With 5% of all global carbon emissions derived from IT and levels of e-waste continuing to increase significantly, the importance of sustainability within the channel is undeniable. Here, Simon Yates, COO at Consenna, argues that sustainability is not only vital in driving sales through the channel, but in moving the channel forward.
Barely an aspect of modern life remains un-touched by the need to be environmentally aware. Amongst large IT vendors, the main players have recognised the need to jump aboard the sustainability train and they cite such actions as vital to commercial success – whether they truly embrace the rationale behind this, however, is a debate for another day. At the other end of the sales spectrum, customers increasingly demand their purchases meet certain sustainable criteria – indeed, they’re not only prepared to pay more when they do, but they are under pressure to make such choices so that their own sustainability metrics are met. In the middle, at the heart of the channel, sit the resellers for whom the need to secure a sale is now balanced against a need to address sustainability demands. How do they achieve this in an authentic and meaningful way that instead of simply adding to sustainability noise, actually drives tangible change – and with it, those all-important sales?
Resellers command a unique position within the channel; they are the only players with a direct relationship with all other parties and they consequently have the ability to drive conversations in the direction of greater sustainable action. The reality is, however, that too many have been too complacent for too long, focused almost entirely on securing a sale.
With that sale increasingly hinged on the need to be laden with certain sustainability criteria, however, has come a greater need for resellers to view sustainability as a tool to be used to their advantage.
We work with partners throughout the channel on programmes and initiatives that provide exactly this competitive advantage. Whether it’s delivering recycling schemes partnering with fully accredited WEEE providers, to manage the responsible re-use or remanufacturing of old devices; the provision of scientifically backed, real-world data that makes not only purchasing decisions, but also recycling choices, mean something in tangible, comparable terms; or simply providing compelling marketing collateral that makes the sustainable purchasing choice clear and convincing, there are a myriad of means through which resellers are equipped to help customers make the right choice. And when resellers emphatically and authentically embrace these tools, they’re not only supporting their customers to make the right choice, they’re also making their own journey to securing a sale more likely to succeed. In that respect, yes, sustainability certainly does have a role to play in driving IT sales through the channel.
But a competitive advantage is only such for a finite amount of time. For sustainability to not only drive sales, but continue to drive sales and, importantly, create new opportunities, the channel needs to push harder to identify new opportunities which ensure sustainability’s unquestionable place in the channel.
As a first step, channel programmes that offer customers choice of ‘claiming’ an offsetting option or a green energy selection, must be switched to automatically ‘opt-in’ – if they exist as part of the programme, it makes it nonsense to introduce an element of choice.
It’s bold steps that drive significant change and that’s exactly what the channel must take. Comfort zones are out; challenging conversations are in. Resellers need to question a customer’s purchasing desire: is printing really a requirement? Would a document management solution make more sense? With an abundance of green cloud-based computing options, are physical servers still needed? Even models of ownership should be challenged with both DaaS and IaaS shifting responsibility to the provider to meet sustainability obligations at scale. Indeed, many are already entrenched with strong eco-credentials.
The reality remains, however, that a continued lack of understanding of all these factors, means it’s only the largest partners pushing these messages to customers. To address this, Consenna is providing its market leading communications platform ‘Carbon’ to any UK reseller, free of charge. We will promote sustainable IT messaging, use cutting-edge digital marketing automation to generate leads, and help resellers size the potential in their own customer base before making significant investments. It’s a bold move. It’s what’s needed to drive change.
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