Q&A: Oracle Channel Chief Says Partners Will Play Starring Role In Expanding Its Cloud Business

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Q: Oracle every year hires hundreds of college graduates as salespeople. This has been an issue for partners because it has generated channel conflict. Is this something you're aware of, and what can be done to address it?

It's a great thing that Oracle is hiring college graduates and giving them a chance to establish themselves in the marketplace. But we're pretty clear on rules of engagement. I'm driving code of conduct and rules of engagement.

We put new salespeople through a 10-week training program where they learn about products, go-to-market and channel engagement. Then the leadership team explains where the partners are playing. Market segment is really important.

When you come out of school, you're 22 years old and you're going to make some mistakes. But we have built a foundation to help them be successful and make sure they know we're not going to go compete against our partners.

Q: Oracle's sales force has a reputation for being one of the industry's most aggressive. Does this culture have to change at all to balance with the needs of channel partners?

No. We want to win in the market we choose to compete, period. The culture is not going to get diluted; it's actually going to get more aggressive. Because we have some competitors that have taken share.

In markets we compete in, we're going to be superaggressive. Partners play a key role in that. They are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

What I do is establish ground rules. That’s why the segmentation, or swim lanes, is very important. Where we want resellers is not where we have coverage -- it's where we don't have coverage. There's a clear expectation of what we want each other to be doing. If we have disconnects with partners, we fix them.

This way, we can look partners in the eye and say, 'Listen, if you registered a deal with us, we're sticking with you 100 percent, right until the end of the dance.' If Oracle's there already and driving the deal through a direct team, don't go there. This way, we get clarity and avoid the conflict and not have this overlap.

Q: What happens if someone doesn't follow the rules?

What we're trying to do in the leadership team is make sure partners win. And we'll manage those situations individually. But so far in 7 months, I haven't had a situation where I had to go course correct in an aggressive way.

Oracle has 22,000 salespeople, which means we are touching a lot of the market. The DNA of the team is aggressive, and we will win. But we're trying to figure out and make sure the entire team understands the importance and relevance of partners.

NEXT: What HP's Getting Diamond Status Means For Its Oracle Relationship

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