How many times have we seen in recent times people suggesting that the channel is dead?
We get at least an article every week claiming that the channel is changing to the extent of being unrecognisable by today’s standards.
The ecosystem economy is kicking in and people are seeing this as a deviation from the existing model.
It isn’t completely true.
There will always be transactions through the channel. We have several paths within the ecosystem that will continue to run as they have always run.
Vendor → Distributor → Reseller → End customer
The difference we have with this ecosystem economy is that there are additional branches at each stage of the channel process. This original process is still maintained. It has to be, or over 500k companies are going to have to change overnight, lose the entire transactions or close their business.
Add into the mix marketing agencies, influencers, affiliates, referrals and joint selling between partners and we can stick a new label on it such as ecosystem.
There are always going to be transactions in the channel.
The partners have to make their money somewhere.
Granted they can make them from additional services, which a lot of partners already do. This is why the term “value add” came about in the first place. The additional services provided on top of the original licence / product sale.
Ecosystems have always existed
How many times have you worked with a distributor who has outsourced a marketing campaign to an agency via MDF?
This is a good example of an ecosystem. It’s multiple companies coming together at different stages of the process for the aim of a common goal. Ecosystem.
It’s nothing new. It’s just being pushed into the mix to spice things up a little.
That outsourcing can happen at any stage of the funnel at any layer of the channel. It’s still an ecosystem and has happened for years.
We’ve worked with distributors who work with external telemarketing companies before for lead generation who cold call prospects and bring leads to the distributor who then submit those leads to the us the vendor. Ecosystem.
We’ve passed leads through the channel to partners who have brought in other partners to support a part of the opportunity that they couldn’t support themselves. Ecosystem.
Everything is already tied to together in one way or another but the path of the classic channel will remain.
We’ve had individuals submit leads that have been passed to a transacting partner. Ecosystem.
We’ve integrated with other vendors to give us reach into that others vendors customer base. Ecosystem.
The ecosystem economy is just being pushed forward now to emphasise those intricate connections between companies and processes to make it more prominent of an idea in the grand scheme of things.
It’s being brought forward and emphasised to ensure that the technology catches up.
People have been working on ecosystem principles for a long time. It’s just not been actively spoken about.
So how is the channel going to die?
Bottom line, it’s not. It’s just a “not so new” word that’s been brought to the public attention to push for a change in the way that people think.
Nobody is going to lose their jobs… According to an article published in Nuzoo two weeks ago, employment in channel positions is on the up. There are more jobs in the channel than ever.
Why would vendors, distributors and resellers be employing more people if the channel is going to die?
There will always be partner relationship managers, partner sales managers, partner support specialists.
There is a big emphasis on vendor to vendor collaboration right now which can create more jobs within each vendor for managing the relationship between the two, but again, this has been going on for years previously.
The need for transaction is real. Without transactions a company doesn’t survive. What’s the best way to scale the amount of transactions? It’s through a traditional channel model.
Add the extra paths that come off of the traditional model into the mix and you have a lead generation, awareness creation and support machine that turns your traditional channel into an absolute monster.
We can still call parts of that ecosystem “The Channel”. Ecosystems are just made up of multiple channels that intertwine, as they have always done.
So don’t go firing your channel team just yet. Don’t go closing down your channel programs. Just add on the accelerators into your channel process to scale more quickly and you will be fine.
I’m pretty confident that those 500k+ channel partners around the globe won’t be steering away from their internal processes anytime soon and you, the vendor, don’t have to do that either.
Do what you have always done and just add the extra bonus bits on top.
There is now more opportunity than ever because these processes that we’ve been running for years are just coming to the forefront of people’s attention as we speak.
Now is the time to jump onto these extensions of the channel such as the channel marketing services, the channel lead generation, even recruitment for channel positions.
Everything is becoming more tied together than it’s ever been where it was previously loosely tied together.
The software is catching up to support those processes that have been run outside of the typical channel flow previously.