This year's event will offer unique experiences to help you build your business.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

January 29, 2020

7 Min Read
Boxing Champion

2020 is kicking off with a bang for the channel, and over here at Channel Partners and Channel Futures, we’re gearing up for our annual spring conference, the Channel Partners Conference and Expo.

Held at the Venetian and Sands Expo in Las Vegas, March 9-12, Channel Partners is the world’s largest channel event, drawing an anticipated 6,400 participants, including 300 key vendors, distributors and master agents. We work hard every year to raise the bar for our team, and we hope that when you see this year’s lineup, you’ll say we hit the mark.

Our theme for this year’s show is “Champions Made Here,” and we know that there isn’t a Billie Jean King, Lady Gaga or Steve Jobs that made it to champion status without a clear plan of action and a will to overcome learning curves. At Channel Partners this year, we’re delivering the tools partners need to become champions of the channel.

We’ve challenged each of our keynote speakers and session leaders to include a specific action plan or resource with their talk so that partners can immediately begin to act on what they’ve learned. How many conferences have you been to where you hear the best recommendations, but by the time you get home and back to business, all of that great content goes on the back burner? We want to help partners with that bridge between conference and the real life of running their company. When you leave Channel Partners this year, you’ll do so armed with a slew of resources to help you start taking your business to the next level.

To that end, we’re going deeper than just broad overviews of industry trends. Partners all know cybersecurity, for instance, is a hot market. It’s how to act on that trend that’s hard. That’s why we’ve got an entire track devoted to how to put a security action plan in place. Janet Lawless, the founder and CEO of the Center for Threat Intelligence, is coming in to teach attendees about the basics of cybersecurity threats in 2020, what partners should be paying attention to, and how to monetize defense and response in her session, “What the Heck is a Threat Landscape Anyway?” And on our keynote stage, McAfee’s chief scientist and McAfee fellow Raj Samani lays out what to look for in “The Future of Ransomware, Explained.”

Once you have a solid understanding of what your security focus should be, join Tech Data’s VP of security solutions, Alex Ryals, as he helps partners walk through how to create a security stack in his session, “Stairway to Security Revenue: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Security Practice.” But the big question is how partners without a ton of security experience can have that conversation with their prospects and customers. That’s where sales guru Jennifer Bleam comes in with her session, “Selling Security Doesn’t Have to Be Scary” to teach you how to pitch security to your customers.

In our technology track this year, we go beyond hypothesizing about emerging technology to dig deep into how partners can leverage their existing capabilities. Julie Dzubay of AppSmart will show attendees how to build upon connectivity solutions in her session, “Using SD-WAN to Upsell.” In “How to Get in Early on the CPaaS Opportunity,” John Arnold will lead a team of expert panelists to teach partners about the hottest new trend in the channel. And our own Lauren Horwitz is walking attendees through how to craft a 30-60-90 day plan to capitalize on the internet of things in her panel discussion, “IoT: The Promise, the Pitfalls, and How Partners Can Help.”

Year after year, our attendees ask us for content on how to sell, sell, sell! This year, you asked, and we answered in a big way. TPx’s Jared Martin will be on hand to share how telco agents can integrate managed services into their revenue streams in “Agents Can Sell Managed Services. Here’s How.” The amazing Rackspace channel CTO Paul Croteau will teach partners how to move away from talking tech and toward talking business outcomes in “You Are Leaving Lots of Money on the Table: Uncovering Cloud Revenue from the C-Suite.” In “The Upsell/Cross-Sell Playbook,” Dave Dyson of Eclipse Telecom proves that with …

… the right angle, it’s far more profitable (and easy!) to sell existing customers on new solutions than to measure success on net new clients.

Don’t miss “Sales Smackdown: Stand-Up Comedy Meets Super Sales Strategies” on the expo hall floor, where a quartet of experienced and witty partners will tackle sales objections thrown at them from the audience. Also on the expo floor are sales gurus Ashlyn Szilva and Vlad Krause to show that social selling isn’t just for millennials. Their talk comes complete with a social selling e-guide and a 30-minute consultation after the conference for everyone who attends the session.

Perhaps most exciting, this year we’ve got the inimitable Will Harris, founder of the Willpower Group and author of “Power Prospecting: Different is the New Great” on our keynote stage to talk about selling with a purpose. His talk “Experiential Selling: The Newest Ways Partners Upsell and Outsell” will come with a wide variety of sales training resources that will help you turn deal-loyal strangers into brand-loyal customers.

And we haven’t forgotten business best practices. From customer experience to contracts, recruitment to retainment, we’ve got sessions to show you how to take your operations to the next level. To really up your business know-how, join us for this year’s preconference Business Success Workshop: Planning for the Future. We have a slew of experts who will walk attendees through business planning concepts such as how to calculate your valuation, what investors are looking for on your balance sheets and how to scale in order to outpace your competition. Don’t expect all buzzwords and trend talks. We’ll be providing a detailed workbook to walk you through each concept and give you specific, step-by-step action items.

While at Channel Partners, you can’t miss our new Debate 2020 series where two teams of industry experts square off in an old-fashioned debate on a hot new industry controversy. We’ll be debating convergence, the future of master agents and distributors, and the role of managed security this year. With participants like Janet Schijns of JS Group, Karin Fields of MicroCorp, PlanetOne’s Ted Schuman, and Scott Barlow from Sophos, these sessions promise high energy and industry expertise. Which team will win? That’s all up to the audience.

We’re also bringing back our popular competition, “Shark Stage: Who Will Win a Place on a Line Card?” where businesses looking to spin up their own indirect sales channels pitch their business plan to a lineup of master agents and distributors — a chance to show what they’re made of and prove they have what it takes to excel in the channel. Sound like something that’s right for you? (Even partners are developing their own channels!) Submit an application for the chance to take stage to present your solution to our panel of sharks.

Finally, if networking is more your thing, we’ve got plenty of opportunities. Our annual First-Timers Reception gives you a chance to hobnob with other newbie attendees and sponsors; the 501er Community meetup will provide peer dialogue and opportunities for intimate vendor conversations; and the Alliance of Channel Women event gives men and women alike a chance to engage with an under-represented, yet fast-growing, segment of the channel.

At Channel Partners 2020, we’re focused on making the partner experience better than it ever has been. Join us in Vegas this spring for the chance to learn how to become business and sales savvy from some of the brightest minds in the tech channel. In short, dive into this year’s theme: “Champions Made Here.”

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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