Guest Column | December 15, 2015

Stop Reacting: How To Become a Differentiated Channel Partner Through Proactive Customer Experience

Will Carter and Brandon Mills, managers at ZS

By Will Carter and Brandon Mills, managers at ZS

The truth can hurt. But as channel partners, you must face the fact that you need to change the way you do business to be successful in today’s IT landscape. 

IT customers are increasingly in need of solutions, not products — and they often want those solutions delivered in a cloud-subscription or “as-a-Service” model. Combined with the ever-decreasing margins on traditional resale, your success (or failure) will be based on your ability to provide services that retain existing customers, drive recurring revenue, and attract new customers. 

The customer experience (CX) is often the best tool you have to differentiate yourself in the market. You must get ahead of your customers and deliver innovative experiences that meet or exceed their expectations. If you fail to do so, other channel partners (and, very likely, vendors) will step in and change the game, rendering you irrelevant. 

Take, for example, a large VAR that has appeared on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list. It was blindsided when a multinational information services company that had been a customer for more than five years decided to take its entire business elsewhere. The customer felt that the incumbent partner wasn’t able to deliver excellent CX in a cloud services model. Despite having exceptional products and services that could continue to meet its client’s needs, this VAR lost all of the business when the client’s chief information officer decided that a smaller, more nimble solution provider would be better able to develop a comprehensive hybrid cloud strategy.

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