Partners Say SugarCRM Is Listening And Channel Efforts Are Back On Track

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The growing friction came to a head in February when SugarCRM dismissed a number of channel executives including Jeff Campbell, senior vice president of worldwide channels and midmarket sales; Del Ross, vice president of channel and midmarket sales (Americas); Doug Erickson, vice president of channel sales and midmarket (Asia-Pacific); Bruce Sinclair, vice president of worldwide channel enablement; and other channel managers and inside channel resources.

In an interview with CRN shortly after, Ross said SugarCRM was "really going to a more direct model" under the guidance of recently hired executives with more experience with direct sales to large companies.

But SugarCRM executives at the time, including CEO Larry Augustin and Glenn Cross, executive vice president of worldwide field operations, attributed the departures to a broader overhaul of the company's sales operations. The goal, Augustin and Cross said in an interview with CRN, was to streamline sales operations and put more field sales representatives' "feet on the street" -- including people who worked with channel partners.

Partners' concerns continued to simmer through the weeks leading up to this month's SugarCon customer and partner conference in New York. That included a meeting between company executives and the partner advisory board, which Ward chairs and Mobisson sits on, to hash out a number of partner requests including a channel-neutral compensation policy for SugarCRM's sales representatives.

In an interview before SugarCon, Cross acknowledged that the company is focusing more on its larger, more successful partners that go beyond simple fulfillment to provide more value around the vendor's applications or that invest in specific verticals. He cited cases of some resellers with low investment in SugarCRM that in the past have undercut other partners on price.

Cross said SugarCRM would reward high-value partners with more sales leads and better margins. "The more you sell, the more we can reward you. The larger the revenue stream, the more we can give back," he said. "We are 100 percent focused on partners. Partners are the future for us."

He also noted that as SugarCRM has added cloud computing options to its offerings, some partners have had difficulty adjusting to the new model -- a change that's created friction between other software vendors and their partners.

NEXT: SugarCRM Meets Partners' Requests For Closer Sales Alignment

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