Not All TSDs Are Created Equal

Last week, we had another great Channel Partners Expo. On my way home from this year’s event, I thought about the conversations I had throughout the week. There are a handful of themes that stick out, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share my perspective on the evolution of the Channel and the role AVANT will play in it moving forward.  

When my co-founder Drew Lydecker and I started AVANT 15 years ago, we had a clear vision of the future in mind. Having had experience in the VAR world and as Trusted Advisors (TAs) ourselves, we believed the Channel would one day explode with opportunity, creating unlimited potential for all involved to grow amazing businesses. 

We are seeing that vision come to life more and more each year.  

Here’s what’s happening in our industry right now:  

  1. There are more and more vendors entering the Channel, and it’s the responsibility of TSDs to create the best portfolios possible to help TAs drive strategic IT conversations and confident decision making for their customers. Beyond this, TSDs have to serve as the ultimate security for TAs to ensure commissions flows are safeguarded. It’s our job to build strong relationships with our vendors and secure healthy commission rates. The more we can escalate and fix issues related to TA protections, the more the entire Channel grows.
  2. Millennials and Gen-Z are quickly becoming the predominant buyers for tech solutions in their organizations. They have a propensity for doing their own research, which means they are likely coming in with an opinion and looking for advisors to give them tools and data they can’t get anywhere else. As TAs get more sophisticated, TSDs will need to uplevel how they synthesize and distribute research and analytics in today’s hyper-informed world.
  3. This industry was founded by small TAs led by incredible entrepreneurs who continue to be the lifeblood of the industry. And we see them going upmarket to larger deals faster than ever. In fact, AVANT TAs have penetrated over 20% of all $1B+ companies in the US and we see that share growing every year. Our top 50 TAs produce well over 50% of their new sales into $1B companies. Having conversations with these large companies requires that TSDs support their TAs with more comprehensive tools and resources as they continue to climb upmarket.
  4. The market is exploding with new technologies and vendors, while existing vendors are increasing their investments into the channel like never before. We see that trend continuing for many years into the future, creating massive opportunity for all TAs ready to seize it.

From our vantage point, everything above points to accelerated growth in our Channel and the industry at large. This gives us incredible confidence at AVANT that we made the right bet with our initial vision. 

Now, it’s worth addressing the elephant in the room. 

There has been a lot of talk in the Channel about how TSDs are evolving. As part of that conversation, there seems to be a growing sentiment that all TSDs will be buying up TAs and getting in the end customer business.  

This feels like an important moment to make our position clear: We do not sell direct to end customers, we don’t aspire to have ownership in organizations that sell direct, and we have no plans to do either in the future.  

We’re not here to compete with TAs. We’re here to help them build. As long as that is what the market continues to demand, that is what we will continue to deliver.  

If you left Channel Partners feeling excited for all the opportunity ahead, then you share our vision. But if you left feeling like the Channel is stagnating or some TSDs will become your biggest competitors, I urge you to consider some of the broader trends we’re seeing and how your business will play in this space going forward.  

The opportunity for TAs has never been greater. The Channel is only getting stronger. The vendor community is going to continue to grow. And not all TSDs are created equal.  

This is the perfect moment to decide what you want your business to look like a year from now and choose the vendors and TSDs that will help you accelerate toward your vision most powerfully. I’ve never been more excited for where things are headed for all of us.