The shift in technology buying trends favoring line-of-business (LOB) leaders is having a significant impact on traditional partnering, reselling, and value-added services. With business buyers now leading or influencing 65% of new technology projects, partner business models that we built around product sales are struggling to stay relevant. Business leaders do not have the patience for generalists who are learning on the go and will pay more for specialty firms that have demonstrated success in the same or similar context.

B2B marketers need to:

  1. Assess current partners’ influence on these new business buyers.
  2. Understand new shadow channels’ impact on the buying journey.
  3. Determine new channel program structure and recruitment personas.
  4. Expand B2B sales and marketing strategy beyond traditional audiences.

New buyers are increasingly more empowered and prefer highly specialized frictionless sales processes. Agile project-based work is replacing what we knew as the age of value-added product resale with corresponding managed services. Shadow-channel firms that deeply understand the full gamut of LOB pains, applicable technology stacks, and subindustry, segment, sector, and geographic nuances are winning.

These implementation and integration projects are rich in revenue, drive high margins, and are surprisingly sticky. Ancillary services, including security, compliance, and business continuity extend the projects into longer-term customer relevancy for these new shadow channels.

Take A Channel Deep-Dive At Forrester’s B2B Marketing Forum


I am excited to lead two sessions at the forum. First, I’m heading a keynote focused on five partnering trends with actionable recommendations that B2B marketers can leverage to build a future-proof channel and alliance program. Second, I’m leading a deep-dive session on shadow channels and their growing importance with the new buyer. The partner ecosystem is radically changing in the age of the customer, and new players are delivering the agility, value, and innovation necessary for customer obsession. It’s a lot, I know, so grab me at the forum, and we’ll have a longer conversation.

Please join me at Forrester’s B2B Marketing Forum in Austin, Texas, this year (October 5 and 6, 2017). Here’s a link to register for the forum. You can receive a discount of $200 by entering this code: B2BBLOG17.

See you in Austin!