A bygone term for a bygone era

“The channel” – Whether you’re a vendor, a distributor, a reseller or, like us at Consenna working with all those partners, we all speak of THE channel with an understanding of what it is. We all use the term on numerous occasions daily, most probably without a second thought.

But take a minute to consider this term and you might start to think of it differently. 

I’d argue it’s a bygone term that no longer accurately conveys the space in which we all operate.  Surely though I’m not suggesting that THE channel no longer exists?  Hear me out.

There is something linear about a channel.  Whether it’s a length of water connecting two seas, a broadcast frequency, or a means of illustrating direction and focus, the term channel often has a start and an end point with a flow – sometimes meandering – in between.

And for many years that’s exactly how THE channel as we see it operated.  Vendor to distributor; distributor to reseller; reseller to end-user.  A clear flow, an obvious direction and, dare I say it, an unspoken chain of command.

The reality today is quite different.  THE channel in 2022 is a super-fluid ecosystem of numerous interdependent partners, each striving to drive growth, development, and value in their own niche part of that environment.

Interdependency?  Surely not?  Surely so!

Many of those making purchasing decisions today are millennials; they’re way more tech-savvy than ever before and the way they’re making decisions is in stark contrast to the decisions made just a few years ago.  WhatsApp and TikTok surely don’t play a role in that decision making process?  You’d be surprised…

Now, before you break into a cold sweat, ‘the channel’ today isn’t totally populated by young whipper snappers barely out of short trousers.  Topline conversations continue, more often than not, to be held at a very senior level and whilst many of those people may well be entirely tech-savvy, they’ll also remember how things were ‘in the past’.  It is, however, when you get to the point of articulating the nitty gritty of a channel programme and you’re speaking with the wider sales team that you realise how things have changed.

Those people are young; they’re at a relatively early stage in their careers; and they’re selling to people for whom the purchasing decision is grounded on checking out reviews, videos and even AI.  This is the standard means of operation for these people.  As a result, ensuring that there’s access to different formats of information and different media streams is expected.  Not only that, this information needs to be accessible on demand, whenever and wherever it may be required – if it’s not, the sale may be lost.

Evolutions in technology and corresponding personas have shifted the sales/purchasing experiencing in many instances away from an analogue, 9-5, suit-wearing, face-to-face experience, into something which needs to be ‘always on’, at any time, and via any platform.  What was once linear, is now multidirectional – and that’s where the interdependency comes from.

This is a good thing for ‘the channel’.  There is now a far greater understanding and appreciation of each players role and value within that wider ecosystem.

Whilst some may lament the demise of the face to face, personal nature of the sales process, in today’s channel, technology enabled data insight is personalised and can be utilised to enhance the overall selling/purchasing experience – and that’s something to celebrate, even if it means ‘THE channel’ looks different to what it once did.

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