This month marks the 15th anniversary of Channel Dynamics. When we started this business in 2004, we didn’t realise how radically the channel would change over that time, nor how much we would have to adapt to remain relevant to our clients.
As the industry has matured, so too has the need for vendors, distributors and solution providers/MSPs (once up on a time referred to as dealers/resellers) to reinvent themselves, their business models, and most importantly, their people. In this article, we look back over the last 15 years, and how the needs of our clients have shaped the business we’ve become.
2004 – The initial idea
Channel Dynamics was registered on 28th October, with the goal of consulting to small Australian companies, who had created a great product, but didn’t know how to go to market. Our mission was to help them develop a channel model to achieve rapid growth. That was the plan anyway…
2005 – Finding our feet
We couldn’t have got it more wrong!
- The industry still hadn’t fully emerged from slump caused by overselling during the Y2K scare a few years earlier, and no one cared about sound channel strategy – they just wanted partners to sell more. So we did no consulting… all of it was Partner Sales Training to help their sales reps sell products
- We didn’t deal with any small Australian companies… all our clients were large American multinationals
- None of these companies had just created a new product… they were established vendors with large product portfolios
It was a valuable lesson. You may have a plan, but if you can’t adapt to your clients’ needs, you join the 30% of companies who go out of business in their first 2 years.
2006 – Vendors do need their partners after all
As the economy started to pick up in 2006, we found that companies realised they needed more scalable growth, and the best way to do that was to leverage partners. So working with the channel became important again. We did a lot more Channel Management Training, and our consulting business started to flourish with activities such helping vendors develop their Channel Strategy and Partner Strategy Planning Facilitation sessions.
2007 – But they don’t understand their partners
Although vendors were signing up partners who said they were committed, this wasn’t being reflected in the sales results. And so we were engaged to run Channel Research Projects to understand what was happening in the channel and what partners really thought of the vendor. Because we understood the industry, and because the surveys were channel neutral and anonymous, partners were willing to share feedback they couldn’t or wouldn’t say directly to their vendors. This allowed us to gain valuable insights about the channel that the vendors wouldn’t otherwise have been able to learn, and to adjust their channel strategy appropriately.
2008-2009 – Distributors work out how to use us
2008 through 2009 will be remembered as the years that distribution first worked out how to leverage Channel Dynamics. A number of distributors used us to train their partners, and we did a lot of MDF-funded partner training around Solution Selling. This was a real value add from distributors – using their own product managers to explain the products, then using one of our trainers to explain how to identify target markets, uncover opportunities, and present a solution in a compelling manner. One of the most effective uses of MDF we’ve seen.
2010 – Too many (or not the right) Distis?
As vendors consolidated, many found they had too many distributors, or the distis they had weren’t the right match for their needs anymore. So Channel Dynamics conducted Distribution Reviews that helped vendors take an objective approach to how they selected the optimal distributor(s) for their needs. The fact that many of these are still operational today is a testament to the value of getting it right.
2011 – We open a Singapore office
With more clients asking us to perform activities in Asia Pacific, it made sense to have a legal entity in Singapore. Instead of locating a full-time person in that office, our model was to use it as central point, but to have local associates who could deliver our activities in the region. Today, we have relationships with contractors who can deliver training or consulting in Singapore, HK, China, India, Korea and Japan.
2012 & 2013 – The strategy years
Over these two years, we found that vendors wanted to build deeper and more strategic relationships with their partners. We were engaged to develop new Channel Programs, review existing ones, provide Coaching and Mentoring for channel directors and managers, and facilitate Partner Advisory Councils as a means of better engagement. The level of Channel Management training also became more sophisticated with more emphasis being placed on understanding the financials of partners and being able to conduct effective Business Reviews (QBRs).
2014 – It’s all about the cloud
While today Cloud would be considered “business as usual”, in 2014, there were still many companies who were eyeing it with suspicion. We were invited to deliver a number of Keynote addresses on the how to accelerate the “Transition to the Cloud”. While the number of sessions we do in this area with software vendors has diminished, it’s interesting how many hardware vendors are now going through this same process today. This transition also triggered us to start working with selected mid market partners looking to transform their business to cloud and a more managed services business model. We used the same approach to help them select the right vendors, then align their structure and build their selling skills to move to an annuity revenue model. And so, the Reseller Health Check service was introduced.
2015 – CompTIA comes to Australia
After 30 years of operating in the US, and having established a presence in the UK and Canada, the world’s largest non-profit industry trade association – CompTIA – decided to create a channel community for the ANZ channel. It was an absolute honour that, rather than using the model they have in their 9 other communities (ie. of hiring their own staff) CompTIA selected Channel Dynamics to represent them both for the community events and also as registered faculty trainers. That relationship has been extremely valuable for both parties, and we hope to continue the Community’s growth in years to come.
2016 – Expansion into Europe and USA
What started as a one line enquiry via our web site, turned into a workshop for 100 channel account managers across 5 countries in USA, Europe and Asia Pacific. Since then we have delivered programs in 20 different countries, and today, more than 50% of our revenue comes from non-AUD currency.
2017 – We launch an Online Course
While our training has always been tailored around our clients, we continue to receive enquiries from Channel Managers in remote locations, who cannot travel to where a course is being held. So we developed a self-paced online Channel Management course, which enabled our clients to learn the key principles of Channel Management at their own pace, from the convenience of their PC, Mac, notebook or mobile device. What was interesting was how many clients used this as a refresher after the face-to-face workshop.
2018 – Vendors need new (MSP) partners
With more products moving away from on-prem to XaaS, vendors realised they needed a new breed of partner to sell their technologies. And so Channel Dynamics was engaged for projects around new Partner Identification. In many ways, what we did was similar to the way a good recruiter helps you find the best people for your company… remove much of the grunt work, and only present vendors with a short list of partners that are likely to be successful.
2019 – We run an Open Course (Finally!)
While our training has always been delivered in the form of tailored workshops for our clients, we receive many enquiries from individuals or smaller vendors who can’t justify running a tailored workshop for 2-3 people. As a result, we established our first Public Course that was open to anyone. The feedback has been amazing, and attendees have commented on how valuable it has been to be exposed to people from other companies with diverse channel programs/strategies. That has now become a regular workshop we run every 3 months.
The last 15 years have been amazing, and we thank you for your business, your feedback, and your loyalty. We don’t know what the years ahead will look like, but as long as the channel exists, we hope we can be there as your consulting and training partner to help you achieve “leverage through partnership”.