Turning Canadian Concerns into Channel Opportunities

Those familiar with CompTIA and its worldwide communities understand that what happens in one country or region may not have the same impact on others. Regulations and industry rules differ and the political issues often vary, especially in regards to their control over businesses and the IT firms that help keep them running efficiently

As someone who interacts regularly with the US and Canadian IT communities, I get to experience and hear about some of those international differences firsthand. Though the variances are often subtle, with each country somewhat reliant on the other and often intermingled, the drivers are often economic or political in nature. Concerns and opportunities in certain vertical markets come from those two camps, as do regulations and compliance concerns.

Those differences and similarities are what makes the CompTIA Canadian IT Business Community so valuable to its members. By driving their own meeting agendas and initiatives, and leveraging the resources of its affiliated worldwide groups, they get to enjoy the best of all worlds. The results of those collaborative efforts were evident during last week’s community meeting in Woodbridge, Ontario (in the greater Toronto area), with a number of CompTIA research and educational sessions that were focused specifically on the Canadian channel trends and market opportunities. 

The agenda for the October 8 event was packed with content that Canadian solution providers, vendors and other channel professionals would relish. Brian Jeffries (former VP of Operations, Business Services for Cisco) emceed the activities and introduced each session, including: 

  • A channel-centric view of the upcoming Canadian elections: Alan Young (co-president of Tactix government relations and public affairs) provided a thorough overview of the issues and implications associated with the October 19 House of Commons campaigns. As Young suggested, solution providers should still be aware of each party’s position on issues that affect business, including regulations. Case in point, the energy sector (oil, gas, coal, etc.) has been a growth market for Canadian channel companies. 
  • The business side of hiring sales professionals: Dan Cole: SVP at Hargrove, gave the community a number of insightful best practices for identifying, securing and onboarding quality talent. With many segments of the IT industry lacking qualified personnel, this has become a major challenge for thriving MSPs, vendors and other tech companies. Where does Cole recommend they start? “Find people with experience in the industry selling similar products and services. Those who welcome rejection and see it as a challenge should be your top candidates, as well as those willing to audaciously present benefits and close sales.”

Cole also offered a number of options for finding the best sales candidates, including:

  • The informal methods, such as through referrals and from your competition (though there could be ethical and contractual issues).
  • Boomerangs: identify those who have left the organization and were successful elsewhere. They may now be a better fit, especially when there are new opportunities or the situation has changed.
  • Interns can be invaluable. They give your organization extra help in return for training and experience—a great way to groom future employees.
  • College, trade school efforts: offer to speak on campus and participate in job fairs and other interactive discussions. Keep your eye out for great talent.
  • Formal recruitment methods: leverage LinkedIn, resumes, postings, recruiters, placements.

Young and Cole’s presentations were great lead-ins for the day’s other activities. From building an advanced managed services business and developing a successful cloud strategy to an overview of the latest industry trends, the Canadian IT Business Community effectively covered a number of the most requested channel topics.

Of course, the best part of the meeting involves the collaborative conversations. Everyone is free to ask questions and make suggestions to help improve the discussion, future meetings and the tools, resources and programs CompTIA offers.

Are you ready to partake in the conversation (online or in person) to help improve the channel, as well as your own best practices? Check out the CompTIA Canadian IT Business Community page and sign up for the next meeting, or contact community director Majd Medina for more information.  

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