Solution lifecycle management prevents customer churn, increases expansion and manages customer accounts with less effort. But to be truly effective it must be driven by data and underpinned by expertise. Rakesh Parbhoo, Chief Technology Officer, looks at how a data-driven and digital-first distributor can enable channel partners to thrive in this new software-driven landscape.

In today’s competitive digital economy, customers who do not see value from their IT investment will switch providers. Because the value of a customer is realised over time, success now depends on how well the service contributes to a customer’s business outcomes.

Success begins with demonstrating and adding value while actively enriching the customer experience across the lifetime of their solutions. Creating an outcome-focused conversation starts the partner on the path to realising a customer’s lifetime value. This requires a fundamental shift from sales to customer success in the IT channel from vendors to partners, supported by data-driven distribution.

The role of distribution is clear

Shifting to an outcomes-based lifecycle model requires a fundamentally different approach, and both vendors and partners need the expertise and support of a data-driven and digital-first distributor to meet their strategic priorities and drive customer success.

At Westcon-Comstor we have unrivalled access to vendor and customer data, we make new technologies available and we stay close to the solution post sale. Our workflow doesn’t stop at the PO; when we supply a solution, we provide the data, tools and support partners need to adopt and implement a lifecycle approach under three core pillars.

1. Simplified lifecycle management

The new software and subscriptions marketplace is increasingly complex and constantly evolving. Keeping pace with change and keeping up with new technologies and complex multi-vendor ecosystems can be challenging for any partner. Distributors such as Westcon-Comstor remove this complexity to enable effective lifecycle management.

As well as providing a single source of lifecycle and renewal data across multiple vendors, we optimise pricelists and partner programmes, offer subscription and consumption models via proven processes, and open new markets and opportunities with our global footprint.

Our technical expertise and deep vendor relationships also ensure partners access the latest technologies and align solutions to their customers’ outcomes, and our scale and in-built efficiencies help to reduce costs.

2. Support, enablement and training

When a solution is used fully and delivers the desired outcomes, customers are more likely to expand and renew – and the key to adoption is education. Training is also critical for partners to design, deploy and manage IT, and to help them shift to a new business model.  Partner training via our e-learning platform shows partners how to leverage our resources, tools and data to achieve customer success.

Distributors have the support, services and education partners need for lifecycle management, from vendor-certified training on the latest technologies to the sales enablement needed to adapt to new business models.

We also help overcome the barrier to entry for some partners when moving from Capex to Opex models. With Westcon Flex, we enable our partners to overcome the budget constraints that so often prevent the adoption of latest technology, allowing customers to pay for multi-year subscriptions over the life of the contract.

3. Predictive customer data and analytics

Partners need accurate, clean and up-to-date data to cultivate a healthy customer base through lifecycle management. Data-led distributors have unrivalled access to vendor sales data and customer usage telemetry. Armed with these insights, partners can measure customer adoption post sale, proactively manage renewals with automated advance notifications and quoting, identify opportunities for upsell, cross sell and tech refresh within customer accounts, and plan, design and implement strategies for end of life. All critical milestones in the lifecycle that help drive customer success and recurring revenues.

Analytics lead to actions

We equip partners with the tools and skills necessary for lifecycle management through our solution lifecycle management framework. Powerful analytics, automation and expertise enable partners to take the right actions at the right time so they maximise customer relationships and increase retention, expansion and advocacy in their installed base.

Solution lifecycle management focuses on important milestones and key touchpoints in the life of a customer, providing partners with a simple, efficient customer engagement framework that promotes adoption, simplifies expansion and renewals, and upsells to higher value solutions.

Built for your success

If solution lifecycle management has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry. While it might be daunting to shift to this new business model, customer lifecycles are ripe for data collection and analysis, and solution lifecycle management leads to long-term profitability and sustainable success.

With a data-driven distributor such as Westcon-Comstor by your side, you can implement a customer success approach in your own business today. Leverage the insights and actions delivered by Westcon-Comstor to measure and track customer success, and watch your base of engaged, loyal customers grow.

To find out more about how to use solution lifecycle management to reduce churn, unlock recurring revenue and maximise customer lifetime value, download your copy of our latest eBook.

And read our previous blog Solution lifecycle management: a new model for a new channel.