Channel folks, let’s talk.

The channel is changing, though that’s a given. It evolves every time a fresh, exciting product takes the industry by storm, or a partner program pulls off a bold new way of achieving ROI. There’s one huge change on the horizon, though, that’s finally getting some air time.

As Jay McBain noted this week at the 2019 Channel Partners Expo, 40% of channel business owners are planning to retire in the next five years. That’s a pretty stunning statistic by itself, but we’ve got another big stat following right behind.

75% of the channel is going to be made up of millennials by 2024, and that number is even higher in customer-facing and channel sales roles. Startled that such a huge chunk of the workforce will be comprised of the generation killing every industry you can think of? (Napkins, golf, soda…) You shouldn’t be. The channel will be in good hands, though, of course, it’s possible I’m biased. I’m a millennial myself, after all.

I’ve mentioned being a millennial before. We’re up and coming — most of us are settling into our career paths, or still figuring out where our career path is. We’re hungry for meaningful work, and a lot of us will search the field until we find something that scratches that itch. We are the future faces behind technology, and we’re an industry-busting, individualistic, curious bunch. We’ll ask the tough questions, and come up with new answers.

And we’ve got some tough acts to follow. Channel vets have broken ground on some seriously exciting stuff for the road ahead, like hyperspecialized industries and the rise of agencies in the channel. Passing the torch to millennials means acknowledging that how the channel works will evolve even more over time. As it is, it’s already much different than it once was — partners are choosier than ever, and both partners and suppliers are having to be more aggressive when going out for the sell.

Here at Zift, we’ve been thinking about going forward a lot. We’re looking forward as ONE, and are pouring our teams’ diverse talents into a vision of a platform totally dedicated to ONE complete channel management system.

The channel will just keep changing, so: We all need to be channel chameleons. Accept change, and adjust accordingly.


Have any thoughts you’d like to share on the young and young-at-heart in the channel? We’d love to hear your take! Leave a comment below.