Five Proven Ways to Keep Your Social Community Members Engaged


In part 1 of this blog series, we talked about the importance of keeping retail store associates educated and passionate about your product. One way you can create an engaging and effective environment, particularly for Millennials, is through branded-social communities. For this generation, social media forums are part their daily lives.

Connect+, a MarketStar digital solution, has helped our clients acquire new customers and better engage with the customers they already have. The following are 5 proven ways to ensure your online social community is engaging, fun, and most importantly, successful.



An online social community should be interactive, engaging, and fresh. Make sure you have plenty of discussion-worthy content that embodies your brand. Look at what you are doing daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly to develop a calendar of fun, engaging activities that keep your community lively and chatty.


Having a Community Manager is one way to get and keep people talking. Community Managers maintain and moderate the content flowing in and out of the online community – they are the name, face, and action behind your products. They need to fit your product and brand, but they need to fit the community as well.



Millennials crave authenticity. An excellent social community drives authenticity by being real, personal, and encouraging interaction. Enable participants to have a voice.

Keep open communication across the board (executives, key staff members, etc.), continuing a relationship with the brand and individuals who work for it.

As hard as it may sound, another piece of being authentic is to allow dissent and respond to it. Allowing your target audience to post negative sentiment or feedback on your site, will give you the chance to respond and resolve the issue. This helps build rapport, and establish a relationship with influencers everywhere.

The community manager helps with this authenticity. This individual must be witty, fun, engaging, and have real passion. He or she uses the products, lives the brand, and allows people to express their opinions. This will build not just participation but trust in the community.



Research shows 80% of Millennials wanting brands to entertain them. Entertainment to social communities means driving friendly competition, creating leaderboards to highlight top contributors, and allowing all of your activities to be point-driven. Don’t focus on marketing messages – focus on conversation. Making activities fun, engaging, and unique will continue to drive competition and create an exciting platform that people return to on a regular basis.


Gamification is more than just a buzz-word; it’s an effective tool. Everything your RSAs do should be rewarded, from logging in to completing a certification. Make sure community members receive enough points that they can buy a small token from the company. It shows that success isn’t hard to reach in the community, as long as they continue to engage. Points lead to swag, and swag leads to more points, which lead to more swag.

Millennials think it’s fun to be social and learn, but it’s more fun to earn a currency from all this socializing. The games, points, and leaderboards get people started, and the social interaction hooks them. Just keep it active and filled with new competitions and missions to complete. Once engaged, they return to the community.



When they know what they will get from it, 95% of Millennials are motivated to work harder. Community members want to know they are working towards something worthwhile and exciting–whether that’s a new phone, brand t-shirt, or Starbucks gift card. This motivates them to continue to engage and contribute to the platform on an ongoing basis.


A gift card would win more often than not. Cash is a real incentive and driver of engagement – so the more often you can use cash, gift cards, and monetary prizes on your community: do it. It will only grow engagement.



With content and the possibility of learning within arm’s reach, a brand’s version of education on their social community should be engaging, quick, and modular. The days of 30-minute trainings are gone, and short, interactive trainings are now in. A training methodology MarketStar abides by is The Fantastic Five:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Make the right first impression
  3. Make a bold promise
  4. Involve participants
  5. Be memorable

You want to create a vibrant, engaging community, but it’s also important that they understand the specs of a product. You need to educate, without creating a classroom, create a study hall. The objective is for them to love your brand, so make it fun to learn and fun to interact while they are learning.

In closing, retail is not easy but the in-store experience works time and time again. Buyers still want to touch and feel the products they want to buy—before they buy them. You can create all the great online content you want to enable the highly informed and highly engaged shopper, but never forget about the Store Associate. They are the front lines of your brand.

Keep store associates educated on your products. If done correctly, you will create sales and impact the bottom line. There are lots of platforms to train RSAs, lots of ways to socially connect, but you must combine the two and make it worth their while. The key is to make the connection real and legitimate.



Motivating and Engaging Millennials – The New Retail Store Associate


In the continuous changing retail environment, what do words such as social, mobile, gamification, showrooming, buyer journey, interactive, and Millennials mean and what do they mean for your business?

Today, shoppers stay informed, they are connected, and they have more choices than before. There has always been competition on the store shelves, but manufacturers now have to compete with reputations online and the errant bad review – “Two out of five stars – it didn’t arrive when they said it would, don’t buy this phone!”.




Combine this with under-informed store associates who have a reputation of being nothing more than a living, breathing directional sign and you have a tricky situation for someone trying to sell their latest amazing product.

The retail store experience still works. Even the most informed and opinionated shopper can be turned at the moment of sale by a skilled and educated store associate. But with so many other brands to recommend and a lot of other informed shoppers to deal with, how do you encourage, engage, and motivate people that aren’t your own employees?



People sell what they know, so how well do store associates know your product? Are you sending them a pamphlet or are you relying on the store’s Learning Management System? How about a social community?

Today, social communities continue to expand; they are becoming a great resource to create sharable, enjoyable, and educational environments for Retail Store Associates.

Connect+ is MarketStar’s social learning and advocacy platform. It has proven to be successful, driving great results for clients. Through Connect+, we provide retail employees with the tools, knowledge, and training they need in order to sell your product and convey passion for your brand.

Microsoft PowerPoint - AMA MarketStar Lunch & Learn 2.18.15 FINABased on our experience in building and managing social communities, we’ve created the Game On! eBook. Game On! outlines tips on how to get retail store associates on your side, educated about your product, and passionate about the very thing you want them to sell.

First, it’s important to know your audience and key demographics. Millennials are a growing influencer in retail stores; they are the largest commercial demographic and one-third of the U.S. population today. Growing up with technology, Millennials have become the skeptical, involved technocrat. They know what marketers are doing online and are weary of advertisements and traditional media outlets.


Research shows 64% of Millennials want brands to engage with them and hear their opinions. They are not just your customers; they are the same store associates selling your wares.


With this elusive, distracted, intelligent, and skeptical demo in mind, how do you create an engaging, fun, social, and effective community for them?


Part 2 of this blog series will cover distinct mechanisms we have identified to be successful. When all of them are integrated into Connect+, they have proven to not just increase activity and brand affinity, but increase sales.


The Buck Stops With You, Manufacturers!

Beyond the Core: The Next Level of Bond and Q


Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series.

Bond is suave. He leads with authority. Q guides Bond with his expert knowledge, although he can be a bit quirky. The two intertwined make a compatible, dynamic team that can’t be outdone. How would they continue their escapades against villains if they weren’t experts in their respective fields? They wouldn’t. As such, they have to continually develop their methods, adding in a dash of improvisation, in order to stay ahead. Even then, their victories are only marginal with Bond escaping by the skin of his teeth. But beyond London lies an entire world they need to explore. Bond and Q are always ready for what’s ahead, despite their ever-changing challenges. Are you?

With new technology and stats around sales, it’s important to stay on the forefront of the industry. Did you know the average salesperson only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect, when it can take up to 8 cold calls alone to get on someone’s radar? By approaching sales differently, and trying new things, your sales team can be top of mind for prospects.

Once you have this lethal and dedicated sales force in place. Each new challenge you face is nothing more than a new mission to them… Some sales missions include:

–          Qualifying leads from a tradeshow or industry event

–          Focusing on a specific product

–          Testing a new approach or product positioning

–          Covering a specific geography

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Similarly, there’s more than one way to close a sale. The variety of methods out there to help you improve your sales practices is endless. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve seen our clients use in their sales programs:

  • Appointment setting. This is one of the most basic and yet most difficult parts of the sales process. Until you have an audience you will not have a chance at a sale. MarketStar has a proven appointment setting methodology that assures that your company’s reputation is in good hands. From our highly skilled sales representatives, to our business intelligence and technology tools, we schedule the right appointments, at the right time, with the right decision maker.


  • Lead qualification. Most enterprises are quickly learning to master early funnel MQL generation. The transition to sales doesn’t always flow so smoothly though. MarketStar has been qualifying leads for top technology companies for over 25 years. Our dedicated sales teams know how to quickly and efficiently consult with decision makers to BANT qualify leads and deliver highly qualified “sales-ready” leads to your internal sales teams and partners.


  • End to end sales. It’s expensive and difficult to launch new sales teams. The technology and infrastructure needed in today’s world alone can take months to vet out and millions of dollars to launch. MarketStar is a turnkey end-to-end sales solution, providing our clients with a mix of the people, technology tools, and business intelligence to have a highly-skilled and highly-productive sales team from day 1. Our dedicated teams accelerate our client’s time to market and give them the ability to scale on demand.


If James Bond taught us one thing it is that you should always have more than one weapon to carry out a mission. Our clients turn to MarketStar because we have all the weapons to extend their sales and marketing efforts. Our global reach, along with our scalability and flexibility, has made us the leader “and the favorite” in the sales as a service industry.

As this series comes to a close, and we’ve vicariously lived through Q and Bond as salespeople, we know that our jobs really do closely relate to some of the most renowned fictional characters out there. The reality is that, by adding the human element, using technology to advance our knowledge of prospects, and adding in other strategies to make sales programs excel, we truly are the Qs and Bonds of the world!


MarketStar to Present to Utah Marketing Professionals

AMA-invite-bannerMarketStar’s own Vaughn Aust will be speaking to the Utah Chapter of the American Marketing Association on Wednesday, February 18. With his presentation titled, “Transform Digital Communities Into Brand Advocates,” Vaughn will be sharing keys to optimizing partner performance with communities using advanced gamification and promotions. Attendees will learn how channel retail store associates for companies like Best Buy, Verizon, and Cricket are being engaged, trained, and motivated to turn community participation into actionable sales.


When: Wednesday February 18, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Where: MarketStar’s South Jordan Office

Address: 10619 South Jordan Gateway, South Jordan, Utah

Price: $30 / Free for AMA members

Register and learn more:


Everyone is invited to register and attend! Also, feel free to post, share, and tweet this “Save the Date” invite with your social media friends, connections, and followers.

Internet of Things – A Glimpse at the Market


Editor’s note: click here for Part 1, or here for Part 2.

As expected, the Internet of Things (IoT) was a hot topic at this year’s CES. From wearables, to connected homes, to connected cars; the focus was on the top trends for this market.

A lot of innovative products from great brands were highlighted during the show earlier this month, and our MarketStar team was there to gather some insights.

Brenda McQueary, MarketStar’s Business Development Manager, said: “Wearables and 3D printing seem to becoming more and more accepted – and adopted. With so many options, education and brand awareness are going to be critical in the competitive landscape.”

Even though there are still some hurdles facing this market, such as consumer privacy and storage management, analysts project Internet of Things will experience massive growth by 2020:

  • Gartner predicts the Internet of Things sector will include 26 billion units installed by 2020, representing a 30-fold increase from 2009. Gartner estimates that IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion in 2020.
  • Business Insider reports that revenues from devices, services, and software will reach $600 billion and a massive $1.7 trillion of value will be added to the economy in the form of revenues and efficiency cost savings
  • IDC forecasts that the worldwide market for IoT solutions will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.
  • Cisco projects the number of connected devices at 50 billion by 2020.
  • ABI Research estimates that IoT will drive wireless connected devices to 40.9 billion in 2020


Internet of Things Impact for the Retail Industry

Most analysts divide this market into five main categories: Smart Homes, Wearable Tech, Industrial Internet, Connected Cities, and Connected Cars, which means IoT will touch everyone in some way.

As for the retail industry, no matter how we analyze it, the Internet of Things represents huge opportunities for retailers, including new ways to interact with their customers.

By building a clear strategy and choosing the right technology partner, the Internet of Things will help retailers grow their business and:

  • Enhance customer experiences
  • Learn more about consumer behavior
  • Manage their inventory more efficiently
  • Expand their marketing initiatives and promotions
  • Increase efficiency – staff productivity

Upon his return from CES, our own CEO and President, Dave Treadway said, “creating great experiences to support the evolving consumer journey, using digital capabilities, and connecting with customers in new and more meaningful ways is key to capturing consumer sales in the Internet of Things”.

At MarketStar, we focus on solutions that create memorable experiences for your customers through the art of engagement and the science of sales.

Learn more about the Internet of Things, Smart Homes, and Wearable Tech in our latest infographics:

          Internet of Things     Smart Home     Wearable Tech

Virtual Expert – Improving the Customer Experience at Retail


Editor’s note: click here for Part 1, or here for Part 3.

When Vaughn Aust, EVP of Digital Solutions, came to MarketStar in January of 2013, he came as a 15 year veteran of B2B channel sales. The  concept of the B2C customer journey and the way experience and loyalty play out in the unique and ever changing retail eco-system, were new to Vaughn. He set out to deliberately listen and learn from our retail client services teams and their customers, the tenor of the industry and what was driving innovation. His very first business trip? A visit to CES.

“It was baptism by fire back in 2013,” Vaughn said. “I mean, being new to retail was overwhelming enough, but to throw a technology junkie like myself onto the CES showfloor was like nothing I could have ever imagined. It was also a troubled time in the industry, with traditional brick and mortar retailers reeling from the disruption caused by online alternatives.”

It was the perfect place to take in the product evolutions, and listen to the voice of MarketStar customers relative to what was impacting their retail channel environments. Vaughn said it didn’t take a McKinsey analyst to derive the key themes that our manufacturer clients were looking for – a closer, deeper relationship with the shopper and an ability to create a measurable and meaningful impact on sales. Vaughn came back from CES with a wealth of ideas

VE mobileAs Vaughn visited with MarketStar client services teams, he began hearing water-cooler conversations about something called Virtual Expert. It was a concept that had been bandied about and discussed for years prior to his coming to MarketStar. At one point MarketStar had a technology partner lined up and we included it in a number of pitches; however, the technology just wasn’t quite ready to support the vision.

Fast forward two years, the network infrastructure is now viable to support the vision and we’re excited to be making Virtual Expert a reality. “I can’t take credit for it,” Vaughn said. “As I listened internally to what was envisioned, I knew it was something I could bring to life from a technology perspective but it’s truly been a collaboration across the organization to get us to this point.”

CES 2015 was our coming-out party for virtual expert. It was validating to see the brands response to the product offering as a response to the market challenges. The feedback from both brands and retailers has been incredible and we’re looking forward to continuing to refine the platform to meet the individual and collective needs of the market.

So what is Virtual Expert?Virtual Expert powered

At its core, Virtual Expert connects shoppers with product specialists who drive sales through a curated content experience. It was built to bridge the experience gap between the retailer, the manufacturer, and the customer.

Current use cases for Virtual Expert include deployment in kiosks, empowered end-caps and pop-up experiences. It’s also perfect for deployment on websites and within apps. I hope you’ll take the time to experience a live demo. This is truly bleeding edge technology and we’re not naive to the idea that we’re going to learn a lot and continue to evolve the offering with each deployment. That said, Vaughn, and the rest of our product development team would be disappointed if I didn’t leave you with a clear idea of what we believe sets Virtual Expert apart from the competition.


VE video


Below are the three defining imperatives of Virtual Expert:

1. Built for and around our Product Specialists

MarketStar has been an industry leader in finding, recruiting, training, and managing field and phone teams for more than 25 years. Virtual Expert is the next evolution of our ability to extend that hyper-personal and impactful relationship opportunity to more markets and more customers. There will always be a time and a market for a field team. We also know there are products, markets, and opportunities where cost per interaction will be significantly reduced through the use of Virtual Experts.

“We don’t want customers to see Virtual Expert as purely a technology platform,” Vaughn said. “It’s been built to augment and extend our core offerings, and we believe it’s the combination of the platform, people, and our sales methodology that will meet the market needs.”

2. Built for a Curated Content Experience

Ian Barkley, Director of Innovation at MarketStar, brought the idea of curated content to the Virtual Expert story.

“We saw an opportunity to leverage the idea that most shoppers who are serious about making a transaction, have done their homework,” Ian said. “Rather than shy away from this, we wanted Virtual Expert to enable and empower the educated consumer with content and personalize the content story to the work the shopper has already done. If Shopper A has already made up his mind, our role is to reinforce their decision by providing content that supports the decision. If Shopper B is still considering a couple brands, our role can be more perspective and we leverage content that helps create differentiation—like comparison tables or special offers.”

3. Built for Sales

Alec Walker, who led the product development efforts over the last year and a half, said Virtual Expert was built as a sales tool. “Sales are what we are measured by, and we’ve gone to great lengths to make sure the products primary function is to drive sales,” Alec said. “This plays out primarily through the product specialist and the content, but the platform’s interface provides a wealth of additional data and tools for brands to use to either influence during the customer engagement or extend the conversation beyond the Virtual Expert engagement.”

Virtual Expert allows retailers and manufacturers to take back control of the shopping experience—and increase sales. Please contact Matt Peterson at or click here to learn more and schedule a demo.

MarketStar Adds to the Success of CES 2015

MStar at CES 1

 The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. CES 2015 was reported as the largest show in history with more than 2.2 million net square feet of exhibit space, 3,600 exhibitors, and more than 170,000 industry professional attendees from around the world. MarketStar’s executives and leadership teams flew to Las Vegas for the week to take part in discussions on the global stage of next-generation innovations being introduced to the marketplace.

For those who missed attending CES, here is a recap of MarketStar’s impact and events.


MarketStar Hosts Annual CES Open House

Every year, MarketStar holds an Open House during CES. The purpose of this event is to network with industry professionals, strengthen relationships with clients, “share the MarketStar love,” and create dialogue that will lead to new business. MarketStar hosted the 2015 CES Open House on January 7, at MGM Grand’s Skyline Terrace Suite.


Mstar CES Suite 2


Over 100 industry leaders and current clients joined us to escape the CES crowds and take a break above the hustle and bustle of Vegas. This year, attendance at the MarketStar’s Open House almost tripled from the 2014 event. Our guests enjoyed a top-notch ambiance with complimentary drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and entertainment by the ever-popular illusionist Nick Ivory, while overlooking the Las Vegas skyline.


MStar CES Suite 1


We appreciate everyone who took the time to attend and if you’re missing any personal items, please talk to Mr. Ivory personally.


More than 60 Brand Ambassadors Working Show Floor

It’s an honor each and every year to see how many of our clients invite members of MarketStar’s field teams to represent their brands within their CES booths. It speaks to the product knowledge, professionalism, and passion we have for the brands we represent. It was no different this year, with our employees representing a variety of products from 8K televisions to digital cameras. We take pride in our ability to provide brand advocacy and assisted sales solutions on behalf of some of the best brands in the world.


Introduction of Virtual Expert
Virtual Expert powered

We took the opportunity at CES to introduce our latest innovation for in-store customer engagement to customers and prospects. Regardless of who we were meeting with, two themes seem to be at the forefront of every manufacturer’s mind:

  1. How do I get closer to my potential customer and enhance their shopping experience?
  2. How do I increase sell-through at retail with more and more sales occurring in “unassisted” sales environments?

We believe Virtual Expert is the ideal solution for both challenges. Join us in our next blog post, where we’ll be doing a deeper dive on Virtual Expert’s capabilities and use cases.


CES 2015 Success

MarketStar is proud to showcase at such a successful event. From interacting with exhibitors and attendees while on the show floor, to hosting clients and industry leaders, our executives had the opportunity to demonstrate MarketStar’s capabilities and innovations to the industry. To learn more about how Virtual Expert and other MarketStar’s products and services can benefit your organization, please contact Matt Peterson at or click here.


Erin Bolton Wins Stevie’s Women in Business Award

MarketStar Leader Named Gold Stevie® Winner for Female Executive of the Year for Business Services in 2014 Stevie’s Women in Business

MarketStar is pleased to announce Erin Bolton, VP of Digital Solutions, was recognized by the Stevie’s Women in Business with a Gold Stevie for Female Executive of the Year for Business Services (companies with 2500+ employees) at the 11th Annual Awards Dinner on Friday, November 14 in New York City.

Pictured: Erin Bolton

Pictured: Erin Bolton

“We’re fortunate to have an executive of Erin’s caliber and abilities within our management team,” said Dave Forsberg, EVP of Sales and Marketing. “Erin has made significant contributions to the further development of our solution portfolio and to client partnerships and strategic alliances. All of us at MarketStar congratulate Erin on the Stevie Award.”

Erin represented MarketStar in a competitive category with eight other accomplished women – including a CIO, CMO, CCO and two BU presidents – from well-known companies which included AT&T, Experian, PayPal, and Riverbed. Erin’s nomination focused on her contributions to women in business. It included the female mentoring program she’s founding at MarketStar and the Women of InfoComm Network, an international council she developed this year and will chair for two years.

“It’s an honor to represent MarketStar,” said Bolton. “I was also so pleased to see the response of female employees at MarketStar when we announced the mentoring program. It is exciting to help other women grow in their careers.”

More About the Stevie® Awards for Women in Business Winners

StevieThe Stevie Awards for Women in Business are the world’s top honors for female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and the organizations they run.  All individuals and organizations worldwide are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. The 2014 awards received entries from 22 nations and territories.

2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 1.35.24 PM

MarketStar has a unique opportunity to sit between sales and marketing in many of our B2B demand generation motions. It’s a unique and critical point of inflection, where marketing’s investments are validated as contacts become leads and leads become sales. While a healthy degree of tension between sales and marketing helps each group define its value and identity, dysfunction can derail an organization’s ability to meet sales forecasts.

Automation is bringing sales more visibility into what’s occurring in the early stages of the funnel and why. Likewise, marketing is now investing more time and energy into where deals are being lost and how they can enable remarketing strategies later in the funnel. Regardless of your point of view, everyone wants to identify which older tactics no longer working and which have true staying power. Which newer tactics are fads, and which are geared to produce tangible results?

As B2B marketers and sales professionals look to optimize their efforts relative to demand generation, we’re excited to once again have the opportunity to share the research provided by our friends at Software Advice. The goal of their annual survey is to help brands prioritize their demand generation efforts and spend relative to where others are finding success.

Some of the key findings include:
– Top priorities relative to marketing spend
– Best conversation costs relative to cost per lead
– What lead sources generate the most quality leads relative to spend

Below are four key learnings demonstrated in the data.

1. Perception of Trade Show Leads Relative to Quality Remains High
It’s fascinating that in today’s digital world a legacy tactic like a good old fashioned trade show remains the best source for both quality and quantity of leads. It reinforces the value of finding a focused audience in mass as well as a continued value in face-to-face interactions.

Quality of Leads by Channel

2. Content is Still King, and Context is the Kingdom

Content remains a critical success factor relative to demand generation and the user’s expectations for value in terms of what they consume. It’s also pretty obvious that the content aimed at early funnel activity (videos, surveys, comparison tools, etc.) are not always the same types of content that generate quality leads (toolkits, case studies, videos, etc.). Having a clear view of who’s consuming and the context of their consumption is really how best-in-class brands are differentiating themselves in their demand generation efforts.
Leads by Content

3. Quality Leads Expect a Quality Interaction

There’s a huge delta between the value of a call to action to schedule a live demo versus any other tactic measured in the survey. This again, alludes to the impact of creating a face-to-face or voice-to-voice experience when the value in the interaction and the quality of leads is evident.

Quality of leads by Offer

4. Do Fewer Things Better

The quickest path to mediocrity is trying to be great at everything. The B2B Channel Effectiveness Quadrant is a great way for marketers to look at the survey results in aggregate to best prioritize their own efforts. While your own opinion and efficacy of these varied channels will depend on your own product, customer mix, and results, the model provides a great framework for assessing your own tactics and efforts.

B2B Lead Matrix

You can review the comprehensive study here. Special thanks to Jay Ivie for his work and willingness to share the results with us.

Embracing the cloud: are your partners cloud-ready?


The cloud computing revolution has taken off. Businesses are shedding skepticism and fear around deploying cloud offerings and moving more applications and infrastructure into the cloud. Gartner projects rapid growth in cloud services worldwide, with cloud services representing the bulk of all IT spending by 2016.

With customer demands for increased flexibility and lower IT costs now commonplace, demands on you and your IT solution providers has never been higher. The delivery of cloud services, based on service level value, fundamentally redefines the relationship between you and your channel partners. With a high level of transparency between the end-user, solution provider and vendor, each party is forced to make IT consumption easier and more affordable, redefining their role in the selection, procurement and management of these new IT offerings. As a result, having a roster of channel partners with uniquely defined roles and value propositions is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Most IT vendors recognize that a majority of channel partners, particularly traditional value added resellers (VARs), are threatened and confused by the prospects of cloud delivery models. Many see services-based IT models as a real threat to a business model that has been productive and profitable for decades. With a sea full of skeptical partners and a lot of business up for grabs, vendors who help their partners navigate the financial and operational changes cloud services represent and identify early focus areas, will win both wallet and mind share. Those who choose not to lead, risk their very future in the cloud market.

One of the most fundamental and urgent imperatives for vendors in taking this channel leadership position and realizing success through existing or new solution providers with cloud services is to become truly internally Cloud-Ready.

More than simply having partner-friendly pricing and incentive models, Cloud-Readiness speaks to redefining how you’ll go to market with solution providers in a services- versus products- led market. There are three major elements of Cloud-Readiness that must be addressed before a vendor can expect to effectively engage and enable solution providers around cloud services:

  1. Reevaluating partner segmentation, including the role of service providers and carriers
  2. Defining the specific roles you expect partners to play in the sales and service process
  3. Reevaluating and publishing clear Rules of Engagement between your direct sales channels and your indirect partner community

Addressing these three foundational elements of your cloud channel strategy will prepare your organization for the next decade of market success and create a level of open communication, trust and collaboration solution providers must have to invest in a your offerings during this challenging time of market transition.