A significant portion of the partner community is retiring. Who will replace them?
If the phrase “Faces of the Partner” sounds familiar to you, the chances are pretty good that you were in the audience at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo earlier this month when we kicked off this initiative.
Today’s communications and IT channel is no place for the faint of heart. But there’s no place these individuals would rather be. They are the heart and soul of the modern channel partner community. They are leading, selling, marketing, developing solutions and supporting customers. And we plan to introduce you to a good number of them — the new, the old, the innovative, the cool, the next generation — as they put into words what they do and why they do it.
If you were at CPLV23 and were introduced to our premiere group of faces, you were probably also in the audience for the session “Rethinking the Workforce of Tomorrow.” During that panel discussion, Ron Lovern, executive vice president of Triton Networks, noted that this the first time ever that five different generations are in the workplace. So let’s use that as the stepping stone to our next group of faces, the aforementioned “new.”
Faces of the Partner: New Tech Advisors
As the traditional technology agent channel enters a generational shift, new tech advisors are stepping up to the plate.
Channel Futures is highlighting six channel partners who founded a technology advisory firm in the last two years. This article commences a three-part series on the shifting technology advisor population. The second installment will include partners who have retired or semi-retired, and the third will include partners who are running established businesses.
The technology advisor ecosystem has grown significantly from its humble beginnings decades ago. The industry has evolved from brokering a small handful of long-distance telephone carriers to consulting business customers on sophisticated IT and communications projects. Historically, most tech advisors left jobs as sales leaders at carriers, leaving cushy base salaries to pursue the dream of running their own firm. They wanted to better serve their customers with a more vendor-neutral approach, and they idealized the independence that came from leaving the corporate environment.
But the path to establishing a growing base of residual commission hasn’t been easy. Some partners describe the first few years of running an agency as a harrowing “walk through the desert.” Despite the immense financial upside of the tech advisor model, many firms don’t make it.
Nevertheless, many partners have flourished. Agents’ success has led more and more suppliers to sign with technology services brokers that intermediate their relationships, and more recently their success has brought institutional investors into the space. Private equity firms in particular have courted partners to sell their books of business. Many partners have seized that opportunity as a financial option to retire.
As some of the industry’s most successful partners leave the business, eyes are turning to the people who will replace them.
“Those partners used to be great generators of new logos and new customers, but if they’re all walking away with a lot of money, who’s going to sell the net-new for them?” Comcast Business senior vice president of indirect channels Craig Schlagbaum said to Channel Futures earlier this year.
Different Talent Sources
But if more partners are going to enter the space, they may come from a different source. The rich pool of talent that came out of carriers like Cbeyond, Cable & Wireless and MCI. Although agents have historically been associated with telecom, the new generation doesn’t seem tied to telecom. Some are leaving UCaaS, CCaaS and SD-WAN providers. Others are leaving established agencies to start their own ventures. Others come from a TSD. Still, others are entering from entirely outside the world of technology.
Channel Futures got in contact with six of these new partners to learn about why they started their firms, their biggest opportunities and their biggest challenges.
Scroll through the six slides above to read a Q&A with six new partners.