Nowadays, it's increasingly the line-of-business who's driving take up of new technologies rather than the traditional IT department and this has huge ramifications for the channel.
Of course, enterprises still need technology solutions but buying patterns have shifted such that resellers need to take a more business-focused, consultative approach to selling these technology solutions. And they need to do this while keeping up to date with all the latest technology and maintaining relationships with their existing technology department contacts as well as building new relationships with the lines-of-business.
Today, it's all about understanding the business and being able to deploy the right technology for your customer, regardless of your preferred vendors.
Data security is becoming a board-level priority
When you think about it, it's not surprising that technology is being driven by the business - it's usually their heads on the block if and when things go wrong. A perfect example of this is the data security market - the combination of fines from the ICO and the damage to an organisation's reputation means this is now a business issue, and quite often, a board level business issue.
The new EU data protection regulation
With the new EU data protection regulation on the way, the security and protection of data is already becoming a board level priority and with that, a great opportunity for consultant-focused channel partners with security expertise. Organisations with a large scale remote workforce will need an appropriate mobile data security solution that will allow them to track and manage their data but even companies who just have high level executives travelling with sensitive data, will need a mobile data policy.
An issues-first approach is needed
But it's not technology kit that these people will be looking for. No, the channel's pitch to these decision makers needs to be business-focused. The expectation here is that you come to the table with a good understanding of their business requirements and work backwards from there to find the right technology for their exact security need. There's no one-size-fits-all technology solution; it will completely depend on their business requirements. To that end, an issues-first approach is best and channel partners who are technology agnostic have a huge advantage.
Being vendor agnostic is the new game in town. Partners still need to have great knowledge of and relationships with technology vendors but those who aren't as committed to specific vendors will be well-placed to advise their customers on what's really the best technology solution for their business problem. Here, it's the true consultative partners who can speak in business terms that will win the contract.
While having a vendor-agnostic approach can affect margins, ultimately, it builds trust and loyalty with the customer which should in turn lead to repeat business and as most vendor-agnostic resellers are managed services-focused rather than box-shifters, there is also likely to be recurring revenue streams with each new deal.
It won't have escaped anyone's notice that for many resellers, this shift in buying patterns means that they're selling to a new audience - the senior management teams and sometimes board executives. This is why resellers need to have more business-focused knowledge and be able to clearly explain how they can help solve business problems. Senior management and the board won’t, for the most part, be interested in the technology and its bells and whistles - it's a business conversation that they're interested in. They want to know that their data, and with it the company's bottom line, and their own jobs, are protected.
But this doesn't mean that resellers should ditch the IT contact they've had for years. Quite the contrary, it will still be up to these guys to deploy whatever solution the business decides to go with so these relationships are still as vital as they ever were.
But even more than that, if resellers can help their IT contacts by continuing those close relationships and bringing them to the decision-making table, resellers can help elevate the IT department to the board room and really cement those relationships, and revenues, for life.