Glenn Robertson

clock • 4 min read

Managing director, Purechannels

What was your dream career as a child?

Professional goalkeeper.

What has been your personal highlight of 2019?

Winning CRN's ‘Best Channel Marketing/PR Agency' - for the second time! Making Purechannels the only agency to have ever won this award twice.

Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?

Gazza - for being brilliant, but not quite as brilliant as he could have been.

What two things (apart from family) would you grab if your house was on fire?

My wallet and my phone.

Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?

MDF is a hugely untapped opportunity for partners. More M&A. Partner Programmes are changing. Vendors need to be more understanding of the needs of partners. Facebook can work in the channel to drive sales. Partners are becoming more powerful. Liverpool win the Champions League.

What TV show have you binge watched this year?


How has 2019 been from a business perspective?

Very good. We have turned losses from recent years into a 19% net profit in FY2019. We have grown the team at Purechannels and brought in some nice new clients. I have been at Purechannels now for seven years and since I acquired the agency outright in June 2018 from the previous owner and founder, we have stabilised, maintained revenue and become more profitable. This sets the scene for the exciting expansion plans we have in place.

What annoys you most about your commute?

Actually, it's not that bad as it's only 15 minutes. It could be a lot worse!

If you could witness one past event, what would it be?

The 1966 World Cup win for England. A great game of football, our only ever World Cup win, at Wembley, in the 1960s - it would have been amazing!

How do you explain the channel to people?

I normally just explain retail, using Nike as the example. Nike makes shoes, it sends them to distributors/wholesalers, who send them to retail stores and/or e-commerce websites and then the end user buys them. That is a channel model, we then apply it to IT/tech/telecoms in B2B where the end user is a business, not a consumer. Failing that, I just say I get paid to have ideas… that's a lot easier!

What have been your favourite and least favourite partner conference destinations?

That's not really appropriate for me. I enjoy all events, regardless of location.

What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?

How long do you have?! For me at the moment, the priority has to be the need for vendors to wake up and catch up, because the coffee is starting to smell very much of power… partner power! Partners are becoming more powerful and vendors need to embrace and support this movement, rather than work/fight against it. The traditional, old-fashioned vendor-led, vertical, top-down channel model is changing. More types of partner are surfacing, and their needs and objectives are different. The ‘shadow' channel is growing and it will continue, welcoming new types of partner and offering new opportunity! The landscape is becoming less and less supportive of a vendor-dictatorship and the vendors that recognise and respond to that will win. We see it a lot, it's big and getting bigger. We see M&A in ‘partner-land' is vibrant with new deals being done almost daily. Partner programmes will need to evolve, based on building a deeper understanding of the individual partner business, providing positive partner experience (PX), with a higher focus on quality rather than quantity. We are going to start seeing a partner-led approach and this is big news. It flips things around, in much the same way consumer-land is seeing the buying behaviour change, B2B channel will too. The buyers are changing, their behaviour is changing so reaching and servicing them has to change also. It's really not that complicated! But sadly we see a lot of unnecessary complication. Vendors need to simplify and focus. They also need to embrace, appreciate and drive channel focus at a board level. The channel needs Chief Channel Officers and Chief Partner Officers. Collaboration via a complete solution and service sell, creating partner eco-systems, marketplaces and communities are going to continue to emerge and vendors will be left at the disposal of these powerful environments if they are not careful. We have already seen partners creating their own programmes that vendors ‘need' to join and this will continue. Now this is not to be too scathing towards vendors as many are responding well and in fact helping to drive this change… and these will be the future winners. There is huge opportunity in supporting, understanding and helping the new, different types of partners to drive success collectively through to end customers.

Oh, and being very specific, three things need serious attention and will help vendors to drive change in their channel activities - both related to the above:

1. Mentality and behaviour: It's got to switch… from vendor want, to partner need. And this means having the right people supporting and driving change.

2. MDF: Management, allocation, process, structure, wastage, misuse and the results that come from something that should be so good but is too often so bad.

3. Partner experience (PX): There are so many parts to this, but the premise is simple - maximise PX and get more from your partners.

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