Welcome to the ever-evolving business and technology landscape of 2023, where change is no longer a luxury but a necessity. It’s a journey that partners are embarking upon, seeking to transform their business models and find new paths to success. At CompTIA’s annual ChannelCon conference earlier this month, senior director of industry analysis Carolyn April led a session about how managed service providers are navigating business transformation, the challenges that come with it, and how they can overcome the fear of change. The statistics coming from her survey of MSPs paint a picture of an industry that’s constantly evolving and how partners are trying to manage change. 

Surely, such changes can be intimidating. The road to transformation isn’t always smooth. Fear, uncertainty, and questions are natural companions during this journey. However, here’s the good news: vendors are not just bystanders. They are the guiding lights that can help partners navigate the transformational waters, illuminating the path, and making the journey less intimidating. So, let’s dive in and explore how vendors can be true partners in this transformative process.

1. Evolution: More Than Meets the Eye

Transformation isn’t just about shifting from being resellers to becoming Managed Service Providers (MSPs). It’s a grand canvas where partners are painting a new picture of their business. Some are diving into specialized niches, while others are embracing consultancy, and some are venturing into fields like cybersecurity and business applications. As vendors, you have the chance to embrace these diverse forms of transformation and provide tailored support to each partner’s unique journey.

2. A Cheerful Push Towards MSP and Beyond

Although the transition to MSPs has been the talk of the town, the reality is that only about half of the partners have taken the plunge. This stat is a friendly reminder that transformation isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. As a vendor, you can play the role of a seasoned guide, offering success stories and insights into alternative pathways. By sharing real stories of partners who have gracefully traversed this path, you’re offering hope and encouragement, giving partners the confidence to explore the uncharted waters of transformation.

3. Rising Above Competitive Waves

Partners face a dynamic myriad of challenges: From the survey, partners identified three top competitive barriers, including online marketplaces (49%), vendors’ direct sales (46%), and even their own peers (35%). But hold on, vendors, you’re not just here to sympathize. For instance, you can help partners view online marketplaces not as competition, but as strategic enablers. Positioning partners as consultants and MSPs empowers them to lead customers towards these marketplaces, whose products and solutions they can then help implement and manage, enhancing the overall ecosystem. It’s about embracing collaboration over competition.

4. Skill Gaps and Financial Hurdles: Bridge the Gap

According to the survey, partners are grappling with skill shortages (39%), transition expenses (36%), and employee training (34%). Vendors, you’re in the prime position to lend a helping hand. Offer training resources, certifications, and financial support through well-designed programs. This doesn’t just alleviate financial stress, it reinforces the bond between you and your partners, showcasing your commitment to their growth journey.

5. Communication: The Beacon of Clarity

Crystal-clear communication is the anchor throughout this transformation voyage. Vendors, create channels where partners can fully grasp the “why” behind the changes, the benefits they bring, and how they align with broader objectives. A mix of webinars, virtual events, and communication platforms can serve as your vehicles of information, helping partners navigate the ambiguity and embrace the journey with confidence. The key to being this type of trusted adviser? Regular conversations with partners during business reviews and constant communication with your customers about what their goals are and how you can help them achieve them.

6. Step by Step: A Journey of Incremental Evolution

Remember, transformation is not a one-time affair; it’s a continuous journey. Encourage partners to take measured steps out of their comfort zones. By celebrating every small milestone, partners gain a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep moving forward. As a vendor, your role is not only to inspire but also to guide partners in embracing gradual yet meaningful change.

7. Conquering Fear through Shared Wisdom

Fear often lurks where change resides. Here’s where your expertise comes into play. You have the benefit of an extensive partner ecosystem, many of which have navigated transformation themselves. Create a platform where partners can learn from their peers who’ve conquered their fears and emerged victorious. Peer experiences are a treasure trove of insights and courage. By fostering this sharing spirit, you’re transforming fear into confidence, creating a united front against the unknown.

8. Embracing Sales Amidst Transformation

Regardless of the transformation, partners are, at their core, sales-driven entities. As a vendor, reinforce this mindset. Equip partners with sales enablement materials, insights into market trends, and strategies for customer engagement. This empowers partners to not only survive the transformation but thrive within it.

9. Bridging the Gap: Business Challenges over Tech Talk

Partners often begin their journey fueled by technology passion, only to realize the need for a solid grasp of the business side. You, as a vendor, can steer partners towards connecting with customers’ real-world challenges rather than becoming mired in technical jargon. It’s about finding solutions that resonate with customers’ needs and transcending the tech-stack conversation.

10. The Power of Problem Solving

In the heart of transformation, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of change. Yet, your guidance can help partners ground themselves by focusing on one pivotal question: “What problem are you trying to solve?” By tackling transformation with a clear problem-solving mindset, partners shift from change for the sake of change to an understanding that change comes with a quantifiable, market-driven purpose. Keep their eyes on the long-term goal, and transformation becomes much less intimidating.

Embracing Transformation Together

As the business landscape evolves, the role of vendors in supporting partners’ transformation journeys becomes increasingly vital. Partners are embarking on a path that’s often filled with uncertainty and challenges. By heeding the lessons from CompTIA’s research, vendors can stand shoulder to shoulder with partners, guiding them through the labyrinth of change.

Remember, it’s not just about being a spectator. Vendors can be the beacon of hope, the source of inspiration, and the provider of practical solutions. Each challenge partners face, from talent shortages to market disruptions, is an opportunity for vendors to step in, offering resources, insights, and guidance.

And, let’s not forget the magic of Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solutions. These platforms can be the bridge that connects partners with tailored assistance, knowledge sharing, and collaborative forums. In an era where change is the only constant, PRM solutions enable vendors to be partners in the truest sense, guiding partners towards a future that’s brighter, more innovative, and confidently transformed. Together, vendors and partners can navigate the waves of change, emerging stronger and more resilient than ever before.When you’re ready to optimize your channel program, take a look at what the ZiftONETM platform can do for you.