By K.S. Parag, Managing Director, FVC

The way channel functions today has evolved over the years. In the 90s, the channel was all about selling equipment. That didn’t change until the early 2000s when the market saw an influx of software solutions. Then cloud burst into the scene in the mid 2000s. Now, in the late 2000s, we see its all about value, no matter what solutions channel partners offer.

Customers today expect channel partners to support them as they navigate these changes – they want more, they want it now, and they want it anywhere. In response to the changing customer behaviour, companies have started aligning their channel strategies in line with the customers’ expectations. While saving costs for your customers is great, the channel needs to build relationships and deliver value beyond the cost savings.

In addition, in today’s market place, where so many products and services are viewed as a commodity, the ability to add value to your product or service is an absolute necessity. Thus, in order to stand out of the crowd, what the channel really needs to do is to specialise, focus and do more than just resell someone else’s solutions and services. Here’s how you can put “value” back into services:

Listen to your customer: Channel needs to listen too its customers in order to define the problems your products or services solve. The definition should always take into account the customers’ perspective and their terms. Always consider the desires and outcomes you’d expect them to have, then tweak the message to reflect the desires and outcomes real customers will actually experience.

Quantify the benefits: When you use words such as fast, efficient and so on, try and quantify the results and benefits. Instead of saying that your solution is faster than the competition, quantify how much faster your customers will be in order to do something—whether that’s in days, hours, minutes, seconds, and so on.

Differentiate yourself from competition: You know your competitors better than anyone else. You now need to decide which particular point of differentiation speaks the most to your customers’ desired outcomes and set up a clear contrast between you and the others.

Make the end results known to customers: Always mention the end results of implementing your solutions to your customers. Let them know how your solutions and services will ease the frustration your customers have been going through. By doing this, you are effectively establishing that the deployment of your product or service is how your customers will be able to escape that frustration.

Provide top notch level of service: By providing top notch level of service, you can differentiate yourself from your competition. You can also add different levels of service based upon your customers’ size, frequency or amount of purchase. For instance, you may want to have gold or platinum or silver levels of service that companies qualify for, are willing to pay for, and receive when they do business with you.