The content needs to be "educational" in nature and not technical in design. By doing so, you start connecting to the prospect in a way that is different than the competition.

In short, combining newfound soft skills with "pushing" pertinent content is the recipe for success.

A great example of these approaches exists within a company called Garland Technology. It produces Test Access Points (TAPs) and aligns nicely to many big-name security vendors. Before Garland implemented its new partner program and portal, it mapped out what each enablement journey looked like and then linked every path to desired outcomes. This ensured that applicable skills were being taught for each partner constituent.

It also put into play "prospect pages" (a feature of its PRM) that allows its partners to deliver content such as whitepapers directly to the prospect, while tracking open rates. Gone are the days when a partner would send a PDF and "hope" the prospect read it.

So far, the results are astounding in that partners are more easily engaging with greater numbers of prospects, and metrics are showing that win rates are going up.

Lastly, organizations need to get back to the basics if they want to differentiate themselves. Simple things like picking up the phone or knocking on a few doors will go a long way in establishing deeper and more connected relationships with customers. What they are forgetting to do is simple: Connect on a human-to-human level.

Over seven years ago, I wrote the following line for Redmond Channel Partner magazine: "An uneducated reseller or a confused reseller cannot adequately sell a vendor's product line." The same holds true today.

Posted by Keith Lubner on September 12, 2018 at 10:21 AM