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Axcient/eFolder Moving To 'Partner Only' Model, Prepping New Channel Program

"Anybody that's in this business that is not 'partner first' can't stay," said Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Cummings.

A little over a year after the merger of eFolder and Axcient, executives from the combined company say that a major transformation is underway in the firm's efforts to partner with solution providers.

Prior to the merger, Axcient, a disaster recovery-as-a-service developer, had only been engaging in direct sales for the previous several years, according to Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Cummings, speaking during a session at XChange 2018. Meanwhile, eFolder, a developer of data protection and file sync and share software, had been working with solution providers but lacked a formal channel program, Cummings said.

[Related: eFolder, Axcient Merge, Form Powerhouse Data Protection, File Sync/Share Powerhouse For MSPs]

Now, Axcient/eFolder is aiming to roll out a brand new channel program by the end of this year, and the company's sales approach going forward will be "partner only," he said.

"We are partner only and we are partner first. We're taking a business that for the last few years had gone completely direct, and focusing purely on the MSPs. And anybody that's in this business that is not partner first, can't stay," Cummings said during XChange 2018, being held this week in San Antonio and hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

For the new partner program, Axcient/eFolder is in the midst of developing brand new education content and is figuring out its plan for MDF funds, Cummings said.

"Some of what I feel like we've probably missed out on is how we educate our partners, and the tools that we give them to educate our clients," he said. "We all know that clients won't start panicking about business continuity until it's too late. But you have an opportunity to get in there first, before you spend 70 hours in a server room trying to bring something back."

The company is also using support as a central way of standing out from competitors, Cummings said.

"We believe that customer success, partner success, and how people interact with you on a daily basis when they need your help is a key differentiator," he said. "Your competitors can always come along and give something cheaper to your clients. The real question is, can they give something better?"

John Paul Keesy, owner of Fort Worth, Texas-based F1 Information Technologies, said he's "absolutely" more interested in partnering with the combined Axcient/eFolder than he previously was with Axcient because of the new channel focus.

"Those companies that invest in doing a channel-only program, they're all-in about being the top vendor for you. So it's nice to see," he said. "Axcient shied away a while back. The fact that they are going to bring that back into channel is exciting."

Eric LaFleur, CEO of Haverhill, Mass.-based NorthEast Computer Services, agreed, saying that "we try to stay as much channel-only as possible for a million reasons."

"That's encouraging to see that they want to make that change. And that they want to make sure that they're rolling out the appropriate education and documentation and that kind of stuff to help us out," LaFleur said.

In addition to the channel program initiative, Axcient/eFolder has invested in hiring eight employees that are entirely focused on customer success—ensuring that customers are using the products in the right way—and that are tied to Net Promoter Score results rather than sales, Cummings said.

"We've all heard the saying before about how much it costs to get a new client versus how much it costs to retain them," he said. "But when your customers are happy, they'll actually pay more … When you reach out to them to sell them an add-on product, you're actually going to sell at a much higher price than you'd sell it to someone who's brand new."

As for the name of the combined company, the firm is currently working to finalize its decisions around what its branding will be in the future, according to company director of marketing Robert Leake.

Ultimately, "we've developed what we think is the IT channel's most robust, most powerful suite of data protection solutions, to cover all different layers that your clients are working in today," Leake said.

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