The Channel Sales Journey Is Changing

The Channel Sales Journey Is Changing


Take a consultative approach to sales and give customers ongoing support.

BT Wholesale's Phil Toms

Phil Toms

Over the last two years, we’ve seen stakeholders in the channel adapt their offerings to reflect quickly evolving demands. Companies now are faced with a hybrid world, one which is also experiencing an acceleration of digital transformation strategies, so it’s no surprise that the sales journey in the channel is changing, too. While new products are an obvious transition, it’s important that partners understand how sales techniques are evolving, as with this evolution comes increased revenue and growth.

Technology Is Evolving

There’s no doubt the pandemic has affected the types of technology being sold in the channel. For instance, there’s a clear increased demand for services utilising the cloud and for collaboration tools. This is because with more people suddenly working from home, businesses had to quickly empower workforces to perform their job responsibilities and effectively collaborate. Cloud based-infrastructure, for example, allows organisations to deal with increased virtual connectivity requirements, a necessity as people log in remotely.

As such, while portfolios are being expanded to meet customer needs, and customers look to partners for advice on their specific needs, the channel ecosystem needs to take a more consultative approach to sales. Teams must ensure that they know about solutions, pain points and the latest technologies in greater depth to be able to support customers, as well as wider growth strategies.

It may not sound revolutionary, but one of the biggest tricks that’s often missed with new routes to market and the sales cycle of the channel is providing a solution to partners that fits perfectly with their strategy. By building effective working relationships with colleagues, customers and suppliers, relationships which enable the candid sharing of information and efficient service delivery, businesses can align with partners, increasing wallet share for all stakeholders.

Comprehensive Service Management Is No Longer a ‘Nice-to-Have’

Indeed, whether it’s the vertical market that channel partners operate or the products or solutions that they specialise in, every single opportunity is bespoke. After all, the variety of the channel is what makes it unique. That’s why providers are evolving services to offer a portfolio that not only reflects demand but makes them a one-stop shop for all needs.

In the past, end-users would potentially find their solutions from multiple providers. Now, customers want more solutions from one provider, which means the breadth and depth of selling is changing. Tactical or run-rate type selling has diminished and we’re seeing the marketplace and certain verticals looking for larger consolidation products.

To accommodate this, and increase capabilities to streamline central procurement processes, sales techniques in the channel need to evolve. Comprehensive service management is no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity. Service management that not only delivers what customers want now, but are also going to need in the future, will ensure that businesses aren’t left behind – and it’s what makes the channel a diverse and exciting place to sell.

Learning and Development Initiatives, Upskilling Teams Are Key

The only way to ensure that the one-stop shop is not only fully stocked, but profitable, is to prioritise learning and development initiatives.

Before the pandemic, sales techniques were linear, tried and tested. Now, to ensure that teams can keep up with demand, they need to upskill, so they have full visibility over solutions, products and industry trends. No matter how big or experienced a company is, there’s always room to learn. Managers need to make sure they have the resources internally to support their team so they have continued success and are well equipped for any disruption in the sales cycle or industry.

The pandemic has affected routes to market. Salespeople are in the driving seat for how and when partners and customers adopt new technologies, and they need to be adequately trained to ensure it’s a seamless journey.

The way we work has changed and the sales journey in the channel is now more than just transactional. Expansive portfolios, partnerships and having an engaged and knowledgeable team, underpinned by a company that prioritises training and development, will ensure that customers can receive the ongoing support that they seek. Only then can managers drive their sales teams forward, deliver on wider business aims and empower customers.

Phil Toms, senior manager of sales at BT Wholesale, is a sales and service-focused professional with over 15 years working in the channel. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @BTGroup on Twitter.


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