Maybe It's Time to Change (Your Approach to) the Channel

Companies that commit to channel partnership programs can adapt more quickly, strengthening their competitive edge.

Zhanna Boguslavska, Global Channel and Alliances Marketing Lead

January 26, 2024

4 Min Read
Change your approach to channel

After hitting fast-forward on innovation this year — from the explosion of ChatGPT into consumer use cases to leaps forward in AI-powered observability, service management and database management solutions for enterprises — it's clear that nothing in the technology world remains static for long. Yet, the industry's approach to channel partnerships has been stuck on pause.

Channel partnerships with Yahoo and AOL were what initially helped Google blossom from an unknown technology company with a niche area of expertise into a multitrillion-dollar global technology leader. Twenty-five years later, channel partners are no less valuable — but the landscape around them has been reshaped.

The proliferation of AI and cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings has upended the enterprise technology status quo just as dramatically as streaming steamrolled Blockbuster a decade ago. Resellers, affiliate partners, distributors and value-added providers are facing the same challenges and complications as software developers. Cloud-native SaaS and subscription models aren't merely changing how customers work — they're changing what, where and how customers buy the tools they need.

As sustainable growth becomes more important for enterprises (and resources become more constrained), channel partners are invaluable assets that can inform your strategy, strengthen your competitive edge and reduce the risks of expanding into new markets. Committing to a robust, mutually beneficial channel partnership program in 2024 can help your organization adapt to today's complex conditions — and thrive and scale more effectively within them.

Much like everyone who's on their 100th rewatch of "The Office" or anyone who binged "Tiger King" in quarantine, if you're not already taking full advantage of your partner network, it's time to modernize your approach to change the channel.

Navigating channel partnerships is a lot like channel surfing. With a few minor adjustments, you can easily find the best program for your organization's current needs, culture, growth rate or goals. By tuning into the different benefits of the channel, here's how you can take full advantage of all your partners have to offer (and offer them greater value in return) in 2024.

(Build a Strong, Loyal) Network

Some organizations are hesitant to allocate a budget toward setting up channel partnerships — but doing so is a strategic investment in sustained, scalable growth. According to an impact study (registration required) by Forrester, the typical composite organization using a robust channel partner program was able to achieve a 296% return on investment over three years — leading to an average of $2.4 million in net value in the same time frame.

By giving your channel partners more incentive to invest in your brand's success — through marketing support or the ability to sell across your entire portfolio — you are directly nurturing your relationship with them and, by extension, the customers in their market.

(Save Your Team's) Prime Time

Even though channel partners are technically situated outside your organization, they can still provide immense lift to your team by freeing up valuable time and resources. For instance, by handling things like customer onboarding in their respective markets, the focus can remain on critical core competencies, driving innovation and improving operations. In other words, your enterprise gets to focus on what it does best while empowering your partners to do the same.

Additionally, channel partners are in an excellent position to offer your customers exceptional, personalized service, support and onboarding. You'll be able to save on valuable brainpower and time for your teams, while still offering customers the consistent, high-touch service and support they rely on.

(Experience the Benefits of) Local Access

Don't overlook the value your channel partner brings just by being immersed in their own local, niche or untapped market. A strong channel partnership isn't only about gaining a geographic foothold in a new market. Tapping into your partners' firsthand expertise means access to deeper knowledge, stronger relationships and trustworthy, tested insights. Channel partners can be both your local guide and your local champion. Trust, brand awareness and credibility are crucial when entering a new market. By treating your channel partners as true partners to your organization, they can help plant and sow those seeds for your organization — without the need to set up costly infrastructure or consultations.

As your organization develops a clearer picture for its future and growth goals, setting up the right network of channel partnerships is what you need to transform from a local gem into a national hit.

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About the Author(s)

Zhanna Boguslavska

Global Channel and Alliances Marketing Lead

Zhanna Boguslavska oversees global partner marketing strategy at SolarWinds. She leads global channel marketing plans and programs aligned with growth objectives across North America, EMEA, APJ and LATAM, as well as SolarWinds Global Transform Partner Program, along with expanding partnerships and co-marketing initiatives with strategic alliances partners such as Microsoft and AWS. Previous experience included posts at Dell and Nokia.

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