Join the channel revolution!
Stefan Utzinger, 20-year IT industry veteran and CEO of backup software manufacturer Novastor Group, has written his first book, Channel Revolution- A pragmatic guide to building and maintaining a profitable channel. In the book, he candidly shares his expertise in the form of practical tips and insight that will help you make the most your channel relationships.
For anyone that deals even remotely with channel sales within the software industry, get ready to consider this book your new bible! All of Utzinger’s experience is documented for you to learn in a few hours what it took him 20 years to learn, including practical examples of how to run your channel management program.
The book is split into three main parts: Channel Reach and Revenue, A Revolutionary Approach and Execution.
The first part, Channel Reach, gives great detail and background about:
- Why multiple channels are an important component of any sales strategy (Utzinger states that they are “the only way to achieve global market penetration” on page 18)
- The differences between channel partner types and business models and why they are important
- The truth about discounts and how to add value instead of giving discounts
- How to successfully embrace channel trends such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing
- How to attract channel partners and the key factors for successful relationships
This section is very timely, covering the white-hot areas of SaaS and cloud computing in detail. Furthermore, for readers with little to no understanding of the channel space, this is a wonderful overview with practical examples of how the channels work.
The second part, A Revolutionary Approach, “defines the new rules for working within the channel.” Utzinger uses Henry Ford, Michael Dell and Steve Jobs as examples of how taking a revolutionary approach can lead you much farther than in taking a “me too” approach. This second section discusses:
- Moving from product features to complete solutions by changing your mindset to “make friends, not enemies.”
- Generating new business for your partners through the power of white labeling, revolutionary incentive programs and flag partners
- Embracing SaaS to turn resellers into managed service providers (MSP)
- Boosting your channel business with e-commerce by allowing you to focus on your core business and scale your partner channel
- Building a multi-channel strategy by breaking down barriers and encourage cooperation between channels
Utzinger is clearly excited by the changes (and opportunities) that are occurring within the channel space right now. One of the trends that we have seen recently is B2B companies worrying less about channel conflict by selling direct and embracing online e-commerce by including channel partners in the process. With SaaS and cloud solutions, this is really a necessity because end users are interacting directly with the software manufacturer’s website. This second part ends with a great comparison chart between “The Old Way” and “The Revolutionary Way.” This section bridges the gap between channel novices and veterans in a seamless way.
The final part of the book, Execution, is a must-read by anyone that is trying to start a channel program, managing an existing program or working within a channel program. There are no secrets left to hide as Utzinger shares:
- How to build a partner-centric organization by finding the right people
- The appropriate tools to build a large scale channel network
- Growing channels with proper partner database management and partner recruitment
- Increasing sales through lead management, pipeline management and revenue and deal forecasts
In this section Utzinger provides a practical guide that includes real actionable tasks, lists and steps.
One common theme throughout the book is that building a successful channel strategy requires a serious investment by independent software vendors (ISV). “Don’t lose sight of the fact that both you and your channel partners need to profit from the partnership.”
I highly recommend this book for resellers, distributors, e-commerce professionals and software manufacturers. “ISVs and their resellers have to stop thinking in old fashioned reseller terms.” Validate your channel knowledge with an industry expert or learn how to build and nurture a channel. Either way, you will walk away with more knowledge than you started with.