Copper, A Google-Aligned CRM Company, Makes First North American Channel Play

'The big shift is on refocusing and restructuring our go-to-market and allowing partners to have a more engaged strategy with us. That's where we're moving,’ Olga Lykova, newly named global vice president of partnerships at Copper, tells CRN.

Copper, a CRM company popular with small businesses using Google's productivity tools, has a new alliance leader and program that aims to enable, enrich and promote Google Cloud partners in North America looking to add CRM to their line cards.

Formerly known as ProsperWorks, the San Francisco-based startup founded in 2011 is revamping the Copper Partner Program with higher margins, greater enablement and more-granular tiering in a bid to scale sales by tapping the skill sets and market reach of resellers and ISVs.

That effort is being led by Olga Lykova, who recently joined Copper as global vice president of partnerships, a role in which she leads development of partner strategy. Lykova knows the CRM market well—she built a channel for NewVoiceMedia before that Salesforce technology partner was acquired by Vonage, and before that was an alliance director at Apttus, another Salesforce-aligned ISV.

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As the CRM offering most-closely integrated with Google's cloud software, Copper provides customers with unique capabilities in blending productivity and relationship-management solutions, Lykova told CRN.

But when she joined the company, Lykova was immediately struck by the lack of partner outreach in North America.

"The focus was putting resellers in place where we didn't have a sales team," she said. That meant Copper was investing in channel relationships only in Europe and other parts of the world.

While Copper has more than 70 partners reselling the product, only a couple of them are in North America, where the company relies almost exclusively on its direct sales team. The new program aims to engage American resellers by creating opportunities for them to benefit from Copper's inbound customer engagement and demand generation capabilities.

Copper hopes to build almost from the ground up its North American channel, focused primarily on top-tier G Suite resellers to small and midsize business, Lykova said.

"The big shift is on refocusing and restructuring our go-to-market and allowing partners to have a more engaged strategy with us," she said. "That's where we're moving."

The CRM sector is massive, she told CRN, and leaders like Salesforce and Microsoft are focused on the enterprise market.

Copper is committed to staying in the SMB lane, offering small and growth businesses the traditional relationship, project, opportunity and pipeline management capabilities. Those customers need an offering that "they can spin up and start using today," she said, without requiring admins.

Copper is built on Google Cloud Platform and natively integrated with G Suite, which about 95 percent of its customers are using (the other 5 percent are still on spreadsheets).

"Google is the key for us," Lykova said. "We're pushing GCP, we're pushing G Suite for customers."

That close relationship with the Mountain View, Calif.-based cloud giant is allowing Copper to bring forward a new category that bridges the gap between CRM and productivity. One unique benefit of that approach is the ability for customers to measure the ROI of their collaboration tools, which isn't possible without the CRM integration.

The new partner program also aims to advance relationships with technology partners, including prominent vendors like DocuSign, RingCentral and QuickBooks. Those ISVs are integrating natively or through APIs, and they can also realize a revenue opportunity by referring customers, Lykova told CRN.

For resellers, Copper's revamped program raises margins to 30 percent for those that earn technical certifications, expand their Copper portfolios with additional services and integrate with the ISV partners.

And in addition to higher margins, Copper is introducing training opportunities and affiliated badging.

Lykova reports to Dennis Fois, her former NewVoiceMedia CEO who now holds the top job at Copper.

Fois, who took the helm of the company about a half-year ago, sees in the channel an opportunity to exponentially grow the business as the company doubles down on the strategic value of its relationship with Google, Lykova said.

Copper is also launching a new Partner Ambassador Program to which it designates top-performing partners on a quarterly basis. As Ambassadors, Copper advances those companies as thought leaders in its ecosystem and highlights their success, she said.