EqualLogic Enhances Channel Program

iSCSI storage IP SAN

The vendor, which does more than 90 percent of its sales through the channel, is hoping to woo more VARs selling SANs into the midmarket. Among the most noteworthy changes to its program is the appointment of a new channel management team that will focus on developing longer-term growth strategies for VARs' businesses, as opposed to just focusing on scoring one-off sales opportunities.

"We are having strategic discussions with channel partners about the big bets they want to make and how we can help them accomplish that. We want to talk to them on a strategic level," says Bob Skelley, vice president of channel development at EqualLogic.

Before joining EqualLogic in 2005, Skelley was director of U.S. distribution and VAR channels at Microsoft, where he also helped drive similar initiatives.

The vendor has also added 20 new regional field-based sales and technical support teams for partners, with plans to add an additional 30 teams this year. It also added a new field marketing team to help partners with lead generation campaigns and guide them on using marketing development funds.

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"They've really stepped it up in the partner empowerment area. In fact, we've had with them a couple of really successful joint marketing campaigns and events in our headquarters, where we had hands-on demos and training for customers, and it was very well received," says Lisa Belodoff, director of strategic marketing, for CXtec, a VAR based in Syracuse, N.Y.

"If we have a marketing idea, they typically go along with it and contribute, and their sales and technical staff are quite helpful," adds Norm Drolet, sales executive with On the Go Technologies, an IT solution provider in Toronto that specializes in selling into the health care market.

EqualLogic also provides higher margins, to the tune of 25 to 30 points of gross profit margin on hardware alone, which is significantly better than what the VAR has experienced with other vendors, Drolet says.

In addition to the new field staff, the vendor also started an information hotline to field partner inquiries more quickly. It has also bolstered its online training resources, with new on-demand training modules to allow partners to get new sales or technical staff up to speed on EqualLogic's technologies at their own pace. The online portal includes certification testing.

Also on the Web, EqualLogic is providing bimonthly Webinars, including an introductory "20-20-20" Webinar for new partners in which the vendor will pay a reseller $20 to listen for 20 minutes to hear 20 tips about EqualLogic's products and programs.

The vendor has also launched an enhanced sales quote tool, which it says speeds the time it takes for VARs to get from concept to quote.