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Autodesk draws on simulation for channel sales training

When you consider that the average IT solution provider supports easily a dozen different vendor relationships, all the sales training that blossoms out of those contracts must blur together. Interested in capturing more channel mindshare, Autodesk has taken a more unique approach to its channel education: business simulations that were designed by BTS.

Ken Bado, executive vice president of sales and service for Autodesk, says the design software company extended this form of training to its channel after using other simulations for training purposes internally at Autodesk. The company actually has been working with BTS for close to 7 years.

The most effective simulations have involved those that engage salespeople in mock customer engagements, calling upon them to evaluate the impact of their decisions along the way, he says. IN particular, the simulations have help resellers become more comfortable in calling upon business decision-makers, rather than just the IT team, when prospecting accounts. On the flip side, these simulations have also given Autodesk’s channel field team better insight into the needs of its reseller partners. “It is important for us to understand how they run their business,” he says.

There is a fee involved in the simulations, although resellers can use market development funds (MDF) toward the training if they want. About half of the company’s 1,700 partners have used the simulation since March 2010.

Fredrik Schuller, senior director of BTS USA, says the way in which Autodesk is using to engage its channel partners is very forward-thinking. Because VARs and systems integrators account for so much of Autodesk’s business — up to 90 percent of its roughly $2.3 billion — the evolving behavior of this sales channel is important to monitor, he says. “It will help VARs become better partners and scale their business faster,” he says.

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