Eatons True Power Advantage

The $11.9 billion diversified power management company recently celebrated the first anniversary of its PowerAdvantage program. Eaton has done everything right on the channel front -- from listening to partners to coming up with a compelling channel program. And then the company set about executing that plan with loyalty and spif programs. Throughout the channel charge, Eaton gained critical feedback through its advisory council.

The amazing thing about the Eaton channel charge is that it has allowed the company to make gains in a market dominated by longtime channel stalwart APC. Thats not easy. But it shows the power of a well-executed channel attack.

Of course, none of Eatons success would have been possible without the right partner recruitment effort. Think about it. Eaton was able to get partners to make the big switch from an established channel player. That takes some doing.

The company also has done a great job of marketing and branding its PowerAdvantage program -- this in an age when many vendors consider channel partner recruitment and communication an afterthought. The fact is Eaton has done a great job of making believers out of partners that had teamed up with the likes of APC and others for years.

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Most vendors are rather naive when it comes to the channel and think that once they have captured a channel partner, their work is done. But thats when the hard work begins. And partner retention and channel marketing programs are key.

A-Trac Computer, a solution provider based in Waltham, Mass., is one of the partners that has profited from Eatons power management offensive.

Kevin Mullin, vice president of business development for A-Trac, said that his company was an APC partner but found a more rugged, industrial solution and a broader, more innovative product line when it brought on Eaton. Not only that, he said, he found a more channel-focused partner.

Eaton is just so channel-friendly, Mullin said. They have done so much to help us grow our business. They want to work with us. I have been doing this for the last 10 years, and Ive never seen a manufacturer reach out like Eaton has with us.

So just how much growth is Eaton seeing? When Eaton launched its channel program in the second quarter of 2009, sales were down 6 percent compared to the market. In the first quarter of 2010, Eatons sales outgrew the market by a whopping 50 percent, according to market-research firm the NPD Group.

Eatons channel management team deserves a lot of the credit for those sales numbers. And given Eatons channel commitment and power management innovation, those sales numbers are going to soar a lot higher over the next year.

BACKTALK: Are you taking part in Eatons PowerAdvantage? Reach out via e-mail to Steve Burke at [email protected].