Competing and Winning IT Opportunities for VARs Hinges on Customer Experience and Business Outcomes Previous item Meet the Data-Driven... Next item CompTIA ChannelCon 2019...

Analyst firm IDC recently noted a shift in the market where line-of-business (LOB) decision makers will overtake technology spending by the IT department in most companies this year. Cisco and other technology leaders have taken notice and shifted how they approach the market and the sales cycle. Value-Added Resellers (VARs) must do the same.

The old days of pitching, landing a sale, and moving on to the next customer (until renewal time, of course) are now obsolete. Today’s technology customers are demanding more than features and functionality, according to Jay Denton, Vice President and General Manager of Comstor North America. They are demanding that the technology deliver something that they can quantify in a business outcome because they have to justify that spend. That means that today’s VARs must be able to sell to those business outcomes.

“In the old world, IT held the keys to the kingdom and drove the discussions with vendors and suppliers around the budget,” Denton said. “Today, leaders in the lines of business are making more technology decisions, and they have budget that they are free to steer toward whatever it is that can supply them with what they need to accomplish their mission.”

And, according to Denton, this is happening in many cases with or without the guidance of IT. This is forcing VARs and other resellers to speak to the LOB in the language of business rather than IT.

“For Comstor partners who have been participating in the EDGE program, they know they need to speak the language of the board room and be able to articulate the financial impact of technology on the balance sheet,” Denton shared.

In fact, the ability to position a technology sale in terms of a business outcome has been an underpinning of the EDGE program for several years. Now, Comstor and Cisco are aligning their go-to-market strategy with the shift in where IT spend lies.

The customer lifecycle now includes additional steps along the path toward a successful recurring revenue model with an emphasis on software, features and the consumption of those features, adoption of technology, upsell, and renewal, according to Denton.

“Cisco and Comstor have been in lock-step in the execution of the Land, Adopt, Expand and Renew business model,” he said. “Now we are taking the next step in really filling in the gaps on that customer experience journey.

“No longer is it acceptable to just close a sale and then come knocking when it is time for renewal. Cisco is asking partners to stay with the customer, encourage them to learn the technology, adopt it, activate all of its features and functionality, and consume the benefits of those products all the way through the lifecycle,” Denton explained. “They also expect us to demonstrate our value to the customer, which includes teaching them how leveraging the collaboration suite can lead to a meaningful reduction in travel costs. They expect us to go way beyond just an understanding of the basic functionality of the products and solutions.”

As Denton explained, it’s the middle two pieces – adopt and expand – that require more of a VARs effort and energy. But the rewards for the VAR from having a customer turn on new features or teaching them how to consume and analyze the data that their technology is producing will be recurring revenue and that elusive trusted-advisor relationship that leads to long-term mutual success.