Once again, Forrester has released its predictions for global technology spending and, unsurprisingly, budget cuts are on the horizon. The forecast decline in tech spending this time is 75 per cent.
More often than not, predictions of business spend take on a negative tone that is partly to blame for the continued economic gloom. I find that such surveys and forecasts are often contradictory.
Furthermore, there are areas where vendors can work harder to help the channel.
It is easy for vendors to forget to maintain their channel relationships, contacting their channel partners regularly to ensure they have the products and supporting materials they need, for example. This must be prioritised, alongside promoting a collaborative approach to achieve their common goals.
If budgets are to continue to shrink, vendor and channel partner must work together to redefine the offers and options available to customers.
Experience and expertise is becoming increasingly important in driving sales, so there should be more sharing of industry knowledge.
Partners also need to be fully cognisant of the bigger picture and business objectives, to maximise their potential and ultimately deliver the best offerings to their customers. This is especially true in a time of rapid technological innovation as well as consolidation in the industry.
Incentive schemes are widespread; sales teams are always going to be driven by results and rewards. However, care must be taken when developing such a scheme as a half-baked initiative can end up encouraging the wrong behaviour. They also need to be sustainable long term – often with an awards programme incorporated – and provide for partner progress to be regularly reviewed.
Partners should always get the product training they need – there is nothing new there. But the focus should be on the development of softer skills, such as communication and negotiation. Partners need to be able to deliver more and go beyond product knowledge to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market.
Vendors have their work cut out. Equally, partners have an opportunity to develop new ways of working in order to maintain a healthy customer base when the overall IT spend is predicted to decline.
Rich Phillips is UK and Ireland channel director at SAP
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