The niched channel partner vs the "catch all" - who's winning?

Posted by Matt Hodkinson
27-Jul-2016 09:30:00

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With the Cloud Industry Forum showing an adoption rate of 84% among businesses in the UK, it’s fair to say that the cloud is no longer a service to the periphery of the IT industry. Such a significant migration has changed the way businesses view their IT services, leading to a disruptive effect on their relationships with channel partners.

How?

Well, traditionally we might have seen a channel partner model based around the ‘catch all’ one-stop-shop type provider. A partner approach offering a broad range of features, designed to meet the general demands typically faced by their customer base.

However, as businesses recognise that the productivity, profits and efficiency of their operations can be effected by specific IT services and software solutions, the one-size fits all, generic solution becomes a less viable proposition. Putting the pressure on channel partners to focus their service provision on more specific niches.

Getting Specific Through Services

More and more, we are seeing businesses seeking specific services from their channel partner that will support business development in one way or another. Productivity improvements, security or protection against costly downtime, or applications to drive sales and marketing.

As the corporate world grows ever more technologically savvy, there’s deeper understanding that an IT solution of one kind or another underpins virtually every aspect of a business’ operations. Meaning channel partners are having to really get to know and understand their clients in ways they perhaps have never needed to before.

Relationships and marketing strategies need to be aimed at relevant departments. No longer is it sufficient to simply be nurturing a relationship exclusively with the IT team.

If you’re delivering a new CRM system to a business, aimed at improving customer insight, it is the sales and marketing team to whom your own marketing strategies need to be focused. It is the leaders of this team that need to be convinced as to the value of your solution.

The Niche Channel Partner

Delivering niche services to businesses is essentially a reflection of the way in which we search for products in the era of Google and Bing.

Internet search behaviour is less and less generic, individuals and businesses focusing their attention towards finding products and services that address a specific need, or solve a particular problem.

And as it is with internet searches, so it can be with IT solutions. There’s an inordinate amount of vendors and channel partners offering broad, generic products. It makes for a crowded marketplace in which it’s easy to get lost.

Moreover, it’s also a marketplace that can represent a waste of resource and effort when marketing your services. Understanding how your service can resolve specific issues for the client positions yourself as a market specialist. And as businesses seek specific services to resolve specific issues, the strong likelihood is they will look to specialists such as yourself to deliver the peace of mind that comes from working with experts in the field.

Conclusion

IT is no longer the preserve of the IT department. So integral to a company’s operations is it that technology is a key agenda issue in sales, marketing, accounts and all the way to the boardroom.

Channel partners need to recognise that each area of a business will have its own specific IT needs.

And in focusing on specific niche services directed at these individual needs offers the best chance of enjoying profitable partnerships – recognised as specialists and placed upon a higher pedestal than the generic ‘catch-all’ crowd.

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