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Bridging the channel’s future-proofing skills gap

Dan Milo, head of SME strategy and IT consultant, Targus, discusses why training shouldn’t just help channel partners sell, but give them a vision of the future

Our world is transforming at a rate faster than ever before. Against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty and slow growth, organisations are being forced to rethink the way they work in order to build a sustainable, future-proofed model.

From adapting to global challengers to embracing a more flexible working style that fosters innovation, IT must support businesses to think bigger, act bolder and drive positive change to make sure they don’t lose out to the opposition.

For channel partners, ensuring their customers believe in them as consultants and strategic partners rather than simply technology vendors is key to delivering this change. Yet one cannot simply talk the talk when it comes to offering business-changing consultancy, they need to know the technological specifics and how to apply this to solve business problems.

Achieving this requires channel partners to think hard about where their skills lie and where training and support is required. Only through building stronger relationships with customers can channel partners drive growing sales.

So how can partners ensure their staff are fully up-to date on such a rapidly changing industry?

 

Educate in terms of business problems and solutions

Getting direct end-user engagement is a significant challenge for partners and resellers, as they can be seen as ‘just about brand offering technology’. Avoiding this label is key.

However, when partners place the onus on educating staff as to how technology solves business problems, engagement levels typically shoot up. In fact, at Targus, we recently ran an internal training session with reseller partners, and within weeks we saw a 75 per cent rise in end-user engagement levels.

 

Talk about the wider issues

Asking partners to just go and sell technology, such as docking stations, isn’t always the easiest task. Therefore, educating them as to the wider role such products play in the workspace and how they are transforming the world of work is the key to driving success.

This shift-change immediately enabled our partners to elevate the level of the conversations they were having with customers, resulting in a more than 50% increase on sales opportunities and a 25% increase in final sales revenues.

 

Showcase a vision of the future

It might sound counterintuitive but helping sales ‘sell’ should only be a part of a channel business development strategy. Partners must also ensure that they educate their teams as to what the future of work looks like, why businesses must adapt to changing workstyles and new generations such as millennials entering the workplace.    

Sharing these insights can help partners to get closer to the client’s needs, making it easier to close sales and opening up new opportunities to cross-sell other product categories that address further business challenges.

As the world of work and the workplace itself continues to evolve and change rapidly, IT leaders will be forced to address many new cultural and business challenges. With the backing of high level, industry-led training, partners will be able to elevate the level of their sales team’s approach, building stronger relationships with customers to help them overcome these challenges together. 

The author Dan Milo is head of SME strategy and IT consultant at Targus

This was last published in August 2017

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