Top Gun 51 Channel Executives: Did Your Top Supplier Make the Cut?

Who among today's channel executives deserves recognition? It's our big Top Gun 51 reveal.

July 15, 2019

17 Slides

“You’ve got to get a rock star channel chief — this is not an ‘anyone will do’ kind of industry,” said JS Group founder Janet Schijns in a recent webinar on how to become the “it” vendor. “The people that are known, the people that have been in the industry a long time … really make a difference. They can overcome a lot of problems because the partners trust them, and the partners have made money with them before. You have to have someone strong if you want to attract top partners.”

We agree. Thousands of suppliers want top agents, MSPs and VARs to embrace their [UCaaS/SD-WAN/security/insert tech here] solution. Guess what?: Price, product quality and margin matter, but the difference between a profitable channel program and one that gets bogged down in conflict, inertia and spreadsheet complexity hell is leadership.

So who among today’s channel executives deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success?

It’s not an easy question to answer. While many lists call out the usual big names or have selection metrics best described as deus ex machina, we wanted to follow the data. After all, KPIs are another critical element of a successful channel program. With that in mind, we asked our distributor, master-agent and industry-analyst friends to each nominate 10 executives who excel in three areas. To make the list, a leader must be someone who:

  1. Advocates for the channel model with internal leadership. Proof points: Few or no house or named accounts. Product or service has “channel friendly” features and meets advertised claims for end-user functionality. Few operational roadblocks to success within partner program.

  2. Is committed to partners’ business success. Proof points: Has increased the percentage of revenue coming through partners during tenure. Can show data to support innovative programs for, for example, use of MDF funds, training and certifications. Provides effective enablement.

  3. Works to earn trust. Proof points: Considered ethical and honest by partners. Is transparent about direction of company and limitations of product or service. Minimizes risk of engagement.

While we’re not sharing who voted for whom, we thank Anurag Agrawal, founder and chief global analyst, Techaisle; Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath; and Jay McBain, principal analyst, global channels, Forrester. Master agents Avant Communications, MicroCorp, PlanetOne, TBI, Telarus and WTG weighed in, as did distributors Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Pax8.

We will celebrate the #TopGun51 in September at Channel Partners Evolution in Washington, D.C.; this is just one of a slew of new and exciting programs we have planned. On Wednesday we’ll invite three special award winners – Channel Innovator (thought leadership, innovation), Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star – to the keynote stage for a panel discussion.

Click through our gallery below to see who made the inaugural list. We’ve also made our PowerPoint featuring the honorees and their write-ups available for download. Don’t see your favorite leader here? Tell us in the comments why he or she should be on the list next year.

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