Demand Draws Partners Into New, Emerging Opportunities

Vendors want partners to adopt emerging technologies and build new markets. Solution providers need vendors to lead the way to justify taking risks and making investments. The solution is vendor-led demand generation.

By Kathleen Martin

Solution providers are already gearing up for 2016, making plans and setting objectives. In business reviews by The 2112 Group of nearly two-dozen resellers, we found that most of the opportunities and goals solution providers are targeting in 2016 are steeped in things they and their customers know very well. These reviews reflect the disconnect between vendors and solution providers on where to place priorities and what technologies to take to market.

Rudimentary cloud services, managed services, pre-sales consulting, and virtual CIO are all areas where solution providers are seeing opportunity for 2016 and beyond. This isn’t a surprise, as these are domains in which solution providers are well-experienced in creating demand, setting prices, and fulfilling services without much assistance from vendors.

Vendors, though, are seeing increasing opportunity in emerging technologies and services, such as advanced cloud computing in business applications, security, Big Data and business analytics, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Some vendors boast that these emerging technologies represent hundreds of billions of dollars in incremental revenue.

Clearly, vendors and solution providers aren’t on the same page, and for good reason. Many of the emerging technologies are still a mystery to end users. While buzzwords and phrases such as IoT are thrown around, emerging technologies haven’t taken root in end users’ purchase consideration cycles.

While vendors are turning to their solution providers to help build these technology markets, they’re often met with resistance and a lack of enthusiasm. Solution providers’ interest is often constrained to unicorns – those periodic and unpredictable sales opportunities. They’re not making significant investments in adopting and mastering new and advanced technologies to take them to market.

The reasons are simple: time and money.

If the truth be told, solution providers aren’t terrific marketers. They don’t have strong marketing capabilities or the money to promote brands and technologies to generate sales. And they simply don’t have the resources to create sales demand from end users. Moreover, the time it takes to build market awareness detracts from sales activity that’s already producing returns.

If solution providers, with their limited resources, spent time developing market awareness and chasing opportunities with long sales cycles, they would hurt their businesses. This is the reason why solution providers bank on well-known and repeatable technologies and services, even when their profitability is declining; familiarity is their friend.

Vendors and solution providers agree that the biggest challenge in prospecting is creating the “light-bulb moment” – that instant when the prospect understands and recognizes their need for a new solution or service. What’s needed first is the opportunity to create that moment, and that takes awareness-building.

Before vendors can expect solution providers to deliver on the anticipated market opportunities, they need to build market awareness and demand among partners. From there, the solution provider community can effectively respond to that demand. By providing partners with “marketing air cover” that gets customers asking questions about emerging technologies and solutions, vendors will open the door for that light-bulb moment to happen.

Kathleen Martin is a senior analyst and sales consultant at The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @KAMartinKY.