The rapid adoption of digital transformation at South African companies has necessitated a renewed focus on internal skills development.

By Jaco Malan, service delivery director at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa

Upskilling and reskilling employees have become part and parcel of ensuring a business remains relevant. After all, the most innovative technology in the world means little if employees do not know how to make optimal use of it. The same holds true for the channel. Vendor partners must understand how solutions have advanced in recent months and how to implement them at customers best.

This is where certification and training are central themes in helping drive the success of the channel locally. We know too well that certification indicates that a partner (or person) meets a certain level of competence. The same holds true for vendor education initiatives. Being recognised for attaining specific skillsets prove invaluable to both the partner and the customers looking for the right fit to bring about organisational growth.


The next level

Having access to great training courses form just a tiny part of what is needed. Instead, the distributors who have well thought out sales channel training and certification programmes in place are the ones best equipped to empower their channel partners to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market.

This is more so the case when it comes to the critical SME sector. These partners not only require solutions that meet the unique requirements of local small businesses, but they must be able to access more customised training and skills development paths that give them flexibility. This flexibility helps build a skillset in solutions relevant to the small business customers of the partners. Such a more bespoke approach results in developing familiarity and trust in solutions that provide the most value and biggest benefits for each use case.

Both the partner and the distributor need to leverage digital tools that measure success throughout this process. In the case of the distributor, the addition of rewards programmes aligned to each vendor are helpful ways of incorporating a carrot to what many partners consider a chore. For the partners, the wealth of vendor training they have access to means they can give their sales and technical teams the confidence to cater for virtually any customer requirement.


Digital platform

Thanks to the normalisation of a distributed work environment, there has been a growing acceptance of digital sales and implementations. No longer reliant on face-to-face engagements, partners can now drive sales using online marketplaces, digital downloads, and remote installations.

However, this means that there is now a sense of urgency around how investments in education, certification and even specialisations are made. If the traditional approach to selling in the channel is a thing of the past, so too is the way training is delivered.

Therefore, it is essential to have access to a vendor network through a digitally-driven distribution partner. This becomes a vital enabler for those SME partners looking to optimise their growth, especially in a market where uncertainty has become the order of the day.