July 6, 2023
For many women who lead careers as tech advisors, their biggest regret is not starting sooner.
The indirect technology sales channel is undergoing a shift in demographics, as many partner leaders are retiring or selling their businesses. The technology advisor (agent) landscape in particular is witnessing a changing of the guard, with people entering and exiting the space. And some of the partner community’s most influential women are encouraging their female peers to try their hand at running an agency.
ARG’s Sue Messner
“If you’re considering it, my advice would be not to wait and make the move to the partner side,” said Sue Messner, managing partner at ARG. “Being on the partner side has given me the freedom and flexibility to run my business according to my own vision. Building my own business has been an incredibly rewarding experience in my life.”
Channel Futures earlier this year commenced a series titled, “Faces of the Partner,” highlighting individuals from across the ecosystem who are helping to move the industry forward. The series has focused on new technology advisors, retiring technology advisors, and tech advisors in growth mode.
At the same time, Channel Futures is preparing for October’s Women’s Leadership Summit – part of the Channel Futures Leadership Summit – in partnership with Alliance of Channel Women. In anticipation, we are rolling out this Q&A with 13 different women who founded or have led a technology advisory firm.
Register now for the Channel Futures Leadership Summit, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, in Miami. It’s home to the MSP Summit and the Women’s Leadership Summit.
Technology advisors, also known as agents, help business customers source and manage a wide variety of telecom and IT solutions and vendors, earning a monthly recurring commission from the suppliers they refer.
Although woman-owned tech advisors may amount to a small number, many of those firms have built deep longevity. BuzzTheory senior partner Khali Henderson said many of the women-led channel businesses featured in this story have existed for more than 10 years.
“They’re trailblazers, embracing the opportunity presented by agency or resell models early on. Many of them chose this venture after training for or having successful careers as lawyers, accountants, engineers, scientists, direct tech sellers, etc.,” said Henderson, who previously served as editor in chief for Channel Partners and Phone+.
Buzz Theory’s Khali Henderson
Henderson, who also serves on the boards of Cloud Girls and Alliance of Channel Women, said many women have reaped the benefits of starting a partner company.
“For many women founders, the channel offered an opportunity for greater control over their work life, giving them flexibility in their work schedules for their families while enabling them to pursue fulfilling careers and build wealth with recurring revenue streams,” she told Channel Futures.
And much of their success in the channel came from operating as consultants instead of as sales reps, she said.
“They’ve built repeatable processes for auditing and assessments, sourcing and negotiation, project management and more. As a result, they tend to build long-term relationships with their customers, nurturing them over time with continued counsel and guidance as new technologies come to market,” she said. “Of course, creating ongoing trusted relationships is true for many partner-owners regardless of gender, but it seems the women founders come by it naturally. They’re unlikely to become agents who are MIA. If you listen to their origin stories, most will tell you that they still work with many clients they signed in their first year doing business.”
Some of the tech advisors profiled in this article started their business in the last five years. Others have been going for more than a decade and recently sold their business to a larger agency and now are executives in those purchasing companies. Others are keeping things in-house and handing off the business to the next generation.
“Fast-forward to today, it’s exciting to see many women founders selling their businesses and reaping the rewards of entrepreneurship with a payout,” Henderson said. “They’re shining examples for the next generation of women in the tech channel.”
Scroll through the 13 images above to hear from some of the channel’s leading women tech advisors.
Then, check out the first three editions of the Faces of the Partner series:
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