Some channel leaders shine particularly bright. There is an undeniable spark as they discuss channel sales and marketing trends, best practices and transformation. Maria Chien, Service Director for Channel Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions, is one of them. Maria recently spoke with Zift Solutions for Channel Visions and we’re thrilled to share portions of her perspective and thought leadership in this new Channel Chatter Series.

Working in the Channel

While some may find working in the channel difficult or intimidating, Maria Chien has enjoyed spending the bulk of her career firmly ensconced in channel dynamics. She’s been with SiriusDecisions for nearly five years, initially serving as Research Director for Channel Marketing Strategies and now running the Channel Marketing Strategies Service. When Zift asked, “Why a career in the channel?” She didn’t miss a beat.

“I love the unpredictable nature of the channel,” said Chien. “For me, it’s about building the right relationships with the right partners, and putting programmatic infrastructure in place to drive the effectiveness of those partnerships. It changes on a day-to-day basis and that keeps it fresh and exciting.”

Channel Changes

Chien noted that the relationship between channel partners and their suppliers is undergoing massive transformation. And, while some organizations are focused on capturing partner mindshare, others are choosing not to do so.

“Ultimately, their channel programs will suffer,” she said. “Channel relationships and partnerships are vital for the success of an organization. They are your direct link to your end user customers. Those organizations that have learned how to capture and maintain partner mindshare are turning that into a strength that is ultimately a competitive advantage.”

Emerging Channel Trends Add Up to Big Partner Ideas

When we asked Maria to discuss some of the emerging channel trends that she’s seeing in the channel today, she pointed out that many channel organizations are taking their cues from the direct side of the business, including:

  • Examining the partner’s role within the customer lifecycle,
  • Determining how to involve partners in an account-based marketing strategy, and
  • Digging into sales and marketing operations from a measurability standpoint.

“Some of the big ideas I’m hearing today focus on improving the partner experience, and that’s not a new idea, but it’s a big idea,” she said. “I call it a big idea because the partner experience is actually starting to get the resources and attention that it deserves. Programs that marry a strong product with a strong partner experience are succeeding – and they are the programs that partners are showing a preference for.”

Learn more about Maria Chien’s experience in the channel, what she sees as today’s transformative channel trends, and why maintaining a positive partner experience is more important than ever on