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The 4-Point Community Checklist for Solution Providers

How can members of the IT community cut through all of the noise and find the content and information they need to enable sales success in the business?

There are hundreds of millions of people in the IT industry, and some days I’m sure it feels like you’re getting information from every single one of them. As the channel continues to grow, the information and content you’re bombarded with continues to grow, too. Many people in IT today find themselves looking for ways to sift through all of the “stuff” out there and find a place where they can easily access and share only the information that enables them to sell, while still having the time to communicate it back to their customers. But that’s not such an easy thing to accomplish. So how can members of the IT community cut through all of the noise and find the content and information they need to enable sales success in the business?

The answer? A true partner community. Now, don’t stop reading quite yet--I want to place emphasis on the true part first. I’m sure you’ve joined a few partner communities in the past, whether on LinkedIn or through another site; but it turns out the goal is just to sell you another solution or service, so you’ve given up on joining a community altogether. That’s not what I’m suggesting you look for here. A true partner community should help educate and train you to sell better, not sell to you.

So where do you find the unicorn within the thousands of partner communities? Below, I’ve outlined a few things to look for.

  1. A single source of information. That’s the primary goal of a community, right? In order to successfully collaborate with your peers, subscribe to a community that provides a single source of information relative to your job--one that makes solutions selling easier by providing vendor, product, solution and service information along with programs and promotions that cross technologies and vertical market solutions all in one place. What not to look for? A single source of biased information.
  2. Collaboration. It may be one of the most overused buzzwords in marketing, but in the IT industry, collaboration is what makes our businesses successful. Whether it’s communicating with several suppliers to get their most up-to-date content or keeping track of discussions and staying educated on new and emerging industry trends, finding an interactive community where you can collaborate with your peers and create dialog is key.
  3. Training. You might be thinking: Great--now I get to spend hours scrolling through lists of training, hoping to find one that relates to my job. But I don’t just mean any training. Find a community where you can access a wide range of the latest training materials, resources and sales tools that actually offer a valuable cache of information that is relative to your job and that you can use to enhance and grow sales. Not just that, though: Find a place where you can expand your knowledge while also collaborating with the creators of the trainings--where you can comment, ask questions and engage.
  4. Professional answers to your questions. Make sure you’re truly collaborating (there’s that word again). Look for a community where you can engage with subject matter experts through discussions, collaboration on trends and advice on solutions for your end customers, so you can add more value and make more informed IT decisions. In a true community, you should be able to create a two-way discussion and get your questions answered straight from the source.

OK, so where do you begin your search for this community I’ve mentioned above? You can start with a Google search for “partner community,” but you’ll have to sift through 1.1 million results--and the goal here is to help you sift through the noise, not create more. At Avnet, our true partner community of choice is the Knowledge Network, where you’ll will find more of what your sales team needs, and less of what they don't. In addition, enjoy easy access to rich and unique training materials, resources and sales tools. Login today, and experience for yourself what a true partner community is all about.

Gavin Miller is vice president of marketing, Avnet Technology Solutions. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.

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