The Gig Economy Might Be Channel Sales' New Best Friend

Tap IT contract workers for help with big projects and tight turnarounds to leverage expertise.

March 29, 2019

5 Min Read
Best Friends


Kevin Flaherty

By Kevin Flaherty

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngWhen you hear the term “gig economy,” what comes to mind? Driving for Uber? Selling on eBay? Running errands via TaskRabbit? The gig economy goes much deeper than that—and has been around much longer. It’s another term for contract or outsourced work, and one story has it arising from World War II, when staffing agencies were founded to provide temporary office work for housewives while their spouses were stationed overseas. The appeal of workers who were available for short assignments and exempt from paperwork and regulatory requirements was strong, and since then, contract work has grown, as have the number of workers wanting to take part.

Fast forward to 2019. The gig economy is in full swing — and expected to grow at an exponential rate in the coming years. According to Forbes, in August 2018, 36 percent of all U.S. workers were part of the gig economy. That number is expected to rise to an astounding 50 percent by 2020. Millennials love, and are leading the gig economy gold rush, for the freedom and flexibility it offers, caring less about working in a set office and receiving traditional benefits.

A lesser-known segment of the gig economy are the individuals who perform tech jobs as contractors. These legions of experts have been around for decades, and there are now pools of workers available in an on-demand basis to provide repair, staffing, moving, installation and project management for IT and equipment needs. Customers who need these on-demand workers range from some of the largest banks in the country to smaller businesses with IT needs larger than their IT team’s size or expertise. They’re required to become software-compliant quickly, have equipment repaired overnight or relocate to a new office building without any disruption in service. The only model that makes sense to handle these projects is to hire workers who are part of the gig economy.

But it’s much more complex than just having access to platoons of qualified tech experts and sending them to a site, or having them repair hardware overnight. The whole world has access to contractors, but you need all the logistical pieces in place so they can do what you need them to do in the time you need them to do it. You need to be able to pull off projects like upgrading more than 30,000 PCs to Windows 10 in 1,000-plus locations of a national bank. Or relocate hundreds of people from building to building in two different cities in just 20 days. Or repair and maintain thousands of devices from scores of different manufacturers.

To take on these Herculean feats, a number of companies — or divisions of companies — have been created, and have made an increasingly successful business of it.

It’s also where channel sales comes in.

Retooling the Channel Sales Kit

As with all businesses, channel sales has evolved, both to meet the needs of its salespeople, and to meet the needs of their prospects and customers. As the sale of products and network services declines, channel salespeople need to …

… retool their sales kits.

At the same time, the managed service provider market continues an upward climb. According to MarketsAndMarkets, the global managed services market is expected to grow from $180.5 billion in 2018 to nearly $281 billion by 2023. This growth is attributed, at least partly, to the need for specialized MSPs who can offer cost-effective managed services. Here is where channel sales and project/repair solutions providers intersect, providing a clear answer: the opportunity to resell a full slate of project management repair, staffing and maintenance for IT and equipment needs.

Embrace Reselling Projects

There are four specific reasons why channel sales should embrace reselling on-demand project, repair and maintenance services.

  • First, it’s incredibly easy to add a channel like this to your portfolio. All you need to do is think about your current customer list and contacts. Ask them how they get their IT projects done, who they use for repair services for their multivendor equipment, and what would it look like if they could check some of their projects off their list.

  • Second, it’s a great way to make additional money from existing customers, most of whom are likely to have project management or staffing needs.

  • Third — and related — your current customers likely have products that need timely repair and regular maintenance. Most new products and services have a five-year average service agreement, so that locks in automatic income from the start.

  • Finally, you can position yourself as a one-stop source to help with this huge range of your customer’s needs, positioning yourself not as a salesperson, but as a hero.

It’s a sector set to skyrocket, so you should get on board now. It might be the easiest and best resell of your life.

Kevin Flaherty is president and CEO of BLM Technologies, a Minneapolis-based company that offers a range of IT solutions to 10 diverse industries, including financial, health care, government, retail, restaurant and hospitality. The company’s FlexForce division provides access to specialized on-site repair, maintenance and IT services technicians on-demand, anywhere in the United States. Follow Kevin at @BLMTechnology or on LinkedIn.

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