Cracking the Code: How Advisors Can Outsmart a Shifting Channel Landscape

By Ideas @ AppDirect / April 24, 2023


During our March State of the Union webinar, we welcomed a panel of experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities available in our current channel market and how advisors can succeed. We also hosted a special sit down with Aaron Loehr, Founder & CEO of StrataCore – which recently partnered with AppDirect, to discuss why he chose the AppDirect Invest program. Industry experts joined the discussion, including:

  • Michelle Kadlacek, Vice President, Enterprise Partner Program at Spectrum Enterprise

  • Sarah Marsh, Director, Partner Channels at Workday

  • Janet Schijns, Founder & CEO of JS Group

Keep reading for some top takeaways. Also, watch the full webinar here.

Getting ahead of an evolving channel

The key to future-proofing your business in a tough market is to leverage the right technology that helps you boost efficiency, gain a foothold in new markets, or protect your current business model.

As a trusted advisor to business leaders, it’s important to help clients get the most value possible from their technology investments and to harness the technology they need to drive their future success. In order to do that, advisors need to have a good understanding of where the business is right now and how technology can be applied. The solution isn’t just to throw technology on top of a business and hope that it works.

As Janet Schijns, Founder & CEO of JS Group, explains, the first step is starting with a business process that’s already working efficiently. If you try to automate bad processes, you end up with bad business practices. However, if you can create an efficient process and layer on technology to make it better, then you will help your clients scale and grow those operations further.

Another piece of advice that Janet shared was to get involved with AI and automation if you’re not already. Some of the big players are already making headway in the space, but it’s never too late for smaller players to get involved by finding solutions that help them automate processes. This can even be applied to advisors’ businesses.

How can advisors shape their clients’ business transformation? 

Tune into minute 23:54 in the webinar to hear from Sarah Marsh.

On the subject of digital transformation, Sarah Marsh, Director of Partner Channels at Workday, explains that the secret is to invest time and money in collecting real-time data about a customer’s business. In these uncertain times, data is perhaps more valuable than ever, especially when it comes to making critical decisions on the future direction of the company.

Sarah suggests that businesses also spend time scenario planning to help the organization more quickly react and adapt to big market changes. This will help organizations remain competitive, and stay one step ahead and agile enough to survive a tricky market. Sarah outlines tips advisors can take right now.

"I would urge advisors to take an assessment of your business and really see what your strengths are from a portfolio perspective, your capabilities, any kind of specialization you have in different industries or markets, or solution delivery. Then if you have any gaps, how can you help fill those in by leveraging the power of this great channel ecosystem?"

She believes now is the time for advisors to lean on their industry expertise and investigate how they can best support clients in solving business problems with technology. Sarah asserts that if you can speak customers' language and identify their needs and pain points, you have a better chance of helping clients meet those challenges and advance on their digital transformation journey. 

How advisors can get started with emerging technologies

Jump to minute 14:19 in the webinar to hear more.

To lean more about how to tap into emerging technologies to help customers, panelists recommend asking key questions such as:

  • What factors are affecting my clients’ industries right now?

  • What risks are they facing?

  • How can we solve that risk?

Janet recommends starting with security as a smart first step in customer conversations. With this approach, as an advisor you can solidify your position as a trusted advisor and you can help organizations better manage, and reduce their cybersecurity risk and protect their networks and data. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) identifies best practices for building a security framework:

  1. Identify

  2. Protect

  3. Detect

  4. Respond

Another top area of consideration is security education and training, Janet says. That’s because 70 percent of cyber breaches are caused by the actions of a person within the firm.

Offering cybersecurity training programs and advice is a great way to build your security practice and establish yourself as a trusted partner and single-point-of-contact for all B2B technology purchases. Even if you haven’t sold cybersecurity solutions before, AppDirecthas a team of experts that can meet with customers alongside you to build solutions and recommend the right technology for your clients. Following this approach differentiates you as an advisor who has the breadth and depth across the technology stack, offering vendor-neutral guidance and access to a broad portfolio of technology solutions.

How to win in the year of “churn”

Skip to minute 19:15 in the webinar to hear more about this phenomenon.

Many experts are calling 2023 the “year of churn.” This means advisors need to focus on retention and creating stickier customers. As Janet likes to say, “Always be upselling,” to avoid the churn because you can produce consistent value for clients that way.

To go one step further, concentrate on the various ways you can update and modernize your clients’ networks. You can do this through upselling and cross-selling to ensure your clients have a full package of solutions they need to meet digital transformation goals.

Michelle Kadlacek, Vice President, Enterprise Partner Program at Spectrum Enterprise, echoes this point.

“Be prepared, be inquisitive, and then sit back and listen. With that simple process, you can work with your clients to find the right solutions for them.”

To summarize, your customers are looking to you to future-proof their businesses. Help them focus on these areas to be effective:

  • Stay agile during market uncertainty

  • Use real-time data to make better decisions

  • Curate a technology stack that drives efficiencies and builds resilience across the organization and they need resources and advisors who can help them invest in the right technology.

For advisors, it’s important to find that common language spoken across the business to ensure you understand client concerns, risks, and needs in more depth. That way, you can help clients manage their resources, invest in the right things, and grow in the process.

    How AppDirect Invest can help advisors remain competitive

    Jump to minute 25:53 in the webinar to hear about this segment.

    As the channel evolves, another way that advisors can remain competitive is to access additional capital to accelerate growth. However, getting traditional financing can be difficult and time-consuming. AppDirect Invest is an innovative program that breaks down barriers to growth by giving advisors access to upfront non-dilutive capital without giving up control of their business.

    In our recent Founders Fifteen segment, we spoke with Aaron Loehr, Founder and CEO of StrataCore, who has seen success with the AppDirect Invest program first hand.

    For Aaron, who had no shortage of interested parties, the AppDirect company culture and Invest program exceeded expectations. He knew he could still lead with the same values that had helped his company succeed, while maintaining ownership. This, paired with a platform that has over 300 engineers working on it, were the key selling points for Aaron.

    Read more about AppDirect Invest here and how StrataCore is accelerating its business transformation strategy through the AppDirect partnership.