Siebel Invests In Midmarket 'Team Selling'

The effort is designed to woo experienced CRM trusted advisers back into the Siebel fold. The midmarket push, including the renewed focus on the channel, is headed by Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president and general manager of the Siebel On Demand and SMB Division.

As it launched the new program last week, Siebel announced an alliance of SMB-focused ISVs and 11 reseller partners that will help the San Mateo, Calif.-based CRM vendor target customers with less than $500 million in revenue. The group will represent both the hosted Siebel On Demand application and the on-premise Siebel Professional Edition, executives said.

"We are serious about the channel and about resellers," said Siebel CEO Mike Lawrie. "Siebel has to grow again. This is one means to achieve that growth."

Solution providers say Siebel's latest midmarket effort already shows potential given that this time the vendor seems to have a strategy that comprises a separate sales organization, clear rules of engagement and a full-blown channel program.

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"Previously, I don't think Siebel [went after the SMB market] with the same rigor they are using now," said Mark Johnston, CEO of new Siebel reseller partner Tier1 Innovation, Denver. "There's a focus and a strategy this time. Partners are not being ignored."

Cleveland said that strategy revolves around "team selling." Many companies attempt to avoid channel conflict by preventing their internal sales organization from selling to the midmarket, but Cleveland said the jobs of Siebel's newly created 70-person sales and support organization will be to sell exclusively into the SMB market--albeit in tandem with a partner.

"When the direct organization sells, they have to identify which VAR will be paid," Cleveland said. "The remarketers get all the revenue at the full discount point. In exchange, they finance the demand-generation events that we'll organize and put on. The reason I want this is I want a linkage between demand generation and VARs. This is the secret sauce to the program, and the whole idea is to eliminate channel conflict."

Under the new program, solution providers that qualify for Siebel's invitation-only program must train and certify a dedicated Siebel sales representative and a technical expert.

In return, Siebel will set aside market development funds equal to 5 percent of the revenue generated by that solution provider. For the time being, at least, those funds do not have an expiration date.

Each reseller partner will have an assigned territory manager, receive an eternal-use license and presales technical support, and have access to a dedicated partner portal. And regardless of whether they sell Siebel's On Demand or Professional Edition software, they will also receive 30 percent margins on software purchases.

Cleveland said he hopes to have 50 resellers in the United States and Europe participating in the program by the end of 2005.