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Channel Survey Emphasizes the Importance of Cloud, Lean Forward Thinking

AVANT is dedicated to helping  channel partners succeed.  Deeply rooted in our culture and business model is a passion for channel Sales Enablement.  We accomplish this by providing them access to a broad-yet-curated portfolio of next-gen IT solutions from a range of providers and delivering the back office, marketing, and sales tools to make it easy to attract, onboard, support, and retain business customers.  Equally critical to the success equation is our ability to  deliver key insights that will help guide and inform partners’ business decisions. 

Because we’re so passionate about helping the channel sell more effectively, we always strive to learn as much as we can about what the channel truly needs to succeed. That’s why AVANT and a few of our channel friends recently conducted a survey to better understand channel practices and related outcomes. 

AVANT wanted to reach beyond our own experience to learn about the channel across the board – not just our own partners. So we joined forces with Channel Partners on this effort. Hosting, Masergy, Spectrum Enterprise’s Navisite, and Talari Networks also lent a hand. 

Together we commissioned respected market research firm Edge Strategies to conduct the survey, which we helped design.

Survey participants were a mix of agents, consultants, MSPs, and VARs. They offer a variety of solutions to an array of business verticals. These survey participants sold a combined 14,518 deals in 2017.

More than a quarter of the channel partners we surveyed had between $1 million and $10 million in annual revenue. A quarter of the survey participants had less than a $1 million in revenues. The other quarter had at least $100 million – with 12 percent of that at more than $1 billion in annual revenue. And 23 percent had between $10 million and $100 million revenue per year.

To be included in the survey, channel entities had to sell at least some recurring revenue-based services. They also had to have 2017 sales in at least one of these service categories:
• Colocation
• Contact Center as a Service and/or Unified Communications as a Service
• Data networks excluding SD-WAN (DIA, MPLS, private data lines, managed Wi-Fi, network connectivity, direct connect to data centers)
• Infrastructure as a Service
• Office Productivity Solutions (Office 365, Google)
• SD-WAN
• Security as a Service
• Software as a Service
• Voice network services (including conferencing and SIP)

Our survey results showed that channel partners with an optimal portfolio of services win the highest number of deals and had the greatest revenue. The survey also highlighted the fact that cloud services are a central component – actually the central component – of an optimal portfolio. 

In fact, when we segmented channel sellers into three primary groups – network/voice centric (42 percent of the group), cloud centric (29 percent), and application centric (29 percent) – we found that the cloud group outsold the others – even in data network and voice sales. Those offering next-generation cloud services accounted for 51 percent of the data network sales and 42 percent of the voice network sales!

That’s noteworthy, considering the largest of the three survey segments was the network/voice centric group, and selling network and voice services is their core business. It also offers new evidence that cloud services help partners grow traditional voice and data sales while creating new recurring revenue sources.

Survey results also revealed that there is a key set of attributes associated optimal portfolio channel partners – which we refer to as lean-forward partners. We looked at 51 different criteria and identified which criteria are associated with partners that sold the most services vs. sold the least services in 2017, and the differences were quite stark.  That includes being less concerned with things like vendor-supplied deal protection, a favorite of low volume producers, and more focused on how quickly their vendors get back to them so they can win a deal, a favorite of the highest producing sellers. 

This is just one example of many. But it does point to a larger trend: Being forward thinking and proactive, offering customers and prospects a broad portfolio services, and delivering fast and helpful service is a winning combination. 

Let’s talk a little bit more about the broad portfolio part of the conversation. 

As I noted earlier, cloud service providers tend to have better numbers related to traditional network and voice solutions. But did you also know that channel partners that don’t offer complementary services are more at risk of losing deals and their customers than are their peers who do provide them?

It’s true. And our Channel Risk Score analysis, which we did as part of this research, highlights that fact. 

Of course, some complementary services are more impactful than others. The most noteworthy finding on this front is that data network sellers who don’t also offer colocation, IaaS, SD-WAN, or security services have the highest risk score. That should serve as a wakeup call to anyone selling legacy data network and that alone. 

There are so many other important takeaways from this groundbreaking research. Indeed, no one has ever asked the questions we did of the channel. Instead, most research focuses on the enterprise perspective. But as a channel sales enablement expert built on the pillars of insights, knowledge transfer, and resources, AVANT and friends wanted to get inside the channel and share what we found. 

What I’ve discussed here only scratches the surface. We have so much more to share with you. And we’ll be offering a more complete picture of the survey results during our June 14 webinar.

I hope you will join us. 

There’s much to learn and you have much to gain from this industry intelligence, so register for the BattleBriefing today!