Skip to main content

The old channel sales cycles are dead – communities are the future

Insights Collaboration

René Klein

Executive Vice President, Westcon Europe

This article first appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of PCR magazine

In the past, sales cycles within the channel were transactional, easy to predict and formulaic.

Based largely on hardware sales and renewals, it was possible to identify key sales moments and opportunities across the quarter and year well in advance and plan around them.

With the shift to software, XaaS and subscription-based models that revolve around recurring revenue, this dynamic has bitten the dust. Now it’s a case of maintaining constant contact and adding value across the solutions lifecycle, optimising revenue at every stage.

To thrive in this new subscription economy, channel organisations need two things.

Data-driven approach

First, they need to harness the power of data and analytics. Specifically, this is about having the right customer data – including transactional data and data insights to help partners grow their customer base and add more value over the entire customer lifecycle.

The importance of data and analytics was acknowledged by the Technology and Services Industry Association (TSIA) when it recently updated the LAER framework (Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew) it first launched in 2014 with the addition of Analyse and Place (hence APLAER). 

As the TSIA stated when unveiling the updated APLAER model: “It’s now time to think about digital intelligence with a model that takes better advantage of the wealth of data that is available to your company … in the next decade … every part of the customer lifecycle will be enhanced and digitally transformed by data and analytics.”

Channel players are beginning to heed this message. 48% of partners we surveyed for our recent Navigating the Shift research report stated that data on customer lifecycle and renewal dates is important as they transition to subscription and recurring-revenue models.

Power of communities

If the importance of the data opportunity is being widely grasped across the channel, I’m not sure the same can be said of the second element that’s needed to thrive in this new era of sales – the power of community.

When I say ‘community’, I don’t mean ESG-led initiatives like planting trees near offices and undertaking charity volunteering days (as important as these things are).

Rather, the communities reshaping how business is done in the channel are those that serve as a forum for sharing knowledge and driving education and enablement across different players. These range from vendors to distributors and partners like value-added resellers, managed service providers (MSPs) and systems integrators.

Influence and inform

Distributors and vendors are increasingly going beyond traditional sales routes. Instead, they’re looking to influence and inform partners’ tech teams, realising that building deep relationships at multiple levels is the key to delivering long-term value.

One example of this community-based approach is our TechXpert forum we’ve recently launched in collaboration with multiple cybersecurity and networking vendors.

The exclusive, opt-in community, the tagline of which is ‘by techies, for techies’, is aimed at cybersecurity professionals working in the channel and emphasises shared learning without the hard sell.

Guest speakers from vendors have shared insights on topical issues, from the EU’s NIS2 cybersecurity regulation to revolutionising security outcomes with AI and ML and enhancing detection and response with deception technology.

TechXpert offers exclusive training, insights, events, networking and rewards to drive competitive advantage, increase engagement and adoption of the latest technologies across the full security portfolio delivering end-to-end solutions.

Rethinking sales for the XaaS era

This community-based approach involves a fundamental rethink of the traditional approach to sales.

For distributors, I believe our unique position at the heart of the value chain means we’re ideally placed to drive these communities and shape the evolution of the channel – demonstrating our value while empowering partners to succeed now and in the future.