Channel Partners

SPR 2016

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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multiple paths that a young professional can take to get into this field," says Medwed. "Many times, depending on their objectives, trade school may be a better way to go." The same goes for industry-specific training. Someone with general technical acumen plus soft skills is a better bet than someone with a string of certifications who thinks she knows it all. "When it comes to staff, as long as that person has the right communication skills, we feel in most cases, the rest can be taught, provided the employee has a willingness to learn," says Murray. Ingram's Richey says there are innovative STEM education options springing up that channel partners can take advantage of. "The government is going out and funding formal higher- education courseware in cybersecurity; we're seeing organizations in the training business developing certification programs rather than, or in tandem with, degree programs," he says. Someone getting a computer science degree might also come out with a CISSP certification, saving you that expense. 3 CONSIDER AGENCIES. Medwed says he works with VAR Staffing, which specializes in the indirect channel. The keys, he says, are selecting an agency partner with knowledge of your industry sector and geography and then letting it be proactive. "We make sure that VAR Staffing u n derstands our talent needs on a quarterly basis so when they identify a quality candidate that fits our needs, they can alert me," he says. 4 DON'T LOWBALL. Before beginning to interview, research going rates in your area. Robert Half offers detailed guides. Just because you're not looking to hire in San Francisco doesn't mean you can get away cheap. Among 25 major markets included in the Robert Half IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report, the most robust job growth was in Cincinnati, where the firm expected a more than 14 percent hiring jump in the second half of 2015. Charlotte was in second place, followed by New York and Boston. Skill-specific pay exceptions or bonuses ma y be necessary. 5 DO CONCENTRATE ON SOFT SKILLS. Before hiring, ensure potential employees can present on and document their work and that you'd feel comfortable with them talking to a customer's CEO. Remember, Gartner says that in 2005, IT controlled 70 percent of technology spend. By 2017, the consultancy projects that percentage will be less than half. "It's not just IT that purchases cloud any longer," says Peterson. "The lines of business are doing their own purchasing." You can have the most intelligent engineer in the world, says Murray, but if they can't speak the customer's language, you may as well not bother. Avant's Lydecker sums it up: "At the end of the day, people buy from people they really like." 5 PRO TIPS: RETENTION 1 SET A POLICY ON TRAINING AND COUNTEROFFERS. How much will you invest in training and retraining staff? Is tuition reimbursement open, or will you pay only for courses relevant to the employee's current role? "We take retention very seriously by making sure that our employees receive the training and support they need to advance, and then we promote from within," says Gadda. Will you counteroffer to keep a top employee? Some companies don't, period. They view it as a lose/lose proposition — the employee may use the offer to extract higher pay elsewhere or, if she stays, the relationship will have soured. Others say it's just business and make one counter as a matter of course fo r valued staff. 2 BE CREATIVE WITH INCENTIVES. It's not all about the money, especially for Millennials and older workers looking to scale back. Consider flexible schedules, full-time telecommuting, enhanced health care benefits or unlimited vacation. Stay with us here — big tech companies, including CA and Netflix, have offered unlimited time off for years and have seen a net benefit. Employees feel that you trust them to manage their work/life balance. You're freed from the administrative burden of tracking PTO, and no accrued vacation means no payouts at termination and no annual rollovers. You should discuss the legal considerations with your attorney. 3 BE TRANSPARENT ON COMPENSATION. PayScale recommends using total compensation statements that show employees exactly how much the company spent on health and wellness benefits, retirement savings, educational costs and any other benefits on top of regular salaries and commissions. The company offers software that automates that communication. 4 SPEND ON EMPLOYEE EDUCATION BEYOND JUST CERTIFICATIONS. Peterson regards investment in staff as a way to grow her business. "Our customers are savvier, and we need to keep up with the conversation," she says. "Education is a business must, not a business maybe. Moving up the stack via smarter employees will yield larger deals that organically grow." Succession planning is important as well, so employees can visualize a career ladder, not just a path. "For so many businesses, there are few places to grow," says Rosen. "If you can't offer titles, education is a great tool for retention." 5 SPECIALIZATION MAY ALLOW YOU TO CHARGE A PREMIUM, AND PAY ACCORDINGLY. In a complex world, expertise is currency. "Resellers and some staffing houses are taking advantage by building particular disciplines that they become known for," says Ingram's Richey. "We have resellers that are very good in security and have established themselves as the go-to guys." That sort of reputation can help with retention. Smart engineers like to be on th e cutting edge. Lorna Garey is editor-in-chief of Channel Partners. @lornagarey FEATURE 14 CHANNEL PARTNERS DIGITAL ISSUE SPRING 2016

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