Influencer is not necessarily a new term in the channel, but it’s one that is making a strong push these days. Influencers as a group are mainly consultants that recommend a solution or product. They are usually paid by the customer and do not make any margin off the sale of equipment or software licenses.
business is one of brainware. They sell their ideas and their expertise. They do not have any inventory nor do they sell any hardware or software. To cut a long story short; they don’t have any skin in the game. This group is attaining a lot of power because unlike some resellers they are not tied to one vendor or group of vendors. They are agnostic and are supposed to deliver the real goods to a customer.
At last month’s Cisco Partner Summit held in Las Vegas, Influencers reared they ugly heads. Cisco’s new channel director Paul Mountford said that the networking giant needs to address this group and is working on a plan for them exclusive of all other channel plans.
Cisco’s Eagent program, for example, helps out certified partners close big deals with the help of Cisco if they have cash-flow issues or lack of equipment in inventory.
With this program, conceivably Influencers would be able to take advantage of it without investing any of their own money in inventory or attaining any Cisco certification for that matter.
This would make all 3,500 Cisco certified partners incredibly upset. Mountford did say that the Eagent program is for certified partners only.
Cisco is not the only firm making a play for Influencers.
Citrix Systems is also developing an Influencer program. The Citrix program would pay agency fees and even rewards for those firms who recommend Citrix products and solutions.
One vendor who has recognized the role of the Influencer above all others is Accpac International. They have had a bonus plan in place for accountants who recommend Accpac products and solutions to their clients for years. Accpac also rewards accountants for bringing these leads or business opportunities to the channel.
David Hood, CEO of Accpac has said, in a previous interview, that accountants is another channel for Accpac. They do not resell products but recommend them. And, by aggressively targeting Influencers and giving them a reason to recommend Accpac will allows the company to have more partners on the street.
Accpac also encourages its reseller base to partner with accountants or Influencers. And, this is what resellers should do more of. Partnering with Influencers will give VARs a leg up in the market because someone will have to do the integration work, might as well be you.